Saturday, May 9, 2015

2015 Mock Draft 1.0

* Lottery was simulated using Tankathon.com's lottery simulator tool.

1 - New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor - Duke, Fr. - C
The Knicks have so many holes on the roster, it doesn't really matter where they land among the top four; they're going to get a good prospect at a position of need.  Carmelo Anthony is the only player on the roster who is a lock to be a starter next year.  That allows New York to go with the best player available.  For me, it's too close to call between Okafor and Towns, but I think Phil Jackson would go with Okafor.

2 - Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns - Kentucky, Fr. - F/C
The Wolves have the best odds on lottery night, but fell in the lottery simulation.  Towns is probably who they would go with at #1 though, as they don't have a need at C, with Nik Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng already on the roster.  Towns would give the Wolves the makings of a great defense, as he and Wiggins have the physical tools to lock down their positions.  Offensively, Towns' ability to develop a jump shot to spread the floor will determine his position, and ultimately his value.  If he can shoot out to 20+ feet, he will be the best player in this draft class.

3 - Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow - Duke, Fr. - SF
The Magic have pieces in place at just about every spot on the roster except for SF.  Payton and Oladipo make for a promising backcourt and Vucevic should pair nicely with Aaron Gordon and/or Tobias Harris at PF.  If they pick outside of the top two and Winslow is there, it's hard to see him not being the pick.  With Payton, Oladipo and Winslow patrolling the perimeter, the Magic would have one of the more intriguing defensive units in the league going forward.  Winslow isn't a slouch offensively either, even if he may not develop into a go-to option.

4 - Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell - Ohio State, Fr. - G
Rumor has it that Russell is who the Sixers have their eyes on entering the draft.  That makes sense, as they're certainly set in the frontcourt with Embiid and Noel, meaning they probably won't be interested in Towns or Okafor without making a trade.  Russell would give the Sixers the shooting they sorely need with some positional flexibility to build their roster around, thanks to his size and playmaking.

5 - Los Angeles Lakers: Emmanuel Mudiay - USA, 1996 - PG
There's a fairly sizable talent drop-off from Mudiay to whoever you see as the 6th-best prospect, so it's hard to see this pick being anybody else, even if Mudiay's game does clash with Jordan Clarkson's.  Clarkson, the 2014 2nd-rounder, and Mudiay both struggle to shoot from the outside, but Mudiay's ceiling is so high that a team like the Lakers can't afford to pass on him.  If they were to make a bold move here, they could go with Willie Cauley-Stein to add some punch to a lackluster defense.

6 - Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis - Latvia, 1995 - PF
The Kings could use help at PG and PF/C entering this draft.  Which direction they choose to go is anybody's best guess.  Don't be shocked if Sacramento decides to snag Cauley-Stein to bolster the frontcourt defense, nominally sliding DeMarcus Cousins to PF on offense.  While that wouldn't be surprising, I think the Kings grab a stretch four to provide more room for Boogie to operate within.  Porzingis is a high-risk, high-reward pick, but if he pays off, the Kings' frontcourt would be virtually unguardable.

7 - Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja - Croatia, 1995 - G/F
Hezonja is another high-risk, high-reward prospect, something that the Nuggets could use more of.  Denver isn't atrocious at any position, but they don't have true long-term solutions anywhere other than PG, where Ty Lawson holds serve.  Even there, Lawson seems likely to be dealt this offseason after clashing with management and coaches last year.  Hezonja gives Denver the first piece in what should be a quick rebuild if they play their assets properly.

8 - Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson - Arizona, Fr. - SF
The Pistons would also likely be fine with Hezonja or Porzingis.  Barring a good free agent signing on the perimeter, Johnson could start from day one at SF for Detroit.  The franchise hasn't had even a serviceable player at the position since Tayshaun Prince was in his prime in the mid/late 2000's.  Johnson has some growing to do on the offensive end of the floor, but his defensive upside makes him more than worthy of being a top-10 pick.

