27 May 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft: 2nd Edition

One week after the Draft Lottery, let's take a look at how the 2015 NBA Draft stands right now. Here is my second mock draft.

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 - Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Orlando has the double-double machine of Nikola Vucevic in the mix but they need to find him a complement in their frontcourt. Porzingis would be able to provide spacing for not just Vucevic but the rest of the offense which could sorely use his outside shooting as 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 but he has shown some promise with his shot-blocking abilities.

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. Cauley-Stein's still-developing offensive game would not be a worry next to the gifted Cousins.

7. Denver Nuggets - Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
Denver could use just about anything at this point as their roster has become a mess with a dearth of talent and promise. I would look for them to take the best player available with this selection and that has to be Winslow at this juncture. 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.

8. Detroit Pistons - Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince are the top options at the three for the Pistons at the moment and given that both are well past their prime at this point, the Pistons could sorely use a long-term solution at the position. 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 shoot from the perimeter.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
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 given their major need for some perimeter shooting, Hezonja seems like a nice fit. He has an excellent skill-set offensively thanks to a great jump shot and some nice handles. However, he does come with questions about his demeanor and he has to work on his defense.

10. Miami Heat - Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
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. If they are looking for a player that could help them right away, Booker would make sense. Even as he is only 18 with much of his game still to be developed, his jumper is NBA-ready and that would be big for a team that could really use it.

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 - Kelly Oubre, SG/SF, Kansas
The Jazz, thanks to a multitude of high draft picks, have collected an intriguing amount of young talent on their roster and thus they can afford to take a chance on a talent that could pay off for them big time. Oubre was inconsistent as a freshman in Lawrence but he did show a lot of promise. He is length and athletic and shows all the skills to be a true presence defensively. Oubre's jumper looks to be where he will make an immediate contribution on offense.

13. Phoenix Suns - Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin
Kaminsky may not be the defensive force that Phoenix could use in their frontcourt but he does seem to be a perfect fit for coach Jeff Hornacek's style of basketball. He is not particularly athletic, strong and he likely will struggle defensively throughout his career. However, few big men have the kind of offensive skill-set that he has from his post game to his perimeter game. Kaminsky should excel in such a wide open attack that the Suns employ.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder - Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
It seems like the Thunder have for a few years now needed to build their depth on the wings and they have dedicated a number of draft picks towards that need. However, this would be the highest selection they have had to address that need and thus taking the Badger would make sense. Dekker has seen his draft stock rise thanks to a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament and he should fit in OKC with how well he can play without the ball.

15. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn) - Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Atlanta had a brilliant regular season but even that could not hide the fact that they lack depth in their frontcourt and with Paul Millsap being a free agent, that need could only be exacerbated this offeseason. Now Lyles is young and raw but he has the skill-set that Mike Budenholzer likes from his bigs. He has the athleticism and the length, not to mention the shooting to be a stretch four. However, he does need to get stronger.

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, 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 - Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Michael Carter-Williams is many things but one thing that nobody will ever accuse him of being is a shooter and/or a scorer. Given the state of his jumper, as well as the need the Bucks have for perimeter shooting, seeing a player with a solid, albeit streaky, perimeter game fall to them like Payne would be welcome. He has excellent court vision and passes the ball very well, even in transition, which should allow him to run the offense with MCW on the bence.

18. Houston Rockets (from New Orleans) - 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 - Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
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. 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.

20. Toronto Raptors - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Toronto was terrible at-times defensively this past season and their weaknesses on that end of the court was one of the key reasons why they fell apart and were swept by the Wizards in the playoffs. The Raptors are good enough offensively to cover for Hollis-Jefferson's mediocre jump shot but they could his defensive skills. 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.

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 - Justin Anderson, SG/SF, Virginia
Whether or not Tom Thibodeau returns next season as head coach of the Bulls, they could use more depth on the wing with some of their key reserves getting up there in age. Anderson could become a stopper defensively due to his size, length and athleticism, which should allow him to cover twos and threes. His physicality should fit with the club and his improving jump shot will be useful on the offensive end.

23. Portland Trail Blazers - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Regardless of whether or not LaMarcus Aldridge returns to Portlandia this summer (it's no guarantee in my eyes), the Blazers could use a physical force in their frontcourt and Harrell certainly fits that bill. Harrell should be able to make an impact as a tough physical defender in the paint and is a plus rebounder, both of which will be helpful to this club.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State
The Cavs should be a title contender once again next season (having a guy like LeBron James certainly helps in that manner), but they could use some depth on the wings as J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert both could leave this summer. Hunter is one of the best shooters in this draft from the perimeter and also is a smart playmaker with the ball in his hands.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Delon Wright, PG, Utah
Wright may not be able to provide the outside shooting that the Grizzlies really need, or at least not yet, but he should be able to provide an upgrade as a backup point guard behind Mike Conley. What coach Dave Joerger would appreciate from Wright are the defensive skills he flashed with the Utes with his distribution skills also being welcomed.

26. San Antonio Spurs - Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
The Spurs are still pretty loaded on their roster which, as always, allows them to take some risks on the draft day on either foreign prospects or raw college products. Wood would certainly be the latter 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.

27. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston) - Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Showtime simply needs talent and they should gamble with their second first-round selection on a high-upside prospect. Vaughn is still only 18 and coming off an uneven freshman campaign at UNLV when he entered it as a potential top ten selection. However he has excellent scoring instincts and can make shots in different ways, something the Lakers could sorely need. He also has the ability to develop into a solid defender.

28. Boston Celtics (from Clippers) - 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 Atlanta) - 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 - Jarell Martin, F, LSU
Golden State is fortunate to have so much depth so they could afford to take some changes with their draft selections, especially given the uncertain nature of picking at the end of the first round. Martin is very athletic and showed some promise of a nice face-up game during his time in Baton Rouge. He has the tools to be a nice contributor offensively but he still needs some polish and consistency, while also showing more effort on the boards.

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

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