2015 NBA Mock Draft: v 4.0

With the NBA season at the halfway point, and NCAA conference play in full swing, now is a good time for my next NBA Mock Draft.

I kept the number of freshman in this mock to 10, equal with the number who were drafted last year. Guys like Trey Lyles, Jakob Poeltl , Donatas Sabonis and Devin Booker will probably be first round picks if they declare.

I ran a lottery simulator, because why not? The first three picks went to the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.


1. New York Knicks (5-36)
C Jahlil Okafor, Fr, Duke
6'11, 270 lbs
Hometown: Chicago, IL
2014-2015 Stats: 18.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg

It has been another lost year in New York, but that was to be expected. The Knicks are simply hoping Derek Fisher can gain some valuable coaching experience while waiting for the albatross contracts of Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire to run it's course. New York cleared JR Smith and Iman Shumpert from their payroll and will look to do the same with Jose Calderon. The Knicks will be a major player during the 2015 free agency process, where guys like LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Marc Gasol could be available.

This draft is deep with big men, but Jahlil Okafor remains the king of the hill. Okafor has shown great touch around the rim and there are few college big men that can contain him on the block. Okafor might be the most polished big man to come along since Tim Duncan. He is not much of a defender, but has an NBA body and an array of strong post moves.  With a low bust potential (albeit, not as high of a ceiling) Okafor is the odds on favorite to go first overall. The triangle has always been at it's best with a big man like Shaquille O'Neal, Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol as the center point of it's offense. Okafor would be a very nice fit on offense for the Knicks, and a player you can build the offense around.


2. Los Angeles Lakers (12-29)
PG Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Southern Tigers, China
6'5, 190 lbs
Hometown: Kinshasa, DR Congo
2014-2015 Stats: 18.9 ppg, 6.6 apg, 6.3 rpg

The Lakers continue to travel the foreign terrain of NBA doormat, and if they finish out of the top five in the draft order, they lose their pick to the Phoenix Suns. So if any team has a reason to lose, it's Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant will probably work his way towards some records as the Lakers tank for a top five pick.

Emmanuel Mudiay is clearly the best guard prospect in this class. He made the controversial decision to skip college and play a year in China, but I doubt that will affect his draft stock all that much. Out of all the prospects in this draft, he is easily the best guard prospect and has the biggest superstar potential, and I can't see him falling out of the top three or four. He has great size and strength for the point guard position, and this is simply a point guard league right now. Muiday has the personality and fan friendly game to be a star for the Lakers.


3.Orlando Magic (15-28)
PF/C Karl Towns, Fr, Kentucky
7'0, 245 lbs
Hometown: Metuchen, NJ
2014-2015 Stats: 8.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg

The Magic started the season off nicely, but it has been more of the usual since then for a team that has really struggled to find a post-Dwight Howard identity. Though Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic are solid building blocks, there is nobody on this roster who screams future All Star. Orlando needs to hit it big in this draft, because ownership will not be content with another losing season.

Karl Towns has been one man in John Calipari's 10 man rotation, and has struggled somewhat, but is clearly the most talented of Kentucky's bigs. He has the ability to be a stretch four on offense who can block plenty of shots, as evidenced by his 2.3 blocks in only 20 minutes per game. So far he has been a rebounding and shot blocking machine, who has not been asked to carry much of the load on offense. He has the ability to be a LaMarcus Aldridge type on offense, and unless he face plants, will be a very high draft pick. Scouts know he plays a certain role on an ultra deep Kentucky front court. The Magic do not have a big man who can stretch the defense, or block shots consistently. Towns could provide both.


4. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-32)
PF Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
7'0, 220 lbs
Hometown: Ventspils, Latvia
2014-2015 Stats: 10.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg

The Timberwolves undoubtedly made the right move in trading Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins, but there is no way they have the talent to compete in the brutal West. Still, seven wins is very disappointing, even for Flip Saunders, who somehow keeps managing to get coaching jobs. If Minnesota chooses to flat out rebuild, they have tradable assets in Thaddeus Young and Nikola Pekovic (the team has already dealt Corey Brewer). The future of this team lies in mega athletes Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine.