9 - Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker - Kentucky, Fr. - SG
The Hornets' options at SG are as follows: Gerlad Henderson, Lance Stephenson, Troy Daniels.  Henderson is decent, the Lance experiment was a gross failure and Daniels is nothing more than end of the rotation fodder.  With young, reliable options at every other position, why not grab some much-needed shooting in Booker?  He's got decent size for a 2-guard and won't need the ball to score, making him a good fit next to the ball-dominant Kemba Walker.  Plus, Booker's elite outside shooting plays nicely next to MKG's non-existent outside shot on the wing.

10 - Miami Heat: Kelly Oubre - Kansas, Fr. - SF
The Heat need depth just about everywhere following a season where they handed out a bunch of 10-day contracts, desperately trying to find serviceable rotation players.  This pick looks much better if Luol Deng is back next season, removing any pressure Oubre may face.  He's got the frame and the athletic ability to be a quality NBA player, and a season or two apprenticing under Deng may be just what Oubre needs.

11 - Indiana Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky, Jr. - C
The Pacers weren't shy about their plans for current C Roy Hibbert: If he exercises his player option, he can expect to see a reduced role.  With Hibbert already on ice and only Ian Mahinmi behind him, expect the Pacers to at least consider a C in the draft.  Cauley-Stein would give the Pacers a player with a defensive upside similar to Hibbert's, but with a different offensive profile.  WCS fits the Pacers' desire to play faster, which will include playing Paul George at PF from time-to-time.  You want a good help-side shot blocker if you're going to go small, and WCS is just that.

12 - Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin, Sr. - F/C
Utah and Quin Snyder tried to turn Enes Kanter into a stretch big last year, as he fit the bill better than mainstays Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.  Kaminsky fits the Jazz offense a lot better than Kanter in that role, and would make for a good complement to the rim-protecting Gobert and the mostly paint-bound Favors.  For a team ready to make a move up the standings now, Kaminsky's age and maturity would be an added benefit.  If they go somewhere else, Jerian Grant may be in play as insurance in the case that Trey Burke and/or Dante Exum don't pan out.

13 - Phoenix Suns: Myles Turner - Texas, Fr. - F/C
The Suns are set in the backcourt where Eric Bledsoe and (more than likely) Brandon Knight hold down the starting spots.  They're set at the F positions, where the Morris twins, plus P.J. Tucker and T.J. Warren provide excellent depth.  The one spot where the Suns could stand to add some depth is in the post, where Alex Len could use a dynamic complement.  Turner needs some development, and the Suns' deep frontcourt would be a good place to get it.  If Brandan Wright signs a new deal, Turner would hardly be needed as a rookie.

14 - Oklahoma City Thunder: Jerian Grant - Notre Dame, Sr. - PG
Due to some chemistry issues and an impending restricted free agency, the Thunder had to give up Reggie Jackson, their 6th-man at the deadline.  Dion Waiters is too risky (see: terrible) to play big minutes, so the Thunder should look to give themselves more options in the backcourt.  Grant has the skill to play PG and the size to play off the ball, making him a good fit for what OKC needs.

15 - Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): Sam Dekker - Wisconsin, Jr. - SF
Atlanta probably wishes they could draft after free agency when they know what the final resolution is for unrestricted free agents DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap.  Both are set for big paydays, which may be untenable for a Hawks' organization that may feel like it can plug and play cheaper options in Mike Budenholzer's offense.  If Carroll bolts, Dekker would be a safe fall-back option.  His versatile offensive game could be molded within ATL's offense, and his size gives him some defensive upside.

16 - Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis - Arkansas, So. - PF
Boston has a lot of assets but not a lot of fit.  They seem like a good candidate to make some moves entering draft night due to their bevy of draft picks and spare parts.  It isn't safe to assume they'll even make this pick.  If they do, Portis would be great value outside of the lottery, and his range out to 20-ish feet would possibly replace Brandon Bass' place in the offense, as Bass is an unrestricted free agent this summer.  If Boston doesn't believe in James Young at SG/SF, R.J. Hunter and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may be in play.

17 - Milwaukee Bucks: R.J. Hunter - Georgia State, Jr. - SG
The Bucks have long-term options at PG through PF; seeing as there isn't a viable C option, they go with the best player available.  Hunter could apprentice for a season while O.J. Mayo plays out his contract before assuming meaningful minutes.  You can never have too much scoring punch off of the bench, something that Hunter should bring with him from GSU.

