The results are in for the NBA lottery, which is the final step before the NBA draft on June 23rd.
Assuming both Kessler and Smith are drafted in the first round, that would give the Auburn Basketball program four first-round picks in the last four years. Kessler and Smith would join the likes of Isaac Okoro, and Chuma Okeke as the most recent Tiger basketball players to go in the first round.
This shows how far Coach Bruce Pearl has brought the program in his time on the Plains. Pearl is bringing in another talented class for this upcoming season and will hopefully be able to turn some of that roster into first-round talent.
Now let's take a look at where Kessler and Smith are slated to be drafted in the recent CBS Sports mock draft.
Jabari Smith Second Overall Oklahoma City Thunder
It has been debated about by basketball analysts for months now where the three college basketball stars, Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero, will be drafted. Many different mock drafts have these three guys in different orders. The Thunder are in need of front-court help, and Smith can provide that for them. With the talented Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey already on the Thunder roster, Smith could make this team a playoff contender in his rookie year.
Walker Kessler 29th Overall Memphis Grizzlies
Kessler was the best defender in college basketball last season, which has helped him be such a highly rated pro prospect. Kessler is the best rim protector in this year's draft class and could instantly help the Memphis Grizzlies, who are already a playoff team, thanks to Ja Morant. If Kessler were to be selected by the Grizzlies, he would have a chance to be the backup center behind veteran Steven Adams. This would allow Kessler to learn from a veteran in his rookie year and then hopefully take over the position after Adams contract is up in 2024.
The NBA Draft will be a highly anticipated event in the Auburn community as these two talented young men will hear their names called. Smith and Kessler have brought all of us Auburn fans joy over the past months, and it will be exciting to see their professional careers take off. Thanks to these guys, the Auburn Basketball team is in a really good spot going forward.
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