Though the 2015 NBA Draft is still six months away, who goes number one when projecting today?
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It’s that time of the year.
The NBA regular season is inching towards its close, which means (of course!) it’s time for the next rendition of the Lottery Mafia’s NBA mock draft!
Like the last two, Okafor remains at the top, and should be taken by almost any team that happens to win the lottery. D’Angelo Russell rose to No. 2 on the latest top-100 big board, and is now projected to wind up with Philadelphia.
How does the rest of the board shake out?
1. New York- Jahlil Okafor | C | Duke | Freshman
Okafor lands at the top of the mock draft for the third consecutive time. While the Knicks have the number one pick here (by virtue of being the worst team), expect whichever team that wins the lottery to select Okafor. The Knicks are desperate for an All-NBA caliber big man to pair with Carmelo Anthony, and would be a perfect fit for the Duke center. He will be a special NBA player.
2. Philadelphia- D’Angelo Russell | PG/SG | Ohio State | Freshman
After Philadelphia made the surprising choice to deal Michael Carter-Williams, there is a need for a scoring guard. While Hinkie could opt to add Towns to his collection of centers, the scoring ability and court vision of Russell will be too much to pass up. He looks like a cross between James Harden and Manu Ginobili, and could lead the Sixers in scoring from day one.
3. Minnesota- Karl-Anthony Towns | PF/C | Kentucky | Freshman
Kevin Love moved on and the Thaddeus Young experiment did not work out. Minnesota has an intriguing core in Rubio, Wiggins, Muhammad and Dieng, but needs a low post scorer to complete its young core. Enter Towns. He has been a consistent starter and producer for the undefeated Kentucky squad, and should go no lower than pick four on draft day.
4. LA Lakers- Emmanuel Mudiay | PG | Guangdong Tigers | 1996-born
Like the Knicks, the Lakers badly need to hit the reset button. Kobe Bryant is a shell of his former self, and there are very few options on the roster worth keeping next season. Adding a dynamic point guard in Mudiay would take pressue off Bryant as his career ends, and would provide the Lakers with its point guard of the future. Like Towns, look for pick four to be Mudiay’s floor.
5. Orlando- Stanley Johnson | SF | Arizona | Freshman
Orlando has acquired a very intriguing group of prospects, but the winning percentage has remained in the cellar of the NBA’s JV conference. Johnson adds athleticism and perimeter defense, and could be a tremendous secondary scorer next to Victor Oladipo. He is an improving outside shooter, though not elite, but could start from day one.
6. Denver- Mario Hezonja | SG | FC Barcelona | 1995-born
Hezonja is a personal favorite of mine in this draft, and a near-lock to go in the top-10. The guard has played well when given minutes for Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona, draining threes and slashing past his opponents using his lightning first step. Denver did draft Gary Harris last year, but cannot afford to pass up on the top talent available at this point.
7. Sacramento- Willie Cauley-Stein | C | Kentucky | Junior
Defense has been a major issue for the Kings, which are currently allowing nearly 105 points per game. Cauley-Stein is the best interior defender in the draft, and could bolster a second-unit or even play alongside DeMarcus Cousins. A likely first team All-American, the Kentucky center could be a Tyson Chandler-type player at the next level.
8. Detroit- Kevon Looney | SF/PF | UCLA | Freshman
The Josh Smith experiment failed in Detroit, but that does not mean the idea behind the acquisition was a poor one. Looney plays a similar position, but could conceivably play both forward positions next to Monroe (if he stays) and Drummond. The Pistons just acquired their point guard of the future, and should look to take Looney, who is oozing with potential.
9. Utah- Kristaps Porzingis | PF | Sevilla | 1995-born
Utah is showing signs of becoming one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, meaning they can use this selection on the offensive-minded Latvian. Porzingis is 7-1 with legitimate NBA 3-point range, and is a terrific ball handler for his size. He has potential to be a matchup nightmare at the next level, and, in time, could be a good pick and pop partner for Dante Exum.
10. Boston- Myles Turner | C | Texas | Freshman
Boston needs a rim protector and a big man that can score in the post. Danny Ainge checks both boxes here, as Turner falls into his lap at pick 10. Tyler Zeller is better suited as a backup, and Kelly Olynyk could start next to him to give Brad Stevens a pair of posts that can stretch the floor. This pick makes too much sense to pass on.
