By The Lighter Side | January 19, 2015 ET
30. Tyrone Wallace (California). Wallace has switched over to the point guard position this year and has flourished using his great speed and athleticism to run the team. He looks very comfortable handling the ball, and his solid 4.4 to 2.7 assist-per-turnover ratio attests to that. His main weakness is still his shot, but you wouldn’t know that based on the shooting numbers that he’s put up this season. He has scored in double digits in every game, having scored 20 or more in over half and has knocked down nearly 50 percent of his 3’s (15 of 32). He’s also averaging a whopping 8.9 boards per contest.
29. Jordan Mickey (LSU). Mickey has had a solid sophomore season after being one of the most productive freshmen in the nation. He is a tweener for the NBA and will be a bit of a project, but his defensive potential and length (7-3 wingspan) makes him intriguing. He’s is a PF for the NBA, but he’s got excellent lateral speed and could see time at both forward positions if his quickness remains at a high level. He’s by no means a lock for the first round and depending on how many underclassmen declare might be better served to return. It’s considered a weak draft, this year, in terms of depth. Granted it’s early in the process, so he’ll need to finish strong.
28. Egemen Guven (Pinar Karsiyaka, Turkey). Guven impressed us when we saw him live during the summer in Konya at the Under 18 European Championships, enough to put him in the first round in his first year eligible. He’s still got a ways to go and needs strength, but he shows the offensive finesse, with the use of both hands around the basket to eventually be a real threat at the NBA level. It remains to be seen whether he wants to enter the draft and whether he has any contract hurdles. He’s our top rated European 1996 prospect, but a player that we’re going out on a limb putting him in this year’s mock draft.
27. Cliff Alexander (Kansas). Alexander has freakish length and toughness. He has in-game intensity that you love to see in a big man. He picked up the game while in high school and has come a long way in a few short years. His practice habits have not received good marks and some question his explosiveness. His post skills and offensive game remain extremely raw and his feel for the game may never be great, but he gets a lot of baskets through sheer athleticism and determination.
26. Buddy Hield (Oklahoma). Despite not having a breakout statistical season, Hield remains very high on scouts’ lists due to his all-around skill set and athleticism. Hield is small for a 2 but his game has a lot of polish. Hield is the team’s unquestioned first scoring option, but also draws a lot of defensive attention. He has a solid frame with athleticism and the competitive fire to take the team on his back. He can really fill it up from outside and also shows quality decision making and the ability to create offense off the dribble.
25. Troy Williams (Indiana). Williams has elite level athleticism and his skill level has begun to catch up to his talent. He’s got a huge wingspan and can really get out on the break and make plays. He also shows a surprising handle for a wing player. He started the year off slowly after receiving a short suspension but has been Indiana’s stand out prospect heading into 2015. If he can develop a more consistent jump shot, he’s got a chance to be a very good pro.
24. Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin). Kaminsky has emerged as one of the top seniors and centers for this year’s draft. His game is straight out of the Euroleague with his lack of strength and athleticism combined with his excellent shooting and high skill level. He’s improved considerably from his sophomore year to this point and stands a good chance to be a first rounder. He’s an excellent outside shooter and is starting to do work in the post as well. His ability to run the floor has even received praise by scouts. He’s got some intriguing skills, including passing ability. The only question remaining about his ability to be a rotation player is whether he can consistently fight for rebounds in the post and maintain position and if he has the speed to defend. He’s a high character kid with a lot of personality, which should endear him to teams in interviews.
23. Bobby Portis (Arkansas). Portis is a bit of a poor man’s Greg Monroe, a small forward in the body of a post guy. He’s got very nice face-the-basket skills with passing and even some ability to handle it. Where he struggles is with sheer explosiveness and being tough in around the basket, which doesn’t make him much of a rim protector. He shows a good ability to run the floor and has intriguing versatility. His ability to knock down shots is where his true intrigue lies.
22. Caris LeVert (Michigan). Michigan has really faltered this year and LeVert has seen his struggles as well. He’s a skilled player who never shies away in big moments and has a solid feel for the game. He has shown tremendous growth in his body and game, as he has gained two inches since arriving in Ann Arbor. After a steady sophomore season, LeVert has elevated his game as a junior. NBA scouts are high on his competitiveness and intangibles. He’s a tremendous facilitator at the two-guard position, but whether he has the athleticism to justify such a high selection is the question.
