Vincent Goodwill's 2015 NBA mock draft


Vincent Goodwill's 2015 NBA mock draft

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky: He said he hasn’t received a promise but it’s gonna happen. He’ll be paired as a cornerstone with Andrew Wiggins and begin a Towns-Okafor debate for years to come.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke: Has the more pro-ready skill set (offensive polish) than Towns but as custom, questions start flowing the closer we get to D-Day. Unless they’re trading for DeMarcus Cousins, it’s hard to see them passing him up to take a perimeter player.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State: If there was a talented but injured player available, the 76ers would take him and hit the reset button on the ever-present tanking process. But Russell can get to the basket with ease and in a point-guard centric league, they’d be foolish to pass him up.

4. New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia: Taking the best player available doesn’t fly much when an organizational philosophy is “who fits best in the triangle”. Here’s believing the Knicks buy into the hype about his versatility and shooting, because he’s an urban legend at this point.

5. Orlando Magic

Mario Hezonja, F, Croatia: Here’s where there’s some intrigue. If they didn’t have Elfrid Payton, could see them taking Emmanuel Mudiay but considering Hezonja has been noted as a good shooter and they need floor spacers with Payton and Victor Oladipo attacking the basket.

6. Sacramento Kings

Justise Winslow, SF, Duke: Improving shooter who can get better with more fluid mechanics. His end-to-end activity is something that could intrigue coach George Karl, but let’s be honest: nobody knows what the Kings are gonna do. Not even the Kings.

7. Denver Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China: If the Nuggets are indeed shopping point guard Ty Lawson, it means they’re open to selecting a point guard and he’s a sharp contrast from the incumbent. In other drafts he’d be a top four selection and still could, which is why the Nuggets won’t pass him up if he’s here.

8. Detroit Pistons

Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona: Word has it Johnson wants to go to Detroit or Miami, and the Pistons have a huge hole at small forward. His athleticism will be necessary in Motown, although you wonder if the Pistons will look for shooting in Sam Dekker or even Hezonja if he’s there.

9. Charlotte Hornets

Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky: Here’s where some fun really begins because the trades will start flowing. Charlotte will be listening but Booker is probably going to be the best shooter on the board at that time. The Hornets just moved Lance Stephenson and they need shooting around Al Jefferson.

10.  Miami Heat

Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin: Here’s a uneducated hunch, Miami will move this pick to Boston, a team desperate to move into the top 10. The Heat want more cap space to handle the Dwyane Wade saga, so dumping this will help. If they keep it, Dekker is an excellent shooter and floor-spacer for a team building around it, still.

11. Indiana Pacers

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky: Top-5 talent, big time questions. Orlando could take him as early as five but the questions about his maturity will cause him to slip. But Indiana, looking to replace the underwhelming Roy Hibbert, will take the chance and hope a veteran locker room keeps a talented defensive big on track.

12.  Utah Jazz

Myles Turner, PF, Texas: A stretch four can be what turns the Jazz into a playoff team, considering their strong finish to last season. But if they’re not in love with their point guard combo of Dante Exum-Trey Burke, could they take Cameron Payne from Murray State?

13. Phoenix Suns

Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin: A common question is how much room does Kaminsky have left to grow? True, but at worst he can be a solid backup for the Suns behind Alex Len and maybe even a complement to Len if they play big.  He can stretch the floor with decent NBA range.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder

Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky: A prime candidate to trade all the way out of the first round because of their already-complete roster, Lyles would still be a decent fit to a stacked frontline. He’s thought to go anywhere from 7 to 18, and he appears to either be a victim of fit or beneficiary of best talent on the board.

15. Atlanta Hawks

Kelly Oubre, F, Kansas: Surprising he’ll still be on the board but he’s athletic and long, which is what the Hawks could use given their lack of it on the wings. Can get to the basket and finish.

16. Boston Celtics

Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State: Best player on the board regardless of need, and even though Boston isn’t in need of a point guard, another shot creator is always in vogue.

17. Milwaukee Bucks

Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas: A rebounder, shot blocker and floor stretcher. The Bucks have that in spades and appear to be in more want of it to go along with scorers Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton.

18.  Houston Rockets

Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame: The Rockets could use an actual ballhandler instead of putting everything on James Harden, and Grant can handle the pick and roll, a Rockets staple. Could go higher but could fall to the Bulls at 22.

19. Washington Wizards

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona: A tough name to evaluate considering how much he’s affected the way teams look at him due to impressive workouts. But the Wizards need more wing help with Paul Pierce likely opting out, setting up a battle between Hollis-Jefferson and emerging Otto Porter.

20. Toronto Raptors

R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State: Hunter could go anywhere from 14 to a few picks left in the first round, but his shooting could make him a higher pick than his skill set could claim.

21. Dallas Mavericks

Tyus Jones, PG, Duke: Everyone knows the Mavericks are looking for point guard help and Jones could be the best on the board. Jones could be operating on a promise from the Rockets but that could be without knowing Payne is on the board. If Jones is here…

22. Chicago Bulls

Rashad Vaughn, G, UNLV: Hearing the Bulls like Vaughn and scouts love his confidence and ability to score. Considering the Bulls could play smaller this season, they’ll need more shooting on the floor and another shot creator. Vaughn could be their guy.

23. Portland Trailblazers

Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA: Looney is an excellent offensive rebounder but he is still raw compared to his contemporaries. Portland likes length and Looney can get up and down the floor.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

Delon Wright, PG, Utah: A combo guard who’s solid enough to play alongside Kyrie Irving in a pinch or take over point guard duties for decent stretches. If Cleveland is smart, they’ll be looking for a real backup not named Matthew Dellavedova.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Montrezl Harrel, PF, Louisville: Good athlete but Louisville players haven’t made huge marks in the league. Perhaps slightly undersized but a decent change of pace from the ground and pound style of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

26. San Antonio Spurs

Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia: A candidate to be taken in the early 20’s, Anderson is a “3 and D” guy who’ll likely find his niche as an outsider shooter and role-filler, something the Spurs always seem to never get enough of.

27. Los Angeles Lakers

Joseph Young, SG, Oregon: Depending on what they do with the second pick, they could be looking for more backcourt help in preparation for Kobe Bryant’s departure. Young is a shooter, one of the best in the draft.

28. Boston Celtics

Jarell Martin, PF, LSU: The Celtics have no problem drafting hard-playing guys without a true position of players too short for traditional NBA standards. Enter Martin, who’s a better athlete than many on the Celtics roster.

29. Brooklyn Nets

Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville: Can finish and get to the lane with ease despite not being the best point guard prospect. They’ll need another lead guard in Brooklyn, though.

30.  Golden State Warriors

Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse: McCullough won’t play this season, recovering from an ACL injury, which gives him time to rehab and develop at his own pace without the pressure of having to contribute immediately.

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again


Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:

Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.