Though the 2015 NBA Draft is still six months away, who goes number one when projecting today?
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The NBA Draft begins on June 25. Below is the latest edition of The Lottery Mafia’s mock draft:
The NBA Draft is tomorrow, June 25.
The rumor mill has been swirling, as is usual for this time of year, with as many as 10 first round picks in some type of trade speculation. Reporters from every media outlet are trying to be the first to break the lead, and undoubtedly I expect a few trades before the draft and a plethora of deals after Adam Silver opens the festivities.
There is a general consensus that Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell will be the first three players selected, in that order. The Lakers could wind up working out a deal for DeMarcus Cousins that sends the second pick to Sacramento (Side note- The Lakers do not have enough to pull off such a coup. But, then again, it is the Kings…), but I would still highly expect Okafor to be the second pick.
At No. 4, The Knicks represent the pivot point the NBA Draft and also for mock drafts around the web. Assuming the team keeps the pick- a lofty assumption at this point- Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis and Justise Winslow will all be in contention to head to the Big Apple. Orlando, Sacramento, Denver and Detroit could see shuffling occur ahead of them tomorrow. Will this result in more swaps?
Predicting trades is against the rules for my mock draft, but if I was going to call my shot on which team is most likely to trade down it is the Charlotte Hornets, currently slated to pick ninth. The North Carolina franchise desperately needs outside shooting, but could trade down 5-8 spots and still land RJ Hunter or Kelly Oubre. Both players represent a similar value to Devin Booker, who is the consensus choice for Charlotte to pick ninth. If Stanley Johnson or Willie Cauley-Stein slip, look for Charlotte to reap the benefits from a team trading up.
There are an endless number of scenarios that could play out on draft day, especially considering there is still plenty of time before the event itself for teams to make moves. It should be an exciting evening, and could play out like this:
- Minnesota- Karl-Anthony Towns | PF/C | Kentucky | Freshman
Towns is a lock to be chosen by the Timberwolves. The former Kentucky Wildcat will team with Andrew Wiggins in what could be the start of a very promising defense. With one of the highest ceilings in the draft, Towns is a player with very few weaknesses, and he should fit right into the Wolves blueprints.
- LA Lakers- Jahlil Okafor | C | Duke | Freshman
Okafor will be preparing to don yellow and purple, as he is a near-lock to end up in Los Angeles. The Lakers are in a position to take the best player available, and strike gold with Okafor- who is the top-ranked prospect on my big board. He is the most dominant low post player in the draft, blessed with terrific footwork and vision in the post. He is a tremendous second overall pick.
- Philadelphia- D’Angelo Russell | PG/SG | Ohio State | Freshman
Do not buy any of the early rumors that Russell will not end up in Philadelphia. Russell represents a perfect fit for a team that does not have a starting-caliber backcourt player. He has some James Harden in his game, and is a crafty ball handler who can keep everyone involved. Sam Hinkie will have some moves up his sleeve during this draft, but expect the third pick to remain untouched.
- New York- Kristaps Porzingis | PF | Latvia | 1995-born
Ah! A change from the last few versions of the mock! For what it is worth, I think the Knicks should take Emmanuel Mudiay, as has been projected here over the past few months, but the Knicks do not seem enamored by the young lead guard. Porzingis does not represent a perfect fit in New York, but he provides a terrific young scorer with a high ceiling. Justise Winslow could be another option here.
- Orlando- Justise Winslow | SF | Duke | Freshman
This pick likely comes down to Winslow and Mario Hezonja (and potentially Porzingis if available). The Magic need outside shooting, and Winslow can provide it without sacrificing the team’s defensive identity. Winslow can plug in next to Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton right away, and can play together with last year’s first round pick Aaron Gordon as well.
- Sacramento- Emmanuel Mudiay | PG | USA | 1996-born
Mudiay could still find himself in New York four picks into tomorrow’s draft, but in this scenario Sacramento would be more than happy to pick him up. Though the Kings are rumored to have interest in Rajon Rondo, Mudiay is the most dynamic player still on the board and would offer a significantly cheaper option. The team’s decision regarding DeMarcus Cousins will have major ramifications for this selection.
- Denver- Mario Hezonja | SG | Croatia | 1995-born
Denver will happily select Hezonja if he makes it to No. 7. The Nuggets could opt to trade Lawson and Faried, leaving the team open to selecting the best available player regardless of position. Hezonja has earned praise for his shooting ability and athleticism, and coupled with his ultra-competitive mindset Hezonja could wind up as the biggest steal of the draft.
- Detroit- Stanley Johnson | SF | Arizona | Freshman
The Pistons need help at both forward positions, and Johnson represents the best option among players still available. Greg Monroe has one foot out the door, and while Ersan Ilyasova is a nice piece to have he would not deter Stan Van Gundy from selecting a power forward with this pick. As Porzingis is off the board, Detroit fills its opening at small forward with the NBA-ready Johnson, who will start from day one.
