My mock draft last year got all messed up in the beginning as it seems most of my NBA mock drafts do. So I figured I would go ahead and show how stupid I am for at least one more year and try to post a 2015 NBA mock draft. Last year no team really screwed up my mock like the Cavs did in 2013 (thanks again, guys), I just made bad predictions. It's par for the course I guess. This year the 76ers may have another chance at drafting a center and there are some quality foreign-born players in the draft, which we all know makes Chad Ford pee in his pants with excitement. I'm guessing I will get five picks right this year, which could end up being a record of some sort. I'm aiming high, just so the fall will be harder. Undoubtedly my picks will be ruined after the Lakers' pick. Heck, the Lakers may even screw up the rest of my mock.
It's tough, because I want my picks to be correct, but I also understand if I follow the mock drafts out there then my picks will end up being wrong. Mock drafts are very rarely extremely accurate. So I am going to miss on some picks because I didn't follow the mocks, while I may hit on other picks based on how my mock is falling. Guessing is fun until you want your guesses to be correct.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Karl-Anthony Towns, PF
Here is my deal with this pick. Try to hold on to the roller coaster of my opinion. This is the right pick. Minnesota is the perfect place for Jahlil Okafor, so this is a big loss for him. Okafor needs to be paired initially with a rim protector and I have a huge man-crush on Gorgui Dieng. I think he would be the perfect guy to pair with Okafor. Towns is probably the right pick here, but if I were the Timberwolves I would be tempted to go with a player who has lower potential, but has a great offensive game to match up with Andrew Wiggins developing skill set. That's Okafor. Towns is an upside pick, a pick for good defense and maybe the right one. I would choose Okafor. I'm not mad at them for taking Towns because it makes sense as well. It's not the wrong pick, just not the pick I would make.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- Jahlil Okafor, C
It's tempting to go with D'Angelo Russell here, but if you look at his numbers in college, he tended to struggle going up against good teams. Of course, there wasn't many other great players on the Ohio State squad to help Russell, so he can be forgiven for that. The two big concerns about Okafor are overblown in my opinion. Conditioning and defense. He's a 19 year kid, so his conditioning issues are overblown. Many true centers would have conditioning issues at the age of 19. It's how it goes, but the evolution of the NBA away from a back-to-the-basket center has sort of covered up for this. "True" back-to-the-basket centers aren't in peak physical shape at 19 years of age. He did play 30 minutes per game at Duke, so it's not like he hasn't played bigger minutes. Defense is an issue, but defense can be taught. Again, Okafor is 19 years old and hasn't had to play defense because he's so good on offense. I don't think he will be a great defensive player, but he will end up being good enough. Pairing him with a shot blocker initially is a good move. That means, don't pair with Julius Randle. Oh well. Okafor has some professional post moves and he is an excellent passer. The Duke offense ran through him, but it didn't have to go THROUGH him if that makes sense. He was effective in college when not taking shots and still getting touches every time down the floor. I apologize for the length, but I have strong feelings about Okafor. He may not be Hakeem Olajuwon, but he's a center who will be able to score the basketball in the post. Those are hard to find. I know he seems to lack athleticism and upside, but he can play basketball.
3. Philadelphia 76ers- D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG
Here is where things get shaky. I have no idea who the 76ers may pick. Would they pick Okafor if he fell to them? No, because then the Celtics would trade up for Okafor (right?????????). I'm going with consensus here because the 76ers need guards. I know Sam Hinkie is "accumulating assets" but Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, and JaKarr Sampson are currently projected to be among the players at the guard spot for the 76ers. They need guards and though I do have some reserves about Russell that I can't pinpoint exactly, he's the sort of Steph Curry-type (not in terms of shooting ability) which teams are going to covet. The Sixers could take Emmanuel Mudiay and shock the world, but from the trade of Michael Carter-Williams I think it's clear they had their fill of taller point guards.
