“There’s the NBA Draft and then there’s the second draft which is the players that go undrafted,” ESPN’s front office insider, Bobby Marks, said during a teleconference Wednesday. “We’ll probably hear their names around one o’clock in the morning as far as they’re committing to a summer league team.”
Shaedon Sharpe and TyTy Washington are widely projected as first-round picks. Sharpe, who only practiced after joining the team at midseason, is seen as a lottery pick. Washington, an All-SEC second-team selection as a freshman, is seen being picked in the middle of the first round.
Grady and Mintz were keys to Kentucky’s team. Grady led UK in minutes (33.0 ppg) and three-point baskets (88). The latter doubled the second-most made threes: 44 by Mintz.
UK Coach John Calipari promoted Mintz for the SEC Sixth Man of the Year award. Mintz averaged 8.5 points, 24.8 minutes and was third on the team with 55 assists.
“I don’t project either Kellan nor Davion getting drafted,” ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said during a teleconference Tuesday. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not NBA players. It’s important to reiterate that there’s a lot of undrafted free agents in the league.”
Grady’s shooting — 41.7-percent accuracy from three-point range last season — is a “coveted” skill, said NBA consultant Ryan Blake.
Blake dismissed the notion of Grady’s late-season poor shooting being a factor. A player’s overall “body of work” dwarfs any concern about misses in the short term, he said.
ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony said shooting was “that one skill that people are looking for.”
Of Grady, Givony said, “he was pretty good in that G League Elite Camp (in Chicago in mid-May), especially that second day. I think he’s a guy who’s going to have a market tomorrow night as soon as the draft ends.”
The ESPN analysts spoke of Mintz’s game being more difficult to define.
“Not exactly one bankable skill . . . ,” Givony said. “As a 6-3 guy who’s not exactly a point guard, not exactly an elite shooter. Does bring some real toughness on the defensive end. Played a good role for (UK).
“So, I think he’s a guy people will want to have on their summer league team, and we could definitely see in the G League next year.”
Blake said Mintz was not likely to be drafted before adding, “but his phone will be ringing as soon as that draft is over.”
Assist to Maxey?
Former UK player Tyrese Maxey was the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. That came into question after he averaged 17.5 points and played in the 2022 NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
If the 2020 NBA Draft had a do-over, where would Maxey be picked?
“Higher than 21, I know that,” Bilas said. “He’s been fantastic.
“And I think his performance along with Immanuel Quickley’s in New York makes you take another look at TyTy Washington and say, hey, if these Kentucky guys are out-performing what you thought they were in college, maybe you take a harder look at TyTy Washington.”
Bilas on Sharpe
When asked what he’d say to Kentucky fans unhappy with Sharpe practicing, but not playing in his only college season, Bilas was not sympathetic.
“I don’t know whether Kentucky fans or any college fans think they are owed (something from) a player,” he said.
Bilas downplayed the notion that Sharpe’s lack of college game experience could hurt how he’s projected as an NBA Draft pick.
“I don’t think there’s any concern over that . . . ,” Bilas said.
Had he decided to play for Kentucky next season, Sharpe would be considered a possible overall No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Bilas said.
“When I would go and watch Kentucky practice, I was supposed to be watching the team,” Bilas said. “But my eyes kept going over to Sharpe where he was working on the side with one of the coaches. And he was hard to take your eyes off of. He is amazingly talented.”
Not for the first time, BIlas questioned the validity of college programs claiming to produce professional players.
“I always ask the question: which high school coach produces the most pros?” he said. “Or which NBA coach produces the most all-stars? We don’t couch it that way with regard to any other level of play.”
Why do college programs trumpet the number of players who later became pros? “Because colleges recruit,” Bilas said. Trumpeting the professional players that came from a college program is part of a recruiting pitch
“That’s not to say (Nick) Saban or (John) Calipari or Hubert Davis don’t do a great job,” Bilas said. “They do. But you recruit pros. And in years you don’t have pros, you don’t look at those coaches and say, what happened? Why didn’t you develop more pros?
“It’s really about recruiting.”
2022 NBA Draft
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
TV: ABC-36 (first-round only), ESPN (both rounds)