Kristaps Porzingis was thought of as a borderline lottery pick as an 18 year old, and has shown solid improvement in his game, so there is no reason he should not be a top ten pick in 2015. He is your classic European stretch big. He has a jump shot out to the three point lane but is a solid rebounder and shot blocker. He is 7 foot with a frame to bulk up to 240 pounds or so. Guys like him have been hit and miss in the past, but scouts seem to agree his upside makes him one of the top five prospects in this class.The Wolves future seems to be set with Rubio, Wiggins, LaVine and Gorgui Dieng, leaving a spot for a stretch four like Porzingis.


5. Philadelphia 76ers (8-32)
SF Stanley Johnson, Fr, Arizona
6'7, 237 lbs
Hometown: Fullerton, CA
2014-2015 Stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 apg

The fifth overall pick was not what Sam Hinkie had in mind when he trotted out a roster that would finish .500 in the D-League, but the Wolves, Lakers and Knicks have given Philadelphia stiff competition for a top three pick. The lottery gods were not kind to the 76ers in this mock. Even though the Sixers have drafted big the past couple of drafts, they will still most likely go with the best player available as they round out their roster with NBA caliber talent.

Stanley Johnson was the prize jewel of another fantastic Arizona recruiting class, and has gotten off to a great start. He is a tough, defensive beast who can already be a solid NBA defender. His offense is a work in progress, but that was to be expected. He also needs to cut down on his turnovers. What scouts like most about him is he is humble, and has the non stop motor and determination of a walk on. He is a big time winner, and has quickly become the best player on Arizona. If he continues to improve on his jump shot (shooting 42% on just over two 3's a game), a top three pick is not out of the question. The 76ers are still in roster building mode, but Johnson instantly becomes Philadelphia's best talent.


6. Boston Celtics (13-25)
PF/C Myles Turner, Fr, Texas
7'0, 240 lbs
Hometown: Bedford, TX
2014-2015 Stats: 11.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.7 bpg

Say what you will about Danny Ainge but he isn't afraid to tear down and rebuild if necessary. Gone are Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo, who were the two remaining veterans on the roster worth anything of value on the trade market. The Celtics will have a plethora of first round picks in the upcoming drafts, but nearly all of them will be in the teens or 20's. Boston really needs some help from the Draft Lottery gods, because even though the Celtics have young talent, there is not a franchise changing prospect on the roster.

Scouts were drooling after witnessing Myles Turner's amazing performance against St. Francis. Yes, it was St. Francis, but in only 25 minutes Turner shot 11-12 from the field, 3-3 from the three point line for 25 points, and added 11 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and a steal. That type of all around performance is great no matter who the opposition. Since that breakout game, he has been up and down as competition has stiffened, but his development still looks to be ahead of schedule. Turner is a stretch four who can rebound and block plenty of shots, as evidenced by his recent 18 point, 6 rebound, 5 block performance against Oklahoma State, where the 7 footer drained 4 of 4 shots from downtown. He is still a major work in progress, but should be a top 12 pick. It is impossible to know which direction Ainge will go during the draft, but Turner would give the Celtics a nice compliment to Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk on the front court.


7. Utah Jazz (14-26)
C Willie Cauley-Stein, Jr, Kentucky
7'0, 245 lbs
Hometown: Spearville, KS
2014-2015 Stats: 9.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.9 bpg

The Jazz are simply too young to compete in the Western Conference, but seem to have their core seven in place. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are off to a great start, and Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum should all be solid pros. So the Jazz simply need to let their young players continue to develop while they add another key piece in the draft.

Willie Cauley-Stein has had his ups and downs during his three years in Kentucky, but the decision to remain for three seasons is starting to pay major dividends. Cauley-Stein has become the most well rounded defender in this class. He is a fantastic rebounder and shot blocker, but is more than just a help defender. With quick feet and tremendous athleticism for his size, he can step out and guard stretch bigs and even some small forwards. He might not ever be a big time scorer, but he can run the floor and has a decent post game. Defense is his calling card, however, and the reason he should be a top ten pick. Adding Cauley-Stein to a front court rotation featuring strong defenders Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors would be an embarrassment of riches for Utah.