4. New York Knicks- Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C
Now it gets even fuzzier. If the Knicks even keep this pick, who will they select? It seems the Knicks value versatility and Kristaps Porzingis appears to be versatile from every scouting report I have read about him. He can protect the rim and allow Carmelo to play the power forward position. Of course, everything I know about him is based on the hype train that has been running through the Interwebs and I have never actually seen him play. I hope he fails miserably because his name is hard to spell. Also, Knicks fans are not going to like the idea of the team taking a foreign-born player as Frederic Weis is still fresh in their minds. I'm sure Chad Ford loves Kristaps Porzingis. Indeed, he does. Ford thinks every team should draft Porzingis. I'm sure Ford will be outraged if Porzingis goes anywhere past #7. Based on Ford liking Porzingis I'll go ahead and say this is a bad pick for the Knicks.
5. Orlando Magic- Justice Winslow, SF
The Magic just traded Luke Ridnour yesterday. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THIS PICK? I may have made this pick simply because I want to see Oladipo, Payton, and Winslow play together. I am throwing Willie Cauley-Stein in here as a wild card selection. The Magic need a rim protector and they may as well just admit that drafting Aaron Gordon probably will end up being a huge mistake. Just give up on him prematurely, that's the ticket. I think it would be interesting to see Cauley-Stein in this spot, but he has less offensive game than Aaron Gordon did coming out of college, so I can't see the Magic choosing an athletic dude without any semblance of offensive game twice in the lottery. Winslow will be one of the three best players in this draft. I believe that. I think he has a brighter future than Okafor has. He can guard multiple positions, is a good shooter and a great competitor (as long as the refs continue to allow him to run over the opposition without calling a charge).
6. Sacramento Kings- Emmanuel Mudiay, PG
George Karl likes his point guards and Emmanuel Mudiay plays the position of point guard, so that seems like an ideal fit. I think Karl is going to want to take a point guard considered a talent like Mudiay is considered to be, simply so he has someone running the offense Karl wants to run effectively. I do not like Emmanuel Mudiay all that much. He's a slasher who is a bad foul shooter, he's not a great shooter, and he has people around him who give him mediocre advice (I get going to China to play for money reasons, but I think attending SMU would have been the best choice). I'm not a fan, but Mudiay has the "upside" NBA teams like, so he goes #6 in the draft.
7. Denver Nuggets- Mario Hezonja, SF
This is another foreign-born player that I don't know very much about. I know he is confident in his abilities and the Nuggets need a player at his position. He supposedly has the personality required to in tough situations, and unlike some foreign-born players, has had success overseas prior to coming to the United States. I wish I knew more about him. I know he seems to be confident and that is something the Nuggets can build on, right?
8. Detroit Pistons- Sam Dekker, SF
Obviously these are all guesses, but I'm really guessing here that the Pistons would favor Dekker's athletic ability and shooting over the "upside" of Stanley Johnson and any other player who conceivably could be considered to be a smarter pick. I'm a little torn on Dekker. I see the potential and he had a great NCAA Tournament. I think this would be a little early to take him though. Stan Van Gundy will value Dekker's height and ability to play the stretch-four spot with Drummond at center. Maybe he's the American version of Hedo Turkoglu. At worse, Dekker can play small forward and Ilaysova can play the four spot, which means the Pistons still have height and outside shooting to surround Drummond with.
9. Charlotte HornCats- Stanley Johnson, SF
I hear the HornCats need shooting. This is probably why every mock draft but a few have Devin Booker mocked in this spot. I'm going in a different direction though. I think the HornCats are going to go with Stanley Johnson, even with the trade of Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh. I do not like Stanley Johnson, as I feel he is more potential than anything else. He could turn into something great and with Michael Jordan calling out his team's talent level recently it makes sense to me the team doesn't go with a guy who is just a great shooter like Devin Booker is.
10. Miami Heat- Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Cauley-Stein is an absolute freak of an athlete. I love watching play, but also have no clue what to do with him. He's a center, but he can guard multiple positions, but he also has very, very little offensive game. That offensive game could come in time though and this is a BPA pick since it doesn't appear the Heat need another center with Hassan Whiteside breaking out. That being said, Cauley-Stein is also insurance against Whiteside wanting to be overpaid next summer (and who wouldn't want to be overpaid?) and Whiteside ending up being a one year wonder.