18 - Houston Rockets (via NOP): Tyus Jones - Duke, Fr. - PG
Houston is currently trying to fight through the Western Conference with Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry at PG after an injury to Patrick Beverley.  Beverley is a free agent this offseason and whether or not he's back, the Rockets will need another option at that spot due to Beverley's injury history.  Jones is a decent value at this point, and could even start right away since Harden is already handling playmaking duties as-is.  Cameron Payne could also be in play here.

19 - Washington Wizards: Trey Lyles - Kentucky, Fr. - PF
Lyles has lottery-type talent, but in this mock there hasn't been a good fit for him.  He has enough range to play as a "stretch-four", even if the NBA three ball isn't in his repertoire just yet.  Washington seems like a good destination for Lyles, as they could bring him along slowly behind Gortat and Nene.

20 - Toronto Raptors: Kevon Looney - UCLA, Fr. - PF
Looney is another new-age forward with lottery talent but no clear fit.  He'll need a few years to fill out his thin frame before he's ready for heavy minutes.  He has the skill level to be a quality starter, but if he never puts on the requisite weight to play PF or adds the necessary skill to play SF, he'll just be a position-less drifter.

21 - Dallas Mavericks: Montrezl Harrell - Louisville, Jr. - PF
The Mavs could use a player like Harrell who can come in right away and make a positive impact.  He's not the kind of guy you can run your offense through, but he makes hustle plays at both ends, specifically on the glass, and could develop stretch-four type range.

22 - Chicago Bulls: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona, So. - SF
I'm not wild on RHJ's upside, but I think he can be successful if he lands in the right situation.  The Bulls would fit that billing if Tom Thibodeau is still around, as he seems to get the most out of players with Hollis-Jefferson's profile.  He'll probably never be an offensive asset, but his ability to guard two or three positions has good value in today's NBA.

23 - Portland TrailBlazers: Christian Wood - UNLV, So. - PF
The Blazers need insurance in case LaMarcus Aldridge leaves in free agency, but they could use the extra option even if LMA does return.  Wood has solid upside, and would benefit the Blazers the most if he can spend a few years learning from LMA.

24 - Cleveland Cavaliers: Justin Anderson - Virginia, Jr. - SF
Cleveland gave perimeter minutes to Mike Miller and James Jones in 2014-15.  Justin Anderson would be an upgrade by nature of being more mobile than the parking cones that Miller and Jones are at this point.  His outside shooting is a question mark, but Anderson has a good build and the tenacity to be a solid defender.

25 - Memphis Grizzlies: Cliff Alexander - Kansas, Fr. - PF
Alexander fell from the ranks of "elite prospect" over the course of his freshman season with the Jayhawks.  Part of that was his spot in Bill Self's doghouse and part of that was that he was simply overhyped.  That doesn't mean he can't be a decent pro though, as Alexander's physical profile makes him a good fit for the Grizzlies' frontcourt where he could take some time to develop his skill level.  Memphis can afford the high-risk, high-reward pick late in the 1st.

26 - San Antonio Spurs: Cameron Payne - Murray State, So. - PG
The Spurs are facing a cap squeeze, and adding a serviceable backup at this point in the draft would give them some flexibility.  There's talk that San Antonio could be faced with dealing Patty Mills to create roster flexibility; if that happens, Payne has a direct role as a rookie.  If not, I'm sure the Spurs will take the requisite time to turn him into a killing machine.

27 - Los Angeles Lakers (via HOU): Chris McCullough - Syracuse, Fr. - F
With Mudiay already in tow, the Lakers have the luxury of adding the player with the highest upside at this pick.  There's some overlap with Julius Randle on the roster, but the Lakers really need more depth.  McCullough may be coming off of a torn ACL, but his upside is high enough to make him tempting at the end of the first.

28 - Boston Celtics (via LAC): Dakari Johnson - Kentucky, So. - C
With Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller at the C position, the Celtics don't really have a rim protector on the roster.  Johnson may not fit that role the way DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard does, but he protects the paint a lot better than Olynyk and Zeller.  With so many assets lined up, Boston can afford to grab a guy with a small variance.  Johnson's not going to be a star, but it's also hard to see him being 100% useless at the end of his rookie deal.