- Charlotte- Devin Booker | SG | Kentucky | Freshman
As stated in the opening paragraphs, I highly expect Rich Cho to look at moving this pick. If the team stays put, Devin Booker represents the best fit for the team. The worst 3-point shooting team in the league has to make the long ball a priority this offseason, and adding Booker would help immensely. Booker would be a good fit next to Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
- Miami- Willie Cauley-Stein | C | Kentucky | Junior
The third Kentucky player to come off the board, Cauley-Stein heads to Miami as the third big man in a rotation with Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. The Heat will be a playoff team in 2015-16, and WCS gives the team another elite defender that can help out Wade and Dragic. Pat Riley is not afraid to take similarly minded prospects, as Cauley-Stein and Whiteside are, and he would land the best player available in this scenario.
- Indiana- Myles Turner | C | Texas | Freshman
Larry Bird will be disappointed to see Cauley-Stein go off the board, but will add Turner as a similar prospect. A perimeter-minded offensive center, Turner is also one of the best shot blockers and rebounders in the draft, and could be the eventual replacement for Roy Hibbert. Turner could be an intriguing option for teams looking to trade up, particularly the Boston Celtics.
- Utah- Frank Kaminsky | C | Wisconsin | Senior
Utah’s biggest needs are outside shooting and a third big man behind Derrick Favors and the Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert. Kaminsky checks off both boxes, and comes into the NBA ready to fight for minutes. Utah looks ready to make a run at the playoffs in the Western Conference, and adding a versatile offensive threat in Kaminsky could help push the team past a handful of other franchises.
- Phoenix- Trey Lyles | PF | Kentucky | Freshman
The Suns have talent at every position, but no elite talent on the roster. Lyles holds one of the highest ceilings among players still on the board, and fits in as an immediate contributor and potential starter next to Alex Len. Lyles was stuck playing out of position at Kentucky, and he was never truly able to show how dominant he could be.
- Oklahoma City- Cameron Payne | PG | Murray State | Sophomore
The first sophomore to hear his name called, Payne travels to OKC to back up Russell Westbrook, though expect to see the two play next to each other for extended periods of time as well. Payne is a terrific outside shooter and facilitator, and could provide an offensive spark that the second unit desperately needs. RJ Hunter and Kelly Oubre could be picked here as well.
- Atlanta- Kelly Oubre | SG | Kansas | Freshman
The Hawks do not have many needs, and can afford to take a boom or bust prospect here in Oubre. An underachiever who ended strong at Kansas, Oubre is a good straight-line driver and outside shooter who has the tools to be a good defensive player. His awareness on the defensive end pushes him down draft boards, as it could affect his ability to win minutes as a rookie.
- Boston- Sam Dekker | SF | Wisconsin | Junior
Dekker is a versatile forward that will fit well in Brad Stevens’ system. He is athletic and can defend multiple positions, but his ability to shoot the 3-ball has teams concerned the most. Expect Boston to be one of the most active teams in trying to trade up, as the team has two first round picks this year and a handful in the coming years to dangle as bait.
- Milwaukee- Bobby Portis | PF | Arkansas | Sophomore
The Bucks took a big hit when Larry Sanders stepped away from the game midway through the season. The team has a good young post option in John Henson and could look to supplement him with Portis. The Arkansas product is a terrific rebounder that can score in multiple ways offensively, but is not an elite athlete.
- Houston- Tyus Jones | PG | Duke | Freshman
The Rockets have struggled to find a long-term option at point guard as Patrick Beverley has struggled to stay healthy. Jones has the best court vision in the draft, and he pairs well with James Harden on the offensive end of the floor. Jerian Grant could also be in play here.
- Washington- Kevon Looney | PF | UCLA | Freshman
Looney is a raw but promising forward that was a double-double machine in Pasadena. He showed some ability to step away and hit the trey, though he needs to improve his frame to improve his ability to find his shot around the rim. Nene will not be a rotation-caliber player for much longer, and Looney represents a good replacement in 2-3 years.
- Toronto- Jerian Grant | PG | Notre Dame | Senior
The Raptors have a need at power forward, but would not be able to pass up Grant in this scenario. The former Notre Dame lead guard is a talented scorer with very good defensive potential. In the short term he will be a good backup to Kyle Lowry, as Greivis Vasquez is a free agent, and he could be an eventual replacement in the long term.
- Dallas- RJ Hunter | SG | Georgia State | Junior
The Mavericks have to find a guard in the first round of the 2015 draft, and Hunter is the top option on the board. A terrific shooter with better-than-average distribution ability for an off guard, Hunter could be the franchise’s answer at shooting guard- assuming it can find a point guard to replace Rajon Rondo. Delon Wright could hear his name from Dallas, too. *Editors note* – And with Monta Ellis opting out and not expected to be re-signed by Dallas, drafting Hunter makes even more sense.
- Chicago- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | SF | Arizona | Sophomore
RHJ may be more of a Tom Thibodeau-esque pick than Fred Hoiberg, but the Bulls need to add another perimeter defender that could eventually take over starting duties from Mike Dunleavy. Hollis-Jefferson is raw on the offensive end, especially as it pertains to his outside shooting, but he would pair well with offensive threats Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Rashad Vaughn and Justin Anderson will be in play here as well.
