Early 1st-round 2015 NBA Mock Draft
After Tuesday's lottery determined the order of selection, it's time to turn attention to the 2015 NBA Draft.
That means it's also time for mock drafting - taking a best guess at which players will be selected by which teams in which draft spot.
It's an inexact science, to say the least. Speaking personally, I cull information from watching college games, scouring reports from ESPN draft guru Chad Ford, the indispensable DraftExpress and Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports and by looking at a team's roster, upcoming free agents and general team-building strategies to make educated guesses.
What follows is a very early mock draft of the first round of the draft. These picks are not the players I necessarily like best, but the ones I think each team would lean towards a little more than a month out.
Most have Minnesota taking Karl-Anthony Towns, who I believe to have a higher upside than Okafor. But Flip Saunders is said to prefer Okafor, and with Minnesota possessing a few veterans and underwhelming cap flexibility, they could be inclined to go for the player who will make a bigger immediate impact.
The Lakers were going to be just fine anywhere in the top-four, with two potential franchise centers and two quality point guards available. Here, they get whichever center the Wolves don't take - Okafor would give them a low-post threat and immediate help for what's likely Kobe Bryant's last season, while Towns offers more rim protection and a higher long-term upside to start the post-Bryant era.
The Sixers have young talent everywhere but after cutting bait on Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, there's a massive hole at the point. Russell brings incredible creativity and vision, and immediately boosts Philly's moribund shooting.
4. New York Knicks - Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, International
I'd take a long look at Justise Winslow in this spot, but the chance to grab a point guard with immense upside will likely be too good to pass up. If they keep the pick. The benefit of drawing Mudiay at No. 4 is that his season playing in China as a teenager likely has him ready for the challenges of the NBA from a maturity standpoint, even in Basketball Mecca.
5. Orlando Magic - Kristaps Porzingis, PF, International
Porzingis likely has the highest upside left at this point and gives the Magic a much-needed offensive boost, as well as a potential stretch-four to help with the poor spacing their fun-but-rangeless young core creates.
The Kings are a hard team to peg, with a new front office presence, an owner who's out-there strategically, a new head coach and only one untouchable piece in DeMarcus Cousins. Enter Cauley-Stein, who can legitimately guard five positions, fit into any defensive system and requires little in the way of touches outside of put-backs and transition opportunities. He can play next to Cousins without much issue and lets the Kings go in any number of directions from here.
7. Denver Nuggets - Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
The Nuggets are in the process of tearing things down, and without a clear vision for what they're building back up, taking the best player available is the right move. Winslow should be a terrific wing defender, is said to be well-liked as a leader and a high-character presence, and his already-versatile offensive game continues to improve.
8. Detroit Pistons - Mario Hezonja, SF, International
The Pistons probably want immediate help and Hezonja's limited playing time in Spain could give pause. But he could conceivably man three positions and provide spacing in Stan Van Gundy's offense and is the highest-upside player left in this range. Don't be surprised if Detroit shops this pick.
While I like Myles Turner's upside as an Al Jefferson replacement, the Hornets have used two top-10 picks on frontcourt players in the past two seasons. Johnson gives them an NBA-ready, high-motor, two-way player who could give opponents fits alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the wing.
The bet here is that the Heat shop the pick, given that no prospect fits a clear need and Miami's current timeline to compete. Turner's potential as a floor-spacing, rim-protecting frontcourt partner for Chris Bosh may be too much upside to pass on for a more NBA-ready, but ultimately less talented player.
Payne is said to have a fan in Larry Bird, and while this is probably too early for the somewhat undersized scoring guard, I'm not sure there's a better combination of fit and upside for Indiana here.
The Jazz have intriguing young players everywhere, but they're a little light on shooting and versatile wing defense. While Oubre may not be ready to prove it as a rookie, he's the most tantalizing combination of those needs on the board.
The Suns could go any number of directions, but the sweet-shooting 7-footer makes for a nice complement to both Markieff Morris and Alex Len, two long-term pieces in the Phoenix frontcourt.
The Thunder have a need at shooting guard, and it never hurts to add more shooting around players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Booker's one of the best handful of shooters in the draft and had encouraging athletic testing results at the combine that speak to some defensive potential.
If the Hawks believe Dekker can shoot, he's a great fit for Mike Budenholzer's system. He has an incredible motor, great athleticism and is a team-oriented player. His versatility could be huge for a Hawks team that may lose DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap in free agency.
The Celtics want to move up in the draft and need rim protection, but failing those goals, Danny Ainge seems the type to swing for upside. Looney would provide that, and while he may not make an impact right away, he's said to have a solid work ethic and was as high as No. 6 in mock drafts earlier in the year.
The Bucks could go a number of ways, and while R.J. Hunter's shot-making may be appealing, Lyles shores up the power forward position. This assumes Milwaukee sees Jabari Parker, last year's No. 2 pick, as capable of playing small forward.
The Rockets lean analytics-heavy and few grade out better than Jones in that regard. Houston needs point guard depth and Jones brings savvy, controlled playmaking, high basketball IQ and a decent outside shot.
Nene has one year left on his contract, Kevin Seraphin and Kris Humphries weren't trusted in the playoffs and Portis has by far the highest floor of anyone left at this point. There's almost no doubt around the league that Portis will be a capable rotation player.
The Raptors could lose Amir Johnson, they need help defensively and Masai Ujiri seems to dig gritty players like Harrell. He won't solve some spacing issues the team has, but he'll provide defense and rebounding out of the gate.
Dallas has a need at the point and a focus on immediate returns. If Monta Ellis walks - and even if he doesn't - Grant can provide some of that combo-guard scoring punch, and he's NBA-ready.
Given Derrick Rose's injury history and Kirk Hinrich's precipitous decline, the Bulls need to stabilize their backup point guard position. Wright is solid across the board and ready to contribute, exactly the player type Chicago should be coveting.
It's hard to figure Portland out without knowing what several of their free agents will do. Their wing depth was tested this year and Anderson could slot in if Wesley Matthews or Arron Afflalo leave, and if his 3-point shot develops, he's a nice grab here.
Hollis-Jefferson can't shoot a lick, but if the Cavs retain Kevin Love or find another floor-stretching big, that will matter little. RHJ can defend almost any position and would be a huge addition to Cleveland's bench.
Upshaw's a risk after getting kicked out of two programs, but he measured better than anyone at the combine and is the type of upside play Memphis may be inclined to make with Kosta Koufos and Marc Gasol hitting free agency.
If the Spurs want a draft-and-stash player, George Lucas de Paula seems the choice. But they have exactly two frontcourt players under contract for next year and Wood has the raw tools that the Spurs' player development engine could get the most out of.
27. Lakers (from Houston) - R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
The Lakers need talent, period, and even if Hunter plays the same position as Bryant, his shot-making ability would be a very welcome addition.
I had the Celtics take another frontcourt player earlier but they still need rim protection, and nobody left on the board comes anywhere close to doing it as well as Mickey.
It may seem odd to have the Nets taking a player far from helping them, considering McCullough is still on the recovery trail after injuring his ACL in January. With patience, he can become a stretch-four who protects the rim, and the Nets' need to start looking beyond the season immediately in front of them.
The Warriors need more shooting, right? Here's perhaps the best shooter in the draft to deploy off the bench.
- Report: Blazers declined Lillard’s request to return if Heat move failed
- Report: Clippers sign Primo after NBA issues 4-game ban for detrimental conduct
- 5 potential landing spots for Jrue Holiday after Lillard trade
- Hardaway 'didn't know' if he'd still be on Mavs after last season's meltdown
- Bucks favorites to win NBA title after landing Lillard