8. Indiana Pacers (15-27)
PG/SG D'Angelo Russell, Fr, Ohio State
6'5, 190 lbs
Hometown: Louisville, KY
2014-2015 Stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.8 apg

This is a lost season in Indiana, but on the bright side, they should get a lottery pick to pair with Paul George when he returns in 2015. The Pacers have little youth to develop, so this season will be spent deciding if they want to continue on with Roy Hibbert and George Hill, among others.

Talented freshman D'Angelo Russell has been up and down this season, but when he has been up, he has been fantastic. Russell dominated in a win against Sacred Heart, dropping 32 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists against only two turnovers in 25 minutes. Then he struggled badly going 4-17 in a loss against North Carolina. Scouts knew about Russell's scoring ability, but ihis point guard skills have teams excited. Scouts love combo guards who can handle the ball. If Russell can continue to convince scouts he can be a point guard during the brutal Big 10 schedule, a top five pick is not out of the question. The Pacers would love to find a more dynamic upgrade than the pedestrian George Hill at point guard.


9. Charlotte Hornets (16-25)
SF Kelly Oubre, Fr, Kansas
6'7, 200 lbs
Hometown: Henderson, NV
2014-2015 Stats: 8.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 spg

The Charlotte Hornets continue to struggle badly on offense, plodding their way to only 96 points per game. Other than Al Jefferson, there is no efficient scorer on this roster. Charlotte has drafted big the past few drafts, but if given the opportunity, should select a guy who can create his own offense.

Ignore the season stats for Kelly Oubre. All you need to know is once Bill Self realized Oubre was the best and most talented player on his roster, he averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds, on shooting 60% from the field and 53% from 3 during his first three real games. If he can continue to produce like that once Big 12 play starts, scouts will forget all about his slow start. He is simply the best pure scoring wing in this draft, and guys with his talent and measurables do not last long on draft day. Even if he is little more than a Nick Young at the NBA level, his ability to create his own offense is exactly what the Hornets need.


10. Detroit Pistons (16-25)
SF/PF Kevon Looney, Fr, UCLA
6'9, 220 lbs
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
2014-2015 Stats: 13.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg

The criminally overrated Joe Dumars final parting gift was to leave Stan Van Gundy with a roster full of overpaid, no defense playing, terrible shooting percentage ball hogs. Detroit decided to simply cut ties with Josh Smith, and perhaps coincidentally have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since then. The Pistons still need to build this team around Andre Drummond and his ability to occupy defenders on the block.

Kevon Looney has been the rare UCLA freshman who has exceeded expectations. He got off to a solid start, but really hit a wall for a handful of games, failing to crack double digit scoring in five straight Bruins losses. Scouts are not that deterred, however, and have seen Ben Howland misuse talented freshman before. Looney should become a solid hybrid forward in the pros, and his versatility, hustle and defensive ability would be a welcome addition to a reworked Pistons roster..


11. Chicago Bulls (27-15)
(from Sacramento Kings)
SG Caris LeVert, Jr, Michigan
6'6, 185 lbs
Hometown: Pickerington, OH
2014-2015 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg

The Bulls have one of the best starting lineups in the league, and continue to successfully draft and develop players. One of their best success stories, Jimmy Butler, is set to hit the lottery in free agency and Chicago might not be able to retain him. As always, the Bulls will use the draft to address need areas and slowly bring them along.

Shooting guard is the one position where guys seem to rise higher than expected. Guys like Terrence Ross, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Victor Oladipo and Nik Stauskas went from late first round to top ten players. Caris LeVert has struggled somewhat for a shallow, overmatched Michigan squad but shooting is shooting, and this draft does not have much of that to offer. LeVert is hitting 40% of his threes, and has the ability to be a very solid wing defender. The way Tom Thibedeau develops young players, he could be a solid replacement for Butler down the lne.


12. Denver Nuggets (18-22)
SG/SF Mario Hezonja, Croatia
6'7, 200 lbs
Hometown: Dubrovnik, Croatia
2014-2015 Stats: 8.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.3 apg

It has been a quick and hard fall for the Nuggets. Two years ago they won 57 games, but now they have finally realized that without George Karl the injury plagued roster assembled is not good enough to make the playoffs. Gone are Timofey Mozgov and Nate Robinson, with Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and others perhaps joining them soon. Disabled list veterans Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee only have one more year remaining on their contracts, meaning this should be a very different team built around Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson in two years. Until then, Denver is hoping to load up on draft picks cap space, so drafting the best player available makes sense.

