NBA Mock Draft

1. Timberwolves- Karl-Anthony Towns PF, Kentucky

Towns is the best prospect in the draft with a multitude of coveted skills and minimal weaknesses. Towns has displayed a smooth jumper during workouts that extends all the way to the NBA 3-point line. He was dominant at times down low during his lone season at Kentucky, and defensively he can protect the rim.

Other possibilities: None

2. Lakers- Jahlil Okafor C, Duke  

okafor

Okafor’s post proficiency has been lauded for years, but recently his liabilities defensively have seemed to trump his offensive promise during discussions related to his draft stock. I think Okafor’s defensive liabilities are a bit overblown. He will never be a plus defender, but he can be an average one if he makes the commitment on that end. If I was an NBA GM I would be more interested in Okafor’s work ethic and devotion to the game than anything. At this level if that stuff is there, the combination of coaching and schematics can mold Okafor into a passable defender.

Other possibilities: Russell, Porzingis

3. 76ers- DeAngelo Russell PG, Ohio State

The76ers really likePorzingis based on what people have been hearing from their camp, and if he is still here it may be tough for them to pass on him. But Russell’s feel for the game is outstanding and his passing and court vision skills are the best seen from a prospect in some time. His lack of elite athleticism and disinterest at times defensively are concerns, but in terms of pureskillset Russell checks all the boxes.

Other possibilities: Porzingis, Okafor

4. Knicks- Kristaps Porzingis PF, Latvia

por

Porzingis has emerged from the depths of the overseas unknown, and his draft stock has been gaining steam. The Lakers and 76ers are very realistic possibilities for Porzingis. His shooting touch and range draw the most raves, but this kid can make plays off the bounce and create his own shot as well. Defensively, he could develop into a worthy rim protector due to his length. As a big man from Europe, Porzingis immediately breeds caution as being “soft”, and his thin frame doesn’t help. However, while Porzingis’ upper body lacks NBA girth, his legs are much stronger and more powerful than past European big men prospects.

Other possibilities: Russell, Okafor, Mudiay, Cauley-Stein

5. Magic- Mario Hezonja SF, Croatia

The Magic would be ecstatic to see Porzingis fall, but I don’t see much chance of it happening, and while Justise Winslow would make this team fun as hell, Hezonja’s shooting makes him a better fit. Hezonja has the athleticism, body, shooting and scoring ability common to the NBA. Questions arise about his decision-making and he works almost exclusively with his right hand when driving and finishing at the rim.

Other possibilities: Porzingis, Winslow, Cauley-Stein

6. Kings- Emmanuel Mudiay PG, China

mudiay

The factor of Mudiay playing this past season in China where he was almost invisible to scouts has damaged his draft stock and thus made him into a draft bargain. He has the explosiveness, athleticism and frame of NBA creators. His shooting and passing aren’t on Russell’s level, but NBA people have raved about his maturity, work ethic, commitment and mindset after playing against pros and in an unknown world this past season.

Other possibilities: Cauley-Stein, Hezonja

7. Nuggets- Justise Winslow SF, Duke

Winslow’s intensity and energy are probably his two best qualities, and that’s not a bad thing. He’s a defensive grinder and a dynamo offensively in transition. He has the strength to consistently finish around the rim as well as play and defend multiple positions. He improved his perimeter shooting as the season went on, but there’s still room for advancement, particularly off the dribble.

Other possibilities: Hezonja, Cauley-Stein

8. Pistons- Devin Booker SG, Kentucky

Booker is a bit of a one-trick pony at this point, but that one trick is highly sought-after: Shooting. Booker immediately projects as an effective floor spacing option spotting up, and he has shown the one or two dribble scoring moves necessary to combat hardcloseouts.

Other possibilities: Hezonja, Johnson, Dekker

9. Hornets- Frank Kaminsky PF/C, Wisconsin

kaminsky

(After the Hornets dealt away Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh for Nicolas Batum, I flip-flopped the Badgers, sending Kaminsky to the Hornets and Dekker to the Suns at 13)

I like Kaminsky more than most. His footwork in the post is well-developed and he already has the stroke and range to be a devastating pick-and-pop big man. There is general agreement regarding the strength of those skills, but I actually think his defense is better than given credit for. He’s certainly not elite, but he moves his feet well enough to hold his own in pick-and-rolls. His ability to battle on the boards and consistently maintain position to challenge opponents at the rim is a concern.

Other possibilities: Booker, Oubre

10. Heat- Stanley Johnson SG, Arizona

Johnson has an NBA body and he should immediately contribute as a good defender if he maintains his focus and intensity on that end of the court. Offensively, things could be a bit of a struggle. Johnson’s shooting stroke is a work in progress, he lacks explosion off the bounce and his ball handling as well as his execution of scoring moves leaves much to be desired. The most prized aspect of Johnson’s offensive arsenal is his strength bulldozing to the basket, and strength is among the least transitive assets to the NBA.

