Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft: Karl-Anthony Towns Still 1st to T'Wolves

We are now less than 24 away from the 2015 NBA Draft, which will be held tomorrow night at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, NY.

With that said, here is my latest 2015 NBA mock draft:

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

More of a well-rounded prospect than Duke's Jahlil Okafor, once considered a lock for the top pick, Towns has become the consensus option for Minnesota based on the mock drafts in our database. And it makes plenty of sense.

No team allowed more points per game than Minnesota (106.5/G) last season and Towns ranked first in the nation in both Defensive Rating (78.1) and Win Shares Per 40 Minutes (.311), per Sports Reference. Averaging just 21.1 minutes per game last year, Towns averaged 19.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per 40 minutes and shot 81.3 percent from the free-throw line.

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

Okafor is a skilled back-to-the-basket player on the offensive end of the court that averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as he led Duke to a national championship -- over Towns and Kentucky -- as a freshman. 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 also means that the Sixers will go into the 2016 NBA Draft with the possibility of having four first-round picks.

The Sixers got nothing out of their two first-round picks -- Joel Embiid and Elfrid Payton, subsequently traded for Dario Saric -- last year and it's possible that they may get nothing from them this upcoming season as well. Not only will Saric stay in Turkey, but Embiid's foot is not healing as fast as expected and there's the potential that he misses another season if he has surgery once again.

Compared to a month ago when most believed this pick would be either Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, it will likely come down to Russell or Latvia's Kristaps Porzingis. 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: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia

Only 19 years old (turns 20 in August), Porzingis is a skilled seven-footer that has drawn some comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. As his 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."

5. Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia

With three lottery picks in the past two drafts, the Magic have added three elite defenders -- Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton (via Philly). That said, the Magic were just 27th in the league in Offensive Rating (99.6).

Hezonja has excellent size (6-8) and athleticism to attack the basket but he also possesses outstanding range. And it's clear that Hezonja does not lack confidence.

6. Sacramento Kings: 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. Mudiay 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.

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: 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 and Kawhi Leonard. Johnson averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game at Arizona this season. Improving as a shooter, Johnson knocked down 37.1 percent of his three-pointers this season.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

The Hornets made only 31.8-percent of their three-point attempts and that ranked dead last in the NBA last season. Booker is the best shooter in this year's draft class so he obviously fits a team need. The youngest prospect in this year's draft class (turns 19 on October 30th), Booker also had an impressive showing at the NBA Combine with the fastest times in lane agility (10.2 seconds) and shuttle run (2.75 seconds).

10. Miami Heat: Myles Turner, PF, Texas

Turner has plenty of upside although he was inconsistent in his lone season in Austin. An athletic seven-footer that can rebound and block shots (2.6 per game), Turner also has the ability to stretch the floor and knock down shots from behind the three-point line.

11. Indiana Pacers: 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. I could see "Trill" going higher than this (he was sixth in my previous update), but there are reports of teams being concerned with Cauley-Stein's foot.

So, Larry Bird get's his "$100 million dollar player" after all:

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 Badgers 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 last season.

13. Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

Someone may roll the dice earlier based on his tremendous upside, but Oubre had an up-and-down freshman season at Kansas. With excellent athleticism and length (7-2 wingspan), Oubre has the potential to become a really good defensive player and is also a decent shooter.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State

On a loaded team with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook & Co., Billy Donovan and the Thunder will likely go with the best player available, but Payne would also make sense. Few players have generated as much draft buzz and seen his draft stock rise as Payne has over the past couple of months and he may creep into the top-10 picks. As a sophomore at Murray State, Payne averaged 20.2 points, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

15. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets): Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

Power forward Paul Millsap is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The fourth Wildcat selected in the top half of 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 and he would contribute towards filling Millsap's void if he departs in free agency.

- 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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