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?

Five observations from Bulls-Sixers: Well, at least the first quarter was good


Five observations from Bulls-Sixers: Well, at least the first quarter was good

Here are five observations from the Bulls' season-opener loss to the Sixers on Thursday night.

1. How about that first quarter?

In what could wind up being the most exciting quarter all year, the Bulls began the year with a 41-point explosion. The Bulls shot 63 percent in the quarter, at one point scoring on an absurd 11 consecutive possessions. Bobby Portis scored 13 points and hit all five shots, while Zach LaVine added 15 of his own. The ball was moving, they played quickly and caught Philadelphia out of position at times and took care of the ball. The fun times didn't last, but it wound up being the highest scoring first quarter in a Bulls season opener. It was fun. The other three quarters? Well, the first quarter was fun.

2. The defense is as bad as we thought it was

Granted, Kris Dunn is far and away the Bulls' best defender and was out while attending the birth of his baby boy. But this was still about as bad a defensive performance as the Bulls could have had, even against an offensive juggernaut like the Sixers. Communication was off almost from the start, and they always looked two steps behind. The Sixers got just about anything they wanted in transition, meaning it was a moot point that they struggled from beyond the arc. From Jabari Parker to Zach LaVine, it wasn't pretty. They're going to struggle all year long. Dunn isn't going to make enough of a difference. Shoutout to Wendell Carter's block on Ben Simmons, the lone defensive highlight of the night

3. Bobby Portis' bet is off to a good start

Portis was guilty of an ugly defensive performance, as Dario Saric posted a monster line by out-hustling his counterpart much of the night. But offensively Portis continues to shine after a great preseason. Portis, now officially in a contract year, went for 20 points and 10 rebounds and added a steal, a block and three 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Without Lauri Markkanen he's the Bulls' No. 2 scorer behind LaVine. We'll add her, too, that LaVine continued to look smooth on offense. He had 29 points on 19 shots and had seven of the Bulls' 12 free throw attempts.

4. The backup point guard job is up for grabs

Cam Payne's leash is incredibly long. He's the best option for now once Kris Dunn eventually returns, but it's probably time for Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis to get a look. Payne finished 0-for-4 with five assists and a turnover in 22 minutes. No one was expecting Payne to match Ben Simmons stat for stat (Simmons went for his third career-triple double in four games against the Bulls). But the ball routinely stopped when it got into Payne's hands, and he didn't seem to know where to go once he pushed in transition. His speed is a positive, but once he gets to his spot he struggled to make the right play. And he's a clear negative defensively. Arcidiacono and Ulis aren't exactly Gary Payton, but they deserve looks at some point in the near future. Arcidiacono had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists in 28 minutes. That came against Philly's second unit, but he was decidely better.

5. Jabari Parker will want a do-over

Friday feels like forever ago. For all Portis did well to close the preseason, it was gone on Thursday. Parker's final line is a bit misleading because of the points he scored when the game was well out of reach. The truth was Parker's shot selection early was awful, and his defense was a real liability. It was the "cons" side of his scouting report played out on the court. There's still hope he can improve, of course, and Hoiberg will need to find the right combinations to make him successful. But we can probably rule out him at small forward if he's having trouble staying in front of power forwards.

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers


Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.

Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”

The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.

Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.

“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”

Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.

He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.

“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”

After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.

The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.

“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”