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NBA Draft

Willie Cauley-Stein Climbing Into Top Five?

Willie Cauley-Stein is playing his way into the top five despite the odds being against him.

Yannis Koutroupis

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Since John Calipari took over the Kentucky basketball program in 2009, he has turned it into a factory for NBA draft picks. Nineteen of his players have been drafted during this five-year stretch, most of them as underclassmen who “succeeded and proceeded” as Cal likes to call it rather than being one (or two in some cases)-and-done.

Junior center Willie Cauley-Stein very easily could have joined that group, but has surprised everybody by sticking around for two more years than he really had to. While Cauley-Stein didn’t dominate as a freshman or sophomore, he did more than enough to help secure a spot in the first round. Yet, he passed on the bright lights and the large paychecks because he wanted to compete for a national championship and develop more before making the jump to the NBA.

The odds were against him to increase his stock much. Projected to be a mid-to-late first rounder in each of the last two years, Cauley-Stein is going to be a year older – which is always a big difference due to the value put on youth in the draft. Only a combined eight juniors have been selected in the top 10 over the last five years, including just one in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He also stood the chance to lose minutes to another talented recruiting class brought in by Calipari that has the potential to produce a few additional draft picks as soon as this year.

However, things have started to click for Cauley-Stein in a way that they never have before at the perfect time. He’s actually leading the Wildcats in minutes played at 24 a night because he has become the anchor of their top-ranked, and flat out suffocating at most times, defense. Cauley-Stein is averaging 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks a game, but that hardly tells the story of how good he has been this season.

On a per-40 minute basis, he’s putting up 16.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.8 blocks. He’s shooting the ball at an incredibly efficient 60 percent from the field, and is up to 60 percent at the free throw line as well – a 23 percent increase from his freshman year. He’s also only fouling 2.9 times per 40 minutes, compared to 4.1 as a freshman and 4.5 as a sophomore. His PER of 31.16 puts him among the top 30 in the country and most importantly he’s in a class of his own even in a draft like this that may be remembered for its abundance of talented big man.

As a true seven footer (in shoes) with a 7’2 wingspan and a 9’2 standing reach, Cauley-Stein is without any question the most imposing defensive force college basketball has to offer. With him serving as the final line of defense, Kentucky is number one in four major statistical categories: points allowed (47.8), scoring margin (27.5), blocked shots (8.2) and field goal percentage defense (29.7). They’re 13-0 thanks largely to their defense with their most difficult opponents already defeated. They could run through SEC play in record fashion, which is why a lot of people are talking about the potential of them running the table and going undefeated en route to winning the national championship.

Cauley-Stein doesn’t just serve as the last line of defense, though. What makes him a truly special prospect is his ability to impact the game defensively without just hanging around the rim waiting to block shots. He excels at hedging on the pick-and-roll and helping against attacking guards. In fact, his perimeter defense and lateral movement are so adept for someone of his size that Calipari often plays him at the top of their full court press, where his size, length and mobility make him a scary sight for guards trying to advance the ball.

And, surprisingly, Cauley-Stein has even impressed offensively. He’s developed some noticeable polish on that end of the floor. He may never be a primary option offensively, but he doesn’t look to be limited to just a finisher around the rim as some worried he could be early on in his career.

If the latest trend holds true and only one junior is selected in the top 10, it’s almost a virtual lock to be Cauley-Stein. That may be selling him a bit short, though. The top five is not out of the question at all. His major improvements this year help create the belief that there are other levels he can take his game to still. He is only 21 years old after all. But, unlike some of the younger underclassmen who will be his biggest competition to go in that range, he has the ability to come in and help right away. Often compared to Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, who has won a championship and is having a huge year for the contending Mavericks this year, Cauley-Stein should be able to do a lot of the same things over the course of his career.

Of the teams vying for a spot in the top five, Cauley-Stein jumps out as a most ideal fit on the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves depending on whether they plan to shop Nikola Pekovic. He’d also be great in Boston, Indiana, Charlotte and New Orleans.

That is – if he decides to leave. While it may seem like a foregone conclusion, the decision was nearly as clear-cut the last two years too. Very few people would have stayed in his position, so it’d be silly to rule it out a third time.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – First Round – 08/21/2020

The 2020 NBA Draft order is now locked in, however, there are tons of additional questions to be answered in the coming weeks. Here is a look at the first round, in this Basketball Insiders Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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To say the 2020 NBA Draft has been chaotic is an understatement, however with last night’s NBA Draft Lottery out of the way, things are starting to at least trend in a positive direction.

