The time has arrived for all NBA fans whose season ended months ago to get excited about their potential lineups. We’ve scouted the talent coming out of college and present you with the 2015 NBA mock draft.
Immediately after the NBA Draft lottery, the lament you heard loud and long from New York was how the Knicks got screwed by only getting the No. 4 overall pick. Sure, the first or second pick would have been better, but Knicks fans had it in their heads that only the first or second pick would do, so then they could get Jahlil Okafor and all would be right with the world.
NEWS FLASH: The Knicks still might get Okafor — there’s a very realistic chance that he falls to No. 4, although it’s just as likely that he won’t.
NEWS FLASH NO. 2: This is and always has been a four-player draft at the top, so the Knicks really didn’t lose out at all.
NEWS FLASH NO. TOO MANY: With the emergence of Latvian gargantua Kristaps Porzingis, an athletic 7’0” stretch 4 whose ceiling is the even taller Pau Gasol, it’s now a five-player draft, so no matter how the top three picks shake out, there will still be two high-quality picks available for the New York Knicks at No. 4, so stop crying.
Well, considering how screwed up your roster is and how one top-five pick probably won’t be enough to fix it even with Carmelo Anthony coming back from injury… you’re allowed to cry, but keep it to a whimper.
For the rest of us, this NBA Draft might lack a bit of the star power of last year’s draft at the top, but contrary to some prognostications, I think this draft is pretty deep. You should once again see very good players emerge who were drafted from the bottom of the first round to the middle of the second round.
In other words, everyone’s getting a shot at a good player at one point or another… They just have to choose wisely.
1. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (7’0”, C/PF, KENTUCKY)
Scouting Report: Ideal size and length for an NBA big man. Ability to score from a variety of places on the floor. Bona fide defender and rim protector. Tremendously athletic with nearly unlimited upside. Needs to mature defensively to avoid unnecessary fouling. Could add some bulk.
You know how certain schools get a rep for developing players at certain positions – Penn State linebackers, stay away from Florida quarterbacks, that kind of thing. Well Kentucky has been churning out the future of the NBA big man for several years now – DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, and you can see commonalities with all of them in Towns, the undeniably most complete and versatile prospect in the draft. And he’s only a freshman. He fits Minnesota’s roster ideally, and gives them the versatility to move Nikola Pekovic, a valuable front court asset, if they need to.
2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: JAHLIL OKAFOR (6’11”, C, DUKE)
Scouting Report: Best post scorer to enter the NBA in nearly a decade. Unlimited variety of moves. Great hands. Great passer. Ideal size for an NBA center. High basketball IQ. Good rebounder. Must improve defensively. Not a rim protector. Mid-range game needs improvement. Lacks elite athleticism.
The Lakers are quite a wild card in this draft. I’ve heard rumors they covet Emmanuel Mudiay and actually rate him the best player in the draft. I’ve also heard they like DeAngelo Russell, but I think that’s a smoke screen. I’ve also heard they have a handshake deal with Rajon Rondo, which would mean watching two of the most disagreeable players in the NBA, Rondo and Kobe Bryant, sharing a backcourt. That would undoubtedly lead to a LaTrell Sprewell moment at some point in the season. But bottom line: Okafor is a classic Laker center. This team has been built around back to the basket scoring for just about its entire existence – Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, the most recent failed experiment with Dwight Howard – how can the Lakers NOT take Okafor?
3. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: D’ANGELO RUSSELL (6’5”, PG/SG, OHIO STATE)
Scouting Report: Excellent ball handler. Elite shot creator. May be able to play either guard position. Great court vision. Range out to the 3 point line. Great length and quickness. Needs to show better effort on defense. Needs to add bulk and strength at the next level.
The Sixers have the luxury of not needing Russell to fit as an NBA point guard as they have a clear need at both guard positions and whichever Russell can play better he can be inserted as a starter. Rumors of Russell not wanting to come to Philly are overblown, and honestly, looking at the top 4, who would want to be saddled with the Knicks’ or Lakers’ rosters over Philly or Minnesota, both of whom have already shed the expensive dead weight and begun adding premium young talent and moving forward.
4. NEW YORK KNICKS: EMMANUEL MUDIAY (6’5”, PG, CHINA)
Scouting Report: Elite size and athleticism for an NBA point guard. Excellent pick and roll guard. Elite ball distributor. Great court vision. Good finisher. Inconsistent jump shooter. Defense is a question mark. Difficult to assess his development playing in China as opposed to division 1 college.
Knicks’ fans were salivating over Jahlil Okafor, but luck may have done them a favor dropping them to four. A number of scouts have Mudiay at the top of this draft, just below Towns, and ahead of Okafor, whose defensive liabilities could hold him back from true superstardom. Mudiay, of course, is a question mark as well, like last year’s prospect Dante Exum, who lacked a resume that included playing top competition. If the Knicks have their hearts set on adding front court ability, they could take a risk with Latvian big man (and question mark) Kristaps Porzingis or reach for Willie Cauley-Stein, an NBA ready defender but lacking on the offensive end.
