What NBA Draft analysts are saying about Kentucky players

There’s little doubt that TyTy Washington and Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe will be the first-round picks in Thursday night’s NBA draft. How soon they will leave is up for debate.

Washington was one of the nation’s best freshmen last season, averaging 12.5 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.0% from three-point range lap. He was selected by both the league’s coaches and the media for the All-Southeastern Conference second team.

However, it’s team-mate Shaedon Sharpe with the best chance of being selected first among British draft prospects, despite never playing a game for the scheme.

Sharpe joined the team midseason with intentions of playing for Kentucky this fall. But the likelihood of him being selected in the lottery early Thursday night changed those plans.

Kentucky’s other NBA draft-eligible players — Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz — will almost certainly attempt to sign a free-agent contract after completing two rounds of the draft, while former Kentucky guard Johnny Juzang will after two successful seasons at UCLA could be a second-round pick.

Here’s what some NBA analysts say about Sharpe and Washington:

Shaedon Sharpe

The wacky Kentucky player is fourth on The Ringer’s NBA Draft Big Board as of the June 13 update. His player comparisons include Paul George, a “big” Bradley Beal and Jalen Green.

“He’s an over the top athlete who skis for dunks in all and blocks on breaks,” writes The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. “His movements are erratic and have a certain elasticity. He’s such a fast jumper that teams could use him in the halfcourt on lobs or finishes from the spot of the dunker.”

However, O’Connor concedes that drawing Sharpe early would be a gamble as he was out all of last season.

“He lacked significant exposure to big games even in high school, so making the jump to the NBA will be both a great physical and mental challenge,” O’Connor writes.

Shaedon Sharpe chose not to play college basketball but is still widely considered a lottery pick Thursday night. Chet white British athletics

The Ringer’s prediction after the June 17 update: The Portland Trail Blazers will select Sharpe with the seventh overall pick. “He has shown enough courage and selflessness to make it clear that he has the qualities of a potential star,” writes O’Connor.

Sharpe ranks fifth in CBS Sports’ prospect rankings, with Andrew Wiggins a pro comparison.

CBS Sports’ David Cobb also predicts (as of June 19) that seventh-pick Portland will be Sharpe’s target.

“He’s billed as an athletic shooting guard with the explosiveness to create shots and land on the edge, and he finished No. 3 in the 2021 recruit class,” writes Cobb. “This slotting put him in front of players like Jabari Smith, Jalen Duren and AJ Griffin. It’s hard to see a prospect with those credentials slip much further in this draft, even if it’s a bit mysterious.”

On Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman predicts that Sharpe will go to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 8.

But Wasserman also said Sharpe could end up being the talk of draft night.

“If a surprising name can shake up the top four, we hear it’s Sharpe,” Wasserman writes. “There are some rumors of a team in the top four showing additional interest. … He’s in talks for the No. 5 Detroit Pistons and probably any team picking No. 6 through 10.”

Over at the stadium (as of June 15) Jeff Goodman holds Sharpe for Detroit’s fifth overall win.

“I saw this athletic security guard a summer ago and fell in love with his potential,” writes Goodman. “Sharpe is a Canadian who is more comfortable as a goalscorer and is able to hit the basket and finish because of his size, speed and athleticism.”

Kentucky’s TyTy Washington is projected from a lottery pick to somewhere in the low 20s in Thursday’s NBA draft. Silas Wanderer swalker@herald-leader.com

Ty Ty Washington

While Washington is being projected as a possible lottery pick, he only ranks 22nd on The Ringer’s NBA Draft Big Board. His player comparison there is former British star Immanuel Quickley.

What’s holding him back?

Washington “lacks the explosiveness to score on the edge or pull fouls, which will limit his scoring chances unless he becomes an incredible three-pointer,” writes O’Connor. “His lack of momentum when cornering in the pick and roll is also a concern.”

But O’Connor’s review isn’t all bad.

Washington “looks like a point guard studying moves from big point guards who didn’t rely on athletics, like Chris Paul, with his stuttering and head bluffs as he directs the pick and roll,” O’Connor writes. “He can tap or hit the brakes and always change the pace to keep the defense in the dark. He sees the whole floor and can make any pass, whether it’s a lob, a dish to cutter or a kickout.”

The ringer’s prediction: The Minnesota Timberwolves will pick Washington with their 19th overall pick. “TyTy and Karl-Anthony Towns could make a deadly pick-and-roll pair,” writes O’Connor.

Washington fares better in CBS Sports’ prospects rankings, coming in 12th place with a pro comparison being Cole Anthony.

However, CBS Sports’ mock draft has Washington as the Houston Rockets’ 17th pick.

“Washington can play on or off the ball and is an intense defender, although he may be too small to contest shots from larger NBA wings,” writes Cobb.

Bleacher Report’s Wasserman drops Washington to 21st overall to the Denver Nuggets.

Goodman, in his sham draft for the stadium, predicts a better result for Washington – 11th place with the New York Knicks.

“Washington was solid as a freshman but didn’t quite live up to the hype — but part of that was because he didn’t have the ball in his hands as much because of the presence of Kentucky pass-first-point guard Sahvir Wheeler ‘ writes Goodman. “Washington has a high IQ and is a real combo guard. The Knicks need a future point guard and Washington can fill that role.”

2022 NBA draft

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

TV: ABC-36 (first round only), ESPN (both rounds)

Dennis Varney is Assistant Sports Editor for Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. He is from Pike County and a graduate of Western Kentucky. He has also worked for The Times of Northwest Indiana, The Seattle Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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