That doesn’t mean there are not challenges ahead, namely when the actual NBA Draft will take place.

There is a growing sense that the NBA and the players are going to push back the start of the next cap year, which will likely impact when and how the NBA Draft plays out.

Typically, the Draft is a major transaction window for NBA teams, and with so much unknown surrounding how the salary cap will be set, and when trades and transactions typically consummated around the draft would become official, there is a lot of uncertainty, making the 2020 NBA draft wide open on many fronts.

The hope among teams is that some clarity on all of this will surface in the coming weeks, but for now most teams are operating in uncharted waters.

With all of that in mind, here is a look at the 2020 NBA Draft First round, which will be the first of many weekly Mock Drafts we’ll be dropping all the way up to the draft, whenever that finally gets set.

The Basketball Insiders Annual Consensus Mock Drafts will begin in September, as will full 60-pick mocks starting next week, so stay tuned.

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NBA Draft

NBA ANNOUNCES EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, April 28, 2020 – The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.

Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing 10 days prior to the 2020 NBA Draft.

Following is the list of players from colleges and other educational institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

Player

School

Height

Status

Precious Achiuwa

Memphis

6-9

Freshman

Milan Acquaah

California Baptist

6-3

Junior

Jordyn Adams

Austin Peay

6-3

Freshman

Abdul Ado

Mississippi State

6-11

Junior

Ty-Shon Alexander

Creighton

6-4

Junior

Timmy Allen

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Derrick Alston Jr.

Boise State

6-9

Junior

Cole Anthony

North Carolina

6-3

Freshman

Joel Ayayi

Gonzaga

6-5

Sophomore

Brendan Bailey

Marquette

6-8

Sophomore

Saddiq Bey

Villanova

6-8

Sophomore

Tyler Bey

Colorado

6-7

Junior

Jermaine Bishop

Norfolk State

6-1

Junior

Jomaru Brown

Eastern Kentucky

6-2

Sophomore

Marcus Burk

IUPUI

6-3

Junior

Dachon Burke Jr.

Nebraska

6-4

Junior

Jordan Burns

Colgate

6-0

Junior

Jared Butler

Baylor

6-3

Sophomore

Manny Camper

Siena

6-7

Junior

Vernon Carey Jr.

Duke

6-10

Freshman

Marcus Carr

Minnesota

6-2

Sophomore

Tamenang Choh

Brown

6-5

Junior

Kofi Cockburn

Illinois

7-0

Freshman

David Collins

South Florida

6-3

Junior

Zach Cooks

NJIT

5-9

Junior

Jalen Crutcher

Dayton

6-1

Junior

Ryan Daly

St. Joseph’s

6-5

Junior

Nate Darling

Delaware

6-5

Junior

Darius Days

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Dexter Dennis

Wichita State

6-5

Sophomore

Lamine Diane

CSUN

6-7

Sophomore

Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois

6-5

Sophomore

Devon Dotson

Kansas

6-2

Sophomore

Nojel Eastern

Purdue

6-7

Junior

Anthony Edwards

Georgia

6-5

Freshman

CJ Elleby

Washington State

6-6

Sophomore

Mason Faulkner

Western Carolina

6-1

Junior

LJ Figueroa

St. John’s

6-6

Junior

Malik Fitts

St. Mary’s

6-8

Junior

Malachi Flynn

San Diego State

6-1

Junior

Blake Francis

Richmond

6-0

Junior

Hasahn French

St. Louis

6-7

Junior

DJ Funderburk

NC State

6-10

Junior

Both Gach

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Gaffney

Ohio State

6-9

Freshman

Luka Garza

Iowa

6-11

Junior

Jacob Gilyard

Richmond

5-9

Junior

Grant Golden

Richmond

6-10

Junior

Jordan Goodwin

St. Louis

6-3

Junior

Tony Goodwin II

Redemption Academy (MA)

6-6

Post-Graduate

Jayvon Graves

Buffalo

6-3

Junior

AJ Green

Northern Iowa

6-4

Sophomore

Darin Green Jr.