5. ORLANDO MAGIC: KRISTAPS PORZINGIS (7’0”, PF, LATVIA)
Scouting Report: Great height and length. Rare combination of size and mobility. Excellent range. Can defend on the perimeter or the post. Has shown ability as a rim protector. Must add bulk and strength at the next level.
Porzingis pairs perfectly with Orlando’s solid but sedentary Nic Vucevic. A stretch 4 with unreal length, Porzingis could be a daunting weapon to cover in the Magic’s offense. His clear downside is his lack of bulk. He must get stronger if he is going to be more than a spot up jump shooter at the next level.
6. SACRAMENTO KINGS: JUSTICE WINSLOW (6’6”, SF, DUKE)
Scouting Report: Elite athleticism. NBA ready defender from day one. High basketball IQ. Natural leader. Ball handling needs improvement. Game translates as a complementary player as opposed to a superstar.
I look at the Kings’ roster and I feel like what they need more than anything is just a damn good player at any position that they can pair up with DeMarcus Cousins. You have a top 5 center in the NBA whose game has improved every year and yet you’re still sitting near the top of the lottery? I don’t know exactly what you’re getting with Justice Winslow, other than I’d bet the house he’ll be good. That would be a step up for the hapless Kings who have fumbled their last few high picks.
7. DENVER NUGGETS: MARIO HEZONJA (6’7”, SG, CROATIA)
Scouting Report: Natural shot creator. Good ball handler. Plays well without the ball. NBA range. Good size and athleticism. Played against a high level of competition. Has potential on the defensive end, but must summon the effort to match the skill set. Can be over-confident at times.
The Nuggets need some help on the wing, and are in the process of going through a mini-rebuild of their own. Hezonja is a flamboyant player who can help keep fans interested and engaged with a team that may hit a few valleys while they retool.
8. DETROIT PISTONS: STANLEY JOHNSON (6’7”, SF, ARIZONA)
Scouting Report: Versatile player who can play the 2, 3 or 4 in a small ball lineup. Versatile scorer who can shoot or drive. Aggressive, high-effort defensive player. Needs to improve as a finisher. Needs to maintain focus on the defensive end.
The Pistons have been unable to do anything despite the formidable front court pairing of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Last season’s acquisition of Reggie Jackson from the Thunder was, however, a good move in my opinion, and adding a versatile player like Johnson on the wing might give the Pistons the complementary pieces they’ve been lacking to make noise in a lackluster Eastern Conference.
9. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: DEVIN BOOKER (6’6”, SG, KENTUCKY)
Scouting Report: Stone cold shooter, probably the best in the draft. Quick release. Youngest player in the draft with plenty of upside. Not a great finisher. Has a lot to learn on defense. Lacks ideal length.
Charlotte ended the Lance Stephenson debacle and now has a void that Stephenson was supposed to (but never did) fill. Booker can flat out shoot and that alone can make him useful while he brings the other aspects of his game up to the NBA level.
10. MIAMI HEAT: FRANK KAMINSKY (7’0”, C, WISCONSIN)
Scouting Report: Versatile scorer with a strong post game and the ability to step back and shoot from midrange. Terrific leader. Polished offensive game that’s NBA ready. Decent passer. Lacks quickness on defense. Lacks ideal athleticism. Not a rim protector.
Frank Kaminsky would allow the Heat to move Chris Bosh back to his natural position at the 4. Kaminsky would also be a nice complementary front court mate for Bosh, who is a gifted stretch 4 and intimidator at the rim. Kaminsky also has the kind of intangibles that you just have to believe would allow him to absorb a ton of winning knowledge from Wade and Bosh. This is an ideal fit for both player and team.
11. INDIANA PACERS: WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN (7’0”, C, KENTUCKY)
Scouting Report: Best defensive player in the draft. Extremely versatile and mobile defender who can rim protect or defend on the perimeter. Good rebounder. Lacks offensive skills.
The Pacers simply cannot pass up a player of Cauley-Stein’s caliber, who I’ve seen mocked in the top 5, all the way down at 11. With Roy Hibbert’s status very much in doubt and with both Hibbert and David West in the last year of their deals, it’s clearly time for Indiana to rebuild its front court, and getting Cauley-Stein at 11 is an absolute steal.
12. UTAH JAZZ: MYLES TURNER (6’11”, C, TEXAS)
Scouting Report: Elite shot blocker. Rising prospect whose combination of intimidating defense and improving shooting give him a very high upside. Jump shooting range to the college 3. Appears uncoordinated at times on the court. Odd mechanics could make him an injury risk.
