Unlike last year’s draft, 2015 has the potential to be the most interesting in recent memory. Plenty of teams are trying to trade for veterans and draft picks a like in order to establish themselves a potential playoff contenders. Teams like the Knicks, Lakers, Kings and Nuggets have been burning up the rumor mill, trying to make drastic roster overhauls. Other teams, like the Timberwolves and Magic, are trying to build upon already impressive young rosters. And the Philadelphia 76ers are…still rebuilding…I guess. No one really knows what they are doing, but apparently, it’s all part of the plan. Without further delay, here is my first and final 2015 NBA Mock draft.
1) Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman.
This appears to be the only lock in the entire draft. With reports of the T’wolves making promises to Towns and his camp, the Kentucky freshman appears to be guaranteed in Minnesota next season. Wiggins, Rubio, LaVine, and the 7’0″ big man from the Dominican Republic will form a tremendous core for Flip Saunders to build upon.
2) Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, C, Freshman.
With reports that the Laker’s front office is “80-20” in favor of drafting Okafor over Russell, it appears that barring any trades this will be how it plays out. If this was 2005 and not 2015, Okafor would be the consensus number one overall selection. However, with low-post building blocks becoming a thing of the past, the Lakers are still making the smart choice with this pick. The Duke big man may not have as much potential as Towns or Kristaps Prozingis, but Okafor has the highest floor of anyone in this draft. He should help to cushion the blow when the Kobe Bryant era ends.
3) Detroit Pistons (trade with Philadelphia 76ers): Kristaps Porzingis, Sevilla, PF, Age 19.
- DET receives 3rd overall pick and SG/SF Hollis Thompson.
- PHI receives 8th overall pick, Brandon Jennings, and 2016 Top-10 protected 1st round pick.
The Pistons really want to try an compete for a playoff spot next year. The Pistons have a few key free agents they would like to bring back (Reggie Jackson, Greg Monroe), but a lack of the cap space to do so. Stan Van Gundy seems to be a bigger fan of Reggie Jackson than of Greg Monroe. Monroe is an awkward fit next to Andre Drummond leading to Van Gundy acquiring Ersan Ilyasova this offseason to provide better floor spacing. However, acquiring Porzingis may put this team over the top. Porzingis has the potential to be a new breed of power forward (think Nikola Mirotic with Nerlens Noel type athleticism). He may not be a franchise player, but Porzingis can be a border line all-star for years to come. The 76ers acquire an asset (Brandon Jennings), a future first round pick, and they still get to draft the player they want (more on that later).
4) New York Knicks: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, PG/SG, Freshman.
The Knicks surprisingly end up drafting their man when Russell falls all the way to them at 4th overall. Russell really adds talent to a very barren roster. Plus his skill set should help make players like Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. much better next year. Plus it helps when he can do things like this:
(Editor’s note: !!!!!!!!)
(Editor’s Note: I always grab my ankles when I see this. I want to make sure they are after the video.)
Good job New York; you finally got lucky. Now please, don’t screw this up.
5) Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Duke, SF, Freshman.
With Tobias Harris set to hit free agency and new head coach Scott Skiles taking over, Winslow seems like the obvious draft choice. His defensive ability will make him a perfect fit for Skiles’ defense, while his position and burgeoning offensive skills make him the perfect replacement for Harris.
6) Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, C/PF, Junior.
I really wanted to put in a Ty Lawson to Sacramento trade in this post, but nothing really worked out. The Kings don’t have the assets to pull off a trade of that caliber. However, that does not mean the Kings won’t make a trade this Thursday. I just believe the trade will be more of a salary dump (Rudy Gay) in order for the team to make a run at Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic. Cauley-Stein is the pick because the team appears to be set on adding a point guard via free agency and the two-guard spot is maned by both Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas. Plus it helps that Boogie is really good friends with WCS.
7) Denver Nuggets: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, SF, Freshman.
With the Nuggets entering a rebuilding stage, the team should be focused on adding talent to their roster. Johnson is arguably the most talented player left on the board. He also projects to be one of the best defensive players in this draft, a skill set new head coach Mike Malone would like to fully utilize.
8) Philadelphia 76ers (trade with Detroit Pistons): Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Southern Tigers (China), PG, Age 19.
Mudiay has been Sam Hinkie’s guy since last year. Before heading to China, the talented point guard was considered the number one overall prospect in this year’s draft class. An ankle injury and questions about his shooting ability have caused his stock to fall. However, the 19 yeard old fills a huge need for the eternally rebuilding 76ers.
9) Boston Celtics (trade with Charlotte Hornets): Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona, SG/SF, Age 20.
