NBA Mock Draft: DeAndre Ayton joins the Hawks

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Deandre Ayton
TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Deandre Ayton /
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Kevin Knox. 8. player. 79. . F. Kentucky

The way Knox combines burst and touch is impressive, and it’s what makes him one of the better wing prospects in this draft.

He’s what I wanted Alex Poythress — a four-year player at Kentucky who recently signed a two-way deal with the Indiana Pacers — to be all along. Poythress could never consistently put it together on both ends of the court under John Calipari, and ended up being one of the guys who stays around in that program rather than jumping straight to the draft, partially due to an injury in his junior season.

Knox plays with a similar explosiveness, taking advantage of superior length to get around and past players on offense. His nimbleness around the rim is what pushes him to another echelon as a NBA prospect. The freshman can put the ball in the hoop from every level, flashing a turnaround jumper and face-up game from the post as well as angular floaters and layups on drives. A 32 percent season from deep completes the package.

While Knox is flashy and overflowing with potential on offense, he has the tools to be elite on defense as a switchable athlete. Watching him play on that end, especially when teammates Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards are locked in and aggressive, is incredible. Calipari has allowed his guys to switch screens frequently this season, and Knox’s ability to read those plays and recover to play the passing lanes and contest shots is delightful.

He has a wildly high ceiling, and despite a 4-10 shooting streak to open conference play, is showing all the right signs.