The Enes Kanter trade leaves the Jazz with depth needs in the front court, and Turner is exactly the type of young player who will benefit if he doesn’t have to come in and start right away. If he lives up to his potential, the Jazz are getting a hell of a deal at 12.
13. PHOENIX SUNS: TREY LYLES (6’10”, PF, KENTUCKY)
Scouting Report: Good size and length. High basketball IQ. Can defend on the perimeter. Plays well without the ball. Poor shooter. Needs to up his effort on the defensive end to distinguish himself.
Trey Lyles is a bit of a reach at 13, but Phoenix is so lacking size in its front court right now it can hardly pass up one of the last quality big men available. If the Suns find an alternate plan here via trade or free agency, they’d be just as well (or better) served adding talent on the wing.
14. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: CAMERON PAYNE (6”2”, PG, MURRAY STATE)
Scouting Report: High basketball IQ. Natural scoring ability. Good pick and roll good. Strong shooter. Good length on defense. Lacks ideal athleticism and height. Not a great finisher. Needs to add bulk and strength.
What the Thunder do here depends on who they think they are less likely to be able to keep – Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant. I consider Durant more or less irreplaceable however, so they’d be best served by adding a quality guard. Westbrook has shown the ability to play both with and off the ball, so Payne can be a fit from the get go.
15. ATLANTA HAWKS: KELLY OUBRE, JR. (6’7”, SF, KANSAS)
Scouting Report: Freakish wingspan. Versatility to play multiple positions. Good athleticism. Ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. Needs to improve when attacking the basket. Jump shot remains inconsistent. Needs to maintain focus on the defensive end.
While the Hawks could use size up front, Oubre at this slot in the draft is simply too good to pass up – a potential impact wing player who can help the Hawks in a variety of ways. Given Atlanta’s share the ball, spread it around philosophy, this is an ideal situation for a young player to grow with the team and the system.
16. BOSTON CELTICS: BOBBY PORTIS (6’11”, PF, ARKANSAS)
Scouting Report: Versatile offensive player who can score from inside or out. Ideal skill set for an NBA stretch four. Unlimited motor. Very coachable. Lacks ideal athleticism. Does not necessarily play good instinctive basketball.
The Celtics will be looking for help on the wing and in the frontcourt. While there are some attractive options here, I really like Bobby Portis and think he might be one of the good finds in the middle of the draft. The Celtics have done well over the last several seasons picking up useful players with not necessarily glamorous resumes. Perhaps chalk up one more of those here.
17. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: MONTREZL HARRELL (6’8”, PF, LOUISVILLE)
Scouting Report: Boundless energy on the glass. Outrageous wingspan offsets lack of height. Has the strength to body up on NBA 4s. Extremely toughminded player. Lacks an offensive game. Scores points on putbacks and cleanups. Needs to add a jump shot to his repertoire.
Montrezl Harrell reminds me of another undersized 4, Kenneth Faried, and that’s worked out pretty well for the Nuggets. The Bucks’ rotation of frontcourt players, moreover, lack hard working, fighting players like Harrell (only John Henson seems to share that mindset), and Harrell should fit well with a team where there will be plenty of opportunities for young players to show what they’ve got.
18. HOUSTON ROCKETS: JERIAN GRANT (6’5”, PG, NOTRE DAME)
Scouting Report: Ideal size and length. Great ball handler. Good athleticism. Excellent drive and kick player. Good finisher. Can defend both guard spots. Inconsistent shooter. Inconsistent defender. May lack as much upside as younger players coming out.
Houston has their pick at the 1 guard here, and I think they’ll find Grant’s size and athleticism a tie-breaking decisive factor in terms of who they want to take. No matter how they choose to go, however, things work out well for the Rockets, as there are several good prospects at need positions they can choose from.
19. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: SAM DEKKER (6’9”, SF, WISCONSIN)
Scouting Report: Good instinctive player. Has the size to play both forward positions. Good ball handler and passer. High basketball IQ. Moves well without the ball. Shooting needs to improve. Must learn to use his size and athleticism on defense. Tweener without a true position.
With Paul Pierce’s future uncertain (and even if he stays with the Wizards he is on a ticking clock), Washington could use some bench punch on the wing. Adding a player who can act as a stretch 4 also fills a need, so it will up to be to Dekker to live up to some of the potential he showed in the NCAA tournament.
20. TORONTO RAPTORS: KEVON LOONEY (6’9”, PF, UCLA)
Scouting Report: Terrific length. Instinctive, hard working rebounder on both ends of the floor. Good ball handler. Lacks the quickness to defend the small forward position. Injury history. Needs to add bulk.
The Raptors need to add some size and ability to their frontcourt. Looney is a question mark, but in the bottom third of the draft you wind up taking question marks and hoping they work out.
