20 May 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft: 1st Edition

For the first time since 2004, the team with the worst record has won the NBA Draft Lottery and for the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves will pick first. You can check out the draft order here and you can check out my first mock draft for 2015 below.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C, Kentucky
Both Towns and Jahlil Okafor are exceptional talents and would be great players to have on a Minnesota roster that needs help. However, I think Towns is the better prospect and would be a better fit for a team with his inside-outside game on both ends of the court due to his length, athleticism and nice jumper for a big man. Right away he should make a major impact on the defensive end with his shot blocking skills.

2. Los Angeles Lakers - Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Okafor would give the Lakers a very promising frontcourt along with last year's first-round selection Julius Randle, even as it could be interesting to see them fit together in the paint. Okafor projects to be an impact post scorer right away considering he has such an advanced set of moves for somebody only 19 years old. He may never be an elite defender or free throw shooter but he should develop into a solid rebounder.

3. Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
Philadelphia appears to be in good hand in their frontcourt with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid but they really need some help in the backcourt and specifically at the point. I think Russell would have the edge over Emmanuel Mudiay due to his strong perimeter shooting and his passing ability and ability to create for others should help improve a miserable offense. His defense shortcomings could be masked on this club with the aforementioned big men.

4. New York Knicks - Emmanuel Mudiay, G, China
The Knicks were, naturally, the biggest losers of the lottery and now it looks like they could try to move this selection. Should they stay at four, they will likely take the guard that Philadelphia does not take (although they are reportedly big fans of Justise Winslow) and here, that's Mudiay. Mudiay is a pure point guard which may seem like an odd fit for the triangle, nor is he a great shooter yet, but he can be dynamite with the ball in his hands.

5. Orlando Magic - Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
Winslow may not be the kind of knockdown shooter that the Magic could use but I think he is too good of a prospect for the Magic to pass up on with the fifth selection. He is still a little raw on the offensive end but he is efficient, is a solid passer, takes care of the ball and plays well without the ball. Where he will make his money in his pro career will be on the defensive end as he will be able to guard three positions at the next level.

6. Sacramento Kings - Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
The Kings were a disaster defensively after firing Michael Malone and could certainly use the kind of defensive force like Cauley-Stein, who with his athleticism could defend almost every position on the court. He also would allow DeMarcus Cousins to play more power forward, which may be a better fit for his size, and has an underrated offensive game.

7. Denver Nuggets - Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia
Denver could use just about anything at this point as their roster has become a mess and far from inspiring. Hezonja would require some patience but the Nuggets are not going anywhere soon and they could use all the help that they could get on the perimeter. He has an excellent skill-set offensively thanks to a great jump shot and some nice handles.

8. Detroit Pistons - Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia
Greg Monroe is likely, although not certainly, gone this summer and that leaves a hole at the four next to Andre Drummond. Considering Drummond's offensive game not existing outside the paint, it is key to bring in a four that can space out the floor and the big Latvian has the shooting stroke that you normally see from a guard. He needs a good deal of polish and certainly needs to get stronger and tougher.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
The Hornets could look to take a wing player with this selection given that Lance Stephenson was a disaster and Gerald Henderson is a free agent and Johnson would give them a player that gives them versatility on both ends of the floor, but particularly defensively. His size, length and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions, he rebounds well and can hit a shot from the perimeter (something the Hornets really need).

10. Miami Heat - Kelly Oubre, SG/SF, Kansas
The Heat are somewhat of an organization in transition with key players getting older or entering free agency so they could do just about anything with this selection. They have been connected to Oubre and while he is not a finished prospect, he has the kind of upside that could tantalize Heat president Pat Riley. He would provide a much-needed infusion of athleticism and should be able to shoot right away.

11. Indiana Pacers - Myles Turner, C, Texas
David West is not getting younger and Roy Hibbert's future in Naptown is uncertain. Turner would not only give the Pacers an infusion of youth to their frontcourt, he also would fit the more open style of basketball that the team hopes to employ next season. Turner is raw and did not play a whole lot in his sole season in Austin, and his running style is raising some concerns, but his shot blocking and shooting skills are very intriguing.

12. Utah Jazz - Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin
There's a joke in here that I won't make. The Jazz have a number of nice pieces in place but they could use some help with their perimeter shooting and Kaminsky would certainly be able to help their spacing issues. Kaminsky will never be a good defender in the NBA but given how good Rudy Gobert is in defending in the paint, the need for defense from Frank the Tank is not as high, and few have his offensive skill-set at his size.

13. Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Given their frenetic style of play, the Suns could always use more shooting but especially so right now. Therefore, Booker, who has one of the elite shots from downtown in this draft, will certainly be under consideration here. He still is very young, only 18, but his shot is NBA-ready even as much of his game is still being refined. Booker should be able to be a solid defender and he has got the athleticism to be more than a spot-up guy.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder - Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
When the Thunder have everybody healthy, they are a title contender. Therefore, they don't have the kind of glaring need that your typical lottery team would. GM Sam Presti could afford to go with the best player available approach regardless of need and Payne could apply in that aspect, and his shooting ability, albeit streaky, could certainly help too. He has excellent court vision and passes the ball very well, even in transition.

15. Atlanta Hawks (from BKN) - Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
DeMarre Carroll has had himself a very nice postseason, one that has likely earned him some coin with his next contract. That conveniently, or perhaps inconveniently, comes as he will be a free agent this summer, as is power forward Paul Millsap. Dekker could be drafted as insurance for a Carroll departure as he seems like a good fit for Mike Budenholzer's offensive scheme with his ability to play without the ball.