- Portland- Justin Anderson | SF | Virginia | Junior
Portland has four key free agents it needs to try and resign, and is reportedly looking to trade back into the second round. If the team keeps the pick, UVA’s Justin Anderson fits as a backup shooting guard and small forward who can play a similar style as Wesley Matthews. Montrezl Harrell will also get a look from Neil Olshey.
- Cleveland- Montrezl Harrell | PF | Louisville | Junior
It will be impossible for the Cavs to retain both Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love on maximum contracts. Neither player will be willing to accept a backup role, and the two are better off not playing together. Harrell’s strength and energy are similar to Thompson’s, and he can be a low-cost backup that can fill minutes from day one.
- Memphis- Rashad Vaughn | SG | UNLV | Freshman
The Grizzlies need to add another perimeter scoring threat that can splash the nets from 3-point range. Vaughn has the potential to be a lethal scorer, especially in a sixth-man role, and is a better 3-point shooter than any wings currently on the Memphis roster. Vaughn measures well for an NBA shooting guard, but he needs to improve his defense to see court time- especially in Memphis.
- San Antonio- Delon Wright | PG | Utah | Senior
Does it seem unfair that San Antonio lands one of the smartest players in the draft? His need to have to ball in his hands duplicates Kyle Anderson’s abilities some, but his strength in defending the perimeter will get RC Buford and Gregg Popovich excited. He would see immediate minutes for the Spurs.
- LA Lakers- Terry Rozier | PG | Louisville | Sophomore
After selecting Okafor earlier in the draft, look for the Lakers to add a guard that can add some additional scoring. Rozier can score with the ball in his hands and is a pesky on-ball defender. He should be able to play next to Jordan Clarkson as well as backing him up for the next couple years.
- Boston- Chris McCullough | PF | Syracuse | Freshman
I highly doubt the Celtics will hold onto this pick, but they could choose McCullough as a high-potential option that would not need to play right away. Coming off an ACL tear, McCullough could be a very good rim protector and long-term contributor for the Celtics, or whichever team acquires this pick.
- Brooklyn- Cedi Osman | SF | Turkey | 1995-born
The Nets are trying to trade up to add some young talent by using Mason Plumlee to get into the teens. If unsuccessful, the Nets could add Osman as a draft and stash player. He would not add on to Brooklyn’s luxury tax bill, and could come over in a few years similarly to Bojan Bogdanovic.
- Golden State- JP Tokoto | SG | North Carolina | Junior
Golden State struck gold in the NBA Finals using Andre Iguodala as a do-it-all player from multiple positions. Tokoto does a lot of things well and is perhaps the draft’s best facilitator from the wing. An elite athlete without an outside shot, Tokoto is a great fit in Golden State.
- Minnesota- Joseph Young | PG | Oregon | Senior
- Houston- Jarell Martin | SF/PF | LSU | Sophomore
- Boston- Tyler Harvey | PG/SG | Eastern Washington | Junior
- LA Lakers- Anthony Brown | SG/SF | Stanford | Senior
- Philadelphia- Rakeem Christmas | PF/C | Syracuse | Senior
- Minnesota- Christian Wood | PF | UNLV | Sophomore
- Philadelphia- Robert Upshaw | C | Washington | Sophomore
- Detroit- Jordan Mickey | PF | LSU | Sophomore
- Charlotte- Jonathan Holmes | SF | Texas | Senior
- Miami- Michael Frazier II | SG | Florida | Junior
- Brooklyn- Dakari Johnson | C | Kentucky | Sophomore
- Utah- Andrew Harrison | PG | Kentucky | Sophomore
- Indiana- Norman Powell | SG | UCLA | Senior
- Phoenix- Olivier Hanlan | PG | Boston College | Junior
- Boston- Guillermo Hernangomez | C | Spain | 1994-born
- Milwaukee- Nikola Milutinov | C | Serbia | 1994-born
- Philadelphia- Mouhammadou Jaiteh | C | France | 1994-born
- Oklahoma City- Cliff Alexander | PF | Kansas | Freshman
- Washington- Quinn Cook | PG | Duke | Senior
- Atlanta- Daniel Diez | SF | Spain | 1993-born
- Orlando- Alan Williams | C | UC- Santa Barbara | Senior
- Dallas- Nenad Miljenovic | PG | Serbia | 1993-born
- Cleveland- Aaron Harrison | SG | Kentucky | Sophomore
- Utah- Luka Mitrovic | SF | Serbia | 1993-born
- San Antonio- Arturas Gudaitis | C | Lithuania | 1993-born
- New Orleans- Vince Hunter | SF | UTEP | Sophomore
- Denver- Branden Dawson | SF | Michigan State | Senior
- Philadelphia- Corey Hawkins | SG | UC-Davis | Senior
- Atlanta- Michael Qualls | SG | Arkansas | Junior
- Philadelphia- Shawn Dawson | SG | Israel | 1993-born
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