Other possibilities: Dekker, Oubre, Kaminsky

11. Pacers- Willie Cauley-Stein C, Kentucky

cauley stein

Cauley-Stein projects as more valuable in the NBA than the 11th pick, but fit is an issue for teams selecting 5-10. Cauley-Stein possesses the defensive acumen necessary to excel in the modern NBA as he combines rim protection with the lateral agility and foot speed to defend pick-and-rolls as well as switch onto perimeter scorers. Offensively, he can dunk…and not much else. His midrange jumper is better than most people think and has some potential, but Cauley-Stein’s offensive ceiling is quite limited.

Other possibilities: Kaminsky, Turner, Payne

12. Jazz- Myles Turner C, Texas

I think Turner may be the biggest risk in the draft. He has major upside[1] with his length, skill combination. He has touch on his jumper and already possesses NBA range, while also displaying a nice turnaround. Turner could also serve as a solid rim protector defensively. However, he awkwardly lurches and runs up and down the court which scouts fear could invoke injury, particularly to the dreaded foot area. Also there are major questions about his toughness and physicality to fend for himself in the NBA after being pushed around last year as a freshman.

Other possibilities: Lyles, Oubre

13. Suns- Sam Dekker SF, Wisconsin

(After the Hornets dealt away Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh for Nicolas Batum, I flip-flopped the Badgers, sending Kaminsky to the Hornets and Dekker to the Suns at 13)

Dekker’s shooting reputation in college was bolstered by a few lights-out performances (just ask Arizona), but overall it was actually quite spotty. He displayed a strong post game in college against smaller defenders, but it remains to be seen how well that skill will translate against NBA size. His length and frame suggest potential as a versatile defender, but his foot speed and lateral agility don’t currently appear up to par.

Other possibilities: Turner, Oubre

14. Thunder- Cameron Payne PG, Murray State

cam payne

The Thunder are rumored to be high on Payne, who is a quick twitch point guard with high basketball IQ and can operate the pick-and-roll efficiently. Payne can shoot it as well allowing him to thrive as an off-the-ball threat, although there are concerns about his low release point. Payne has length to be effective on defense, but his frame lacks bulk.

Other possibilities: Dekker, Oubre, Hunter

15. Hawks- Trey Lyles PF, Kentucky

The Hawks have an interesting free agency period coming up and it poses the risk of losing Paul Millsap and/or DeMarre Carroll. I would expect both to be retained, but Carroll’s situation is more difficult due to the contingencies of the CBA, which could make a wing enticing. However, the Hawks’ depth on the frontline was exposed in the playoffs and Mike Scott was a disaster as a stretch-4. Lyles could be an instant upgrade and his upside makes him especially vexing.

 Other possibilities: Dekker, Portis

16. Celtics- Kelly Oubre SG, Kansas

Oubre is raw and didn’t live up to his recruiting pedigree in his lone season at Kansas. The Celtics, however, offer the time necessary for him to expand and develop his game. Oubre’s shooting, athleticism and wingspan are likeable to scouts. It’s difficult to get a read on Oubre’s potential simply because he is so unpolished.

Other possibilities: Hunter, Lyles, Portis, Looney

17. Bucks- Bobby Portis PF, Arkansas

portis

Portis brings fight and ruggedness to a Bucks team that already has plenty of it. He’s relentless battling on the boards and is a serviceable shot blocker. Portis also has a solid midrange jumper and overall faceup game to offer some spacing. He doesn’t ooze the future upside of some of the other prospects, but his motor and team-orientated mindset should allow him to contribute immediately.

Other possibilities: Lyles, Looney, Hunter

18. Rockets- Tyus Jones PG, Duke

Jones repeatedly displayed the maturity and poise of a senior during his only season in Durham. In the NBA, his lack of elite athleticism and body structure limits his ceiling, but he provides heady decision-making, playmaking savvy and reliable outside shooting. His efficiency will meet analytics-guru Daryl Morey’s liking.

Other possibilities: Wright, Grant, Hollis-Jefferson

19. Wizards- Kevin Looney PF, UCLA

The Wizards may look at a wing or backup point guard, but if one of the trio of Lyles, Portis or Looney is still on the board, Washington needs depth in the frontcourt and the youth doesn’t hurt either. Looney has a nice array of skills with his ball handling, rebounding and developed shooting stroke, but his footwork is sloppy and he rarely looks smooth in anything he does. He has a long way to go, but also has a very high ceiling.

Other possibilities: Portis, Vaughn, Hunter, Wright, Grant

20. Raptors- Rashad Vaughn SG, UNLV

vaughn

Vaughn is a straight-up gamble. He could become an elite scoring option or fizzle out of the league due to poor shot selection and lack of progression. However, right now he can really put points with his shooting and scoring moves, something Toronto will desperately be seeking if sixth man Lou Williams departs via free agency.