Mario Hezonja has had his fair share of criticisms, but he remains one of the most talented prospects in Europe and one of only a few worth drafting in the first round. Hezonja has the ability to be a Manu Ginobili type on offense, as a strong, ball handling scoring threat. Chances are decent that he never pans out, but as one of the most talented scoring amateurs in the world, will be in high demand. It helps that he is starting to produce for his Euro team and has stated that he will come over to the NBA right away once his contract with FC Barcelona runs out after this season. There will be plenty of opportunity for Hezonja to run and gun with the new look Nuggets next year.


13. Houston Rockets (28-13)
(from New Orleans Pelicans)
SG RJ Hunter, Jr, Georgia State
6'6, 190 lbs
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
2014-2015 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg

The Rockets continue to win by almost exclusively relying on James Harden and Dwight Howard. This team does have plenty of solid role players, and might not have room on the roster for a rookie, so they will likely go with the best player available here.

Have I mentioned before that scouts love shooting? There is perhaps no better shooter in this draft than RJ Hunter. Like most small school stars, he does everything for his Georgia Southern team. But like guys like CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have shown, if you are talented enough, you can shake that small school stigma and become a lottery pick. Hunter has the look of a solid shooting guard at the NBA level. He has good size for the position, racks up steals (a good indicator of NBA success) and is a dangerous three point threat. He has been a chucker thus far, including 1-9 and 0-10 3 point shooting performances, but that is not rare for mid major stars. He would fit in well with Houston's three's and dunks philosophy.


14. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-20)
PF Christian Wood, So, UNLV
6'11, 220 lbs
Hometown: Palmdale, CA
2014-2015 Stats: 14.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.9 bpg

The Thunder have slowly climbed out of the hole that injuries to their two superstars put them in, but time might be running out on a good playoff seed. I am always surprised on who the Thunder draft, so you can throw all the logic out the window with this team. Best player available would be the route to take here.

Christian Wood was a highly ranked recruit who suffered through learning pains as a freshman, but has exploded during his second season in Vegas. The lanky 7 footer has shown the ability to block shots, run the floor, rebound and even knock down some long range shots. He is still thin and will probably be pushed around initially, but the potential is there for Wood to be something special. The Thunder like to draft and bring players along slowly, and Wood could be a Serge Ibaka lite in a couple of seasons.


15. Atlanta Hawks (33-8)
(from Brooklyn Nets)
SF Justise Winslow, Fr, Duke
6'6, 221 lbs
Hometown: Houston, TX
2014-2015 Stats: 11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg

The Hawks were a solid surprise last year, and this year, they have joined the elite. This team is built around four rediculiously efficient players (Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague) and the coaching philosophy that has brought the Spurs so much success. Thanks to the desperate Nets, Atlanta will get a pick in the teens for the right to unload Joe Johnson's terrible contract on Brooklyn.

Justise Winslow has not had a disappointing freshman season, but I do not think he has done enough to differentiate himself from the likes of Stanley Johnson and Kelly Oubre. Winslow has really struggled with his offense, especially from inside the three point line. Scouts want scoring from their wings. What he has going for him is his solid defensive ability. Unlike a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist his shot is not broken, and it should improve with time. Winslow has the ability to be a very good all around small forward, but needs another season at Duke to harness his abilities. I feel he could be a one and done guy, and the Hawks could use youth to develop, especially at the wing positions.


16. Philadelphia 76ers (8-32)
(from Miami Heat)
SG Jerian Grant, Sr, Notre Dame
6'5, 205 lbs
Hometown: Bowie, MD
2014-2015 Stats: 16.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 6.4 apg

With thier second first round pick, the 76ers would idealy like to find someone who can stretch the floor on offense, but this is not a great draft for wings. Sam Hinkie will continue to draft best player available with an eye on analytics.

Jerian Grant has to be on the short list for national player of the year. The four year starter was ruled academically ineligible from the team last year, but has come back and carried the Irish to a 16-2 start. He has played both guard positions, and has shown some very solid point guard skills, with over a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio. I believe he is the third best point guard prospect in this class after Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell, and has a real chance to crack the late lottery if he can show scouts he can successfully run the point. He would join his brother Jarami in Philadelphia and give the Sixers some much needed scoring punch.