16. Boston Celtics - Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
The Celtics have built an intriguing frontcourt but they could use some further depth at the four with Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko being free agents. Portis is not particularly athletic but he has an NBA body but he consistently plays hard and he has himself a solid offensive game with a solid jump shot that can stretch out towards the three-point arc.

17. Milwaukee Bucks - R.J. Hunter, PG, Georgia State
This could be a little bit early for Hunter but he fits what the Bucks are looking for, most importantly with his excellent beyond the three-point arc. His jumper would allow him to play with Michael Carter-Williams and he also has the size and the length that the Bucks love to utilize. Hunter also has the ability to make plays with the ball which should allow him to run the offense when Carter-Williams is on the pine.

18. Houston Rockets (from NO) - Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
Houston has been getting some big-time play in big spots this postseason from Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni but both are at least 37 and aren't playing on guaranteed contracts for next season while usual starter Patrick Beverley is a restricted free agent. Jones has the ideal point guard skills that you want and his jumper should fit in with the style of team that Daryl Morey has built.

19. Washington Wizards - Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Paul Pierce has seen a good deal of minutes at the power forward position in this postseason and in the regular season and while he has made it work, it is obviously not a long-term answer. Now Lyles is young and raw but given a veteran frontcourt already in place, they can afford to let Lyles develop. He has the athleticism and the length, not to mention the shooting to be a stretch four, but he has to get more physical.

20. Toronto Raptors - Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Amir Johnson is a free agent this summer, meaning the Raptors could have the need for a power forward (not to mention that reserve big Tyler Hansbrough is also a free agent). Looney is raw and is not likely to be an immediate contributor as he needs to get stronger and grow his post game. However, he has shown a skill for working the glass, specifically on offense, and his shot from three is very good for his position.

21. Dallas Mavericks - Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
Well it is safe to say that the Rajon Rondo era in Dallas has come to a close. If and when he leaves Big D, it will leave a hole at the point as neither J.J. Barea nor Raymond Felton should be starting point guards in this league at this point in their careers. Grant does not have major upside considering he is already 22 but he is a great passer and, thanks to his athleticism and length, should be at least a decent defender at the next level.

22. Chicago Bulls - Delon Wright, PG, Utah
Derrick Rose showed some flashes of his MVP self this postseason but you still have to worry about his health, not to mention that Kirk Hinrich is not getting any younger and that Aaron Brooks is a free agent this summer. The Bulls would appreciate the defensive skills of Wright and his distribution skills on offense and they should be able to hide his inconsistent jump shot.

23. Portland Trail Blazers - Justin Anderson, SG/SF, Virginia
Who knows what the Trail Blazers will see from Wesley Matthews next season following his Achilles tear, if he even returns to Portland considering that he is a free agent. Anderson should be able to help fill his void were he to leave as he is a NBA-ready defender on the wing and has worked hard to improve his outside shooting. His physicality will fit right in with the Blazers and he is polished enough to contribute right away.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson is far from a great shooter but his skill-set should allow him to be a suitable successor to an aging Shawn Marion, who is only a one-year contract for the Cavs. His size, length and athleticism should allow him to defend multiple positions and he should be able to be a strong defensive specialist in the NBA. Any contribution from his jumper would be a bonus.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Harrell may just be a strong, physical hustle guy at the next level but that would be just fine for this Grizzlies team that already is damn good defensively. Harrell would give the Grizzlies important depth in the frontcourt with Kosta Koufos being a free agent and he should be able to make an impact as a tough physical defender in the paint and a plus rebounder.

26. San Antonio Spurs - Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, France
Not like the Spurs would surprise you with a draft-and-stash selection in a guy like Luwawu and he has the kind of 3-and-D game that is very popular in today's NBA. He has nice athleticism and length and you know the Spurs would enjoy a versatile guy like him. Luwawu does need to work on his ball-handling and his finishing ability but considering the Spurs likely wouldn't need him right away, he can be allowed to develop.

27. Los Angeles Lakers (from HOU) - Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Showtime simply needs talent and they should gamble with their second first-round selection. Wood would certainly apply as he is quite raw and probably would have benefited from a third year at UNLV. After all, he still is only 19 and has a long way to develop physically. That said, he has lottery talent as he has great length and a nice touch from the perimeter, not to mention some game on the glass.

28. Boston Celtics (from LAC) - Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
Upshaw is a significant risk from an off-the-court standpoint and he has been kicked out of two Division I programs. That said, he has the talent to be a serious contributor defensively given his massive size and length and he showed an excellent shot blocking ability during his short season at U-Dub. His offensive game is still coming along although he does finish very well.

29. Brooklyn Nets (from ATL) - Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse
Given that the Nets are not likely to be a factor for a few years and have limited picks and financial flexibility going forward, they really need to add some youth and talent and should take some risks. McCullough was looking like a top-20 pick this season before suffering a torn ACL and he is raw already. He does have the ability to shoot from three and moves well defensively while having the ability to block shots.

30. Golden State Warriors - Robert Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Golden State is fortunate to have so much depth, although they could use a backup to Klay Thompson, so they could afford to take some changes with their draft selections. Vaughn is not particularly athletic and that may limit his effectiveness in the Association and he is also very young (still only 18), but he has the jumper to score from anywhere.

Check out the NBA Mock Draft database at Walter Football for even more mocks.

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