11. Atlanta (from BRK)- Justise Winslow | SF | Duke | Freshman
Atlanta has the right to swap picks with Brooklyn due to the Joe Johnson trade, and falls into a perfect situation here. The Hawks would love to see Cauley-Stein fall here, or could take a chance on Kaminsky, but instead they opt for Justise Winslow. He could be a sixth man and potential starter at the three, and is versatile enough to fit Budenholzer’s scheme. Will he look at Winslow and see Kawhi Leonard?
12. Indiana- Jerian Grant | PG | Notre Dame | Senior
2014-15 will be known as the year without Paul George. The Pacers are built to be a playoff team in the East when healthy, but desperately need a more consistent option at the point. Grant has helped Notre Dame basketball rise into prominence, and is an ACC Player of the Year candidate (Likely finishes second to Okafor). He can shoot, drive, pass and defend. Sounds like a perfect fit.
13. Phoenix- Kelly Oubre | SG | Kansas | Freshman
Phoenix needs to add a dynamic talent on the wing, as Gerald Green and PJ Tucker are fairly limited as starters in the NBA. Oubre is a gifted shooter and can finish above the rim, fitting in nicely next to, or behind, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe. He might need some time to get used to the pace and physicality of the league, but he should be a very good player in time.
14. Houston (from NO)- Frank Kaminsky | C | Wisconsin | Senior
Morey gets his stretch-5 here, drafting the other Naismith contender at the tail end of the lottery. Kaminsky is one of the best shooting big men in the country, and is also a legitimate double-double threat for the Badgers every night. He may not have the ceiling of the players above him, but he may have the highest floor among late-lottery candidates.
15. Charlotte- RJ Hunter | SG | Georgia State | Junior
Is it too early to say the Lance Stephenson experiment has failed? Charlotte needs a better guard next to him, and Hunter could become that guy. He has deep 3-point range and fills the stat sheet for Georgia State (side note: this is your 13/14 seed upset pick in the NCAA Tournament). His defense needs to improve, especially on the ball, but the fit in Charlotte is among the best for Hunter.
16. Philadelphia (from MIA)- Devin Booker | SG | Kentucky | Freshman
Booker is the X-factor for the undefeated Wildcats, the only player than can consistently stretch opposing defenses. The off-ball guard has potential to be one of the best shooters in the NBA, and would pair nicely with Russell in transforming the backcourt in Philadelphia. The rebuilding effort has to see progress at some point, and a core of Russell, Booker, Saric, Noel and Embiid is a terrific start.
17. Milwaukee- Sam Dekker | SF | Wisconsin | Junior
The state of Wisconsin gets to hold onto Dekker, as the Bucks select the Badgers’ swingman. Jason Kidd values length and athleticism, both of which Dekker has. He is a good outside shooter, and represents an upgrade over Khris Middleton when looking at the next 2-3 years. Chandler Parsons 2.0?
18. Oklahoma City- Montrezl Harrell | PF | Louisville | Junior
The Thunder revamped its starting frontcourt with Enes Kanter’s acquisition, and the team adds an explosive backup in Harrell here. Harrell is a terrific rebounder, and while slightly undersized, can finish well in traffic and protect the rim at a league average level. He represents good value here, and could be a starter in time.
19. Washington- Bobby Portis | PF | Arkansas | Sophomore
The Wizards cannot keep trotting out Nene and Kris Humphries as its starting power forwards. Portis is a versatile offensive player and excellent rebounder who could provide an instant change of pace and be a starter in 2-3 years. He is not the rim protector that the team would like to put next to Gortat, but he has legitimate NBA PF size and would fit well alongside the Polish Hammer.
20. San Antonio- Caris LeVert | SG | Michigan | Junior
LeVert could blossom into a terrific NBA starter under Greg Popovich, and could theoretically be Manu Ginobili’s replacement in the rotation. Though coming off an injury, LeVert fits the Spurs’ prototype of good shooting and ball handling at the off-guard spot, and he is a good enough defender to warrant a top-20 pick despite the broken foot.
