18 June 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft: 5th Edition

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There is now only one more week until the 2015 NBA Draft, and I know you folks out there are counting down the days. With that in mind, here is my fifth 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. From the onset of his NBA career he should make a major impact on the defensive end with his shot blocking skills. And if he is able to work in a three-point shot as rumored, look out.

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 - Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Porzingis has been rising on many draft boards of late and now there have been multiple reports that the 76ers are very much interested in taking the big Latvian. And now with the health of Joel Embiid up in the air, it becomes even more legitimate that the Sixers could be taking another big man early. Philadelphia's offense could sorely use his outside shooting as he 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.

4. New York Knicks - D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
There has been a lot of trade speculation surrounding the Knicks and this pick but I believe if Russell were to be available there, they would sit put and take him. In fact, it would be hard for me to imagine Russell falling past here. Unlike Emmanuel Mudiay, he looks like a great fit for the triangle offense and he would immediately upgrade a moribund guard unit. His strong perimeter shooting, passing ability and ability to create for others should bring some juice to an offense that could sorely use some.

5. Orlando Magic - Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
The Magic reportedly love Porzingis and it is not crazy to see them trading up to take him, especially as the 76ers and Knicks are reportedly interested in him. Should they be unable to acquire him, I think at this juncture that they would fill the need for rim protection and post defense by selecting Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein looks like an exceptional defender right away and his athleticism should allow him to cover almost every position on the court.

6. Sacramento Kings - Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
The point guard position has been an issue for the Kings practically since Mike Bibby was traded to Atlanta and while Darren Collison played relatively well this past season, he is not a long-term solution. And he would be a nice stop-gap as Mudiay develops. Mudiay is a pure point guard thanks to his athleticism and explosiveness and he has excellent size for the position at 6-5. His jump-shot needs to be refined but he can get to and finish at the rim thanks to his strength.

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, and we know that Denver could certainly use some help on that end.

8. Detroit Pistons Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia
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. Not to mention that as a team Detroit struggled from the perimeter this past season, and shooting is a weakness that Stan Van Gundy has expressed a desire in fixing, so Hezonja would be an ideal selection for them. He has an excellent skill-set offensively but he does come with questions about his demeanor and has to work on his defense.

9. Charlotte Hornets Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
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, taking perhaps the best shooter in the draft would make sense. Booker's stock is on the rise right now thanks in part to a stroke that looks league-ready even at 18. He has ideal size at 6-6 for the two-guard and he is also a smart passer while working hard defensively despite a limited wingspan.

10. Miami Heat - Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin
Pat Riley loves to take experience collegiate players and given that, and a roster that could use a little bit of help just about everywhere, could see the Heat taking the Wooden Award winner. Kaminsky would be an interesting fit alongside Chris Bosh given that both excel at spacing the floor and neither are natural rim protectors (in particular, Kaminsky is likely to be a mess defensively in the paint) but given that Dwyane Wade provides no floor spacing from the two-guard, such a funky lineup could work. Few big men have the kind of offensive skill-set that he has from his post game to his perimeter game.

11. Indiana Pacers Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Coach Frank Vogel has made it clear that he wants the Pacers play a faster style of basketball going forward and it makes sense that they have reportedly taken a keen interest to the Racer point guard. George Hill is a fine point guard but you can do better and they have their reserve point guards entering free agency this offseason. He has excellent court vision and passes the ball very well, even in transition. His shooting can be a little streaky at times but he can get it to go from the perimeter.

12. Utah Jazz - Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
The Jazz, thanks to a multitude of high draft picks, have collected an intriguing amount of young talent on their roster but they could really use a guy like Johnson. Johnson could be the kind of defensive stopper on the wings that could really make this Jazz defense dangerous thanks to his size, length, athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions. For a perimeter player, he rebounds well and while it is not his strength, he can hit a shot from the perimeter.

13. Phoenix Suns - Myles Turner, C, Texas
The Suns find themselves needing another piece to their frontcourt and the skill-set of Turner may not be tantalizing for them to pass up on thanks to the fact that he could help create spacing thanks to his shooting skills. 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 a legendary medical staff with the Suns could help mitigate those concerns. You just do not see too many guys of his size with his physical attributes.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
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 I could see them taking a stab at Oubre. Oubre was inconsistent as a freshman in Lawrence but he did show a lot of promise. He is long 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.

