And with the first pick in the NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select...
1. 1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Karl Anthony-Towns, C, Kentucky
Karl Anthony-Towns, depending on who you ask really, is the best player on the board in this year’s NBA Draft. T-Wolves head man Flip Saunders really likes Okafor here, yet his advisory staff is telling him otherwise. Reports from numerous sources say that Minnesota has confirmed with Towns that he will be chosen number one overall. Towns has seemingly everything you want in a prototypical big man: Athleticism, size, shooting and a high basketball IQ. While a case can be made that Jahlil Okafor is the better fit, the T-Wolves go best available in their first ever number one overall pick.
2. 2. Los Angeles Lakers- Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Whomever the Wolves don’t take between Towns and Okafor, LA would be more than happy to dress in purple and gold, if they are to keep the pick. There’s interest from Philidelphia that would swap picks 2 and 3, and a Sacramento rumor that involves sending the pick with Randle/Clarkson for Demarcus Cousins. Okafor, considered a top-two big man in the draft, is highly coveted by nearly every team that does not have the number 2 pick. “He’s one of the best post-players to come out of the draft in over a decade” said one NBA scout when evaluating him. While there is concern for Okafor’s defense and lack of awareness, the upside is just too high to pass on here at number two.
3. 3. Philadelphia Sixers- D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
It would make sense for a guard to be chosen here after the departure of Michael Carter-Williams, however Kristaps Porzingis, a forward from Latvia, is making his case to be a top five pick as of late. However, with an abundance of big men and a need to fill at guard, Philly decides to take the route of a point guard. The debate rages on, Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay? While less athletic, Russell is less of a risk and a better overall basketball player with exceptional court vision, passing and a basketball IQ that outweighs Mudiay’s.
4. 4. New York Knicks- Emmanuel Mudiay, G, China
With Russell off the board, Emmanuel Mudiay is a close second for the best guard prospect in the draft. With the ability to play either the 1 or 2 guard position, Mudiay would provide a much needed upgrade in the back court for the Knicks. Mudiay, who has a lengthy, sizable frame, has drawn comparisons to Washington Wizards guard John Wall, is explosive when handling the ball and excels at getting to the rim with his speed/quickness. While any position could be addressed here, New York settles their guard issues here.
5. 5. Orlando Magic- Kristaps Porzingis, F, Latvia
If, and it’s a big if, Kristaps Porzingis is still on the board, the Magic will not hesitate to pull the trigger. Reports are that Orlando are enamored by Porzingis’ ability to stretch the floor and play up and down, so much they could potentially trade up to the 3 or 4 spot. Porzingis, another questioned prospect from Europe, is a hit or bust player that is praised for his offensive efforts, yet lacks the strength inside to go head to head with big men in the NBA. Orlando could go anywhere from Porzingis to Winslow or Mario Hezonja, however in this mock draft, Kristaps is left on the board and Orlando snags him.
6. Sacramento Kings- Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Kentucky
Touted as the best defensive player in this year’s draft, Willie Cauley-Stein is able to guard any of the five positions on the floor. His ability to run up and down the court would bode well in George Karl’s offense, and would be a great overall fit for the Kings, who need a solidified power forward. Sacramento Center Demarcus Cousins went on record to wish his team would draft Cauley-Stein, however with recent whispers of his departure, his potential replacement rests here at number six. Best case scenario, Cousins stays and the Kings now have a solid trio of Willie Cauley-Stein, Rudy Gay and Demarcus Cousins.
7. Denver Nuggets- Mario Hezonja, G, Croatia
Although it is unknown if he will last until the seventh pick, the Nuggets are in need of a shooting guard, and Mario Hezonja appears to fit like a perfect puzzle piece. Hezonja possesses the physical traits and the ability to shoot the lights out of the gym, something Denver hasn’t seen done since the Carmelo Anthony days. Hezonja also has the confidence a shooter needs in the NBA, citing Kobe Bryant as a source of inspiration. While Hezonja might not end up with the career Bryant had, Denver can select somebody with the same “I am going to score and there’s nothing you can do about it” mentality.