11. Indiana Pacers- Cameron Payne, PG
I don't think the Pacers will be picking in this spot, because I believe they will do what they can to move up. This is another pick I'm torn on. If the mock draft goes the way I have it going, I don't know if the Pacers try to get Myles Turner in this spot. I probably don't like Devin Booker more than other teams do, so I should mock him here. Larry Bird has seen how Lillard and Payton went from small schools to success in the NBA and the biggest knock against Payne is that he comes from a school that isn't huge. I don't think this will matter to Bird. It doesn't matter to me either. Payne poured in 23-7-4 against Xavier and 23-4-6 and 20-6-10 against Belmont. Those were pretty good teams last year. He can be a starter in the NBA, despite "only" playing for Murray State.
12. Utah Jazz- Frank Kaminsky, PF/C
It's so hard not to mock Frank Kaminsky in this spot. I in no way think Kaminsky is the best talent available, but I do believe he fits what the Jazz want to do. I probably am incorrect in having Kaminsky fall this far. Adding him to a lineup featuring Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert would be a problem for other teams, especially if Gordon Hayward is playing the small forward spot in this lineup. The Jazz need a big man off the bench to shoot and provide a different look. I don't think Trey Lyles is that guy and it's too early to reach for a "true" point guard. Kaminksy will be a productive shooter in the NBA, but I'm not sure he'll be more than that.
13. Phoenix Suns- Myles Turner, C
It's hard to fairly evaluate Myles Turner because he played for Rick Barnes. Rick Barnes is not a good head coach, so is it Barnes' fault that Turner didn't quite turn into the freshmen he was supposed to be? Turner runs like he's 50 years old, but he can shoot the three-point shot* and block shots. I warned the Suns against drafting Alex Len a few years ago, so it's clear they don't listen to me. Myles Turner can block shots though, so hopefully he'll stop hanging around the perimeter in the NBA and get on the low block where I think he has the best chance of succeeding. To me, Turner is a stretch four that isn't good at running the floor, an okay shooter and he's sort of soft (in my opinion). It's a wasted pick, but I can see why the Suns would make it.
*He CAN, but he only shot 27% and I don't see any reason that he should be hanging around the three-point line as he is already 240 pounds and his body should fill out more as he ages.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder- Devin Booker, SG
Another tough choice here. The Thunder were giving regular minutes to Anthony Morrow last year and Morrow has one skill, shooting the three-point shot. Why not take the best three-point shooter in the draft and see if he can turn into something more than that along the way? The reason I say it is a tough choice is there are guys with higher ceilings available who could very well turn out to be great NBA players in time (Lyles, Oubre), inside guys who can provide rebounding and toughness (Harrell, Portis), as well as Justin Anderson who is a great all-around player. The Thunder needed bench help for most of the year last year and Devin Booker at worst will be an excellent shooter, maybe another Anthony Morrow.
15. Atlanta Hawks- Bobby Portis, PF
I'm assuming the Hawks are the Spurs of the East Coast. They like guys who play defense, know their role and can do several things well (of course, who doesn't like that?). There is no way the Hawks keep Carroll and Millsap, so they are going to need some more frontcourt depth. The Cavs seemed to kill them on the boards in the playoffs, while Portis isn't ever going to be accused of not providing enough energy and effort. It seems Portis fits what the Hawks are looking for in a player, though again, there are guys with higher upsides available. If the Hawks are wanting to go in that direction then I think Kelly Oubre or even R.J. Hunter could be the pick.
16. Boston Celtics- Kevin Looney, PF
The good news is the Celtics have a lot of options because they have quite a few holes in the lineup. Their whole starting lineup seems to consist of guys you would want on your team, but possibly not starting for a playoff team. I don't think the Celtics will be making this pick in this spot, but if they do, then there is a glaring need at small forward and power forward. I'm neutral on Looney. He's a good rebounder and is a good scorer, but he's also skinny. Weight can be put on and I think if the Celtics make this pick then they could go with a guy who I think has been slightly underappreciated in this draft.
