It’s draft day, and while my second, and final, mock draft does have a fair amount of stability, especially in the top half, there are some major changes, starting at the top. With many teams, including at least half of the lottery teams, actively fielding trade proposals, there could be much more activity than usual this year, but as long as the order sticks, this is what I see happening in the 2015 NBA Draft.
1. Minnesota: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky – As I mentioned in my first mock draft, the Timberwolves couldn’t go wrong adding either Towns or Jahlil Okafor with the first pick. It looks like Towns will be the pick, and his versatility on both ends of the floor should add another dimension to the young core led by Andrew Wiggins. Towns’ ability to score inside and out should also open up the floor a bit, giving the young Wolves space to get to the basket.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke – The Lakers’ consolation prize is one of the most talented offensive big men to come into the league in a long time. There may be concerns about Okafor and Julius Randle playing next to each other in the frontcourt, but those are outweighed by the chance to get a young big man who is still years away from reaching his peak. Rumors have this pick being in play for Sacramento in a possible deal for DeMarcus Cousins, but if the Lakers keep it, Okafor is the smart pick.
3. Philadelphia: D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Ohio State – Russell stays here in the third spot, even with recent news that Joel Embiid’s injury issues are worse than expected. Russell can play either backcourt spot, knock down jumpers or create for others in the pick-and-roll. He’s not a very good defender, but having Noel behind him should help with any players who get by him. Plus, Russell will add some much-needed excitement for a fan base which could use it.
4. New York: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke – Winslow stays here at number four, even as rumors of a trade down continue. Winslow will give the team an athletic young wing who can defend multiple positions, as well as score from the perimeter or off the dribble to the basket.
5. Orlando: Kristaps Porzingis, C, Balancesto Sevilla – The 7’1” Latvian will give the Magic a big man who can stretch the floor, and hopefully, long-term, a solid rim protector on the defensive end. His ability to run the floor well should fit in well with the likes of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. Porzingis still needs to work on his body, but he has a solid foundation skill-wise.
6. Sacramento: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Guangdong (China) – As I mentioned with the Lakers’ pick, there is talk of a DeMarcus Cousins trade, but assuming a deal isn’t done, or this pick isn’t included, I still like Mudiay in this spot for the Kings. Mudiay is an athletic and physical guard who likes to attack the basket. He improved some in his year in China, especially with his shooting and ability to run the pick-and-roll, but he is still raw in many ways, as well as a mediocre defender.
7. Denver: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, FC Barcelona (Spain) – Hezonja is an athletic wing who can shoot, and is a very good ballhandler. Some seem to like his massive ego, but it does give me some concern as he tries to adjust to the NBA. Still, he’s an exciting young player to watch, and in the right system, he could become a very capable NBA scorer.
8. Detroit: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona – With the recent trade for Ersan Ilyasova as a likely replacement for free agent Greg Monroe, the Pistons could look to address some needed talent on the wings. Johnson is athletic, with an NBA body, and he’s shown the ability to shoot from the perimeter and score well in transition. Johnson has the tools to be a good defender in the NBA, and though young, he should be able to contribute quality minutes quickly.
9. Charlotte: Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin – The Hornets already shipped off last year’s lottery pick, Noah Vonleh, and while Cody Zeller does a lot of things well, shooting from the perimeter isn’t one of them. Kaminsky will give the Hornets a seven-foot, skilled big man who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability, as well as create scoring chances for others as he moves around the floor. Kaminsky’s ability to stretch the floor should also help create some space for Al Jefferson around the basket, as well as make up some for shooting that is lost by having Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the floor.
10. Miami: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky – Another lottery spot stays the same with Booker a good fit for a Miami team that can use an infusion of young talent. Booker will give the Heat some depth at the shooting guard position. He’s one of the top long-range shooters in the draft, as well as a quality defender. He’s not a Wade-type guard, but he’ll give the Heat some needed scoring and defense, at least in the short-term.
11. Indiana: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky – The Pacers have already said that they would like to get out and run the floor more next season, which isn’t suited to current center Roy Hibbert. Cauley-Stein drops here due to concerns over a foot issue, but if there are no long-term effects, he will be an exciting player to watch with a team playing a quick pace, as well as giving the Pacers a big boost on defense.
12. Utah: Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF, Kansas – Oubre remains my pick for the Jazz at number 12, as he’ll be a nice addition to a good young core of players led by Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Though Dante Exum and Trey Burke have both struggled in the early parts of their careers, it’s too early for Utah to give up on them and draft another point guard. Oubre will add an athletic wing who has shown some ability to knock down jumpers and has the length to become a good defender on the perimeter. He’s still more athlete than player, so backing up Hayward for a couple of years will be good for him.
