With less than a week until the big night, teams are still scrambling to get their last looks at prospects as draft boards are being finalized. While the 2015 draft class doesn’t bring with it the same level of hype as last year’s, there are still a number of players who can change the face of a franchise and develop into tomorrow’s superstars. No draft pick is ever a sure thing, and careers will be made as well as broken based on the moves made on the night of June 25th. There should also be a significant amount of trade talk revolving around the draft, and there are quite a few teams that could end up dealing away draft picks in exchange for veteran players or future assets.
While I anticipate my mock draft to continue to change all the way up through draft night, this is my current read on whose name each team will likely have commissioner Adam Silver intone while on stage for the first round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. You can view the previous versions of my mock drafts here and here.
#1 Timberwolves — Karl-Anthony Towns F/C (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/250 pounds
- Stats: 10.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. .566/.250/.813.
There had been reports that have Minnesota leaning toward selecting Jahlil Okafor with the top pick. But I firmly believed that the Wolves would become increasingly enamored with Towns’ superior defense, athleticism, and upside as the pre-draft process wears on. That is now apparently the case, with the revelation that Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders is now firmly in Towns’ camp after watching him work out last week. Towns would also be a better fit than Okafor alongside Nikola Pekovic, provided he recovers from his Achilles surgery. With Towns running the floor alongside Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and the rest of the young athletic talent on Minnesota’s roster, the team may not make the playoffs next season, but it should become a regular fixture on SportsCenter’s top plays.
#2 Lakers — Jahlil Okafor C (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’11”/272 pounds
- Stats: 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .664/.000/.510.
Okafor becomes the prize for the franchise moving up in the draft order on lottery night. Los Angeles could still throw a wrench in my mock draft by selecting a guard, but I think the idea of adding a potential franchise cornerstone like Okafor at the pivot will be too tempting to pass up. The Lakers can solidify the middle with this pick for years to come, and pairing Okafor alongside Julius Randle should make for a formidable frontcourt offensively.
#3 Sixers — D’Angelo Russell G (Ohio State)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/176 pounds
- Stats: 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.0 APG. .449/.411/.756.
Not landing the No. 1 overall pick this season is actually a blessing in disguise for the franchise. As long as the top two teams go big, Philadelphia will have no choice but to address its glaring hole in the backcourt, rather than stockpiling another big man to go alongside Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Philadelphia could opt for Emmanuel Mudiay here, as well as Kristaps Porzingis, whom the team is reportedly high on. But Russell’s playmaking ability and versatility should get him the nod at pick No. 3.
#4 Knicks— Justise Winslow F (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/221 pounds
- Stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.1 APG. .486/.418/.641.
This is one of the most difficult picks in the entire draft to try and predict. New York is very likely to try and trade this pick if Towns, Okafor, and Russell are off the board before the Knicks are on the clock. While Emmanuel Mudiay could very well be the choice here, he’s not an ideal fit for the triangle and isn’t as strong an outside shooter as the team would prefer from the one spot. I’m going with Winslow because of his upside and ability to defend multiple positions. The Knicks could very well trade down and still end up with Winslow.
#5 Magic — Kristaps Porzingis F (Latvia)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/220 pounds
- Stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .560/.328/.750.
While I’m not sold on Porzingis as a top five talent, scouts and front office types reportedly are. There’s no denying Porzingis’ athleticism and potential, but there have been far too many international lottery picks who have turned out to be busts for my comfort level. But Orlando needs to add some frontcourt scoring and outside shooting, and the young Latvian certainly has the potential to provide both. Winslow is a very real possibility at this spot if the Knicks bypass him.
#6 Kings — Emmanuel Mudiay G (China)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/200 pounds
- Stats: 18.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 6.3 APG. .493/.321/.586.
The Kings need a point guard in the worst way, and Mudiay falling to them at No. 6 is a gift. Willie Cauley-Stein is also very much in play with this pick, but I can’t see Sacramento passing on the chance to add a talent like Mudiay here.
#7 Nuggets — Mario Hezonja G/F (Croatia)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/200 pounds
- Stats: 8.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .475/.406/.739.
The Nuggets need help across the board, but a player who can light it up from the outside like Hezonja is too good to pass on. I will offer one caveat here. If Ty Lawson is dealt prior to the draft, then Cameron Payne is a very real possibility here, and would be an excellent replacement, though he’ll likely not be ready to be a full-time starter next season.
#8 Pistons — Stanley Johnson F (Arizona)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/237 pounds
- Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. .446/.371/.742.
The Pistons found their replacement for Greg Monroe with the trade for Ersan Ilyasova, so a small forward becomes the priority. Sam Dekker is an option here, but I don’t see Stan Van Gundy passing on a gritty two-way player like Johnson, though his outside game will need some work for him to be an effective pro.
#9 Hornets — Devin Booker G (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/195 pounds
- Stats: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .470/.411/.828.