29 - Brooklyn Nets (via ATL): Delon Wright - Utah, Sr. - PG
Wright very well may be off the board by now, but if he isn't, he would offer the Nets a solid backup PG option who may be able to take over after Deron Williams' contract expires in two seasons.   Wright isn't much of an outside shooter, but his defensive profile suggests that he has value as a pro.

30 - Golden State Warriors: Jarell Martin - LSU, So. - PF
Martin going to the Warriors could make for a seamless transition.  Assuming the Warriors bring back Draymond Green and Marreese Speights, Martin would be able to develop in garbage-time before taking on a more serious role toward the end of his rookie deal.  Martin has good upside offensively and would fit in nicely as a low-usage piece at some point.

31 - Minnesota Timberwolves: George Lucas - Brazil, 1996 - PG

32 - Houston Rockets (via NYK): Jordan Mickey - LSU, So. - PF 

33 - Boston Celtics (via PHI): Rashad Vaughn - UNLV, Fr. - SG

34 - Los Angeles Lakers: Robert Upshaw - Washington, So. - C

35 - Philadelphia 76ers (via ORL): Tyler Harvey - Eastern Washington, Jr. - SG

36 - Minnesota Timberwolves (via SAC): Aleksandar Vezenkov - Cyprus, 1995 - F

37 - Philadelphia 76ers (via DEN): Timothe Luwawu - France, 1995 - SF

38 - Detroit Pistons: Richaun Holmes - Bowling Green, Sr. - PF
Even as an avid college basketball fan, I hadn't heard of Holmes before this season.  Now, I'm convinced that he might be one of the better 2nd-round options in this draft.  Holmes is a dynamic shot blocker thanks to explosive athleticism, and has the skills to develop an offensive game around his jump shot.  Holmes seems like the kind of player you can groom in the mold of Anthony Tolliver, which is all you should really ask for out of a second round pick.  If things break differently, the Pistons would probably like to get their hands on Aleksandar Vezenkov, Anthony Brown, Cedi Osman or Mam Jaiteh.

39 - Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Brown - Stanford, Sr. - SF

40 - Miami Heat - Norman Powell - UCLA, Sr. - SG

41 - Brooklyn Nets: Michael Qualls - Arkansas, Jr. - SG

42 - Utah Jazz: Cedi Osman - Macedonia, 1995 - G/F

43 - Indiana Pacers: Michael Frazier - Florida, Jr. - SG

44 - Phoenix Suns: Terry Rozier - Louisville, So. - PG

45 - Boston Celtics: Aaron White - Iowa, Sr. - F

46 - Milwaukee Bucks: Mam Jaiteh - France, 1994 - C

47 - Philadelphia 76ers (via NOP): Chris Walker - Florida, So. - PF

48 - Oklahoma City Thunder: J.P. Tokoto - UNC, Jr. - G/F

49 - Washington Wizards: Nikola Milutinov - Serbia, 1994 - C

50 - Atlanta Hawks (via TOR): Alpha Kaba - France, 1996 - PF

51 - Orlando Magic (via CHI): Brandon Ashley - Arizona, Jr. - PF

52 - Dallas Mavericks: Guillermo Hernangomez - Spain, 1994 - C

53 - Cleveland Cavaliers (via POR): Ilimane Diop - Senegal, 1995 - C

54 - Utah Jazz (via CLE): Keifer Sykes - UW-Green Bay, Sr. - PG

55 - San Antonio Spurs: Arturas Gudaitis - Lithuania, 1993 - C

56 - New Orleans Pelicans (via MEM): Rakeem Christmas - Syracuse, Sr. - PF

57 - Denver Nuggets (via LAC): Olivier Hanlan - Boston College, Jr. - PG

58 - Philadelphia 76ers (via HOU): Moussa Diagne - Senegal, 1994 - C

59 - Atlanta Hawks: Wesley Saunders - Harvard, Sr. - SG

60 - Philadelphia 76ers (via GSW): Joseph Young - Oregon, Sr. - G

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