UCF

6-4

Freshman

Josh Green

Arizona

6-6

Freshman

Ashton Hagans

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State

6-5

Sophomore

Josh Hall

Moravian Prep (NC)

6-8

Post-Graduate

Rayshaun Hammonds

Georgia

6-9

Junior

Jalen Harris

Nevada

6-5

Junior

Niven Hart

Fresno State

6-5

Freshman

Aaron Henry

Michigan State

6-6

Sophomore

Jalen Hill

UCLA

6-10

Sophomore

Nate Hinton

Houston

6-5

Sophomore

Jay Huff

Virginia

7-1

Junior

Elijah Hughes

Syracuse

6-6

Junior

Feron Hunt

SMU

6-8

Sophomore

Chance Hunter

Long Beach State

6-6

Sophomore

DeJon Jarreau

Houston

6-5

Junior

Damien Jefferson

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Joe

Arkansas

6-5

Sophomore

Dakari Johnson

Cape Fear CC (NC)

6-0

Freshman

Jalen Johnson

Louisiana

6-7

Junior

Andre Jones

Nicholls State

6-4

Junior

C.J. Jones

MTSU

6-5

Junior

Herbert Jones

Alabama

6-7

Junior

Mason Jones

Arkansas

6-5

Junior

Tre Jones

Duke

6-3

Sophomore

Corey Kispert

Gonzaga

6-7

Junior

Kameron Langley

NC A&T

6-2

Junior

AJ Lawson

South Carolina

6-6

Sophomore

Saben Lee

Vanderbilt

6-2

Junior

Kira Lewis Jr.

Alabama

6-3

Sophomore

Matt Lewis

James Madison

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Livers

Michigan

6-7

Junior

Denzel Mahoney

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Makur Maker

Pacific Academy (CA)

7-0

Post-Graduate

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Seton Hall

6-11

Junior

Tre Mann

Florida

6-4

Freshman

Nico Mannion

Arizona

6-3

Freshman

Naji Marshall

Xavier

6-7

Junior

Kenyon Martin Jr.

IMG Academy (FL)

6-7

Post-Graduate

Remy Martin

Arizona State

6-0

Junior

Tyrese Maxey

Kentucky

6-3

Freshman

Mac McClung

Georgetown

6-2

Sophomore

Jaden McDaniels

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Isiaha Mike

SMU

6-8

Junior

Isaiah Miller

UNCG

6-0

Junior

Matt Mitchell

San Diego State

6-6

Junior

EJ Montgomery

Kentucky

6-10

Sophomore

Andrew Nembhard

Florida

6-5

Sophomore

Aaron Nesmith

Vanderbilt

6-6

Sophomore

Zeke Nnaji

Arizona

6-11

Freshman

Obadiah Noel

Massachusetts-Lowell

6-4

Junior

Jordan Nwora

Louisville

6-7

Junior

Onyeka Okongwu

USC

6-9

Freshman

Isaac Okoro

Auburn

6-6

Freshman

Elijah Olaniyi

Stony Brook

6-5

Junior

Daniel Oturu

Minnesota

6-10

Sophomore

Reggie Perry

Mississippi State

6-10

Sophomore

Filip Petrusev

Gonzaga

6-11

Sophomore

John Petty Jr.

Alabama

6-5

Junior

Nate Pierre-Louis

Temple

6-4

Junior

Xavier Pinson

Missouri

6-2

Sophomore

Yves Pons

Tennessee

6-6

Junior

Immanuel Quickley

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Darius Quisenberry

Youngstown State

6-1

Sophomore

Jahmi’us Ramsey

Texas Tech

6-4

Freshman

Paul Reed Jr.

DePaul

6-9

Junior

Nick Richards

Kentucky

6-11

Junior

Colbey Ross

Pepperdine

6-1

Junior

Fatts Russell

Rhode Island

5-10

Junior

Joe Saterfield

Ranger CC (TX)

6-4

Freshman

Jayden Scrubb

John A. Logan College (IL)

6-6

Sophomore

Aamir Simms

Clemson

6-9

Junior

Ja’Vonte Smart

LSU

6-4

Sophomore

Chris Smith

UCLA

6-9

Junior

Collin Smith

UCF

6-11

Junior

Jalen Smith

Maryland

6-10

Sophomore

Justin Smith

Indiana

6-7

Junior

Mitchell Smith

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Stef Smith

Vermont

6-1

Junior

Ben Stanley

Hampton

6-6

Sophomore

Cassius Stanley

Duke

6-6

Freshman

Isaiah Stewart

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Parker Stewart

UT-Martin

6-5

Sophomore

Terry Taylor

Austin Peay

6-5

Junior

MaCio Teague

Baylor

6-3

Junior

Tyrell Terry

Stanford

6-1

Freshman

Justin Thomas

Morehead State

5-11

Junior

Ethan Thompson

Oregon State

6-5

Junior

Xavier Tillman Sr.