21. DALLAS MAVERICKS: TYUS JONES (6’1”, PG, DUKE)
Scouting Report: Elite basketball IQ. Classic floor general point guard. Great court vision. Natural playmaker. Shooting continues to improve. Lacks ideal size and athleticism. Will never be better than an average defender.
The Mavs obviously thought an upgrade at point guard would help elevate their team when they acquired Rajon Rondo. That didn’t work out, and Rondo won’t be back, so drafting a point guard of the future makes sense for Dallas here. The overall age of Dallas’ roster, moreover, has to be a concern and Jones is a young player who already has the maturity to run an NBA team.
22. CHICAGO BULLS: RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON (6’7”, SF, ARIZONA)
Scouting Report: Elite quickness and length. NBA ready defender from day one. Can potentially guard both forward spots. Great instincts. Decent finisher and ball handler. Lacks range to stretch defenses. Will have to improve as a shooter to get minutes.
Is there a better match between player and team than uber-defender Hollis-Jefferson and defensive minded Chicago? Of course, the Bulls may be looking to move in another direction after their disappointing showing in the post season, but it’s hard to see them passing up a player of this caliber who so clearly fits their mold.
23. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JUSTIN ANDERSON (6’6”, SF, VIRGINIA)
Scouting Report: Elite athleticism. Excellent defender. Despite small sample size, showed great propensity to knock down the open 3, with NBA range. Lacks ball handling skills. Doesn’t create his own shot.
There are safer picks here for the Blazers, who have a variety of needs and should be looking to add the best player they can find regardless of position, but I’m enthralled by Justin Anderson’s upside. Even if his shooting doesn’t hold up, his ability to play excellent defense should land him a long term home in the NBA. To me, this is a guy with a huge upside but not a very big bust factor. I’d go for it.
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: R.J. HUNTER (6’6”, SG, GEORGIA STATE)
Scouting Report: Good shooter. Moves well with and without the ball. Good length and size. Range beyond the NBA 3. Natural scorer. Did not play any man defense in college. Coming off poor shooting season. Not a great finisher. Needs to add strength.
Word is the Cavs and J.R. Smith are parting ways. I heard they might actually have interest in Nick Young. Bleck. I’d much rather take my chances with a natural scorer like R.J. Hunter who would undoubtedly benefit (like the rest of the Cavs roster) from playing with the amazing LeBron.
25. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: RASHAD VAUGHN (6’6”, SG, UNLV)
Scouting Report: Excellent instincts as a scorer. Good shooter. Good ball handler. Moves well without the ball. Never met a shot he didn’t take. Must improve as a defender to get minutes. Play suffered vs. tougher competition.
Memphis has no glaring needs and could use depth at multiple spots. Vaughn is just one option among many, but adding backcourt scoring is certainly an area of need for the Grizzlies.
26. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: CHRISTIAN WOOD (6’11”, PF, UNLV)
Scouting Report: Ideal height and length. Great athleticism. Good shot blocker. Plays well in transition. May be able to guard multiple positions. Must add bulk and strength. Still a raw prospect.
San Antonio, as always, will take the best available player, but Wood provides some particular intrigue given his impressive physical make up. It sure wouldn’t hurt to have him learn under the ageless Tim Duncan for however long he continues to play.
27. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: DELON WRIGHT (6’5”, PG, UTAH)
Scouting Report: Excellent size and length. Good ball distributor. Gets into the lane at will. Good court vision. Versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. Very weak shooter. Lacks upside at his age (23).
The Lakers need depth at guard no matter what their other plans may be. Delon Wright is a bit like Rajon Rondo, and if he could learn to shoot he could play either guard spot off the bench.
28. BOSTON CELTICS: ANTHONY BROWN (6’6”, SF, STANFORD)
Scouting Report: Excellent shooter with range out to the 3. Great length. Works hard on the defensive end. Lacks ideal athleticism. Not a great ball handler.
The Celtics need help inside and on the wing. Since I had them go with a post player earlier, they could use a spot up shooter and defender like Brown.
29. BROOKLYN NETS: CLIFF ALEXANDER (6’8”, PF, KANSAS)
Scouting Report: Excellent instinctive rebounder. Good length. Shot blocking ability. Good athleticism. Struggles on defense. Eligibility problems forced him into the draft early. Has no mid range game to speak of.
The Nets could use a banger inside as an offset to stretch 4 Thad Young. Alexander is that kind of player, but can’t be counted on for major minutes right away.
30. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: GUILLERMO HERNANGOMEZ (6’11”, C, SPAIN)
Scouting Report: Excellent rebounder. Soft hands and good touch give him a solid facing the basket offensive game. Not a rim protector. Lack of quickness causes him to struggle defensively.
The Warriors made a lot of hay with their small ball lineup this season, but they could use some size inside and Hernangomez certainly would provide that.
Featured image via College Basketball Talk/Getty Images