13. Phoenix: Myles Turner, PF/C, Texas – Originally, I had Kaminsky going in this spot to Phoenix, but with him gone, Turner will hopefully give the Suns some of the same shooting skills, as well as a better defensive presence. Turner may not have stood out much his freshman season, but there is a lot to like with his size and continually growing skill-level. He may not offer much immediately, but with long-term development in mind, he could be a very good inside-out threat.
14. Oklahoma City: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State – With the trade of Reggie Jackson last season, the Thunder could be looking for a good back-up to Russell Westbrook. Payne is a good perimeter shooter, and a strong passer and decision-maker in the pick-and-roll. He is the kind of point guard who could flourish under new coach Billy Donovan, and learn a lot playing with Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
15. Atlanta: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas – Portis is a strong, skilled forward with the ability to score inside and out. He’s a very good perimeter defender for his size, as well as a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor, and playing under Mike Anderson at Arkansas has taught him to play hard on every possession. Paul Millsap is a free agent after this season, and while Portis may not be ready to step in immediately for a team that won 60 games, he could give valuable minutes at both the power forward and center positions.
16. Boston: Trey Lyles, PF, Boston – Boston made a great pick last year, getting Marcus Smart to pair in the backcourt with Avery Bradley, and now Isaiah Thomas, who they added at the trade deadline. They could look to add a player like Sam Dekker to add depth on the wings, but I think Lyles would also be a great addition to their frontcourt, giving some much-needed athleticism at the power forward position. Lyles mostly played out of position last season at Kentucky, but he is a versatile scorer at the 4, and though he does need to work on extending the range on his jumper the mechanics are there. He handles the ball well for 6’10” and he can be a threat attacking the basket off the dribble.
17. Milwaukee: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin – Khris Middleton will be a free agent this summer, so the Bucks may be looking to add a player at the small forward position. Originally, I had Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in this spot because of his defensive ability, but I think Dekker’s versatile scoring ability will win out, keeping the Wisconsin star in-state. At 6’9”, Dekker will give great size at the small forward position, and while not the defender Hollis-Jefferson is, he can hold his own just fine.
18. Houston: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke – The Rockets can use some depth in the backcourt, especially at the point guard position, and the rumors are that Jones received a promise from them, causing him to shut down his further workouts. Jones doesn’t have the size or speed of some of the other point guards in this draft, but he has great control of the floor, shows very good passing ability and has shown a penchant for hitting big-time shots. He’ll do a quality job getting the ball to the Rockets’ main scoring options.
19. Washington: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville – The Wizards have a great young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter’s play in the postseason was hopefully a sign of things to come for him. The frontcourt could use some athleticism, especially at the power forward position, and Harrell would be a nice addition. I’ve never been big on using the word “motor” when describing how a player plays on the floor, but it seems right for Harrell. He is slightly undersized for the position, but he is strong and athletic, can run the floor well and rebounds and defends as well as a player 3 or 4 inches taller than him. He would certainly give Wall another good option when wanting to pick up the pace on the floor. They may also go with a point guard here to back up Wall, which could make Jerian Grant the selection.
20. Toronto: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA – I’m really not sure what to make of this Toronto team after seeing them down the stretch this season, so they could probably go in a lot of directions here. Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough will be free agents this summer, so they may look to add depth to the power forward spot. Looney is certainly not ready to contribute right away for the Raptors, or any team really, but he has the makings of a big forward who can stretch the floor, has the length to defend the position and has a knack for rebounding. The Raptors already need to wait at least a few years before last year’s pick, Bruno Caboclo, shows if he even belongs in the NBA, so there’s little harm in letting Looney develop over the next few years as well.
21. Dallas: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame – The Rajon Rondo saga is behind them, so the Mavericks will look to the future with a dynamic scorer and passer in Grant. He has good size for the point guard position, is comfortable scoring and distributing in pick-and-roll and is a better perimeter shooter than last year’s numbers indicate. If Grant is gone by this spot, it’s possible the Mavericks could reach for Delon Wright, who will bring a lot of the same qualities as Grant, but better defense and less shooting ability.
22. Chicago: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona – While new coach Fred Hoiberg should ramp up the Bulls’ offense, Hollis-Jefferson will add a versatile defender with good size and length. His offense leaves a lot to be desired, but he finds ways to get his points in transition and off of offensive rebounds. Another option would be another shooter for Hoiberg with the addition of a player like R.J. Hunter or Rashad Vaughn, but I think if Hollis-Jefferson is available here, his defensive ability will be needed.
23. Portland: Jarell Martin, SF/PF, Louisiana State – There is a good chance LaMarcus Aldridge will leave as a free agent this summer, and while the Trail Blazers just acquired young forward Noah Vonleh in a deal for Nic Batum, Martin’s scoring ability plus athleticism will give them some needed pop for a team going through a transition right now. Though there are rumors of a promise to Martin from the Grizzlies a few spots from here, Portland was also impressed with him and steals him a bit earlier.
