Mark Schanowski's 2015 NBA mock draft


Mark Schanowski's 2015 NBA mock draft

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky: The guess here is Towns will win out over Chicago native Jahlil Okafor because of his superior athleticism and ability to play the power forward spot as well as center.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke: The Lakers are desperate for size and inside scoring, and Okafor should be able to provide both. Fits in perfectly with the classic Lakers’ formula of building around a low post scorer.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State: Adding a dynamic playmaker with good size like Russell should help jump-start the rebuilding program. Could go with Porzingis because of Joel Embiid’s ongoing foot issues.

4. New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia: The draft’s ultimate mystery man showed great agility and shooting ability during a recent workout for NBA executives in Las Vegas. Said to be a great fit for triangle offense.

[MORE: Bulls Talk - 2015 NBA first round mock draft]

5. Orlando Magic

Justise Winslow, SF, Duke: Winslow would be a good fit at the small forward spot, especially if Tobias Harris leaves in free agency. The Magic have already drafted or traded for impressive young talents like Victor Oladipo, NIk Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon.

6. Sacramento Kings

Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China: Played last season professionally in China after backing out on a commitment to Larry Brown at SMU. Tremendous physical talent, but is he mature enough to be a starting NBA point guard right away?

7. Denver Nuggets

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein is a free spirit who might raise a few red flags with NBA general managers during the interview process, but his defensive skills are off the charts.

8. Detroit Pistons

Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona: Johnson only played one season at Arizona, but he's one of the players in this draft with real star potential, so Stan Van Gundy might swing for the fences here.

9. Charlotte Hornets

Mario Hezonja, SG, Spain: OK, I've never seen the guy play, but scouts seem to love him and Charlotte is one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA.

10. Miami Heat

Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky: Make it three Kentucky players in the top-10. Booker didn't get a chance to fully showcase his talents with John Calipari playing 10 guys on a regular basis, but could be the best catch-and-shoot player in the draft.

11. Indiana Pacers

Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky: Lyles might have been the most underutilized talent on that Kentucky roster last season, but scouts love his inside-outside potential.

12. Utah Jazz

Myles Turner, C-PF, Texas: Another player who's been impressive in pre-draft workouts after one less-than-sensational year in college. Most scouts project the 6-foot-11 Turner as an NBA power forward.

13. Phoenix Suns

Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin: Phoenix loves to shoot the 3 and Kaminsky will fit right in, assuming he can make the transition from college center to NBA power forward.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder

Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State: The 6-foot-2 Murray State star has been the talk of the pre-draft workout circuit and may go even higher than this spot for another team looking to trade up.

15. Atlanta Hawks

Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin: One of the stars of the Badgers run to the NCAA championship game. Dekker would be a good fit for the Hawks with both DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap heading into free agency.

[MORE: Player profiles - Get ready for the 2015 NBA Draft]

16. Boston Celtics

Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas: Portis has been telling the media he's the best power forward in the draft. Probably not accurate, but you have to appreciate his self-confidence.

17. Milwaukee Bucks

Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame: Sure, the Bucks just traded for their point guard of the future in Michael Carter-Williams, but I'm guessing Jason Kidd wouldn't mind having another big, versatile guard on his roster.

18. Houston Rockets

Tyus Jones, PG, Duke: Houston really missed injured point guard Patrick Beverley during the playoffs, and would be well-advised to add a young prospect like Jones.

19. Washington Wizards

Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia: Solid two-way player who excelled under a defense-first system at Virginia. Has the versatility to play either wing position, and Wizards aren’t sure if Paul Pierce will be back.

20. Toronto Raptors

Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA: Toronto has been unhappy with the production at the power forward spot from Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough. Looney played just one season at UCLA, but he's a very athletic big who could grab some minutes right away.

21. Dallas Mavericks

Delon Wright, PG, Utah: After the failed Rajon Rondo experiment, Dallas could be looking for a young point guard to develop behind the unimpressive trio of Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Ray Felton.

22. Chicago Bulls

R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State: I think the Bulls would love to grab a young point guard like Grant, Jones or Wright to develop behind Derrick Rose, but with all three off the board they might reach for a big-time shooter like Hunter, who was one of the stars of last spring's NCAA tournament. Fred Hoiberg wants to play a fast-paced, quick-strike offense, and fill the court with shooters, which would make Hunter a nice addition.

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23. Portland Trail Blazers

Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville: Harrell was a preseason All-American a year ago, but kind of got lost on a dysfunctional Louisville team. A little undersized for an NBA power forward, but has a high motor like current Golden State overachiever Draymond Green.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas: Only played one uninspired season at Kansas and hasn't looked all that good in team workouts. Still, scouts loved him coming out of high school.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona: Probably would have benefited from another year in college to work on his offensive game. Still, Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent perimeter defender who should fit in well with the Grizzlies culture.

