We are less than 10 days away from the 2015 NBA Draft in Barclays Center in Brooklyn. With more rumors heating up, and with speculation of teams trading up or down, what will the first round of the draft look like?
1: Timberwolves- C/PF Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky. Towns is considered the best player in the draft by many NBA scouts, and should be the clear pick for Minnesota first overall. The 7 footer can play both power forward and center, and is able to score in multiple ways. He can get points in the low post, and has a reliable jumpshot. Towns can even knock down a few threes at the NBA level if needed. KAT was able to drive to the rim successfully in college and can handle the ball relatively well for a big man. He is very efficient on the defensive end, where he can block shots, rebound, and read the passing lanes. Towns’ skill set is similar to that of Jahlil Okafors, but what separates the two is Towns’ higher ceiling. Okafor will make the bigger impact immediately, but Towns’ potential to become an elite post-scorer and defender in the NBA plus his ability to stretch the floor, and 82% free throw shooting make Karl-Anthony Towns the ideal first pick for the Timberwolves.
2: Lakers- C Jahlil Okafor, Duke. In my previous mock I had the Lakers selecting Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell, it makes sense for LA to draft a guard for the future and target another one in free agency to back Russell up. Kobe could play SF for his last season, and with a healthy Julius Randle, the Lakers would be set for years to come. However, with more and more reports coming out that the Lakers are targeting Okafor, it seems most likely that LA will select the big man out of Duke. Okafor was able to rebound well, score efficiently, and play solid defense during Duke’s National Championship run, and will immediately help the Lakers alongside PF Julius Randle. Okafor will be able to score in the low post and rebound in his first season. Okafor’s game is not fully polished though, like most big men, Okafor struggles with free throws, shooting an atrocious 51% from the line. With his ability to score in the paint and play defense around the rim, Jahlil Okafor is the pick for the LA Lakers at 2.
3: 76ers- G D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State. Russell canceled his workout with the Sixers, meaning Philly has most likely promised to select him with their 3rd pick, and it makes sense that they would. D’Angelo Russell is a combo guard who can shoot, and drive to the hoop. He plays lockdown perimeter defense, and will get his share of steals in the NBA. Russell can play both Point and Shooting guard, depending on what the Sixers need from him. After trading Micheal Carter-Williams, the Sixers are in need of a playmaker to support their frontcourt of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, so the pick at 3 has to be D’Angelo Russell.
4: Knicks trade the pick to the Nuggets, Nuggets select PG Emmanuel Mudiay. This trade would bring Ty Lawson, and the 7th pick to New York, while sending the 4th pick, Jose Calderon, and Quincy Acy to Denver. With the 4th pick, I have Denver selecting Emmanuel Mudiay, the mystery point guard who skipped college and instead played in China. Mudiay is point guard who can drive to the basket and play good perimeter defense. Mudiay is 6’5, and should be able to post up smaller guards in the NBA. Mudiay shot well from both mid-range and three, however,he shot a horrific 58% from the free throw line. Mudiay can be a starting point guard in the NBA if he is under proper coaching on the right team, and can limit his turnovers and shoot better from the line. As for the Knicks, they receive a point guard who fits with the triangle offense in Ty Lawson, and the 7th pick, which, around Melo, can make the Knicks an efficient team that would make the playoffs in the east.
5: Magic- SG/SF Justise Winslow, Duke. Winslow is the safe pick for the Magic at 5. If Orlando is not willing to take a risk on Kristaps Porzingis or Willie Cauley-Stein, they should select Justise Winslow out of Duke. Winslow can play both shooting guard and small forward, he can stop the best wing players from scoring on the perimeter, and on the offensive end, can shoot and drive. Justise Winslow could be one of the safest players in the draft, and is the right pick for the Magic at the 5th pick.