17. Milwaukee Bucks- Montrezl Harrell, PF
For some reason, this selection makes a lot of sense to me. The Bucks need frontcourt help and Harrell has a chance to be an excellent rebounder in the pros. The Bucks have some guys up front, but I'm not sure they have a frontcourt player with the toughness that Harrell possesses. He's probably not going to be a star, but he's a violent dunker and a nice counter to what the Bucks currently have on the roster.
18. Houston Rockets- Rashad Vaughn, SG
Eh, Rashad Vaughn. I mean, I guess. He seems to be like a volume scorer who doesn't mind chucking up three points. Granted, he hit many of them in college, but I wonder if he's worth a first round pick or not. I've already accepted that Daryl Morey is smarter than I ever will be, so I should probably just assume I'm wrong. Players can improve defensively and Vaughn would definitely fit on this Rockets team in that he is a great shooter, but I just don't see him becoming worth a Top-20 draft pick.
19. Washington Wizards- Jerian Grant, PG
The Wizards need some more guard help and Grant can play both guard positions. As much as I love Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple (I'm kidding, I HATE Garrett Temple), the Wizards could use another guard that is capable of scoring. Grant is a little older than the other NBA prospects, but I think he can at least be a reliable bench player. Now that I have said that, he'll be released in early October by whatever team drafts him in the second round.
20. Toronto Raptors- Trey Lyles, PF
There is no logical reason for Trey Lyles to fall this far. If he is available here, then the Raptors should jump on him. Lyles played out of position nearly all year for Kentucky. This affected the perception of him in this draft. He is not a small forward, he is a power forward, and the Raptors have skated by on James Johnson, Amir Williams and Patrick Patterson at the position over the last few years. If Lyles is gone, which I reasonably expect he will when the board shakes out, then I envision them taking a defensive-oriented small forward like Hollis-Jefferson or Justin Anderson. Speaking of Justin Anderson...
21. Dallas Mavericks- Justin Anderson, SG/SF
I'm not sure shooting guard or small forward is a popular position for the Mavericks to choose in the first round, but with Justin Anderson the Mavs may be having some minor flashbacks to how Josh Howard worked out for them late in the first round a few years ago...minus the drug issues of course. Virginia really struggled without Anderson last year when he was injured and it wasn't hard to see why. He's a much improved shooter and can really play defense. If all goes wrong for him on offense, then his defense will keep him on NBA rosters. He can play small forward and allow Chandler Parsons to play the power forward spot in smaller lineups.
22. Chicago Bulls- R.J. Hunter, SG
I didn't really love the Doug McDermott pick (or trade as the case may be) last year, so I'll just mock another good shooter I don't really like to the Bulls again. The Bulls could certainly use both of them, and I like McDermott more than Hunter. R.J. Hunter is a shooter who isn't really even that good at shooting. He averages 7 three-point attempts per game and makes 35.4% of them, including only making 30.5% of his three-point attempts this past year. That's...not great. He shoots almost 50% from two-point range, but half of his shots are from three-point range. Maybe it was the team around him at Georgia State which causes defenses to focus on him and him force shots, though I doubt it on a mid-major team that had Kevin Ware and Ryan Harrow. I don't expect Hunter to be in the NBA in 3-4 years.
23. Portland Trailblazers- Christian Wood, PF
If the Blazers lose LaMarcus Aldridge, then drafting a skinny kid from UNLV probably won't make them feel very good, but even if they do re-sign Aldridge then they will need more depth at the power forward position. I may be having Wood get drafted a bit early here, but he made dramatic improvement from his freshman to sophomore year at UNLV. I think Wood could be a contributor to the Blazers if they are patient enough with him. He's a modern big man, meaning he can shoot and block shots, but isn't at all a back-to-the-basket type of player. Unfortunately, he weighs like 46 pounds, so he needs to hit the weight room and then hope for some patience on the Blazers' part.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF
There's no telling who LeBron will pick here. I kid, I kid. In seriousness, Hollis-Jefferson is going to have a Tony Allen-like existence in the NBA. He's an excellent defender, and while his offensive game needs some help, he would fit in well with the Cavs due to his great defense and versatility. He's not going to be a star, but I think being like Tony Allen is his ceiling. I think I could handle that if I were the Cavs.