Other possibilities: Looney, Hollis-Jefferson, Anderson

21. Mavericks- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SG, Arizona

There are so many questions surrounding the Mavs’ roster right now due to free agency, just about anything is a possibility. Hollis-Jefferson offers an elite defensive stopper the team hasn’t had in some time, and whose closest resemblance on the team in Al-Farouq Aminu far outplayed his player option and is likely due for a raise elsewhere next season. Hollis-Jefferson’s offense is well, nearly nonexistent, but as perhaps the best athlete in the draft, he can be effective in transition and on basket cuts even if his jumper never develops.

Other possibilities: Grant, Wright

22. Bulls- R.J. Hunter SF, Georgia State

hunter

The Bulls need shooters on the wing and Hunter has been labeled as one of the better bombers in the draft despite his poor percentages from a year ago. Hunter is an adept passer, but his overall playmaking is lacking and his offensive arsenal isn’t too creative at this point. Defensively, he could really struggle moving his feet and keeping pace, but his length does offer some resistance. If the Bulls can’t bring back Mike Dunleavy Jr. due to their tight cap situation a committee of Hunter, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott would have to fill his shoes.

Other possibilities: Wright, Grant, Anderson

23. Trail Blazers- Justin Anderson SF, Virginia

With Wesley Matthews and Aaron Afflalo set to hit free agency[2], the Blazers could be starved for wing support. Even if the team is able to retain Matthews, their depth behind him and Nicolas Batum was lacking last season. Anderson brings high level shooting based on last year’s results and his body is already NBA built. Anderson should be adequate in the 3-and-D role with minor development required.

Other possibilities: Hunter, Vaughn, Harrell

24. Cavaliers- Jerian Grant PG, Notre Dame

The Cavaliers have been trying to package this pick and Brendan Haywood’s completely nonguaranteed $10.5 million contract to acquire a rotational wing player, but if they keep the pick an upgrade at backup point guard seems most likely with Grant and Utah’s Delon Wright being possibilities. Grant has size and a workable perimeter shot for the position in addition to proficiently running pick-and-rolls and creating his own shot. His age (will be 24 when the season starts) is a bit of a deterrent as it limits his upside, but Grant can come in and contribute right away.

Other possibilities: Wright, Harrell, Anderson

25. Grizzlies- Anthony Brown SF, Stanford

brown

The Grizzlies need shooting and Brown is amongst the most polished in the draft, combining efficiency with deep range and a high-release. Brown also excels at finishing in transition and he stands at 6-foot-7 with nearly a 7-foot wingspan, making him a long and rangy defender. Brown’s ceiling is limited because of his loose handle and limited scoring options in the half court, but his shooting and length make him a valuable wing player.

Other possibilities: Grant, Anderson

26. Spurs- Delon Wright PG, Utah

Wright is more of a value pick here as opposed to a need. His size could allow coach Popovich to utilize him as a combo guard, something he adored about former-Spur George Hill. Wright isn’t much of a shooter, but he can create offense and is excellent at probing the defense and finding an opening via drive or pass. His wingspan suggests he could also be versatile and disruptive defender.

Other possibilities: Anderson, Harrell, Jarrell Martin

27. Lakers- Joseph Young SG, Oregon

Based on several reports, Young has stopped working out in accordance with a team toward the end of the first round promising to take him. It may not be the Lakers, but they could use his scoring and shot creation off the bench. Young is a jitterbug, who can get all the way to the rim or create space with his quickness to hoist a jumper. Young could eventually become a Lou Williams-type scorer.

Other possibilities: Rozier, Martin

28. Celtics- Chris McCullough PF, Syracuse

mccullough

The Celtics desperately need rim protection help and McCullough potentially provides that with his length and athleticism. He is still raw and coming off a season-ending ACL tear, but he has lottery-type potential due to his physical tools. He also needs to fill out his frame to hold his own underneath at the next level.

Other possibilities: Brown, Young, Martin

29. Nets- Montrezl Harrell PF, Louisville

Harrell will likely make his name in the NBA through effort and energy off the bench. He’s undersized for the four and doesn’t possess an elite wingspan or vertical jump, but he’ll fight for rebounds and has a tidy midrange jumper with the possibility to extend his range even further.

Other possibilities: Brown, Young, Rozier

30. Warriors- Terry Rozier PG, Louisville

The Warriors would prefer a wing shooter that could better space the floor with the second unit. Rozier doesn’t fit that mold at all, but his value is too great to pass up at the end of the first round. He’s explosive off the bounce and is a tough, gritty guard who will compete at both ends.

Other possibilities: Brown, Young

[1] Anytime you hear the word “upside” being tossed around in sports discussions, it’s safe to assume the conversation topic is draft prospects.

[2] Afflalo turned down his player option for next season.

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