24. Cleveland: RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State – The trade for JR Smith and Iman Shumpert has worked for Cleveland so far, but Hunter could give them a better long-term option at the shooting guard position. He already has NBA range on his jumper, and with the good looks he would get on the floor with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, he could give them a consistent threat from the perimeter. Also, Hunter is a smart player, sees the floor well and can be a good passer, so he could thrive without having to be a top scoring option.
25. Memphis: Justin Anderson, SG, Virginia – As I mentioned, there are rumors of a promise to Jarell Martin here, but with Portland getting to him first, the Grizzlies still do well with Anderson. Though the Grizzlies just took Jordan Adams in the first round last year, Anderson gives them a better athlete and shooter at the shooting guard position, and his ability to defend on the perimeter should be a great fit in Memphis. Marc Gasol is a free agent this summer, though all signs seem to point to him staying in Memphis, the Grizzlies may still want to look for a big man here, but Anderson is a good enough to break into the backcourt rotation by the end of next season.
26. San Antonio: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV – The Spurs have a lot of decisions to make with their own free agents, plus the possibility of adding LaMarcus Aldridge. There is a good chance that Danny Green may be priced above what the team is willing to spend, especially if they need to keep cap space available for Aldridge. Vaughn would be a good fit here as a young shooter, who has the skill to develop into a more versatile scorer in a few years. There’s always the possibility the Spurs go for a draft-and-stash player, again for the cap space, but if not, I like the eventual role Vaughn can play there.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Delon Wright, PG, Utah – Jordan Clarkson emerged at the point guard spot last season, but he is still more of a scorer, and Wright would be a nice complement to him in the backcourt. Wright’s ability to run the pick-and-roll and break down defenses would also help the Lakers’ pick at number 2, Okafor. With there being a run of point guards a bit earlier in the round, there’s a chance Wright could be gone, but I like his chances here if still available.
28. Boston: Anthony Brown, SG/SF, Stanford – I know Boston picked a shooter last season in James Young, but Brown is better in many areas, especially as a passer and defender. His long-range shooting ability will always be needed, but paired with the likes of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley on the floor, the Celtics will be an even more formidable perimeter defensive team.
29. Brooklyn: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville – I mentioned in my last mock draft that Brooklyn could really use some help at point guard, but they are tied up with Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack for the next few seasons. Still, Rozier’s scoring ability at the position stands out, as well as his ability to be a pest on defense. The Nets may not need him right away, but he’s a good choice to mold for the future.
30. Golden State: Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse – The last pick is the same as my first mock draft. The biggest priority for Golden State this summer will be re-signing Draymond Green, and after that, there aren’t really any major holes in the NBA’s best team. McCullough’s freshman season at Syracuse was cut short due an ACL injury, and he is still very raw as a player, but he has length and athletic ability. Golden State has done a great job using their Santa Cruz D-League affiliate to develop players, and McCullough would be perfect for them to work with over the next year or two.
31. Minnesota – Rakeem Christmas, PF/C, Syracuse
32. Houston – Nikola Milutinov, C, Partizan
33. Boston – Guillermo Hernangomez, C, Balancesto Sevilla
34. Los Angeles Lakers – Jordan Mickey, PF, Louisiana State
35. Philadelphia – Jonathan Holmes, SF/PF, Texas
36. Minnesota – Cedi Osman, SF, Anadolu Efes
37. Philadelphia – J.P. Tokoto, SG, North Carolina
38. Detroit – Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky
39. Charlotte – Michael Frazier II, SG, Florida
40. Miami – Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
41. Brooklyn – Joseph Young, SG/PG, Oregon
42. Utah – Arturas Gudaitis – Zalgiris
43. Indiana – Larry Nance, Jr., PF, Wyoming
44. Phoenix – Mouhammadou Jaiteh, C, Nanterre
45. Boston – Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
46. Milwaukee – Olivier Hanlan, PG/SG, Boston College
47. Philadelphia – Vince Hunter, SF, Texas-El Paso
48. Oklahoma City – Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
49. Washington – Pat Connaughton, SG, Notre Dame
50. Atlanta – Josh Richardson, SG, Tennessee
51. Orlando – Richaun Holmes, PF, Bowling Green
52. Dallas – Norman Powell, SG, UCLA
53. Cleveland – Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky
54. Utah – Alan Williams, PF, UC-Santa Barbara
55. San Antonio – Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington
56. New Orleans – Corey Hawkins, PG/SG, UC- Davis
57. Denver – Daniel Diez, SF, San Sebastian
58. Philadelphia – Chris Walker, PF, Florida
59. Atlanta – Aaron White, PF, Iowa
60. Philadelphia – Satnam Singh, C, IMG Academy