Charlotte desperately needs to add some outside shooting, and Booker may very well be the best in the entire draft from beyond the arc. He’s not as athletic as some teams might prefer, but he has the potential to become something special in the league in a few seasons.
#10 Heat — Frank Kaminsky F/C (Wisconsin)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/242 pounds
- Stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. .547/.416/.780.
The signing of Josh McRoberts last offseason didn’t quite work out for the franchise, and thanks to injuries, “McBob” wasn’t able to be the stretch four that Pat Riley was seeking. Kaminsky has his athletic limitations, but he’s also a seven-footer who can shoot the ball with aplomb. The team snags a valuable role-player with this selection.
#11 Pacers — Willie Cauley-Stein C (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/244 pounds
- Stats: 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.7 BPG. .572/.000/.617.
President of basketball operations Larry Bird referred to Cauley-Stein as a max player, and he may end up regretting those words when negotiating the player’s second contract. Indiana needs a replacement for Roy Hibbert, whose days are numbered in Indiana. Cauley-Stein is as NBA-ready as any player in the draft, and would be an excellent addition. The team also needs a point guard, and Cameron Payne may prove too tempting to pass up here.
#12 Jazz — Myles Turner C (Texas)
- Height/Weight: 6’11”/242 pounds
- Stats: 10.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. .455/.274/.839.
The Jazz are quietly building a competitive roster, and could use a stretch-four to help open up their offense. Turner has an extremely high upside, and would be a nice addition to the team’s rotation. Trey Lyles and Kelly Oubre are also possibilities at this slot, but Turner would fill an obvious need.
#13 Suns — Trey Lyles F (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 6’10″/235 pounds
- Stats: 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .487/.138.735.
What Lyles’ NBA position will be is still up for debate. He has the size and ability to guard power forwards, but his best fit may be as a small forward for the long-term. Phoenix could use a boost at either spot, and Lyles could end up being one of the best players in the entire draft. He wasn’t given the opportunity to display his full range of skills at Kentucky because of that squad’s ridiculous depth. Those who haven’t seen him play will be in for a pleasant surprise.
#14 Thunder — Cameron Payne PG (Murray State)
- Height/Weight: 6’2″/180 pounds
- Stats: 20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.0 APG. .456/.377/.787.
The Thunder need a reliable backup for Russell Westbrook, as well as some more firepower off the bench. Payne can certainly fill both of those needs, though he’s a player who could creep into the top 10. If that ends up happening OKC could switch gears and nab Oubre here instead.
#15 Hawks (via Nets) — Kelly Oubre G/F (Kansas)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/204 pounds
- Stats: 9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 0.8 APG. .444/.358/.718.
The Hawks are coming off a successful regular season, but injuries and lack of depth helped derail the team during the playoffs. Oubre would provide a nice building block for the future, as well as some immediate depth. Plus, if DeMarre Carroll departs the team will have a big hole to fill. Bobby Portis is also a big possibility here, especially if Atlanta gets the sense that Paul Millsap doesn’t intend to re-sign.
#16 Celtics — Bobby Portis F (Arkansas)
- Height/Weight: 6’11″/242 pounds
- Stats: 17.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .536/.467/.737.
Speaking of Portis…Boston could use some depth and athleticism from the four spot, and Portis can certainly provide both. The forward isn’t a stellar defender, so pairing him alongside center Kelly Olynyk could be a disaster for the team’s defensive ranking. But at pick No. 16, the former Arkansas player would provide excellent value, and be a solid addition to the Celtics’ rotation.
#17 Bucks — R.J. Hunter G (Georgia State)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/190 pounds
- Stats: 19.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. .396/.307/.878.
I love what the Bucks have accomplished in adding a number of talented young players to their roster. One major need the team has is for a wing who can stretch the floor with his outside shooting. This will be especially important given point guard Michael Carter-Williams‘ shooting woes. Hunter is a long-range bomber without a conscience who I believe will be a better pro than collegiate player. He’ll be a nice addition to coach Jason Kidd‘s squad in Milwaukee.
#18 Rockets (via Pelicans) — Tyus Jones PG (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’1″/184 pounds
- Stats: 11.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 5.6 APG. .417/.379/.889.
The Rockets need to improve at the point guard spot, and Jones is a pass-first playmaker who will pair nicely alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. Jones is still a bit raw, and his athleticism leaves something to be desired. But his upside is higher than Delon Wright‘s or Jerian Grant‘s, so he gets the nod here.
#19 Wizards — Jerian Grant PG (Notre Dame)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/185 pounds
- Stats: 16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 6.7 APG. .478/.316/.780.
The Wizards’ talented backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal have had their injury woes, and the team could use some insurance. Washington is a talented squad that has a very real shot to contend in the East in 2015/16. The team learned the hard way this past campaign that it needs to have solid depth at point guard. While Grant’s age, 22, has some scouts concerned that he’s already close to his ceiling, Grant is a solid two-way player who fills an obvious need for the Wizards. He would be an excellent pickup for the franchise here.