26. San Antonio Spurs

Guillermo Hernangomez, 6-11, PF-C: Look for the Spurs to go with a Euro-stash player who won’t come over for a couple years so they can maximize cap room for a possible run at LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol in free agency.

27. Los Angeles Lakers

Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV: Averaged nearly 18 points per game for the Runnin' Rebels. Can learn how to shoot without a conscience from the master, Kobe Bryant.

28. Boston Celtics

Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse: Painfully thin at 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Has been linked to Celtics during workout process, but Danny Ainge is hoping to package multiple picks to move up higher in the first round.

29. Brooklyn Nets

Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville: More of a scorer than a playmaker, but Brooklyn is looking for some youth at the position behind Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack.

30. Golden State Warriors

Jarell Martin, PF, LSU: Golden State is having great success with Draymond Green playing the power forward position at 6-foot-7, so why not add a similar multiple effort kind of player like the 6-foot-9 Martin?

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend


Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler was absent from the scoresheet of the All-Star Game, unless you count a “DNP-Coaches’ Decision” as activity. Whether due to the All-Star festivities of the weekend or even the grinding minutes he plays under Tom Thibodeau, it wasn’t truly surprising to see him want to have a night off of sorts.

But what was mildly surprising was the reflection he displayed on Saturday at All-Star Media Day in reference to his time with the Chicago Bulls. Usually, Butler’s armor is up because of his feelings surrounding his draft-night departure.

“I learned a lot in Chicago,” Butler said. “Just all through the season and life in general. What to do, what not to do and how to adapt to any situation that you’ve been in. I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. I have a ways to go in that.”

It’s clear he’s still grasping the weight of his words as the best player on a team, or at least, the player whose words impact everything around him.

“A people pleaser? No, I just didn’t say much,” Butler said. “Now I just don’t care. I never talked whenever I was in the league at an early age. It really didn’t matter, nothing I did was gonna make or break us when it comes to losing a game. Now it does and I have a lot to say. Half the time it’s not the right time or right way to say it but it’s okay.”

Whether it was the battles with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg or the internal struggles in the Bulls’ locker room through his ascension from bench warmer to rotation player to impact player to now, a legitimate star, he’s modifying his approach—just a tad.

“I’ve never been the best player on my own team. I was in Tomball,” he joked, in reference to his beginnings in small town Texas. “I wasn’t in junior college. At Marquette I wasn’t. I’m probably not now. In Chicago I wasn’t. You just pick up on it, watch others and learn.”

He admitted to writing in a journal and reading self-help books now that he’s in Minnesota. The novel he’s reading now, “Faith, Forward, Future” is authored by Chad Veach, a Los Angeles pastor and the subtitle of the book says “Moving past your disappointments, delays and destructive thinking.”

Whether he started the book following a slow start with the Timberwolves in November, where his nightly numbers looked like one of a high-level role player, he took some self-evaluation before leading the charge since, playing like an MVP candidate with 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 49 percent shooting since the start of December.

“It’s relatively new. Yeah, basketball is still basketball but it’s hard when somebody else is coming in and roles change overnight,” Butler said. “You gotta see where you fit in with the group. At the end of the day you gotta win. I didn’t feel the way I was playing was our best opportunity to win games.”

Bringing along the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns being a fellow All-Star for the first time, has been a process.

“I’ve never actually had to be a leader,” Butler said. “I just always done what I was supposed to do, didn’t say much and played hard. Now you know, everybody wants to call someone a leader.”

He disputes taking a softer hand, especially as Towns and Wiggins seem to struggle with sustaining concentration at critical moments. The Timberwolves won’t be able to make those mistakes during the playoffs, but he’s being more selective with his words.

“I’m not soft,” he said. “If I see something wrong, I speak on it. If you don’t like it, oh well. You’ll get over it.”

One thing he could take a bird’s eye view of was the aftermath of LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s comments to the “Uninterrupted”, where they were criticized by cable news hosts for speaking out against President Donald Trump.

No stranger to criticism, Butler would likely have the same approach if he dipped his toes into that arena.

“I like it. You got the right to say what you want and you speak on what you think is right,” Butler said. “Good for them. And they are magnified in a very big way. They embrace it and they’re doing the right thing, I’m all for it.”

And if the day comes where he doesn’t stick to sports, Butler’s directness and lack of diplomacy would certainly cause an interesting reaction.

“I don’t care. Whatever I believe in, I believe in,” Butler said. “Everybody else does it. You see everybody on Twitter and the Internet doing it and saying what they want to say. We just have a different job than the person to our left and right.”

Well, not quite a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Butler.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment


Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”