17. Chicago Bulls (27-15)
(from Cleveland Cavaliers)
PG Tyus Jones, Fr, Duke
6'1, 190 lbs
Hometown: Apple Valley, MN
2014-2015 Stats: 9.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.2 rpg

The Bulls have the right to swap first round picks with the Cavaliers, and judging by how things are going, will have no problem making that decision.

Tyus Jones has cooled off following a hot start, however he sports a very solid 3:1 assist to turnover ratio can get after the opposing point guard on defense. Two things will most likely keep him from being a lottery pick, however. One, scouts like point guards who can shoot, and Jones is not a major threat from deep, though he knocks down about one 3 point shot per game. Two, he is pretty undersized, and does not have the extreme quickness to make up for his slight frame. Still, he should go in the late teens or early 20's and carve out a role as a top backup or mid teir starter. The Bulls have signed castoffs like Kirk Hinrich, Mike James and Aaron Brooks in recent seasons as Derrick Rose insurance, and with two first round picks, could try to develop a long term backup.


18. Milwaukee Bucks (21-19)
PF/C Frank Kaminsky, Sr, Wisconsin
7'0, 234 lbs
Hometown: Lisle, IL
2014-2015 Stats: 17.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.2 bpg

The Bucks have been one of the biggest surprises of the early season, even with injuries to Jabari Parker and Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders off the court issues. Brandon Knight is Milwaukee's only consistent scorer. The Bucks would love to find someone who can provide front court offense.

Frank Kaminsky has had quite the journey during his four years at Wisconsin. He was simply bench fodder as a freshman and sophomore, but contributed greatly as a junior. He made a name for himself during the 2014 NCAA Tournament and has been one of the best players in the country as a senior. Big men tend to develop slower, and it's always tough to project a senior center's NBA ability, because they are often 21 and 22 year old men going up against kids, but Kaminsky's strengths translate well to the NBA game. He is athletic, and can really knock down the three point shot. He might not be as strong of a rebounder in the NBA, but teams are always looking for stretch fours who can block the occasional shot. He should find a role in an NBA rotation, and would be a Bucks fan favorite along with fellow Illini native Parker.


19. Phoenix Suns (24-18)
PF Bobby Portis, So, Arkansas
6'11, 242 lbs
Hometown: Little Rock, AR
2014-2015 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg

The Suns hope the Lakers manage to squeak out enough wins to fall out of the top five of this draft, but if not, they still have a first round pick to improve the roster. This is a deep team that will face some free agency questions after the year, so this could be a different looking team next year.

Arkansas used to be a hotbed for NBA talent, and Bobby Portis is the best prospect to come out of that school in years. Portis has been one of the most consistent front scorers in the nation. He has decent range on his jump shot and the length to rise up over defenders and even knock down the occasional 3 point shot. His signature performance so far is a 32 point, 11 rebound, 4 steal performance against fellow big man prospect Damian Jones and Vanderbilt. His offensive game fits what the Suns like to run, though he would have to battle for minutes with similar big men like the Morris twins.


20. San Antonio Spurs (25-16)
PF Cliff Alexander, Fr, Kansas
6'8, 240 lbs
Hometown: Chicago, IL
2014-2015 Stats: 8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg

I want to say we are seeing the demise of the San Antonio Spurs, who "only" have a .600 winning percentage, but Gregg Popovich and his guys always bounce back when you count them out. Still, the core of this roster is nearing the end, so it is about time the Spurs draft guys who can become the new generation of this team.

Cliff Alexander initially struggled with expectations, but has settled in quite nicely as a backup big for the Jayhawks. He only plays about 19 minutes per night, but has proven to be an efficient scorer who can also knock down free throws. He is a solid shot blocker and rebounder as well, and should grow into quite a useful player once he learns the nuances of the game. Returning to Kansas for his sophomore year could ensure a top ten pick, but he should still land in the first round if he were to declare. He could fill the old DeJuan Blair role for the Spurs before taking over for Tim Duncan when (if) he retires.


21. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-20)
(from Chicago Bulls)
PF Montrezl Harrell, Jr, Louisville
6'8, 240 lbs
Hometown: Tarboro, NC
2014-2015 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.1 bpg

I hated the Kevin Love trade when it happened and I hate it even more now. I am not going to pile on in regards to Cleveland's struggles, but I will say the Cavaliers are going to deeply regret dealing Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is really starting to blossom and it would have been very fun to see him play with LeBron James. Moving on, the Cavaliers are shipping draft picks for immediate help. It takes a while for a roster to gel, and this may not be Cleveland's year.

Montrezl Harrell has to be considered one of the favorites for NCAA Player of the Year, and had perhaps the best early season performance in the nation, dropping 30 points with three 3 point shots in an opening game win over Minnesota. Unfortunately, Harrell's newfound three point shot was not for real, as he is only hitting about a quarter of his shots from that distance. Scouts really wanted to see him develop that shot, because his size could hinder his low post game. Harrell has shown some Kenneth Faried like qualities as a hustle player and energy guy, and would make a great backup power forward thanks to his rebounding and relentless motor. The Cavaliers could lose Tristan Thompson and have a need for bench bigs.


22. Boston Celtics (13-25)
(from Los Angeles Clippers)
PG Demetrius Jackson, So, Notre Dame
6'1, 195 lbs
Hometown: Mishawaka, IN
2014-2015 Stats: 13.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg

The Celtics have a plethora of first round picks the next three seasons. Danny Ainge is one of the best in the business, and his philosophy is the more players you draft in the first round, the higher chance you have of landing players who turn into useful contributors. In the 20's, expect Boston to go with the best player available.

Demetrius Jackson is another former McDonalds All American who has really put things together as a sophomore. Jackson is shooting well over 50% (including 43% from deep) and has a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio. He has successfully coexisted with ball dominant Jerian Grant, and has shown an all around game that has scouts excited. NBA teams are always on the lookout for point guards, and if Jackson can continue his strong ways during conference play, could be gone well before this. He would make a very good backup for Marcus Smart and could even push him for the starting role.


23. Toronto Raptors (26-13)
SG/SF Justin Anderson, Jr, Virginia
6'6, 225 lbs
Hometown: Montross, VA
2014-2015 Stats: 14.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg

The Raptors continue to march towards the best finish in franchise history, but are only 2-5 in January. Toronto needs DeMar DeRozan to return to the court. Come draft time, you never know what direction Masai Ujiri will go. The Bruno Coboclo pick still baffles me.

The Virginia Cavaliers remain one of the country's best teams, even without a standout NBA prospect. Justin Anderson is probably their best bet this year. Always long on talent, he has filled the role vacated by Joe Harris as Virginia's go to scorer. He has a big, strong frame and is shooting an extremely high percentage from the field, and particularly from three point land (a scorching 56% on four attempts a night). On top of that, he is a solid wing defender. The NBA is always hungry for wing talent, and if Anderson keeps it up during tough ACC play, he could find a home in the mid to late first round. Terrence Ross hasn't quite developed as quickly as the Raptors would like, and Anderson would provide some much needed wing competition in Toronto.


24. Washington Wizards (28-13)
PG Delon Wright, Sr, Utah
6'5, 190 lbs
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
2014-2015 Stats: 15.0 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.5 rpg

The Wizards are one of the deepest, most veteran laden teams in the league, so any draft pick would most likely ride the pine. I believe the Wizards would like to develop a long term backup for John Wall, and could go that direction.

Delon Wright has little to prove in college or to NBA scouts. Scouts know who he is by now. He is a big, tall point guard who knows how to find the open man. He is a "true" point guard who can knock down threes and rebound as well. He lacks the athleticism to be a sure thing starter, but should, at the worst, be a long term backup. Andre Miller cannot play forever, and Wright would provide a nice long term option at backup point guard for the Wizards.


25. Los Angeles Lakers (12-29)
(from Houston Rockets)
C Robert Upshaw, So, Washington
7'0, 250 lbs
Hometown: Fresno, CA
2014-2015 Stats: 11.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.5 bpg

The Lakers will have a first round pick, even if they have to deal their lottery selection to the Suns. Unfortunately, it is expected to be in the 20's, so they will be lucky to get a contributor this late. Los Angeles cannot attract the marquee free agents they used to, so developing some young talent will be key.

