The 2015 NBA Draft is Thursday night. I said this in Friday’s column:
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “But, you didn’t cover college basketball this year! What do you know about these prospects?” Just because I didn’t write about a sport, doesn’t mean I didn’t watch it. I watched college basketball this year. I watched enough to put together a mock draft of the first round; It’s still in progress and will be out next week.
Well, here it is. Also in Friday’s column, I laid out three scenarios regarding the top four picks. I have made up my mind.
No.1, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
I’m going out on a limb compared to most people, and it’s not because Jahlil Okafor and the Duke Blue Devils won the title.
Usually at the top of the draft, fit doesn’t matter. Of course you’re gonna take someone who’ll fit. It’s not usually about need either.
The case can easily be made that the Timberwolves need a power forward and center. But I don’t think Minnesota is thinking that way.
What I’m saying, is while I don’t, I think Minnesota still believes that Anthony Bennett can be their power forward. The former No.1 overall pick (in that terrible 2013 Draft), they got him from Cleveland in the Kevin Love trade. He’s only been in the Wolves’ system one year, and is respected by the fans and the team.
That’s why I think they pass on Karl-Anthony Towns, and take Okafor to play center.
No matter who Minnesota takes, it’s gonna add another talent to this young team. It’ll make them even more raw than before.
Taking Okafor means dealing Nikola Pekovic, which should be easy except for the fact he’s making a ton of money, and already has.
A deal would be tough with that cap number, Phoenix could absorb a load, and could use a guy like Pekovic, but would have to shed money in light of it.
No.2, Los Angeles Lakers: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
I went back and forth between this pick, and how it effects Julius Randle. Randle is 6’9, and Towns is 6’11. Towns has the ability to play center, but it’s a matter of whether he can develop it or not. Julius Randle doesn’t have a ton of trade value after an injury-filled rookie season. It’s a risk of the Lakers to take Towns, and hope it works out between the two players. The Lakers are in best player mode, but fit is coming into play with these picks.
No.3, Philadelphia 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
I don’t care if D’Angelo Russell has said he doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia or if he thinks he’ll be a good fit in Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. You get picked where you get picked. And Russell’s going to the 76ers.
Philly seems to be interested in Kristaps Porzingis, but No.3 just seems too high for me. They already have enough big men, who’re very young and raw still, but it’s not like they’re trying to win yet. If the 76ers lack anything it’s guards, and after trading away Michael-Carter Williams, they need another play-maker.
We though MCW was gonna be a scorer, but it turns out he can’t shoot to save his life. Russell is an amazing scorer, who can get to the bucket with moves, and nail the three. He’s kinda like a taller Kyrie Irving. That’s the type of guy Philly needs, and they surely don’t want a MCW 2.0 (see below).
No.4, New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, China
I’m in no way a fan of Mudiay, but I think this is where he goes. Multiple people have him sliding, and the Knicks making some type of move, but New York needs a guard. Mudiay is unfortunately a MCW 2.0, but hopefully a better shooter. He’s tall and lengthy, and will make passes. New York just needs something in that back-court, and while there probably is better options, the Knicks will find a way to screw it up.
No.5, Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
Orlando has Nikola Vucevic at center, which opens up a spot at power forward. Their perimeter is small and full of shooters, who’re all still developing. Channing Frye is currently at power forward, but has been injured and spotty. Who says Porzingis is gonna be ready to play right off the bat? This is a safe pick, and it’s not like the Magic will have to rush Porzingis’ development.
No.6, Sacramento Kings: Myles Turner, Texas
I know, it’s too high, but I just can’t see Sacramento taking anyone else (unless it’s Vivek Ranadive making the draft pick again). They’re weak next to DeMarcus Cousins, and if they take Turner, they’ll have to re-shape the roster. Rudy Gay is currently playing power forward. They could slide him to three, and play Turner at 4, his natural position. That’d be a killer front-court, Turner and Boogie, making a rebounding machine.
No.7, Denver Nuggets: Justice Winslow, Duke
Justice Winslow is one of my favorite players in this Draft. This guy is amazing with the basketball, and can pull-up from any-where. He’s awesome on defense; a lock-down wing player. Denver’s in re-bulid, and is looking for the best player. This’d be a great addition for new coach Mike Malone.
No.8, Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, Croatia
This guy, like Winslow, has some insane moves. He’s a great ball-handler, and is a good scorer from the wing. Detroit is set down low, and needs more perimeter shooting. With Brandon Jennings’ name now entering trade talks, the Pistons have to take a scorer and play-maker with this pick. Hezonja is a foreign prospect, and while the footage is good, you have to expect a tad bit of a rocky start. Same with Porzingis.
No.9, Charlotte Hornets: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
I’m not a fan of Willie Cauley-Stien. He’s overrated because he was on Kentucky, and has a cool name. Okay, that’s not a reason, but this guy has serious flaws. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great on defense. With Al Jefferson wearing out, Cauley-Stein can make up for him on the defense end. Jefferson still gets rebounds, a total that is dropping however. Where Cauley-Stein has to improve is on offense. He doesn’t get put-backs, and he can’t shoot to save his life. He may improve, but Stein just isn’t talented enough on the offensive end.
