The top four slots in the most widely-respected mock drafts have been set for some time now, with some combination of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay being firmly in place.
But as we get closer to the June 25 event, and as teams begin to more closely evaluate the talent available , another name is threatening to emerge as one of the top selections.
Kristaps Porzingis, a smooth-shooting power forward from Latvia, has emerged as a serious threat to break into the top three of the June 25 draft in a potential serious shakeup to the long-held perception the top four spots are set, with some executives at the pre-draft combine here saying Porzingis could go second.
“He could go two,” one general manager said. “He’s that good. Nobody says anything bad about him.”
Said the head of basketball operations for another team: “I think he’s a lock for the top five and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go as high as top three. He’s good. We all like to do our comparables. He’s like Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol….. I’d take him ahead of (Jahlil) Okafor.”
Porzingis is 7’1″, and averaged 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in international play this past season, while knocking down 37.9 percent of his shots from three-point distance.
The draft isn’t always about taking the best player available; teams often go with needs even if a more talented prospect is attainable at the time.
Once Tuesday’s Draft Lottery is completed, and we know for sure exactly who is picking where, things will begin to come into focus as far as the top of the draft board is concerned. But it’s clear that despite what’s been projected to this point, nothing can be counted on until Adam Silver officially reveals each team’s pick once draft night is upon us.