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Dalton Knecht expected to be a lottery pick in NBA Draft because of 'plug-and-play' potential

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey06/01/24

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There won’t be any waiting around for Dalton Knecht once he gets to the NBA. According to ESPN’s latest ranking of the top 100 prospects in the NBA Draft, Tennessee Basketball’s star wing will be a lottery pick because teams view him as a plug-and-play draft pick.

Knecht is ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s top 100.

“Knecht is set to complete his unlikely climb from an older, off-the-radar prospect to a top-10 pick,” ESPN’s Jeremy Woo wrote, “with teams viewing him as a bankable wing scorer who is ready to contribute minutes in the NBA right away. 

“He brings legit positional size at 6-6 in shoes with a 6-9 wingspan, three-level scoring ability and the skill set to be a shooting threat playing off the ball.”

ESPN: ‘Teams expect (Dalton Knecht) to come off the board in the lottery’

The seven players ranked ahead of Knecht are French small forward Zaccharie Risacher, French power forward/center Alex Sarr, UConn center Donovan Clingan, Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, G League Ignite small forward Matas Buzelis, UConn guard Stephon Castle and Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham.

“Knecht isn’t going to be a very good defender, at least not immediately,” Woo wrote. “But his lack of high-level experience prior to landing at Tennessee, as well as his impressive production there, creates a degree of intriguing upside, even for a prospect who’s already 23 years old. Teams expect him to come off the board in the lottery.”

Knecht was a First Team All-American and finished as a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award after averaging 21.1 points per game last season and 25.5 in SEC play. He was First Team All-SEC and won SEC Player of the Year.

At the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Knecht had the fastest time in the shuttle run (2.79 seconds), was second fastest in the lane agility drill (10.56 seconds) and was 11th in three-quarter sprint (3.07 seconds). He finished 12th in max vertical (39.0 inches) and 18th in standing vertical (31.0). 

He was also second in spot-up shooting, making 84% of his shots in the drill, and was fourth in on-the-move shooting, averaging 72.0%. 

ESPN Mock Draft: Dalton Knecht to the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 9 overall

In ESPN’s latest NBA mock draft update on Friday, Knecht stayed where he was projected last week, at No. 9 overall to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

“Considering the team’s timetable,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote in the mock draft, “and the urgency surely in place to make a run back to the NBA playoffs next season, finding plug-and-play options who can contribute immediately without too long of a development runway will be important.

“At 23 years old and coming off an All-America season, Knecht looks like an attractive option. He’s one of the best shooters in this class, putting the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, and has the frame and length to play either wing position.”

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