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Early Mock Drafts Favor Kentucky Guard Hamidou Diallo to Portland

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It’s never too early for mock drafts, and some of the best in the business give their early takes on who they think the Blazers will pick.

NCAA Basketball: Vermont at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

With the 365-day, 24-hour league the NBA has become, premature coverage is practically a given. The NBA draft is the embodiment of that non-stop coverage. Mock drafts are already rolling in, and we’re here to sift through who pundits think the Portland Trail Blazers will select.

Currently, the Trail Blazers stand at 13-12, good for sixth in the Western Conference. They are in the middle of a four-game skid, and some fans are ready to tank after the slow overall start. Portland owns just one pick, their own, in the 2018 NBA Draft, so let’s see who experts like for the Blazers…

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated has the Blazers taking Kentucky freshman shooting guard Hamidou Diallo with the No. 19 pick (from Dec. 4):

He’s an exceptional athlete whose skills and feel need added polish, but with first-round intrigue nonetheless. Diallo needs to improve his jumper and handle to score consistently in the NBA, but gets away with a lot of things thanks to his explosion and quickness. Scouts will watch to see if he can turn a corner and utilize those gifts in a meaningful way. He’d be a nice developmental player for the Blazers.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider required) has the Blazers taking Oregon freshman shooting guard Troy Brown with the No. 18 pick (from Dec. 5):

The Blazers don't have much depth on the wing and could be looking to upgrade at that spot this summer.

Brown is one of the most versatile players in the freshman class, with his ability to defend multiple positions, rebound and make plays for others, even if Oregon has been somewhat disappointing so far.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has the Blazers selecting Diallo as well, this time with the No. 17 pick (from Dec. 7):

We've seen the good and the bad from Hamidou Diallo through eight games.

Even if he continues to mix promising flashes with poor execution and decisions, the positives should still be enough to warrant top-20 interest.

Diallo is as one of the draft's top athletes, with Andrew Wiggins-like length, quickness and bounce. And he's delivered encouraging glimpses of budding skill, whether it's been with his handle or pull-up.

But Diallo has only made five of 17 threes and 12 of 35 two-point jumpers. For a non-playmaker, he'll need to convince scouts his perimeter shot-making and creating are on track to improve.

Diallo made headlines last draft for not entering even though he was eligible coming out of high school, like Milwaukee Bucks center Thon Maker was in 2016. Superb athleticism is the clear-cut biggest strength in Diallo’s game—he recorded the second-highest vertical in combine history last May.

He is currently averaging 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists over nine games for Kentucky this season while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 190 pounds.

You can learn more about Diallo (no relation to Cheick Diallo) from Givony and Mike Schmitz’ DraftExpress profile of Diallo, here.

Do you see him as a potential fit for this Trail Blazers roster come summer? Will the team look different by then? How do you think Diallo could be used in Portland?