Few players have a better PER this year than Robert Upshaw. The troubled but talented sophomore leads the nation with 4.4 blocks per game. In fact, he blocks one out of every six shots opponents take while he is on the floor (thanks to ESPN for that stat). He is raw offensively, but big men have been drafted in the first round for much, much less. All Los Angeles would ask him to do is come in, block some shots and use his six fouls.


26. Dallas Mavericks (28-13)
C Dakari Johnson, So, Kentucky
7'0, 255 lbs
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
2014-2015 Stats: 8.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg

The Mavericks have always been a veteran laden team, and the last drafted player to play a long term role for Dallas has probably been Dirk Nowitzki. The front office could easily draft a foreign guy or sell this pick, but it would make some sense to draft some front court depth. 

Dakari Johnson has had a tremendous impact in his 20 minutes per game for Kentucky. He has been a rebounding machine, and is scoring at a higher rate then scouts thought possible. Johnson lacks the athleticism to be a lottery pick, but could carve out a role as a Kendrick Perkins type starter in the NBA. All the Mavericks will ask him to do is be a bully in the paint, and he should excel in that role.


27. Memphis Grizzlies (29-11)
SF Sam Dekker, Jr, Wisconsin
6'8, 220 lbs
Hometown: Sheboygan, WI
2014-2015 Stats: 12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.2 apg

The Grizzlies are all in this year as team MVP Marc Gasol heads to free agency. The team could easily deal it's first round pick for additional reinforcements, but if they stand pat, would likely go the analytic route once again.

Sam Dekker is a favorite of the analytics crew. He is a good shooter and rebounder who scores at an efficient rate. However, he has a very submissive personality and might be better as a rotation player than a second or third option. He has been lapped by Frank Kaminsky as Widsoncin's go to guy and still hasn't quite fulfilled his offensive potential, but should still be a late first round pick when he does declare. His solid shooting would be a good fit with the Memphis bigs and penetrating guards.


28. Portland Trail Blazers (30-11)
SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, So, Arizona
6'7, 205 lbs
Hometown: Chester, PA
2014-2015 Stats: 10.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.1 bpg

With LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews all unrestricted free agents after the season, this could be Portland's best chance to win it all. Their first round pick would likely be very late, but they could still find someone to contribute off a shallow bench.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the kind of jack of all trades player who could appeal to a strong offensive team like Toronto. Hollis-Jefferson is not much of a shooter, but is a strong defender who can score in transition. He lacks the shooting ability to be a lottery pick, but should become a solid role player at the next level. Nicolas Batum has had a disappointing year to say the least, and Hollis-Jefferson could eventually push him for minutes.


29. Brooklyn Nets (17-24)
(from Atlanta Hawks)
PG/SG Ron Baker, Jr, Wichita State
6'3, 222 lbs
Hometown: Scott City, KS
2014-2015 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.3 apg

The Nets plan to try to buy a title predictably backfired. This franchise now has no youth, few draft picks and an owner that will probably strip the team and sell. Brooklyn will be in NBA purgatory until they can start using their first round picks every year again.

Scouts have had Ron Baker on their watch list since Wichita State's NCAA Tournament run when Baker was a freshman. With Fred VanFleet in town, Baker has not really been able to develop his point guard skills, which has limited his draft stock. Baker is a bit of a Jimmer Fredette in that regard, but has a chance to make it as a scoring combo guard off the bench. The Nets are simply going to hope to land some guys who can be a part of the rotation as veterans are traded and the team's cap number deflates in preparation for a sell.


30. Golden State Warriors (32-6)
C Guillermo Hernangomez, Spain
6'11, 255 lbs
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
2014-2015 Stats: 9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.6 apg

The Warriors are on pace to finish the season with the second or third best record in NBA history. Needless to say, they will probably look to sell this pick or draft someone who will not count against the cap next year, as the Warriors will be deep in luxury tax land.

Guillermo Hernangomez looks like one of the favorites to be that late first round "draft and stash" guy. He is not a tremendous athlete but is a banger down low who can rebound, block shots and do the dirty work that teams need. With some development, he could make a fine backup NBA center.


Round 2

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: