The NBA Draft Lottery was held Tuesday, so the draft order is set. This is our 4th 2015 NBA Mock draft. We had a premature Mock Draft in June 2014, then a pre-NCAA Tournament Mock Draft in February, and a Mock Draft in April after everyone declared for the draft.
1. Minnesota – Karl Anthony-Towns, PF/C, Kentucky. It wasn’t easy to finally concede Towns will likely go first, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s the right call. Yes, he’s closer to the ‘modern’ big man – say, Tim Duncan or Anthony Davis – than Okafor, and right now he’ll defender the pick and roll better. This is what I think Minnesota will do; I’d take Okafor.
2. LA Lakers – Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke. Who wouldn’t rather play in LA than Minnesota? This isn’t Oden/Durant because Towns/Okafor are similar players, with Okafor ready to contribute more now, but some teams project Towns will be better in five years. People who only saw Okafor in the NCAA Tournament should look up his regular season games on You Tube. Hands, footwork, passing – he’s extremely advanced offensively.
3. Philadelphia – D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State. There’s so much to love about Russell, a 6-foot-5 point guard who is a great shooter (41 percent on 3-pointers), has the wingspan of a power forward, and is a wizard of a passer. Russell, Noel, and Embiid with Dario Saric overseas? The 76ers have five second round picks. They’re a couple years away.
4. New York – Justise Winslow, G/F, Duke. It was a rough night for Knicks fans, who were hoping for the 1st or 2nd pick. So they don’t get a post player, and have to settle – and I don’t want to use that in a derogative sense – for Emmanuel Mudiay, a dynamic guard, Winslow, or perhaps 7-foot-1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingis, who might be a more athletic Dirk … or maybe another Andrea Bargnani. You know I think Winslow has some James Harden in his game.
5. Orlando Magic – Frank Kaminsky, F, Wisconsin. Let’s see who their next coach is, but hear me out on this: Vucevic at center, with two very good guards (Oladipo, Payton), a SF who can shoot the three (Harris) and … Kaminsky, a stretch 4? Of course, there’s the argument that Porzingis will be better than Kaminsky in three or four years, so why not take the Euro with upside?
6. Sacramento Kings – Emmanuel Mudiay, G, China. Have seen some “Mudiay to the Lakers” tweets, which is crazy, given the potential to add Rondo, the rookie year of Clarkson, and the fact that even in a wing league, explosive guards are more easily found than true post players. Mudiay would be a terrific fit for the Kings, who could bring him along slowly in year one, backing up Darren Colllison. How about a trio of Mudiay/Gay/Cousins?
7. Denver Nuggets – Kristaps Porzingis, F, Latvia. The teardown will take another year; theoretically, Porzingis could enter the NBA at 20 after another season overseas. The Nuggets will be in the lottery again next year, anyway.
8. Detroit Pistons – Mario Hezonja, G/F, Croatia. With the Pistons building around Drummond and Jackson, options are many. I had Kaminsky here in my last mock draft, and that’d be ideal for Stan Van Gundy.
9. Charlotte Hornets – Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky. Finally, will they have the shooting guard they’ve been looking for? Feels like the five year search might finally be over.
10. Miami Heat – Stanley Johnson, G/F, Arizona. Johnson has potential to be a Top 5 pick, but he doesn’t shoot the three as well as Winslow/Hezonja/Booker, and more than anything, he’s … kind of D Wade-like at the offensive end (but heavier). In fact, Johnson would do a great job of helping extend Wade’s career.
11. Indiana – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky. This pick could end up being the heir apparent to Roy Hibbert, who enters the final year of his deal. Does Larry Bird prefer WCS to enigmatic Myles Turner of Texas?
12. Utah – Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin. Yes, they have Gordon Hayward as their SF of the present and future, but as teams go small – did you watch the WCF last night? – Dekker could be a 4 in the role of Harrison Barnes. Should have a bright and lengthy career.
13. Phoenix – Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas. Disappointing freshman year given his talent level. Skilled enough to be a Top 10 pick; was very hit-and-miss with the Jayhawks. The Suns were 10th in 3FGA; only 20th in 3FG%. Oubre will help.
14. Oklahoma City – Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame. Do they draft with the thought of Durant leaving? Best player available? Grant is an athletic freak in the mold of Westbrook and should easily pass Waiters and Lamb in the rotation by the All-Star break at the latest.
15. Atlanta – Myles Turner, F/C, Texas – What happens with Millsap? Carroll? Will the Hawks retain both? Turner should instantly provide depth and could be a starter on this playoff team by year two. Could learn at the altar of Al Horford.