21. Sam Dekker (Wisconsin). With a great attitude and solid all-around skills, Dekker is a prospect that scouts are high on. ”I’ve learned to like him, but I don’t love him,” as one scout put it. He’s got explosiveness and is an excellent teammate who really enjoys playing the game. His shot is streaky and with some slight mechanical issues, lacks great consistency. He also doesn’t have the quickest first step to make opponents pay for playing him tight. He looked every bit the 6-foot-9 that he’s listed at in Las Vegas during the LeBron James Skills Academy.
20. Christian Wood (UNLV). Wood has a tantalizing combination of length, athleticism and talent. He shows flashes of brilliance with the ability to put the ball on the deck and get to the basket. He also has nice touch and a solid offensive skill level and even some shot blocking ability. Scouts would like to see more focus, toughness and overall consistency. He strikes some as a player that may be drafted on potential, but always remain a tease. He lacks a real fiery personality, so gaining strength and aggressiveness will be key, but there’s no denying his talent.
19. Jerian Grant (Notre Dame). Grant has shown great maturity and been a catalyst to Notre Dame’s surprising season. He’s got the ability to run the show from the point guard position and shows leadership ability. He has also shown some unexpected explosiveness with his mid-season chin up dunk against Georgia Tech. He’s a senior in terms of age and academics and is considered likely to leave despite having an additional year of eligibility. If he can lead Notre Dame to a strong finish and continue his strong play, he can sneak into the first round.
18. Isaiah Taylor (Texas). Taylor suffered a wrist fracture early in his sophomore season and has struggled to get on track this year. He tore up the Big 12 with an excellent freshman season, making scouts take notice of his composure and speed. He’s got tremendous burst in the open floor and is an extremely difficult defensive assignment as he has a gear that most PGs just do not possess. He’s still painfully skinny and will need to continue to focus on getting stronger. His legs also will need to add strength in order not to get bullied by stronger point guards. He possesses a tear drop that many NBA PGs would be envious of, and it will be a great asset to him as he progresses. His shooting still needs work however.
17. Kelly Oubre (Kansas). Oubre has an excellent frame for a wing and shows both above-average athleticism and outside shooting ability, but he remains extremely raw and inconsistent. He needs to become a more disciplined decision maker and defender. He also should work on his ability to create shots and developing a mid-range game. His attitude gets criticized, and it remains to be seen if he really is a team player at heart. He has a tendency to disappear at times, like he did at the LeBron James Skills Academy. He’s begun to earn more playing time by showing more dedication to defense and doing the little things to help his team win. But scouts continue to question his ability to fulfill his potential.
16. Delon Wright (Utah). Brother of Dorell Wright, Delon has developed into one of the premiere PGs in college basketball. He’s got tremendous size at 6-5 and above average speed and athleticism. He is a combo guard who stood out last year and also impressed scouts with after his performance in July at the LeBron Skills Academy. He’s a late bloomer who went the JuCo route and has had a big impact since joining Utah in the Pac 12. He still needs to add strength and toughness as well as improve further upon his outside shot.
15. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky). WCS appears to finally be coming into his own with improved play in his junior season. His talent has never been in question, but his ability to play consistently has been a hurdle. The spaceman appears to have finally touched down. Lacking touch, his offensive ability will likely always be limited. He’s not afraid of contact having played high school football, but he may always be on the skinny side. But with standout length and lateral speed, he’ll be in demand solely for his defensive ability. Despite his limitations, he’s in elite athletic company for a 7-footer and will find a role as a shot blocking, rebounding, alley-oop finishing energy guy, even if his offensive game never fully develops. Unless his play severely drops off from his first third of the season, he stands an excellent shot to grab a spot in the mid-late lottery.