- BOS receives #9 overall pick and Jeff Taylor, and Marvin Williams.
- CHA receives #16 overall pick, #33 overall pick (2nd round).
He’s being compared to Jimmy Butler and Kobe Bryant, and the Celtics need someone of that caliber on their roster. They are also thin at the power forward and the wing. This trade nets the Celtics another body at small forward, as well as a replacement for Brandon Bass. Charlotte can dump some salary and remain in range to draft the player they truly want.
10) Miami Heat: Myles Turner, Texas, C/PF, Freshman.
When Chris Bosh was out of the lineup last year due to blood clots, the Heat’s offense suffered greatly. They needed a front line player who could help space the floor an allow for Dwayne Wade and Luol Deng to cut to the paint. Turner is that type of player. Not only can he space the floor, but his face-up game will allow for him to seamlessly integrate with Bosh and Hassan Whiteside in Miami’s front court.
11) Indiana Pacers: Cameron Payne, Murray State, PG, Sophomore.
Payne is this year’s mid-major draft darling. His shooting stroke needs some work but he can attack the basket with ease, and he is a pick-and-roll maestro. The Pacers need some more scoring power next to Paul George, and a better point guard option then George Hill. Payne provides Indiana with both, as well as allow the team to run some interesting two point guard offensive sets like Pheonix and Toronto.
12) Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin, Senior.
Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors appear to be two of the three building blocks of Utah’s future. With Gordon Hayward (the 3rd building block) and Rodney Hood being the only players who can affectively stretch the floor, the Jazz need someone who can provide spacing for their offense. Enter Kaminksy, Naismith Player of the Year and media darling. His three-point shooting and passing ability will allow him to play with both Favors and Gobert.
13) Phoenix Suns: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, SF, Junior.
With Gerald Green on the way out of the door, the Suns desperately need shooting from the wings. Enter Dekker, who shot 33 percent from three at Wisconsin last season, but is capable of shooting much better (39 percent his freshman year). He’s a player who can come off of the bench and play next to Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe.
14) Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Booker, Kentucky, SG, Freshman.
The Thunder have been the hardest lottery team to gauge and I believe that is because they are just going to take the best player available. Kevin Durant missed most of last season with a variety of injuries, and the team is two-deep at every position, therefore I believe they are going to draft who they deem as the best prospect left on the board. In this case, it’s Booker. He’s a very similar player to Anthony Morrow, but with higher upside. Booker should pair nicely with Durant and Westbrook.
15) Atlanta Hawks: Trey Lyles, Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman.
With DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap testing free agency this off-season, the Hawks need to prepare for one, if not both, to leave the team. Enter Lyles, the Kentucky combo-forward. Lyles exhibits traits from both players, and he’s young enough to develop into a solid player in Atlanta’s offensive system.
16) Charlotte Hornets (trade with Boston Celtics): R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, SG, Junior.
After trading Gerald Henderson to the Trail Blazers earlier today, the Hornets are going to draft his replacement. Hunter has had a lot of great workouts the past few weeks, and a lot of teams in the bottom of the lottery showed interest. One of those teams was the Hornets. At the 9th pick, Hunter would represent a huge reach. However, at the 16th pick Hunter would to be a great value, especially for a team that struggled to hit three pointers like the Hornets did last year.
17) Brooklyn Nets (trade with Milwaukee Bucks): Kevon Looney, UCLA, SF/PF, Frehman.
- BKN receives #17 overall draft pick.
- MIL receives #29 overall draft pick and PF/C Mason Plumlee.
The Nets have been trying to use Mason Plumlee to move up in the draft for weeks now. The Milwaukee Bucks are a playoff with plenty of wholes to fill and not enough cap space to fill them. Jason Kidd was the coach who drafted Plumlee in 2013, and his brother Miles was aquired by the team at last year’s trade deadline. Sometimes the stars align too perfectly. Plumlee would bolster the Bucks front court, while the trade would allow the Nets to acquire the ultra-talented, extremely raw Kevon Looney to replace Plumlee and the soon-to-be free agent Thaddeus Young. Looney was a top-5 pick before this season, and while the talent is there, the overall skill is not. In desperate need of youth, the Nets take a flyer on a player who could be part of the next wave of stretch-fours in the NBA.
18) Houston Rockets: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, PG, Freshman.
The Rockets hopelessly need a secondary playmaker behind James Harden. Grant fills that need, as well as provide versatility and shooting for both guard positions. The addition of Grant would force Jason Terry back to shooting guard, and allow for Patrick Beverly to strictly play with James Harden.