No.10, Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, Arizona
The Heat need a wing really bad. This is a team that has a lot of money to spend on guys who they want to retain this Summer. Miami has the chance to be really good next year, if they retain everyone. The wing is the weakest spot on this team, and Stanley Johnson would be a nice piece to fit in. There are definite concerns about his effort, but playing Miami can’t be a bad gig. He needs to work on his shooting, but it’s not like the Heat lack that. This might be a bit of a project.
No.11, Indiana Pacers: Trey Lyles, Kentucky
The Kentucky guys are gonna start flying off the board. The Knicks, if they trade down, seem to really like Trey Lyles. Perhaps if Phoenix wants to move up, the Knicks could do something like Eric Bledsoe and No.13 overall for No.4 overall. New York would have to hope Lyles would be available at No.13.
Indiana’s big guys are starting to wear down. David West is 34. He’s got probably two good years left. Taking Lyles would be a evident replacement, and is, in my opinion, a David West 2.0. Big body, good rebounder, and has post moves. This would be an ideal pick, but Lyles is a hot commodity.
No.12, Utah Jazz: Devin Booker, Kentucky
Utah has a lot of shooting already, but needs some more security in the back-court. Trey Burke, their point guard, hasn’t been what they though he was gonna be. However, they don’t need a replacement for him. Devin Booker is a good shooting guard, who has a nice shot. The Jazz are still building a team, and as it looks right now, they know what they want. Shooters around a big man. Booker is one of those shooters they need.
No.13, Phoenix Suns: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
I’ve been driving this pick for awhile. I want my Suns to draft Frank Kaminsky. He’s an amazing big man, who can play center, power forward, and stretch 4, and 5. He’s impressive. Most people are worried about his defense, but the guy is an offensive specimen, and that’s what Phoenix wants. We know how the Suns play: Fast and versatile. They shoot a ton of threes. The Suns need a versatile big man, one who can shoot outside and rebound. Kaminsky is that.
No.14, Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Payne, Murray State
Most comparisons of Cameron Payne are similar to Damian Lillard. This pick works because Oklahoma City needs all the depth they can get in the back-court. We know how injury-prone Russell Westbrook is. If Devin Booker is still around here, I’d expect the Thunder to go with him.
No.15, Atlanta Hawks: Rashad Vaughn, UNLV
Rashad Vaughn has been flying up draft boards. I love the two UNLV guys in this draft . Anyways, this is probably too high. But I really don’t care. Kyle Korver is great for the Hawks, but he really only shoots threes. There isn’t a lot of other skills with him. If the Hawks lose DeMarre Carroll in free agency, they could move Korver to small forward, and start Vaughn at shooting guard. Vaughn’s very good on defense, but needs to work on his shot.
No.16, Boston Celtics: Kelly Oubre, Kansas
Kelly Oubre is a little Stanley Johnson-ish, in the fact that there’s a lot of questions. Of course these guys who have questions come from my favorite teams. Anyways, Boston traded Jeff Green to Memphis in the middle of last season. They could easily replace him with Oubre, who’s perimeter player with a good shot. The defense is okay. Really, he might be a Jeff Green 2.0. That’s a little concerning.
No.17, Milwaukee Bucks: R.J. Hunter, Georgia State
R.J. Hunter’s stock went sky high after he knocked Baylor out of the NCAA Tournament on a game-winning shot, where his injured Dad fell off his stool, and dominated Youtube.
I think Hunter has skill, I’m just worried he’s overrated. Milwaukee has a lot of depth, but with Michael-Carter Williams at point guard, the back-court could use some help. Hunter is more of a 2, but was Georgia State’s ball-handler, along with Kevin Ware. Milwaukee has a lot of options with this pick, but they don’t necessarily have a lot of needs.
No.18, Houston Rockets: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
With Patrick Beverely’s upcoming free agency, and an aging Jason Terry, Jerian Grant makes sense for the Rockets. He’s a good ball handler, necessary for a point guard, and is a great defensive player. The shooting needs to get better, but Houston has enough shot makers.
No.19, Washington Wizards: Bobby Portis, Arkansas
Nene did a face-plant in the Playoffs, and no one was really sure what happened. It was like Roy Hibbert in the 2013-2014 Playoffs. Bobby Portis is a big, strong dude. He reminds me of Zach Randolph. This pick would give Washington more off the bench, at this season, and replace some of their old, wore-out players.
No.20, Toronto Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
The case against this pick is DeMar DeRozan, but it’s quite simple why this pick should be made. Toronto simply lacked shooting last season. DeRozan was their best shooter, and while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a basically a 2.0 of him, he’s a better defender. I felt like the Raptors should had made a move at the Trade Deadline, for someone on the wing, basically Jeff Green. This pick would give them that, without giving anything up.
