Today was a big day for NBA teams hoping to have a high lottery pick in June.
Literally within hours of each other, 3 top college prospects all announced that they would be leaving college for the NBA.
The biggest names to declare today were Karl Towns, Jahlil Okafor and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Towns and Okafor are expected to be selected within the first two picks of the draft, while Cauley-Stein will likely be taken in the top half of the lottery, according to various mock drafts.
Okafor will leave Duke after winning the NCAA national championship in just his first year with the team.
“What a great decision!” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Okafor’s choice, according to the team’s official website. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Jahlil and he has earned it. Obviously, he has done an incredible job here at Duke and he will always be a part of our Duke basketball family. We could not be happier for he and his family.”
It was a big day for Kentucky, too, who saw 7 of their players declare for the draft.
Towns, Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker and Dakari Johnson, as well as twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, all announced that they would be making the leap from college to the NBA.
“It’s about each individual up here making a decision — not based on what’s right for this university, not based on what’s right for me and our staff — but what’s right for them and their families,” UK head coach John Calipari said, according to the team’s official website. “The way this works, I meet with each player after the last game, and truly it’s the morning after the last game. I ask, `Do you want me to explore your options?’ They all said yes. A few said no. We gather the information. We talk to about 20 NBA teams, maybe more. We let the parents talk directly to the NBA so there’s no confusion. We have about a five-minute meeting — maybe. I’m not convincing them to stay and I’m not pushing anybody out the door. This is their choice.”
After using their lottery pick – assuming they have one – Booker and Lyles will likely be out of the Lakers’ range at 17 and 19 respectively, according to Draft Express. Keep in mind L.A. own the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick this year, which is currently sat at 28.
The purple and gold may get a shot at Johnson, however, who is projected to go at 40, thanks to their own second-round pick which is owed to the Orlando Magic but is protected 31-40.
Meanwhile, Andrew Harrison is projected to be taken with the 58th pick, while Aaron is currently expected to go undrafted.
The Lakers could have a maximum of four draft picks in June – two firsts and two seconds – though their main focus will of course be on their lottery pick and whether they get to keep it.
After Wednesday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets,, the Lakers locked up the fourth-worst record in the league which will give them an 82.8 percent chance of hanging on their selection after the draft lottery on May 19.
If the pick falls outside of the top-five the Lakers must send it to the Philadelphia 76ers, who received the selection in a trade with the Phoenix Suns (via the Steve Nash deal) at this year’s trade deadline.
The NBA Draft is set for June 25.