NBA Mock Draft 2015: Edition 1
Despite having the worst record in the league this season, there is general optimism surrounding the Timberwolves, following the superb rookie seasons of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. The team's core could become even more exciting if they select Towns here. Gifted with great size, Towns showed the potential to be a stretch four, knocking down from mid range and free throws at an impressive rate. He also is a better defender than Jahlil Okafor, something Minnesota will certainly need to add.
2. Los Angeles Lakers Jahlil Okafor, C
The Lakers really hit on their draft last season, picking up guard Jordan Clarkson, who was phenomenal this season, and although we saw just minutes of him before he broke his leg, Julius Randle looked wonderful in preseason. Los Angeles could continue building a future by selecting a truly dominant big man. Okafor will almost certainly improve from the free throw line, and you cannot teach his size and polish around the hoop.
3. Philadelphia Sixers D'Angelo Russell, G
After their stunning trade deadline deals of Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee) and K.J. McDaniels (Houston), the Sixers will almost certainly be looking for long term solutions in their backcourt. Russell is perhaps the best pure scorer in the draft, but also possesses great court vision and could grow into a formidable defender. I have questions about his ability to play the point guard position, but he would immediately add scoring punch to a team that needs it.
4. New York Knicks Emmanuel Mudiay, G
In a season filled with embarrassing performances and dealing away the only real pieces they had left, beyond Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks dropping to the 4 spot was a massive disappointment. Still, the team has a chance to snatch up a franchise point guard in Mudiay. A tremendous athlete with great size, Mudiay will have to improve his shooting and decision-making, but will be able to grow under Derek Fisher, a former point guard himself.
5. Orlando Magic Kristaps Porzingis, F
While the first four picks of this Draft certainly aren't set in stone, there is common knowledge about who the top four players in this Draft are. Things get a little more interesting after that, and Orlando has plenty of options. To me, Porzingis offers considerable upside at a need position and will create a wonderful pair with Nikola Vuvecic. The Latvian big man is a great athlete and rebounder but could also grow into a stretch four, which is all the rage in the NBA these days.
6. Sacramento Kings Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Beyond Demarcus Cousins, the Kings' frontcourt is extremely limited and needs to be addressed as Sacramento moves into the George Karl era. Cauley-Stein is still growing as an offensive player but the raw athleticism is there offensively. His strength clearly lies defensively, he is a shot block machine and he moves well enough and has enough recognition that it is reasonable to presume that shot blocking can transfer over to the league.
7. Denver Nuggets Mario Hezonja, G/F
The Nuggets aren't a terrible team, and possibly adding an NBA ready piece could push them back into relative contenders in the brutal Western Conference. Hezonja, a Croatian guard, is certainly ready for the NBA. A gifted shooter with a pure stroke, Hezonja is smooth of the pick-and-roll and a terrific slasher. He didn't see a ton of playing time in the Euroleague, but when given the minutes, he always produces.
8. Detroit Pistons Justise Winslow, G/F
Winslow's stock soared after a wonderful NCAA Tournament, but I still have questions about him, and there is some chance he could drop, though he won't fall past Detroit, who needs a wing. Winslow is a wonderful athlete but is a relatively one-dimensional offensive player, as he lacks consistent shooting. His defense is solid, but he is obviously young and he will need time to grow. Even with his inconsistent shot, he is still a major improvement over the joke Josh Smith was at small forward in Detroit.
9. Charlotte Hornets Stanley Johnson, G
After bringing in Lance Stephenson from Indiana, Charlotte hoped they had solved their shooting guard problems. That was not clearly not the case, as by midseason, the Hornets were looking to trade Stephenson and search for solutions at shooting guard. They can fix them by picking up Stanley Johnson. The Arizona product isn't a consistent shooter, but has natural athleticism and can grow into an elite defender.
