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Where Dalton Knecht Lands in Post-Season NBA Mock Draft

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

With the conclusion of the 2023-2024 basketball season and the UConn Huskies taking home their second straight NCAA Championship, eyes are now turning to the transfer portal and the NBA Draft.

Tennessee’s basketball program is in both conversations. While the Vols are dealing with transfer portal movement like everyone else, Tennessee is also looking to put SEC Player of the Year Dalton Knecht into the association as one of the highest-drafted players in U.T. history.

Knecht arrived to Tennessee for one season and immediately made an impact on the team and the conference. Once Knecht was warmed up and healthy by the time conference play started, it was hard to stop the 6-foot-6 senior from scoring above and below the perimeter. Knecht’s NBA profile continued to rise as he continued to score for the Volunteers.

In the latest NBA Mock Draft from ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Jonathan Givony, Dalton Knecht is projected to go ninth overall to the Houston Rockets in a pick acquired through the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets have some young core pieces and present an opportunity for Knecht to start competing with his teammates early on. Houston is led by stars such as Dillon Brooks, Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green, Fred VanVleet, and Alperen Sengun.

“Shooting will likely be a priority for Houston this summer, and the dynamic perimeter game of the nearly 23-year-old Knecht — who made 40% of his 3s this season — could be attractive with this pick,” Givony wrote for the pick.

Knecht started all 36 games for Tennessee this season and finished the year averaging 21.7 points (T-14th nationally), 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game to go along with 45.8 percent shooting from the floor.

“Well, he’s only getting started,” Rick Barnes said during the NCAA Tournament on what he would say to NBA scouts inquiring about Knecht. “He’s just getting started. He came — I mean, offensively he’s going to continue to get better there. He’s what I would call a flame thrower. He gets his shot off, you’re not going to affect him with it… He’s a young, 22-year-old kid that’s really just getting started. He loves the game. He works at it. It’s going to be fun going forward to watch how much he improves.”

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In the last month of the college basketball season, Knecht was pretty much sitting with a projection between No. 7 and No. 15 according to various outlets, indicating that the former Tennessee star will be a fringe Top 10 pick but almost certainly a lottery pick.

Tennessee has produced three first-round draft picks following the 2011 draft, with Jaden Springer going 28th overall to the Sixers in 2021, Keon Johnson going 21st overall to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2021, and Grant Williams going 22nd overall to the Boston Celtics in 2019. Before that, Tobias Harris was the last Vol to go in the first round, going 19th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011.

While it doesn’t look like Dalton Knecht will be competing for the highest draft position in Tennessee history (Tom Boerwinkle went fourth overall in the 1968 draft), some players are in play for Knecht to pass.

Bernard King went seventh overall while Ernie Grunfeld went 11th overall in the 1977 NBA Draft while Dale Ellis went ninth overall in the 1983 draft. Allan Houston went 11th overall in the 1993 draft while Marcus Haislip went 13th overall in 2002.

Knecht looks to be right in the King to Haislip range for the draft this June.

Other notable selections from Givony and Woo’s mock draft for ESPN include Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham at No. 4, Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard at No. 7, Purdue’s Zach Edey at No. 15, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski at No. 16, Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman at No. 38, and Arkansas’ Trevon Brazile at No. 44, also to the Houston Rockets.

Check out the full NBA Mock Draft from ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Jonathan Givony by clicking here.

The NBA Draft will begin on Wednesday, June 26, from the Barclay’s Center in New York.

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