25. Memphis Grizzlies- Kelly Oubre, SG/SF
Oubre needed to stay in school one more year. I think if he had done that then he would have been a lottery pick for sure. As it is, he's probably going to be taken outside of the lottery. Bill Self should have chained Oubre in the basement and forced him to stay one more year. He couldn't crack the lineup for a portion of the season and never totally lived up to expectations. He has the potential to be that type of wing player the Grizzlies are in need of having though. When he cracked the starting lineup for the Jayhawks, he scored and showed what he is capable of. Still, one more year would have made him more ready for the NBA and increased his stock. As it is, I don't see him being drafted in the Top 15 and I don't think he's ready for the NBA at this point.
26. San Antonio Spurs- Tyus Jones, PG
It seems easy to just say the Spurs will pick an international player here. I won't cheat and pick an international player though. Terry Rozier will not be the pick here. I can just feel it because Rozier is too much of a wild card for Gregg Popovich. This is probably a fantasy pick for me, because I think Jones would fit in well with the Spurs. Jones will never have the ideal NBA body and athleticism, but he's a smart player who has shown he isn't afraid of big moments. I think he will make a really good backup point guard for a contending team. I question if he will be able to get in the lane as a pro like he did in college and I think being a poor man's Tony Parker (albeit being a better shooter than Parker was at 19 years of age) is probably Jones' ceiling.
27. Los Angeles Lakers- Delon Wright, PG/SG
Delon Wright is the typical guy coming out of college who is going to fall not due to his skill set, but because he is older than most prospects and doesn't have the ceiling most other draft prospects have. I have a hard time figuring him out, because I don't know if he will adapt very well to the NBA game and thrive or be overmatched. His improvement from year-to-year at Utah leads me to believe Wright can be a bench contributor in the NBA, but he has to continue to improve his shooting and get used to not being the main facilitator on offense. The first round may be a bit early for him.
28. Boston Celtics- Robert Upshaw, C
Anybody but a Syracuse center. That's all I ask. Again, I don't think the Celtics will be making this pick, but if they did then this is an area where taking a troubled talent like Upshaw may make sense. After all, the Celtics have wasted picks on big men like Fab Melo and Colton Iverson, so they may as well spend one on a player who has actual talent, yet is a dipshit and keeps getting kicked off teams. The shot-blocking talent is there and the Celtics desperately need a rim protector. If Upshaw isn't worth the risk here in the first round, then the Celtics may choose to take him in the second round where he doesn't have a guaranteed contract.
29. Brooklyn Nets- Cliff Alexander, PF
Alexander was a highly touted player coming into his freshman year at Kansas. Then he ran into some issues trying to get time on a deep Kansas team and also ended up on not playing in the NCAA Tournament due to eligibility issues. Rest assured, he has tremendous potential and at the #29 spot in the first round the Nets should take a player with potential to help out on their front line. In 17.6 minutes as a freshman, Alexander averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He may never be any good in the NBA, and I hate drafting players on potential, but for a Nets team with salary issues taking a talent like Alexander late in the first round is a good risk.
30. Golden State Warriors- Olivier Hanlan, PG/SG
This is admittedly a shot in the dark. Of course, most of these picks in my mock are shots in the dark. The Warriors could use another combo guard with Barbosa and Livingston both becoming free agents (I believe) and I think Hanlan is an underrated prospect. Look at his stats. If he puts those up at a school that isn't Boston College then I think he would be considered a first round pick. He is slightly turnover-prone, but he can get to the rim and since the Warriors like to spell Curry for a longer period of time (compared to other star players) then a scorer combo guard like Hanlan will fit in well.
Feel free to mock my picks after they are all wrong or a big trade ruins my entire mock draft.