#20 Raptors — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson F (Arizona)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/215 pounds
- Stats: 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .502/.207/.707.
Toronto desperately needs to improve on the defensive end, and snagging Hollis-Jefferson, who is perhaps the best wing defender in the entire draft, would be a great start to correcting that deficiency. His outside game, or lack thereof, is what is preventing him from being a lottery pick. But in the open court he is exciting to watch, and with some hard work and serious gym time he could develop into a steal at this spot. If Toronto decides to add a more offensive-minded player, then UCLA’s Kevon Looney could be their man here.
#21 Mavs — Delon Wright G (Utah)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/178 pounds
- Stats: 14.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 5.1 APG. .509/.356/.836.
The Mavs need backcourt help in the worst way, with the likely departure of Rajon Rondo and the uncertainty regarding Monta Ellis. Wright is a versatile guard, and the best playmaker still available. He won’t be ready to start next season, but will be a solid addition to Dallas’ roster.
#22 Bulls — Rashad Vaughn G (UNLV)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/215 pounds
- Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .439/.383/.694.
The Bulls are likely hoping that either Grant or Wright is still available here, but Vaughn is a nice consolation prize. The young guard is extremely raw, but he has the potential to be a top 10 scorer in the NBA, and will provide the Bulls with backcourt depth next season.
#23 Trail Blazers — Justin Anderson G/F (Virginia)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/227 pounds.
- Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.7 APG. .466/.452/.780.
The Blazers may have two significant holes to fill, depending on whether or not the franchise retains LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. Anderson would be a nice insurance policy in the event that Matthews didn’t return, or is slow in recovering from his Achilles surgery. Looney is another possibility here.
#24 Cavaliers — Montrezl Harrell F (Louisville)
- Height/Weight: 6’8″/243 pounds
- Stats: 15.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.4 APG. .566/.243/.597.
The Cavs need to add frontcourt depth, and possibly a replacement for Kevin Love. Harrell’s game has a number of offensive similarities to Love’s, and he can also chase down his fair share of rebounds. He’d be a good fit in Cleveland, and a good value pickup this late in the first round.
#25 Grizzlies — Sam Dekker F (Wisconsin)
- Height/Weight: 6’9″/230 pounds
- Stats: 13.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.2 APG. .525/.331/.708.
The Grizzlies have a dire need for a small forward who can score. Dekker could end up going much higher than this, but he reportedly hasn’t shot the ball well in a number of his workouts. The former Wisconsin forward had gathered quite a bit of momentum with his stellar play during this year’s NCAA tournament, but a bit of his luster has faded in the interim. He’s a versatile player who can help out at multiple positions, which makes him a good fit it Memphis, though I believe the team would prefer if Justin Anderson fell to them here.
#26 Spurs — Christian Wood F (UNLV)
- Height/Weight: 6’11″/220 pounds
- Stats: 15.7 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. .497/.284/.736.
The Spurs have a number of needs as the roster continues to age. Wood is a raw player with a high upside who would be a nice addition to San Antonio’s frontcourt, though he’ll require some significant D-League time his first season. Hopefully Tim Duncan will return for another year, which would take the pressure off of Wood to produce immediately.
#27 Lakers (via Rockets) — Joseph Young G (Oregon)
- Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 pounds.
- Stats: 20.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 3.8 APG. .448/.357/.925.
Young reportedly has secured a first round draft promise, and my bet is that it’s from the Lakers. He’s a bit undersized, but his speed and excellent outside shooting will be assets to a rebuilding Los Angeles squad.
#28 Celtics (via Clippers) — Kevon Looney F (UCLA)
- Height/Weight: 6’9″/220 pounds
- Stats: 11.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .470/.415/.626.
If the Celtics don’t trade this pick, which I think they will, adding another frontcourt player will likely be the play here. I was conflicted about placing Looney near the bottom of the first round, but he drops more because of the needs of the teams picking in the early 20s than due to any lack of talent and potential. I like Looney’s upside, though he bears the dreaded tweener tag, and may not have a defined position in the NBA. The Celtics could certainly use more versatility on offense, and Looney has the potential to provide it.
#29 Nets (via Hawks) — Terry Rozier G (Louisville)
- Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 pounds
- Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.0 APG. .411/.306/.790.
With the health and production level of Deron Williams a concern, Brooklyn could certainly use an insurance policy at the point guard spot. Rozier has been impressing teams during his pre-draft workouts, and has likely earned himself a first round selection. The Nets land a solid backup and insurance policy.
#30 Warriors — Jarell Martin F (LSU)
- Height/Weight: 6’10″/236 pounds
- Stats: 16.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.8 APG. .509/.269/.690.
The Warriors don’t have many needs, but could stand to add depth in the frontcourt, especially if David Lee is dealt. Martin has a strong, NBA-ready frame, and is a tenacious rebounder who can score both facing the basket and with his back to it. A nice pickup at the end of the first round.