No.21, Dallas Mavericks: TRADE: Minnesota sends Ricky Rubio to Dallas for No.21 overall
With No.21, Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyus Jones, Duke
First predicted trade for me, and only. There’s a ton of rumors, but I just don’t see a lot happening. Then again, I am prepared for the league-landscape to be changed, which is exactly what the Trade Deadline did.
Minnesota has been shopping Ricky Rubio around, and that hasn’t been denied by anyone. Dallas, who’s most likely losing Monte Ellis in free agency (along with Rajon Rondo, but that’s been known for awhile), could use his services.
I’ve never liked Rubio. He can’t shoot to save his life, and is average defensively. But he’s a great passer, which is the No.1 skill for a point guard. Bottom line is, he’s fine. He’s overpaid, but he’s fine.
By shipping Rubio out, the Timberwolves can take the local kid Tyus Jones, the MVP of the Final Four. Tyus went to high school 30 minutes south of my high school. Everyone loves him here. Minnesota as a state isn’t known for producing basketball players. Playing for his local NBA team would be pretty cool, and would pump up the community. A pick like that would only make the Timberwolves younger and more raw, but it’s not like they’d be able to contend this coming season anyway.
No.22, Chicago Bulls: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
Like Phoenix, the Bulls have needed a versatile big man for awhile. The Bulls were built on big guys, who play post and only post. Montrezl Harrell is a big man who’ll play in the paint, and spread his game out in the mid-range. He won’t shoot threes, but he will take longer shots. He’s a lot smaller than Kaminsky, and doesn’t have nearly the footwork, but those are the two versatile big men in this Draft. They’ll both go before No.22 overall.
No.23, Portland Trail Blazers: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Alright, this sucks. I had Sam Dekker going very high (more like insanely high) before the Hornets-Clippers trade. You can kinda piece it together by the lack of need for one of those two teams.
This sucks because Dekker dropped double-digit spots because of that. I love Dekker. He’s the classic wing player, who can shoot and play perimeter defense. But here’s the difference between Dekker and say Chandler Parsons, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or any wing player in the league. It’s the way he moves on the court. It’s the way he carries himself (which is partly to do with how comedic that Wisconsin team was). He’s just a kid. He’s just happy to be where he is.
And that’s how he looks on the court. He’s so gracefully when he plays. The way he shoots.
It’s weird. I think this guy is gonna be amazing in the NBA. When we talk about how the league’s progressing, this kid fits the mold.
Portland is that type of team. They’re developing. They’re gonna be really good soon, and whether they get Wesley Matthews, or LaMarcus Aldridge back this Summer, they’ll be fine. Dekker is gonna be a stud, and I think Portland is the place for him to do that. Let’s see if anyone’s smart enough to realize what I have before No.23 overall.
No.24, Cleveland Cavaliers: Delon Wright, Utah
Similar to the Thunder, Cleveland just needs some depth at guard. No one is sure whether they’ll get Matthew Dellavedova back, who’s a free agent. Delon Wright is very athletic, and very good on defense. He needs some improvement on offense, but the Cavaliers, if they lose Delly, would need a guard to back-up Kyrie Irving, and hopefully provide defense like Delly did.
No.25, Memphis Grizzlies: Justin Anderson, Virginia
Even though Jeff Green is coming back next season (expensively), the one thing Memphis missed last season was outside shooting. The league’s evolving, and Memphis has been slow to catch up to it. Anderson missed most of the tournament after having a thumb injury, and it killed Virginia. He’s a play-maker… The Grizzlies need that.
No.26, San Antonio Spurs: Christian Wood, UNLV
This would be such a Spurs-like pick. With Tim Duncan’s years winding down, Wood would be an ideal replacement. He’s a little more versatile, but does have a post game. I really like this kid, and while it’s a little high for most people, this would be a total Spurs-like pick.
No.27, Los Angeles Lakers: Terry Rozier, Louisville
No matter who the Lakers end up with in this Draft or at the end of free agency, they need back-court depth. Terry Rozier was really, really good at Louisville. He was a big part of those teams. Whether they end up with Rajon Rondo or D’Angelo Russell, or neither, Rozier would be a smart pick for a team that just needs to add talent.
No.28, Boston Celtics: Kevon Looney, UCLA
These last three picks are filled with big men. I think Boston is gonna end up with Kevin Love, but Kevon Looney will give them more depth in the front-court. He’s a big, strong guy, who’s a good rebounder. Boston loves to acquire depth, and this pick, their 2nd of the 1st round, gives them that.
No.29, Brooklyn Nets: Chris McCollough, Syracuse
With Brook Lopez’s impending free agency, the Nets need some extra help down low. Chris McCollough is a tall player who provides rim protection. The Nets could be a disaster next season, or pretty decent. McCullough would at least give them some depth if Brook Lopez leaves, or stays.
No.30, Golden State Warriors: Jarell Martin, LSU
David Lee’s about to get shipped out, which clears up some clutter down low. This pick would essentially replace David Lee on the bench, as Jarell Martin would join the rotation in the post. Rumors have the Warriors wanting to trade up, which would work if they wanted to package this pick and Lee for a higher selection.
Not doing a second round… Too much. Also, hoping for two podcasts the rest of this week.