8. Detroit Pistons- Justice Winslow, G/F, Duke
With a lacking presence at the 3 spot, Detroit looks to take a small forward in hopes of putting together an all-around team. While there are sources that say Detroit is “locked in” on Arizona F Stanley Johnson, Justice Winslow is arguably the better player. Winslow plays both ends of the floor well and is considered one of the best when it comes to creating on offense, something Johnson has been seen to stuggle with. If Detroit values talent on both ends of the floor and putting the ball in the basket, Winslow is the way to go.
9. Charlotte Hornets- Frank Kaminsky, F/C, Wisconsin
After acquiring Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb via trades, all signs are pointing towards Charlotte taking Kaminsky. Frank is a big, versatile player with what some scouts have called a “natural feel for the game of basketball.” With reports leaking out that Charlotte is shopping current PF Cody Zeller in exchange for a wing man, and the apparent approval of Michael Jordan, Frank Kaminsky appears headed to Charlotte.
10. Miami Heat- Stanley Johnson, G/F, Arizona
In what some call a “perfect fit” for Miami, if Stanley Johnson were to slide to pick number ten, Miami would have some strong considering to do. Johnson is a viable wing player that can also play the 2 guard, or vice-versa. With a strong defensive mind and ability to put the ball in the basket, Johnson could come in his rookie year behind Luol Deng/Dwayne Wade, or potentially fill a missing spot should Wade decide to take his talents elsewhere.
11. Indiana Pacers- Cameron Payne, G, Murray State
Thanks to Steph Curry, guards from smaller schools are starting to get more serious looks as NBA players, and Cameron Payne is no different. Payne is a “ball hawk” on defensive with an instinct for where the ball is/going, has excellent court vision and can just flat out score. After impressing Larry Bird in his workout, Payne makes a serious contender for the Pacers pick at 11,
12. Utah Jazz- Myles Turner, C, Texas
The Idea of a Derrick Favors/Myles Turner front court sounds appealing to Utah Front Office personnel. Turner is a promising big man that is an absolute brute in the paint, and may be an underrated big man when he enters the league. Turner is ferocious when going up for rebounds, can hit jump shots, and is reliable on the defensive end. With the likelihood that Kaminsky is off the board here at 12, Turner appears to be the best player available for Utah to draft at the center position.
13. Phoenix Suns- Kelly Oubre, G/F, Kansas
After maintaining one of the best backcourts in the NBA, Phoenix traded away Goran Dragic and Isiah Thomas last year, and are reportedly shopping Eric Bledsoe as of late. Oubre is an explosive player than can make a splash at either the 2 or 3, something the Suns could use and build off of as they try and get back into the playoff mix.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder- Devin Booker, G, Kentucky
With Jeremy Lamb gone, OKC is on the lookout for their next role playing guard, and Devin Booker would be a great pick up at 14. Playing alongside Westbrook/Durant, Booker would be able to step in the 2 guard role and squeeze in between two of the top-tier players in the league. Booker is a reliable free throw shooter and can handle the ball as well, but his sniper mentality when shooting would bode well for OKC.
15. Atlanta Hawks- Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas
The Hawks continue to add depth to their front court by selecting the SEC player of the year. Portis is a high motor player that rebounds and blocks shots with authority. Should Atlanta take him, they would become more of a versatile team with Portis on the floor, and would provide a “complete player” to the Hawks’ rotation.
16. Boston Celtics- Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker is a versatile stretch forward that is versatile on both ends of the floor and while he might not be ready to start in the NBA right now, could develop into a traditional role player for Boston, who could use depth and scoring on their roster.
17. Milwaukee Bucks- Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky
With Bobby Portis off of the board, the Bucks, who lack a solidified Power Forward, look to take Trey Lyles here at 17, which would make sense. Lyles can sometimes be lost in the mix with all the superstar-potential talent coming out of Kentucky, however Lyles could provide a great offensive boost with a nice big-man frame to the Bucks.
18. Houston Rockets- Tyus Jones, G, Duke
Houston is favored to take a guard here, yet the debate rages on: Tyus Jones or Jerian Grant? While Grant flashes potential to have a better career than Jones, Tyus is reportedly the favorite within Houston’s front office, and should be taken if available. Jones is able to score and distribute the ball when he needs to, and would be able to balance the Rockets’ attack when on the floor.
19. Washington Wizards- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, Arizona
With Paul Pierce gone to free agency, there’s a sizable hole at the SF position that needs to be filled in for Washington. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a defensive minded player that has the physical traits to last in the NBA. While it will be hard to replicate what Pierce brought to the table, Kevon Looney is too much of a risk here at the 19th pick and Hollis-Jefferson appears to be the safer pick.