10. Miami Heat Kelly Oubre, G/F
Despite having a strong roster last season, the Heat's injuries mounted contributing to a disappointing year without a Playoff berth, even after a late season Goran Dragic deal. Armed with the 10th pick, they can afford to take it on a high-potential, high risk player because he could grow behind their strong starting lineup. Oubre fits that criteria; the former Kansas Jayhawk is a wonderful athlete but is still average in nearly every other part of his game.
11. Indiana Pacers Frank Kaminsky, F/C
A Midwestern kid born and raised and playing college ball at Wisconsin, Kaminsky would be a great fit in the small market Indiana Pacers. The Pacers would also certainly love him, Roy Hibbert's career has seriously gone downhill and his future in Indiana is uncertain and David West continues to age at power forward.
12. Utah Jazz Myles Turner, F/C
The No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2014, Turner had an up-and-down lone season in the Lone Star State with Texas. At times he looked like a legit NBA forward but other times he looked lost and frankly, really bad. Even so, he would be a pretty good fit in Utah. The Jazz top big men, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors operate solely on the block, and Turner's floor-stretching abilities will provide them with more space.
13. Phoenix Suns Devin Booker, G
Once more, the Suns were good enough to be in the Playoff hunt in the tough Western Conference but still lacked much offensive punch. Adding another dynamic shooter to a backcourt that has weak-shooting guard Eric Bledsoe as it's top player is a great idea. Booker slumped towards the end of his collegiate season, but is a great shooter and has good size for a shooting guard.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder Cameron Payne, G
After dealing away disgruntled Reggie Jackson this season, the Thunder will be searching for a new backup point guard in this draft. Payne, a high volume scorer from Murray State, would be a wonderful pickup. Payne is a great shooter but also has great handles and solid athleticism. He will only grow under the leadership of Russell Westbrook and new coach Billy Donovan.
15. Atlanta Hawks Trey Lyles, F
With Paul Millsap, the Hawks have been gifted with a low cost forward with excellent versatility and a gritty worker. Though, Millsap is aging and his replacement must be drafted soon. Lyles is also a versatile forward with great shooting touch and he will only grow as a scorer on the block, certainly a weakness this past season.
16. Boston Celtics Bobby Portis, F
Despite being a very heralded prospect coming into Arkansas two years ago, Portis struggled in his first season with the Razorbacks for the most part. That completely changed last year, when Portis used a larger frame and more complete jumper to help guide the 'Hogs to their first tournament appearance in a long time. Boston would see him as the top available prospect here, and a long term option at the power forward slot.
17. Milwaukee Bucks Sam Dekker, F
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Dekker stays in the state, as the Bucks take a chance on the forward with this pick. A wonderful NCAA Tournament showcased Dekker's versatility; a 6'9" forward, he can also play multiple positions and shoot the ball effectively. Already with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, the Bucks could continue to add studs to their frontcourt here.
18. Houston Rockets Tyus Jones, PG
No player meant more to his team than Tyus Jones meant to Duke throughout the 2014-2015 season. The true freshman constantly hit big shots late in games, orchestrated a wonderful offense, and was the star in their NCAA Championship victory. Houston needs a backup point guard and Jones certainly would be a steal here, although he has to get stronger and more consistent from deep at the next level.
19. Washington Wizards Kevon Looney, F
With their backcourt clearly set, with John Wall and Brad Beal, Washington continues to work on their frontcourt, one that is devoid of any real prospect to get excited about. Looney was solid this past season at UCLA, but his stock is based mostly on his potential. He is an okay rebounder and decent shooter, but has natural athleticism and will make some crazy plays in the NBA. Unlikely to play big minutes early, Looney will learn and grow in Washington.
20. Toronto Raptors Montrezl Harrell, F
A possible lottery pick if he had entered last year, Harrell made a questionable decision returning to Louisville. He put together a strong year, but there are certainly major questions about his next level strengths. He is a low post player but at 6'7" he won't be big enough to do much in the NBA, and he remains a tweener. Even so, Toronto has depth concerns on the wing, and that may be where Harrell ends up seeing a lot of time in the pros.