21. Chicago (from CLE)- Tyus Jones | PG | Duke | Freshman
Derrick Rose has turned into the next Brandon Roy- there is really no way around it. It is difficult to fathom expectations for his return, as there are question marks over his trademarked explosiveness. Tyus Jones is a point guard in a different mold, but has the best court vision in the draft class and is not afraid to take over late in games. The Bulls have opted for high basketball IQ in the past two drafts, and Jones would represent a similar pick.
22. Toronto- Jakob Poeltl | C | Utah | Freshman
Toronto needs more consistency out of its wing players, but depth at center might be a bigger priority in the draft. Chuck Hayes is near the end of his career, and Bebe Nogueira has developed quick enough to fit in the rotation. Poeltl would provide an instant upgrade defending in the post, changing a lot of shots at the rim. His offense is still a work in progress, but he has the requisite footwork to one day become a good back-to-the basket scorer.
23. Cleveland (from CHI)- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | SF | Arizona | Sophomore
Cleveland adds a versatile defender and athletic wing to back-up LeBron James- something he really hasn’t had through his career. RHJ is not a good outside shooter yet, but does not have a broken shot by any means, especially with his feet set. The Arizona wing would likely defend the opponents top slasher while on the floor, giving LeBron James a chance to rest.
24. Dallas- Trey Lyles | SF/PF | Kentucky | Freshman
How much longer can Dirk Nowitzki play and be effective? Most likely 2-3 more years, though his athleticism and physicality is not what it used to be. Lyles likely projects at the power forward position at the next level, and could be the backup for a few seasons before getting the chance to take the spot. He needs to improve his outside shooting, but he could be a tough defender and effective in transition for Rick Carlisle.
25. Boston (from LAC)- Christian Wood | PF | UNLV | Sophomore
Boston already took Myles Turner in this mock draft, but they add another high-potential rim protector here. Wood has dominated the MWC this season, and is a walking double-double. His shot selection has suffered at times, but playing with excellent distributors in Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner could help him get more set jump shots and duck ins around the rim.
26. LA Lakers (from HOU)- Cliff Alexander | PF | Kansas | Freshman
Cliff Alexander’s selection would be doubling down on the Julius Randle pick a year ago, but he has too much potential to let one of the contenders below scoop him up. While he is more Thomas Robinson than Derrick Favors at this point, if Byron Scott can get him to defend without fouling and show the ability to make a move in the paint this pick could pay great dividends. But does he leave Lawrence after year one?
27. Portland- Tyrone Wallace | PG | California | Junior
The Blazers’ were heartbroken by the injury to Wesley Matthews, but the team had the necessary depth to quell some of the concerns. The team needs a third point guard behind Lillard and Blake, and Wallace offers high-upside and the ability to create his own shot. He is long and athletic, could be a good defender, and with better shot selection could shoot 34-37 percent from 3-point range.
28. Memphis- Terry Rozier | PG | Louisville | Sophomore
Rozier is a gunner, fitting a need off the Memphis bench. The Grizzlies are a methodical team without a hot/cold scorer, but Rozier could add an interesting element to the Memphis offense. His ceiling is likely Avery Bradley, which at this juncture in the draft would be a terrific addition. Like a few of the players above him, he needs to take good shots to maximize his efficiency.
29. Golden State- Robert Upshaw | C | Washington | Sophomore
Which team is going to take the chance on Upshaw? The troubled center has been kicked off teams at Fresno State and Washington for reportedly multiple failed drug tests. His ability to play basketball is unquestioned, and would be a near-lottery pick if not for the off-court concerns. He was leading the NCAA in blocked shots prior to his dismissal, and could be an excellent NBA center. But is the mental side ready?
30. Brooklyn (from ATL)- Delon Wright | PG | Utah | Senior
The Nets are a mess, but here they add one of the smartest players in the draft. Wright is one of the best pick-pockets in college basketball, and is crafty with the ball in his hands. He is most adept when slashing to score or kick to shooters, and could fit well with Deron Williams and the collection of wings currently on the squad. Most importantly, he could bring some consistency.
*Draft order current as of Thursday, Mar. 5
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