The 2015 NBA Draft is today, and to hardcore hoops fans, it is one of the most exciting days of the year. It is a time of optimism, with each team hoping that the player it selects will become the next great superstar. Of course, most of the players taken on Thursday won’t live up to that distinction, but the draft is one of the most important building blocks that teams have in constructing their rosters. It looks like it will be a busy night, with a number of teams reportedly looking to either move up or down in the selection order. These trades can make predicting who will end up where a difficult task. But the speculation is a large part of the fun involved with this annual event. It’s with that in mind that I present the final version of my 2015 NBA Mock Draft:
#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.
Earlier reports indicated that Minnesota was 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 predraft process wore 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. Towns denied a report that the Wolves already told him he’ll be their pick, but it would be a surprise if he doesn’t end up hearing his name called first. Towns would also be a better fit than Okafor alongside Nikola Pekovic, provided that Pekovic 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 — Kristaps Porzingis F (Latvia)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/220 pounds
- Stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .560/.328/.750.
This is one of the most difficult picks in the entire draft to try to predict. New York is very likely to try to 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. 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 far too many international lottery picks have turned out to be busts for my comfort level. I think Phil Jackson rolls the dice on Porzingis’ upside.
#5 Magic — Justise Winslow F (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/221 pounds
- Stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.1 APG. .486/.418/.641.
Orlando needs help in the frontcourt, and could lose Tobias Harris to free agency this offseason. Winslow’s game has flaws, but he could end up becoming one of the top players in the entire draft. His defensive tenacity should please new Magic coach Scott Skiles. The concern is that his outside shot won’t travel to the pros, but Winslow is a hard worker who should develop quickly. If the Magic decide to go big, then Willie Cauley-Stein is a likely target here.
#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. 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, Cameron Payne is a very real possibility here. Payne 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 — 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 deal for Nicolas Batum gives Charlotte the wing player it has been seeking, and it has made Kaminsky, the sweet-shooting center from Wisconsin, a likely target, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported. The Hornets also recently acquired Spencer Hawes, and together with Kaminsky, the team hopes it can replace the outside shooting that was lost when Josh McRoberts signed with the Heat last offseason.
#10 Heat — Devin Booker G (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/195 pounds
- Stats: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .470/.411/.828.
The Heat land the outside shooter they have been seeking, as well as add a potential replacement for Dwyane Wade. Booker isn’t a complete player yet, and will likely require significant D-League time during his rookie season, but he’s the best pure shooter in this year’s draft.
#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 $100MM 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 seem 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 they 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. Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t give him the opportunity to display his full range of skills this season because of the 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 — 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 Bucks need frontcourt depth as well as a player who can stretch the floor with his shooting, and Dekker can provide both. He’s a tweener, and will need to bulk up to defend at the four. He’s also a player whose hype has outstripped his ability somewhat, but Dekker is solid and more athletic than many realize. He should be a strong fit alongside Milwaukee’s other talented young players. R.J. Hunter is a tempting possibility here if the Bucks decide to add backcourt depth.
#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 in the playoffs 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, he’s 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 he is exciting to watch in the open court, 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, 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 the Dallas roster.
#22 Bulls — 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.
Chicago needs backcourt depth, and since the top point guards are already off the board, the Bulls select the best outside shooter still available. The Georgia State product is a long-range bomber without a conscience, and I believe he’ll be a better pro than collegiate player. He’ll be a nice addition to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s squad in the Windy City.
#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 doesn’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 strong fit in Cleveland and a value pickup this late in the first round.
#25 Grizzlies — 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 Grizzlies could stand to add some frontcourt depth regardless of whether or not Marc Gasol re-signs. Martin reportedly has a first-round draft promise, and though there are conflicting reports about whether Memphis is the team that gave it to him, we’ll wager that the Grizzlies did. Looney is also a possibility here if the team wants to add offense and upside instead.
#26 Spurs — 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 Spurs’ backcourt isn’t getting any younger, and Manu Ginobili still hasn’t announced his intentions about playing next season. So, it would be wise for San Antonio to add some depth and look toward the future. Vaughn is young and raw, but there is no denying his ability. It will likely take a few seasons for him to flourish, but he has the potential to become a top 10 scorer in the league. A big man, such as Christian Wood or Jordan Mickey, is a possibility here as well.
#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 has reportedly secured a first-round promise, and while a conflicting report dispels that notion, I’ll bet he ends up with the Lakers at this pick. 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, and I think they will, adding another frontcourt player would 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 he 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 he’s likely earned himself a first-round selection. The Nets land a solid backup and insurance policy.
#30 Warriors — 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 Warriors don’t have many needs, but frontcourt depth is certainly one of them. Andrew Bogut is always an injury risk, and the franchise is reportedly looking to move David Lee to avoid a hefty luxury tax payment. Wood is a young player who won’t be ready to step in and play major minutes his rookie season, but he has a high upside and would be a solid addition to the franchise. Robert Upshaw and Guillermo Hernangomez are also possibilities with this pick.