21. Dallas Mavericks Jerian Grant, G
The Rajon Rondo experiment in Dallas was a major failure and things got so bad, Dallas essentially told him they were better of without him towards the end of their series against Houston. The Mavs would love to add a guard in free agency, but if they go after a bigger dog (DeAndre Jordan, Lamarcus Aldridge) they won't have the cap. The solution would be picking up Grant here, a seasoned vet who has impressive shooting range.
22. Chicago Bulls Justin Anderson, G/F
Even with a career year from Jimmy Butler and a relatively healthy Derrick Rose, the Bulls still lacked much offensive punch, a major reason they were ousted early in the Playoffs. Justin Anderson would be a great pickup, providing plenty of offensive punch. The Virginia Cavalier product is a gifted shooter and has the mix of size and speed to get to the rim.
23. Portland Trail Blazers Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, G/F
Even with the midseason addition of guard Arron Afflalo, Portland's bench was still a major liability once again, a key reason the team was dominated by Memphis in the Playoffs. Picking up Hollis-Jefferson here would be a major helper. Still growing, Hollis-Jefferson doesn't have much of a shot but has wonderful athleticism and great size for a shooting guard, if that's where he ends up.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers R.J. Hunter, G
Despite flirting with the idea the whole year, Ray Allen never ended up signing in Cleveland, keep LeBron away from help in the form of perhaps the greatest shooter in the history of the sport. I'm not saying R.J. Hunter is Ray Allen, but he certainly is a great shooter, who proved it with his miraculous game winner against Baylor. Hunter put up great numbers at Georgia State, and would provide major floor spacing help to a team that has a lot of penetrators.
25. Memphis Grizzlies Robert Upshaw, C
It's something Memphis may legitimately have to deal with: Marc Gasol leaving to a bigger market this summer, perhaps Los Angeles or New York, when he hits free agency. While Robert Upshaw isn't even close to being the passer or scorer Gasol is, he is a wonderful defender who greatly increased his stock before being kicked out of Washington. If Gasol does leave, Upshaw would be an okay consolation prize.
26. San Antonio Spurs Delon Wright, G
Tony Parker continues to age and Manu Ginobli's career may finally have come to a close. While San Antonio may look at their typical overseas options, Wright would be a steal here. The former Utah guard is a legit scorer with good size and the versatility to play either guard spot, which would obviously be a huge help to the Spurs.
27. Los Angeles Lakers Rashad Vaughn, G
Already drafting Okafor earlier, Los Angeles gets to work on their backcourt by picking up high volume scorer Rashad Vaughn, out of UNLV. Vaughn proved to be a one hit wonder with the Rebels, scoring in a variety of ways. His shot is still inconsistent and maturity concerns are why he is so low, but the talent to be a star is certainly there.
28. Boston Celtics Christian Wood, F
A pick later, Boston should also be looking at a UNLV product in Christian Wood. Although they pick up Portis earlier, they could use even more frontcourt help, and Wood has wonderful upside. He nearly averaged a double-double a game in Las Vegas and has the potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level.
29. Brooklyn Nets Cliff Alexander, F/C
A five-star prospect out of high school, Alexander played very little in one season with Kansas before declaring. Like many others in the first round, this selection is all about potential, though. Alexander is still 6'10" and has NBA strength and power. But, until he develops a shot at the free throw line or anywhere else, he is limited enough to fall into the late first round or second.
30. Golden State Warriors Terry Rozier, G
It isn't like Golden State is going to be searching for much help in their backcourt in the prime of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry's careers, but they could use some depth. After point guard Chris Jones was dismissed at Louisville, Rozier was wonderful taking over as the top guard. He is a quick scorer who will be lethal in space, though lacks a shot and leadership to be a starter from Day One.