Basketball season doesn’t end after the NCAA Tournament or the NBA Finals. Not around here, at least. For the year-round basketball fan one season doesn’t truly transition to the next until the NBA Draft.
The city of Louisville and state of Kentucky are no strangers to the draft. With the 7 guys from the University of Kentucky, 2 from the University of Louisville, and 1 who grew up in the city of Louisville, you can bet all eyes around here will be tuned in.
On that note, here is a brief round-up of what all the talking heads have to say about our favorite future pros leading up to the big night..
Karl-Anthony Towns (University of Kentucky) – Projected #1
This year was shaping up like those debates, as Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Townswere said to be neck and neck for the top spot this year. But in reality, this is not a two-man race. Towns is the best player in the draft, and it isn’t particularly close.
What’s really jarring is that Towns doesn’t appear to have any glaring weaknesses. Scouts can question Okafor’s defense, D’Angelo Russell’s athleticism, Emmanuel Mudiay’s shooting and Kristaps Porzingis’ frame, but there’s nothing to nitpick with Towns. After watching him at a private workout, ESPN’s Chad Ford described Towns with the most ridiculous hypothetical imaginable: “What if Dwight Howard could shoot, dribble and move the way James Harden does?”
D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State University/Louisville, KY) – Projected #2-4
“He is such a smooth operator,” Blake told SN’s Sean Deveney. “He can make plays for himself and others. He is not an elite athlete in terms of hops and speed, but he’s got that elite brain. … The numbers are off the charts on him. When you have a player like that who rarely had a bad game, it’s so hard to ignore.
Willie Cauley-Stein (University of Kentucky) – Projected #4-11
Willie Cauley-Stein is a player you can plug in your system in order to play high level defense, and provide both versatility guarding perimeter players and the ability to guard the rim … His one side of the ball type of play will cause him to be drafted below players that have two way potential, but he has the ability to be very good, or possibly elite as a defender if he can harness his improved metal focus, and grow as a professional …
Devin Booker (University of Kentucky) – Projected #8-14
One of the best shooters in the draft, maybe even the best, and the Heat certainly could have used that kind of firepower last season after the loss of Ray Allen. Booker has good size and could do plenty of damage off the bench in support of Wade, but is he too one-dimensional?
Trey Lyles (University of Kentucky) – Projected #10-16
What makes Lyles a potentially special offensive weapon is that he can’t be put in a box. He has the size of a traditional NBA power forward, but showed he’s just as comfortable playing the perimeter. He isn’t a big man who wants to play like a guard; he’s a 6’10 force of nature that can adapt his game from inside-out depending on the matchup.
Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville) – Projected Late First Round
That finishing ability, as well as physicality, energy, and rebounding is what he hopes to bring to an NBA team. Harrell made 58.7 percent of his shots overall for the last two seasons, including 72 percent of his shots within five feet of the hoop. Harrell was able to make shots around the hoop in a variety of different sets and situations, although one aspect stays the same each time:
He will try to dunk the ball nearly every time.
Dakari Johnson (University of Kentucky) – Projected Late First Round
Some NBA team will almost certainly look at Johnson’s relative youth, apparent desire to work hard and 9-foot-4 standing reach and see a project worth taking on. ESPN Stats & Info estimated that although Johnson’s chances of achieving superstardom are very slim, he has the lowest risk of becoming a bust of any player in the draft.
– NY Times
Terry Rozier (University of Louisville) – Projected Late First Round/Early Second Round
Rozier has the physical tools to match up against NBA guards and nice size to boot. Measured at 6’2.25” with a 6’8.25” wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine, Rozier has a strong frame, long arms and good size for a point guard which will allow him to compete on both ends. Additionally, he possess excellent speed, agility and explosiveness to round out his strong athletic profile.
Andrew Harrison (University of Kentucky) – Projected Late First/Early Second Round
The better of the two Harrison twins is a strong combo guard with a great ability to finish. He can handle very well for a bigger guard, and his ability to creatively finish in the lane is tough to guard. Obviously, after two years at Kentucky, you know you’re getting someone who knows how to win.
Aaron Harrison (University of Kentucky) – Projected Second Round
Teams love his fearlessness—who can forget the three game winners he made in the 2014 NCAA tournament—but poor three-point shooting numbers last season (31.6%) have scouts uneasy about his future.
Ten potential draft picks with ties to the area. Something not many other places can say. We hope the best for all of these young men as they take one more step toward their dream Thursday night.