20. Toronto Rapters- Kevon Looney, F, UCLA
Kevon Looney has seen his draft stock free fall as of late, and is viewed around the league as a high risk/high reward player. Toronto can fill in this position of need, and really liked Looney after bringing him for a workout. Although he wouldn’t play many minutes initially, the hope is Toronto can mold him into a starting power forward in the long term. Looney’s potential is tremendous with his rebounding abilities, yet his scoring, strength and consistency is something that worries just about everybody.
21. Dallas Mavericks- Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame
Rondo is out the door and so is Ellis after opting out of his deal, and now the Mavericks are left with little at both guard spots. Jerian Grant is the best available guard at this point in time, and could fit well with Dallas. Grant is a scoring point guard that sees the court well, and could also play the 2 guard if asked to.
22. Chicago Bulls- Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia
With Chicago taking Justin Anderson, the Bulls are likely getting the steal of the draft. Anderson is a big-bodied player that has improved his shooting vastly throughout his career, and has a high potential ceiling if put in the right hands. Anderson draws comparisons to Jimmy Butler, who he could be replacing if Butler decides to jump ship and test free agency.
23. Portland Trail Blazers- Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
With more and more signs of Lamarcus Aldridge leaving Portland, Montrezl Harrell appears to be the favorite to replace him. Harrell is a high motor player with all the physical tools in the world, in addition to his quality defense and ability to throw down the hammer on offense.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers- RJ Hunter, G, Georgia State
Cleveland has been exposed for their shooting woes, and with the inconsistencies of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, Cleveland decides to take one of the best shooters in this draft. Hunter’s draft stock has seen it’s ups and downs, and nobody really knows where he will end up. Yes he can shoot the ball just as good as anyone, yet his strength and lack of defense will get him punished in the league.
25. Memphis Grizzlies- Rashad Vaughn, G, UNLV
Whoever Memphis drafts will likely see little to no playing time on the court this season, barring any miracles. Thus, the Grizzlies choose to develop somebody in the likes of Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn, who is only 18 with incredible instincts and considerable size for the guard position, is a work in progress. However all the way down at 26, Vaughn is on Memphis’ short list, and could be taken if available.
26. San Antonio Spurs- Jarell Martin, F/C, LSU
Perhaps the most intriguing team in this years draft, if anybody has any idea what the San Antonio Spurs are thinking, they’re lying. Martin’s draft stock has been rising as of late and looks to be a mid 20’s pick. Martin is a huge, athletic man that has the ability to score in multiple fashions. With Tim Duncan exiting soon, Martin could perhaps learn under one of the greats of all-time, and follow in his foot steps.
27. Los Angeles Lakers- Terry Rozier, G, Louisville
After settling their big man needs with the #2 pick, LA looks to add depth to their back court by selecting Rozier. Rozier is a solidified scorer and can bode well in a back court with Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant. Rozier appears to be a higher prospect than fellow guard Delon Wright, and the Lakers add a potential future role player.
28. Boston Celtics- Rakeem Christmas, F, Syracuse
Christmas is projected to be a top pick in the second round, but here he finds himself just escaping into the first. Christmas is a physical big man that protects his rim and is developing into a nice offensive player as well. Much like Dekker, should Boston select him too, won’t come in and make an immediate impact, however his future is promising, and that’s just what a rebuilding Celtic’s team needs.
29. Brooklyn Nets- Delon Wright, G, Utah
Delon Wright, similar to Kevon Looney in this draft, is a high risk/high reward player. His upside is phenomenal with size for his position and his ability to score. Yet some experts see “bust” all over him, with his inability to finish around the hoop and his lack of a jump shot. The Nets need another guard, and Wright, should he pan out, would be one of the steals of the draft down the road.
30. Golden State Warriors- Joseph Young, G, Oregon
Well, Golden State loves it’s guards. Sitting high after coming off a fresh NBA championship, and no need for big men, the Warriors look to establish a back-up 2 guard behind Klay Thompson. Joseph Young was the PAC-12 player of the year, and fell victim to surrounding talent around the country. Young won’t see much playing time, but Kerr has a knack for getting the best out of his players, and the system fits Young’s abilities as a playmaker.