19) Washington Wizards: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas, Sophomore.
When Nene was hurt in these past playoffs, the Wizards survived by playing small ball with Paul Pierce at the power forward and Otto Porter Jr. at small forward. With Pierce gone, the Wiz need to draft an insurance policy and eventual replacement for Nene. Portis man not have three-point range, but he does have a good jumper, and a budding face up game to compliment Marcin Gortat.
20) Toronto Raptors: Jarell Martin, LSU, SF/PF, Sophomore.
News broke that Martin has received a 1st round promise from a team in the bottom part of the draft. Many people believe it to be the Memphis Grizzles, but I believe the Raptors are that team. Martin might be a tweener, but he does fill two positions of need for the “Drakes”: the forward spots. Martin kills two birds with one stone, and adds talent to a roster on the verge of contention.
21) Philadelphia 76ers (trade with Dallas Mavericks): Rashad Vaughn, UNLV, SG, Freshman.
- PHI receives #21 overall draft pick, 2016 and 2017 2nd round picks.
- DAL receives Brandon Jennings and Jerami Grant.
This trade allows for the 76ers to acquire another talented young player to help with their rebuild, while the Mavericks replace the production lost from Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, and Al-Farouq Aminu. This trade also allows for the Mavs to save what little cap flexibility they have left, preparing them to make a run at an upper-level free agent prospect (LaMarcus Aldridge? Dwayne Wade?).
22) Chicago Bulls: Tyus Jones, Duke, PG, Freshman.
Aaron Brooks appears to be hitting the open market, and the Bulls are in need of a dependable backup to Derrick Rose. Enter Jones, who is fresh off leading Duke to a National Championship. Jones could serve as a calming force for Chicago’s second unit, as well as DRose’s possible replacement.
23) Portland Trail Blazers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore.
With news of the team trading Nicholas Batum to the Hornets, the Blazers are in need of a cheap replacement. RHJ has the skill-set to be the next Tony Allen, and he comes as a cheap alternative to Batum. The money saved could be used for Portland to pursue they’re own free agents, or possibly bring in their replacements.
24) Cleveland Cavaliers: Terry Rozier, Louisville, PG/SG, Junior.
With J.R. Smith opting out of his contract, the Cavaliers have the opportunity to add a player who can replace his production, while providing a better complement to Matthew Dellavedova and Kyrie Irving. Rozier can effectively play both guard spots, as well as score in bunches.
25) Memphis Grizzlies: Kelly Oubre Jr., Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman.
Oubre has top ten talent, but produced like a second round pick this past year at Kansas. The Grizzlies are a team that needs to swing for the fences due to their inability to attract free agents. Look for Memphis to take a swing at the former Jayhawk in hopes he plays up to his potential.
26) San Antonio Spurs: Jonathan Holmes, Texas, SF/PF, Senior.
The Spurs draft targets are always very tough to gauge. Holmes is a versatile prospect who could fill a variety of weaknesses for the veteran ball club. They also could trade the pick…or draft an international prospect to draft overseas…or trade down. They can literally do anything because Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford seem to be the best drafters in NBA history. Whatever they decide to do, it’ll be the right decision.
27) Los Angeles Lakers: Justin Anderson, Virginia, SG/SF, Junior.
Without much depth at small forward, Anderson seems like a give-me at this point in the draft. The junior can provide a solid 3-and-D presence for a team trying to win-now. He also possesses just enough potential to grow into a rock solid starting wing.
28) Boston Celtics: Chris McCullough, Syracuse, PF/C, Freshman.
With their second pick of the round, the Celtics try a hit a home run by drafting McCullough. Despite the fact he tore his ACL last season, the Syracuse product displayed the ability to help space the offense while blocking shots from both the weak and strong sides on defense. Boston can afford to let the McCullough grow and develop into a stronger player.
29) Milwaukee Bucks (trade with Brooklyn Nets): Delon Wright, Utah, PG, Senior.
Jason Kidd has a thing for long, athletic point guard prospects who can’t shoot. Wright could be next in a line on this long list on point guards Kidd is trying to develop. The Warriors won a championship because of their interchangeable and versatile defense. Drafting Wright would allow for the Bucks to create a similar defensive scheme.
30) Golden State Warriors: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, PF, Junior.
After winning the NBA finals, the Warriors don’t have as many needs as people would believe. However, with David Lee seeking a trade, the Dubs need to find someone to fill his void. Harrell would add toughness and athleticism to the defending champs, as well as the ability to play more small-ball. Harrell has the toughness to play center in small line-ups, without the Golden State giving up their defensive identity.