It’s par for the course this time of the year for every “draft guru” or NBA “insider” to release their mock draft.
With NBA commissioner Adam Silver set to announce names – the first of which I wholeheartedly expect to be Arizona’s Bahamian Big Man Deandre Ayton – this coming Thursday, ESPN released its latest NBA mock draft Monday afternoon.
The list, which was authored by Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz, went chalk at the top with Ayton and Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic as the top two picks and projected former University of Miami guard Lonnie Walker IV to go No. 12 overall to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Before Walker IV even stepped foot in Coral Gables, the consensus was that he would be a future NBA lottery pick whenever he entered the draft. The 6-foot-4 combo guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan had an up and down year with the Hurricanes that ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – with the last images of Walker being two mental mistakes that seemingly set Loyola-Chicago’s improbable run into motion.
Tournament performances aside, Walker impressed scouts at the pre-draft combine and has been consistently pegged to go around the late-lottery – picks No. 11 through No. 14.
According to Schmitz, Walker “has a high ceiling thanks to his combination of length, explosiveness and shot-making”. His analysis also said that Walker would fit well with the Clippers because he’d be able to “play off the ball next to veterans like Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams” allowing Walker to “focus on making spot-ups, attacking the rim and defending his position while incrementally adding more to his off-the-dribble game”.
The phrase “3-and-D” has been tossed around when scouts have talked about Walker – noting his ability knock down three-pointers on offense while being able to take on – and win – tough defensive assignments on a given night.
Current players that have earned that moniker include Houston’s Trevor Ariza, Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, San Antonio’s Danny Green and Philadelphia’s JJ Redick.
Overall, Walker’s game transitions well to the more “wide-open” NBA style of play.
Unlike the college game that, in spite of its yearly influx of one-and-done passers-through, bogs down due to an overall lack of elite talent – the NBA is home to some of the best athletes in the world and Walker would fit right in.
The NBA Draft will be held in The Barclays Center (New York) on June 21st and will be televised on ESPN.