6:Kings- PF Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia. Reports that NBA scouts and GMs were impressed with Kristaps Porzingis at private workouts prompted other reports that the Sixers and even Lakers were considering drafting him with their picks. It makes sense that a 7 foot shooter would look good in a workout where he is left unguarded. Despite rumors, I don’t believe the Lakers or Sixers will fall for the 7 foot shooter as early as 2 or 3. Porzingis is a spot up 3 point shooter who draws comparisons to Andrea Bargnani. Porzingis, despite being 7 feet tall, is not the best rebounder. Porzingis can stop smaller players driving to the paint, but is not the best perimeter defender, put him on a smaller, quicker player, and he won’t stand a chance chasing them around. With so many rumors swirling around Porzingis that he could be drafted in the top 5 means that Sacramento will most likely take him 6th overall, and put the stretch four alongside elite center DeMarcus Cousins.
7: Nuggets trade the pick to the Knicks, Knicks select C Willie Cauley-Stein. The Knicks trading for Ty Lawson and Willie Cauley-Stein would bring them into the playoffs this season. Lawson is reportedly unsettled in Denver, and he is a near perfect fit for the Knicks’ triangle offense. Willie Cauley-Stein would be the smart pick for New York at 7, the big man is an excellent rebounder and has the potential to be an elite defender in the NBA. WCS is even developing a jumpshot which makes him an option from mid if he’s needed to score from outside the paint. Willie Cauley-Stein is a low risk, high reward player that is the right pick for the Knicks should they trade down to the 7th pick.
8: Pistons- SF Stanley Johnson, Arizona. Stanley Johnson seems like the perfect selection for Detroit at 8. He has been measured at both 6’7 and 6’8. The former wildcat can play both SG and SF, and if his team wants to play small ball, they can put him at PF. Johnson is a spot up shooter who can also drive to the basket and get fouled. He anticipates the passing lanes on defense, and holds his own in the post. With Greg Monroe expected to leave Detroit, Johnson can be a critical component on a team that looks to make the playoffs in the east this season.
9: Hornets- SF Mario Hezonja, Croatia. The 6’8 forward from Croatia would be a good fit with the Hornets, who would replace Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist as SF, or play PF if Charlotte wants to play small ball. Hezonja is a shooter who can score off the pass, and even create his own shot. Hezonja has shown he is a capable passer and rebounder. Hezonja has been noted to lack defensive focus at times, and is not the most consistent scorer. Mario Hezonja has potential to be a starting forward in the NBA, and is the pick for the Hornets at 9.
10: Heat- SG Devin Booker, Kentucky. If Miami is able to keep PG Goran Dragic this summer, the backcourt of him and Booker would help the Heat win games right away. Booker can create his own shot and play perimeter defense. Keeping a good player at the SG position needs to be a priority for the heat, with Dwyane Wade’s contract talks at a halt. Even if Wade remains in Miami, he’s not going to be healthy for the whole of the season, making Devin Booker the pick for the Miami Heat at 10.
11: Pacers- PF Trey Lyles, Kentucky.
12: Jazz- C Myles Turner, Texas.
13: Suns- SG/SF Kelly Oubre, Kansas.
14: Thunder- SF Sam Dekker.
15: Hawks- C Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin.
16: Celtics: PF Kevon Looney, UCLA.
17: Bucks: SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona.
18: Rockets: PG Cameron Payne, Murray State.
19: Wizards: PF Montrezl Harrell, Louisville.
20: Raptors: PF Bobby Portis, Arkansas.
21: Mavericks: PG Tyus Jones, Duke.
22: Bulls: SG RJ Hunter, Georgia State.
23: Trail Blazers: PG Jerian Grant, Notre Dame.
24: Cavaliers: SG/SF Justin Anderson, Virginia.
25: Grizzlies: SG Rashad Vaughn, UNLV.
26: Spurs: C Robert Upshaw, Washington.
27: Lakers: PG Terry Rozier, Louisville.
28: Celtics: PF Christian Wood, UNLV.
29: Nets: PG Delon Wright, Utah.
30: Warriors:PF Jarell Martin, LSU.