2015 NBA Mock Draft: Pre-Lottery Edition
With the NBA season complete and the playoffs underway, we’re starting to get a sense of where each team stands in the draft.
Could the New York Knicks land the top pick for the first time in 30 years?
Will the Los Angeles Lakers actually keep their pick or be forced to give it to the Sixers?
Unfortunately those questions won’t be answered until the actual draft lottery, but for now, we can still project where some of the top prospects will end up.
So without further ado, here’s our full first-round projections for the 2015 NBA Draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Anthony-Towns, Kentucky
Two-way upside gives Karl Anthony-Towns the edge over any other player in the draft. His potential as a rim protector and low post weapon should convince the Wolves to nab him first.
2. New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Right now it’s still a mystery if the Knicks will keep their pick in the draft. If they do, Jahlil Okafor would be a perfect fit for their triangle offense.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
D’Angelo Russell’s draft status is still up in the air at the moment, however, he’s a lock to be a top 5 pick. Conventional wisdom would suggest there’s no way he’s passing up on guaranteed millions, but you never know.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: Emmanuel Mudiay, China
If the Lakers actually retain their pick, Mudiay would be a heck of a selection. He’s got star potential written all over him and he’s worth the gamble even if it means replacing Jordan Clarkson.
5. Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Duke
After a strong NCAA tournament, Justise Winslow has done nothing but shoot up draft boards. The Magic might have to replace restricted free agent Tobias Harris this summer, so why not go with the Duke freshman?
6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
The Kings desperately need rim protection. Willie Cauley-Stein happens to be the best shot blocker in this draft class. Need I say more?
7. Denver Nuggets: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
Kristaps Porizingis may not be the safest bet for the Nuggets, but he’s worth the risk. It’s not everyday you hear a prospect draw several comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki.
8. Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, Barcelona
Other than Mudiay and Russell, there’s no other guard as promising as Mario Hezonja on the board. His athleticism, offensive skill-set and elite size should all bode well at the next level.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Trey Lyles, Kentucky
After losing Josh McRoberts to free agency and flopping on their last draft pick, the Hornets can’t go wrong with Trey Lyles. They desperately need more production at the power forward position and Lyles is clearly their best option.
10. Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, Arizona
With Luol Deng turning 30, the Heat might as well invest in the future with Stanley Johnson. The Arizona standout is already a great defensive player and could learn a thing or two from their cast of experienced veterans.
11. Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner, Texas
Speaking of veterans, David West isn’t getting any younger and only has a few years left in the league. Myles Turner may be a long-term project, but his sky high ceiling suggests he’s got the potential to be a great stretch 4 and rim protector.
12. Utah Jazz: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker is an excellent combo forward that could fit well in the Jazz rotation. His blend of size, explosiveness and shooting touch should keep in the league for a long time.
13. Phoenix Suns: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
There’s a few positions where the Suns could use an upgrade, but their frontcourt is the most urgent. Alex Len is set to be the only true center on the roster next season, so drafting a versatile big man like Kaminsky is a no-brainer.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
After missing a good portion of the 2013-2014 season, Jerian Grant exceeded all expectations the following year, earning First Team All-American honors and an Elite Eight appearance. The Thunder could use a backup point guard in their rotation, so pairing the two together makes sense.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Oubre, Kansas
After a disappointing season with the Jayhawks, the appeal for Kelly Oubre is all based on long term potential right now. He’s got the physical tools to be an elite forward, but skill-wise he’s still extremely raw.
16. Boston Celtics: Cameron Payne, Murray State
Payne wasn’t a household name to start the season, but rose his draft stock dramatically thanks to an impressive NIT Tournament run. Even though the Celtics already have a few floor generals on their roster, Payne’s talent level is just too high to pass up on.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kevon Looney, UCLA
Arguably the biggest boom/bust prospect in this draft, Kevon Looney is a classic tweener at the forward spot. There’s no telling what his future holds, but there’s bound to be one team that’s willing to roll the dice on him.
18. Houston Rockets: Tyus Jones, Duke
Jones isn’t the flashiest of prospects, but is still a safe pick for any team. His high IQ and awareness make up for his lack of size, but his ceiling won’t be anything more than that of an average starter.
19. Washington Wizards: Bobby Portis, Arkansas
The reigning SEC Player of the Year dominated in his sophomore season with the Razorbacks, averaging 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. The Wizards may already have an assortment of bigs on their roster, but Portis could fit into their future strategies.
20. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
The Raptors desperately need more talent at the power forward position, hence the selection of Montrezl Harrell. He isn’t an offensive dynamo by any means, but his defensive prowess and energy alone would add an extra dimension to Toronto’s frontcourt.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Delon Wright, Utah
There’s no telling whether Rajon Rondo will return to the Mavericks next season. Delon Wright may not be a superstar in the making, but he’s still worth the pick just in case.
22. Chicago Bulls: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
High-energy and athletic player that uses his natural gifts to be a force on the defensive end. Could be a decent role player in the pros, but his offense desperately needs some refinement.
23. Portland Trailblazers: Justin Anderson, Virginia
Extremely versatile prospect that can knock down threes, finish strong at the rim and play lockdown defense. It’s unclear what position he will play at the next level, but he’s got the skills to be a typical 3 and D type player.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Christian Wood, UNLV
Christian Wood packs super-hero like athleticism into a 6-10 frame, which allows him to block shots and rebound at will. At 220 pounds, he’s pretty small for a big man, but there’s still plenty to like about him.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Devin Booker, Kentucky
Devin Booker does one thing well and that’s knocking down perimeter shots. With the Grizzlies ranking in the bottom of the league for three point shots made, adding a specialist like Booker would be a favorable choice.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Chris McCullough, Syracuse
Before tearing his ACL early in the season, Chris McCullough vaulted his draft stock to the top 10 on several draft boards. The Spurs know Tim Duncan doesn’t have much longer in the league, so why not invest in McCullough for future endeavors.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: R.J. Hunter, Georgia State
Another three point marksman that can convert shots at will. One cause for concern is his lack of consistency (39.5% on field goals, 30.5% on three point shots) but he’s got the mechanics and range to become a Marco Bellineli type player.
28. Boston Celtics: Jarell Martin, LSU
Jarell Martin took a major step forward this season, upping his scoring (10.3-16.9), rebounding (4.6-9.2) and shooting percentages (47.1-50.9). He’s got great size for his position at 6-10 and 240 pounds, but his small wingspan could limit him as a rim protector.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Cliff Alexander, Kansas
Faced with a lose-lose situation, Cliff Alexander had no choice but to declare for the draft or risk eligibility issues. There’s no telling if he can turn his career around in the NBA, but so far he’s been very underwhelming.
30. Golden State Warriors: Terry Rozier, Louisville
Terry Rozier is an uber talented floor general that can score points in bunches. His small size is concerning for the next level, but he’s still got the talent be a decent backup or reserve.
Agree or disagree with my mock draft? Hit me up on twitter @fieldhoops and lets talk basketball!