16. Boston – Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia. The Celtics roster likely will look very different next year. Who knows, maybe there is a big trade coming. Anderson is the perfect Brad Stevens player – smart, good athlete, can play/defend multiple positions, good shooter.
17. Milwaukee – Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky. Biggest needs would be a SG (Mayo has one year left) and center, but someone who can score off the bench would be nice. But try not to get wedded to “positions” – the Bucks could close games in two years with Lyles, Greek Freak, Parker, a shooter to be named, and MCW. Long, defensive-minded, and versatile.
18. Houston – Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State. Patrick Beverley will return from injury, but Terry and Prigioni are ancient, and may not return. Payne could be a 12-8 guy guy playing alongside Harden and Howard in a couple years.
19. Washington – Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA. Can’t really explain the drop from 12 to 19, but it’s probably recency bias from the NBA playoffs, when teams go small and shooting matters most. Looney – for now – looks like a slightly more polished Clint Capela, except he produced big numbers (at times) for the Bruins. Starts as a reserve in place of Drew Gooden, then takes over at PF when Nene departs?
20. Toronto – Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville. Interesting offseason looms in Toronto, where the Raptors could lose Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough, two guys who play the same position as Harrell. I’m extremely bullish on Harrell, who only stands 6-7 1/2, but has the 2nd best wingspan (7-4 1/4) of all the the power forwards in the draft (Rakeem Christmas).
21. Dallas – Tyus Jones, PG, Duke. Still not sure how his diminutive size (though he did measure 6-foot-2 in shoes at the combine) will translate to the NBA, but what a smart player with the basketball who had a penchant all year for clutch moments. Rondo’s gone, so there is definitely a point guard need.
22. Chicago –Delon Wright, PG, Utah. Why have Wright below Jones? Wright is an excellent defender but still has a ways to go shooting the ball (only made 26 three-pointers last year). Bulls fans, are you bracing for the worst? Losing Thibs and losing Jimmy Butler?
23. Portland – Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas. Pivotal offseason looms for the Trailblazers, who could lose standout wing Wes Matthews and franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge, plus center Robin Lopez. At least McCollum and Leonard played well against Memphis; perhaps they’ll make the leap next season.
24. Cleveland – Robert Upshaw, C, Washington. There’s risk here given some of the red flags in his background, but with LeBron in place, doesn’t everyone clean up their act? The Cavs will pick up Mozgov’s option, but Upshaw would be the perfect rim protecter in the future for the Cavs, who must improve on defense next year. Worth noting: Lyles and Harrell signed with LeBron’s agent, so if either is on the board here, put ’em in Cleveland.
25. Memphis – RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State. Marc Gasol isn’t leaving … right? The Grizzlies need a shooter (maybe Jordan Adams makes the leap?) and probably a backup to take the place of Koufos.
26. San Antonio – Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV. Needs are many (Duncan, Ginobili, Green and Belinelli are free agents), but specifically, ready-now talents. Vaughn averaged 18.3 ppg for the Rebels last year.
27. LA Lakers – Pat Connaughton, SG, Notre Dame. Surprised? Let me explain: 1) Connaughton probably eats Johnson/Young alive in practice, 2) tireless worker, 3) Kobe will instantly love him, 4) will be a crowd favorite, 5) exceptional athlete, plus defender, 6) improved his 3-point shot every year of his career, finishing at 42 percent as a senior. Suspect of his 6-foot-5 height? Roll the Kentucky tape when he played power forward on defense, and collected nine rebounds. Could be around when the Lakers draft at 34.
28. Boston – Jonathan Holmes, F, Texas. Versatile, improving shooter (made 43 three-pointers as a senior), could be a stretch 4 with the Celtics. Good defender. If he were playing 30 minutes a night and not misused in the Texas offense by Rick Barnes, I think he’d solidly be in the 1st round, not projected as going in the 2nd round.
29. Brooklyn – George De Paula, PG, Brazil. As Deron Williams starts to look his age, he’s got 2-years and $43 million left on his deal. De Paula was a buzzy name in Chicago because even though he’s only 18, he’s an athletic freak (6-foot-5, 7-foot wingspan). Expect him to rise into the early 20s or late teens in the next couple weeks.
30. Golden State – Olivier Hanlan, PG, Boston College. Barbosa is a free agent and Hanlan would be a perfect fit in that Steve Kerr offense. Hanlan is very good at everything, especially scoring. I’m assuming Draymond Green doesn’t leave.