There isn’t much dispute among the talking heads and scribblers about who the top three picks will be in the NBA draft on Thursday: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. There’s also very little debate about the order in which they’ll go. Here’s the nearly universal mock-draft guess: that order.
That leaves the New York Knicks, who pick fourth, in a tough position—so tough there are rumors they might try to trade the pick. It could be safer to let someone else guess whether Latvian 19-year-old Kristaps Porzingis is a Nowitzki-Kirilenko-Durant hybrid or just the next Darko Milicic; or whether Congolese 19-year-old Emmanuel Mudiay is the next John Wall or Dajuan Wagner.
Is it possible Russell falls to the Knicks and solves all their head-scratching? Yes. It’s called “mock draft” for a reason. Towns or Okafor? Unlikely. The Wolves seem certain to take a big man with the first pick and the Lakers will almost certainly follow suit with the second.
If Russell does fall, it will probably be because someone in the top three picks decided Porzingis is worth the gamble.
And if Russell doesn’t land in New York, maybe the Knicks decide they like Trey Lyles or Willie Cauley-Stein, both of whom played with Towns on a Kentucky team that will litter the lottery with its players yet again.
After all, Lyles and Cauley-Stein played for a coach who’s stated goal as a leader of amateurs is to make them famous and rich.
“Our goal is not just to help guys get in the league. We want guys to become All-Stars,” John Calipari said. “Our goal would be to say, ‘Hey, half the NBA All-Stars started with us.’ “
Seven Kentucky Wildcats could go in this draft, including Towns at No. 1. That would be a record for a school and certainly give Calipari a lot of chips on his already-stacked table. Towns could be his fourth No. 1 overall pick, following Anthony Davis in 2012, John Wall in 2010 and Derrick Rose, who he coached at Memphis in 2008.
Which future All-Star from Kentucky will your team pick?
So many questions, so few answers–and nobody will really know who won this draft until about 2019 or 2020 because so many of the top picks are one-and-dones or have no college experience.
Meanwhile, every fan can get excited and cheer—or throw trash at the TV screen—after each name is called.
Here are a few more links to get you excited about the draft, which airs live at 7 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.