Michigan State

6-8

Junior

Jeremiah Tilmon

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Obi Toppin

Dayton

6-9

Sophomore

Jordan Tucker

Butler

6-7

Junior

Devin Vassell

Florida State

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Verge Jr.

Arizona State

6-3

Junior

Chris Vogt

Cincinnati

7-1

Junior

CJ Walker

Ohio State

6-1

Junior

Trendon Watford

LSU

6-9

Freshman

Ibi Watson

Dayton

6-5

Junior

Nick Weatherspoon

Mississippi State

6-2

Junior

Kaleb Wesson

Ohio State

6-9

Junior

Jarrod West

Marshall

5-11

Junior

Romello White

Arizona State

6-8

Junior

Kahlil Whitney

Kentucky

6-6

Freshman

DeAndre Williams

Evansville

6-9

Sophomore

Emmitt Williams

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Keith Williams

Cincinnati

6-5

Junior

Patrick Williams

Florida State

6-8

Freshman

James Wiseman

Memphis

7-1

Freshman

Robert Woodard II

Mississippi State

6-7

Sophomore

McKinley Wright IV

Colorado

6-0

Junior

Omer Yurtseven

Georgetown

7-0

Junior

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft:

Player

Team/Country of Team

Height

Status

Berke Atar

MZT Skopje (Macedonia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Deni Avdija

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-8

2001 DOB

Brancou Badio

Barcelona (Spain)

6-3

1999 DOB

Darko Bajo

Split (Croatia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Philippe Bayehe

Roseto (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marek Blazevic

Rytas (Lithuania)

6-10

2001 DOB

Adrian Bogucki

Radom (Poland)

7-1

1999 DOB

Leandro Bolmaro

Barcelona (Spain)

6-6

2000 DOB

Vinicius Da Silva

Prat (Spain)

7-0

2001 DOB

Henri Drell

Pesaro (Italy)

6-9

2000 DOB

Imru Duke

Zentro Basket (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Michele Ebeling

Kleb Ferrara (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Paul Eboua

Pesaro (Italy)

6-8

2000 DOB

Osas Ehigiator

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-10

1999 DOB

Joel Ekamba

Limoges (France)

6-5

2001 DOB

Selim Fofana

Neuchatel (Switzerland)

6-3

1999 DOB

Miguel Gonzalez

Baskonia (Spain)

6-7

1999 DOB

Killian Hayes

Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

6-5

2001 DOB

Sehmus Hazer

Bandirma (Turkey)

6-3

1999 DOB

Rokas Jokubaitis

Zalgiris (Lithuania)

6-4

2000 DOB

Georgios Kalaitzakis

Nevezis (Lithuania)

6-8

1999 DOB

Vit Krejci

Zaragoza (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Arturs Kurucs

VEF Riga (Latvia)

6-3

2000 DOB

Dut Mabor

Roseto (Italy)

7-1

2001 DOB

Yam Madar

Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-2

2000 DOB

Theo Maledon

ASVEL (France)

6-4

2001 DOB

Karim Mane

Vanier (Canada)

6-5

2000 DOB

Sergi Martinez

Barcelona (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Nikola Miskovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Aristide Mouaha

Roseto (Italy)

6-3

2000 DOB

Caio Pacheco

Bahia Basket (Argentina)

6-3

1999 DOB

Joel Parra

Joventut (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Aleksej Pokusevski

Olympiacos (Greece)

7-0

2001 DOB

Sander Raieste

Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)

6-9

1999 DOB

Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos

AEK (Greece)

6-8

2001 DOB

Yigitcan Saybir

Anadolu Efes (Turkey)

6-7

1999 DOB

Njegos Sikiras

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marko Simonovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Mouhamed Thiam

Nanterre (France)

6-9

2001 DOB

Uros Trifunovic

Partizan (Serbia)

6-7

2000 DOB

Arnas Velicka

Prienai (Lithuania)

6-4

1999 DOB

Andrii Voinalovych

Khimik (Ukraine)

6-10

1999 DOB

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