15. Atlanta Hawks - Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Paul Millsap has been a major part of the Hawks' success the past two seasons, not to mention a key cog in coach Mike Budenholzer's offensive system, but he is also a free agent and could end up being too expensive to be brought back. Portis is no Millsap but he has the ability to do some of the things that Millsap does well. 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.

16. Boston Celtics - Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
The Celtics have built an intriguing frontcourt but they could use some further depth at the power forward position with Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko being free agents. Lyles is raw and is not that close to being a finished product but he has an intriguing skill-set to be a face-up four. He has the kind of perimeter game to provide spacing to a Boston offense that could use some and he can finish well inside as well. However, he needs to get stronger and he needs to consistently show up defensively.

17. Milwaukee Bucks Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Milwaukee has themselves a number of interesting and intriguing pieces on their roster, and they already appear set at the small forward position with Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Dekker could make for an unique fit in the style that the Bucks have run under Jason Kidd this past season because of how well he can play without the ball. Dekker has seen his draft stock rise thanks to a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament and he showed some promise with his jump shot.

18. Houston Rockets (from New Orleans) - Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
Houston got some big-time play in big spots this postseason from Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni. However, 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. Even if Beverley returns, the team should look to target a backup early. 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.

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 Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
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 the immortal Raymond Felton should be starting point guards in this league at this point in their careers. Jones was tremendous for the Blues Devils in the National Championship and that helped his stock. He may not be the impressive athlete but he has great handles and has tremendous intangibles. His jumper is also pretty good.

22. Chicago Bulls Delon Wright, PG, Utah
It was a relative return to normality health-wise for Derrick Rose this season, but he still missed 31 games. Both of his backups, Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich, are free agents and both of them are on the wrong side of 30. Wright already is 23 years old but while that may make his career a little shorter on the back-end, it also means that he should be able to contribute right away. He takes advantage of his size as a passer and he distributes very well. What new coach Fred Hoiberg will also appreciate is his game on the defensive end.

23. Portland Trail Blazers - R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
The issues are two-fold for the Trail Blazers at the shooting guard position with Wesley Matthews coming off a torn Achilles, an injury he sustained in March, and with Matthews being a free agent. Also, his backup, Arron Afflalo, has a player option for this season and he is expected to hit free agency instead. Hunter would be a good value at 23 due to his excellent jump-shot, considered by some to be the best of this draft class, and he is a strong passer as well. One would think that he would fit well under Terry Stotts.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
Naturally people are criticizing LeBron James for the Cavs losing but what people with brains would realize is that the actual problem is that the depth issues that became exacerbated with the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving got exposed by a team with such depth like the Warriors. Acquiring more depth on the wing could be in store for the Cavs this offseason and taking an underrated prospect like Anderson would be wise. Anderson looks like a typical three-and-D player as he should excel on the defensive end and he has improved his three-point shooting.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Memphis is a club that has become a tough playoff out with some tremendous defense and a decided home-court advantage at "the Grindhouse," but one thing they have needed for years now is perimeter shooting. Vaughn has excellent scoring instincts and can make shots in different ways, which would be greatly appreciated by the Grizzlies. However, he is still only 18 and is not likely to be a contributor right away, especially on a playoff team.

26. San Antonio Spurs - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
The Spurs looked locked and loaded for another title run next season but one thing they could use is more depth in the frontcourt with a number of reserves being free agents this offseason. Harrell will not likely offer much offensively at the next level outside of the painted area but Gregg Popovich is smart enough of a coach to put him in a position to succeed. Where he will make his lunch is on defense and on the boards, where his length, athleticism and physicality will allow him to excel on those ends.

27. Los Angeles Lakers - 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 - Jarell Martin, F, LSU
I fully expect Celtics GM Danny Ainge to utilize to take a chance with this second first-round selection and I would characterize this Bayou Bengal as such. 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, and he also needs to show more effort on the boards. Martin also may not have a position.

29. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta) - Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse
Given that the Nets are not likely to be a factor for a few years thanks to 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. Couple that with the fact that he is rather raw and that makes him a project. He does have the ability to shoot from three and moves well defensively while also having the ability to block shots.

30. Golden State Warriors Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
The Warriors have the flexibility to do just about anything with this selection thanks to such a deep and talented roster, and it could be difficult for this prospect to get much if any burn next season. That's why to this point I have had them taking a project here but now I see them taking Rozier, whose stock has been rising of late. Rozier's mediocre jumper would not be a concern with the Dubs while his ability to get to the tin and his tough defense could be useful off the bench.

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

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