Friday, May 29, 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft: Towns, Okafor Go 1-2

With the 2015 NBA Draft less than four weeks away, we have updated our 2015 NBA Mock Draft. Here is my projection of our 2015 NBA mock draft:

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky

This pick should come down to either Duke's Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns. Not only would Towns fit better, but he's a better prospect on the defensive end and no team allowed more points per game than Minnesota (106.5/G) last season. Playing only 21.1 minutes per game for the star-studded Wildcats, Towns ranked first in the country in Defensive Rating (78.1) and Win Shares Per 40 Minutes (.311), via Sports Reference.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

For much of the season, Okafor seemed to be a lock for the No. 1 overall pick. While he's no longer a lock for the top spot and may slip to the second pick, Okafor is an extremely skilled big man on the offensive end of the court . Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as he led Duke to a national championship.

The only Lakers currently under contract beyond next season are Julius Randle, last year's first-round pick, and Nick Young although three players including Jordan Clarkson will be restricted free agents in 2016.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State

The best-case scenario for the Sixers in the NBA Draft Lottery was the No. 1, 6 and 11 picks, but instead they ended up with the most-likely scenario of only the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. That said, the Sixers will go into the 2016 NBA Draft with the possibility of having four first-round picks.

With Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid already on the roster, the decision may have come down to Emmanuel Mudiay and Russell even if they held a top-two pick in this year's draft. While I think Mudiay has a higher ceiling and could ultimately develop into the better pro, it's close and Russell fits better. With the ability to facilitate for others or create his own offense, Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while knocking down 41.1 percent of his three-pointers as a freshman in Columbus.

4. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China

Viewed by many as the top high school recruit in the country last year, Mudiay opted to play professionally in China after committing to Larry Brown and SMU. Perhaps he isn't the best fit for the triangle, but he possesses all of the attributes to develop into an elite point guard in the league. With great size (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) and strength for the position as well as speed and quickness, Mudiay averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 boards and 5.9 assists in China.

5. Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia

There is clearly a gap between the top-four prospects in this draft class and the next tier of prospects. The Magic could go in a few different directions here, but Porzingis would make sense. With three first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, the Magic have added three elite defenders -- Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton.

Only 19 years old (turns 20 in August), Porzingis is a skilled seven-footer that has drawn some comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. As current Sevilla teammate Derrick Byars said, "Kristaps has a Nowitzki-like offensive skill set. He's 7-1, can shoot, can put the ball on the floor, can block shots, he's mobile and athletic. There's not much he can't do on the floor."

On his big board, ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave players a WARP (wins above replacement player) ranking over their first five years and he has Porzingis second in that category behind only to Russell.

6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Cauley-Stein may be the most unique prospect in this year's draft in that the seven-footer has the versatility to defend all five positions on the floor. Although he runs the floor well and is an excellent athlete, he has plenty of limitations on the offensive end at this point in his development, however.

7. Denver Nuggets: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke

Small forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Galinari will both become unrestricted free agents after the upcoming season. An athletic and strong wing player with an excellent motor, Winslow, son of Phi Slamma Jamma's Ricky Winslow, has scored in double digits in all but one of his final 20 games. During that 20-game stretch, Winslow averaged 14.6 points, 8.25 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game and connected on more than half (24 of 47) of his three-point attempts. One knock on Winslow, however, is that he measured under 6-foot-5 at the NBA Scouting Combine.

8. Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia

With Greg Monroe about to become a free agent, I could see the Pistons going with one of the top power forwards on the board. That said, I could also see Hezonja go as high as No. 5 to the Magic. Hezonja has excellent size (6-8) and athleticism with outstanding range and he certainly does not lack confidence.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

Excelling as a defender and rebounder, Johnson already has an NBA body and has drawn some comparisons to Metta World Peace. Johnson averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game at Arizona this season. Although he's not a great shooter, Johnson knocked down 37.1 percent of his three-pointers this season.

10. Miami Heat: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

Not only does Dwyane Wade turn 34 in January, but he's under contract for just one more season. Booker is the best shooter in this year's draft class and the Heat ranked near the bottom of the league in three-pointers made (6.8/G) and percentage (33.5 percent). In addition, Booker had an impressive showing that the NBA Combine with the fastest times in lane agility (10.2 seconds) and shuttle run (2.75 seconds).

Booker described his meeting with Heat president Pat Riley as "great" and said: "He said D-Wade is getting older now, is on the last part of his career, and come and learn from him. And I thought that would be a great fit for me and I'm willing to learn from all veterans, especially one of the best two-guards to ever play the game. So I think that would be a great fit for myself."

11. Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner, PF, Texas

With Roy Hibbert potentially becoming a free agent -- Hibbert has a player option -- and the team wanting to play faster in the future, Turner would make sense here. Turner has plenty of upside to warrant a selection higher than this even though he was inconsistent in his lone season in Austin. Turner is an athletic seven-footer that can rebound and block shots (2.6 per game) yet has the ability to knock down shots from behind the three-point line.

12. Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin

Not only do the Jazz have a solid young core including a pair of talented bigs in Rudy Gobert (a.k.a. Stifle Tower) and Derrick Favors, but all of their key players are under contract for at least the next two seasons. Ultimately, I'd expect them to go best player available, but Frank the Tank makes sense as a big that can stretch the floor. The versatile Kaminsky led the Baders in scoring (18.8/G), rebounding (8.2/G), assists (2.6/G, tied) and blocks (1.5/G) in addition to connecting on 41.6-percent of his three-pointers.

13. Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

It was an up-and-down freshman season for him at Kansas, but Oubre has shown flashes. With excellent athleticism and length (7-2 wingspan), Oubre has the potential to become a really good defensive player and he is also a decent shooter.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

The fourth Wildcat selected in the lottery based on my mock, Lyles may have been overshadowed some on such a star-studded team as he mostly played out of position (small forward). That said, Lyles has the ability to score inside as well as consistently knock down mid-range jumpers.

15. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets): Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas

Power forward Paul Millsap is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The SEC Player of the Year, Portis averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Razorbacks last season.

- Continue to picks 16-30 in our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

For more mock drafts, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft Database.

In addition, check out our 2016 NFL Mock Draft and/or 2016 NFL Mock Draft Database.

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