14. Terry Rozier (Louisville). Rozier proved what an explosive athlete and talented scorer he is at both the LeBron James Skills Academy and adidas Nations camps during the summer. The jump from freshman to sophomore years is often a big one. While he’s a better athlete and not quite the shooter Trey Burke is, he possesses some of the same leadership and determination that helped Burke go from a borderline first rounder to a Top 10 pick during his sophomore year. Scouts would like to see his PG game mature, with better decision making and more control on offense. He’s really come on as the season has progressed, putting up a number of very impressive performances against top competition. Rozier has shared point guard duties with Chris Jones and there are still plenty of folks that question his ability to play the point guard position. We saw it over the summer in the camps, and feel that he has starting NBA point guard ability.
13. Kristaps Porzingis (Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain). Porzingis combines both great length and athleticism with a soft touch on his shot. What he’s missing right now is the body strength to handle NBA athletes. If he can fill out and become respectable strength wise, similar to a AK-47, he can have a very solid career in the league. He’s got narrow shoulders, and there is concern among scouts that strength will always be his Achilles and keep him from realizing his potential. Also of note, no Latvian player has made it big in the NBA yet, as top 10 pick Andris Biedrins was a big hope but failed to live up to expectations after free throw shooting seemed to derail his confidence. In a weak draft, being a lottery pick is within his grasp.
12. Kevon Looney (UCLA). Looney flashed a lot of potential in high school as a long, versatile athlete. This is a kid that led the NBPA camp in rebounding in back-to-back years going into his junior and senior high school seasons. He even played some point guard for his high school team in Wisconsin, though that may be a little bit misleading as he projects more of a 4 than a 3. Looney has been one of the most impactful freshmen in the country. Looney may take some time to fill out and become a contributor at the next level, but he shows solid potential.
11. Justin Anderson (Virginia). Anderson has stepped into the shoes left by NBA draft pick Joe Harris. He’s an athletic specimen with both strength and great leaping ability. He’s also shown great ability to knock down outside shots, hitting at a extremely high rate this season. Anderson was a highly touted player in high school but was slow to realize his abilities in college. He has really begun to hit his stride as a junior and with a solid all around skill set he has shot up draft boards.
10. Montrezl Harrell (Louisville). Harrell surprised many by returning for his junior year at Louisville. He has shown improvement in his junior year, and has played his way into the lottery. His offensive game continues to steadily improve, showing some touch on perimeter shots, but only in spurts, while he continues to be an absolute beast on the boards and in the paint. He led the NCAA by a wide margin in dunks last year, a sign that his strength, athleticism and aggression are too much to handle for most college opponents.
9. Mario Hezonja (FC Barcelona, Spain). Hezonja has long been a highly coveted prospect in Europe due to his standout athleticism, but has struggled to develop steady playing time and consistency over the past few seasons with injuries and off-court distractions. He is finally getting consistent minutes this season and has produced. It will likely be a close race between he and Porzingis to be the first European off the board. He’s the most athletic two-guard out of Europe in over a decade and shows a flare for making highlight plays. He has begun to realize all the talent and become a factor at the senior level.
8. Trey Lyles (Kentucky). Lyles is a very smooth big man with excellent mid-range shooting and great length (7-foot-2 wingspan). He came into Lexington in tremendous condition and has had a very solid season, in limited minutes. Lyles must get tougher and learn to handle contact better, but he’s been one of the top recruits in his class for some time, and has not disappointed. He may take some time to become a contributor, but he projects as a potential mid-lottery pick on upside.
7. D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State). Russell has been one of the most productive and efficient freshmen in the country. His feel for the game and readiness is extremely advanced. He struggles some to beat opponents off the dribble with sheer speed, but his craftiness to rock opponents off balance to create space is very good. He’s proven to be an excellent three-point shooter, although he may need to tweak his form some in order to extend his range. His ability to get shots off very quickly is intriguing as well. While he’s not an elite athlete, his excellent length and ability to play either guard position gives him a great deal of intrigue. He’ll also need to put more attention on his defensive intensity.
6. Karl Towns (Kentucky). Towns is intriguing considering the premium NBA teams put on bigs with the ability to knock down outside shots. He’s not as ready to contribute as Okafor, but his length and shooting give him a lot of intrigue in his own right. He is also very cerebral, showing a strong feel for the game along with leadership and a competitive streak when he gets challenged. With nice passing ability, he possesses a multidimensional skill set. The area of his game that needs the most work is his low-post game, where he struggles to put moves together. He needs to continue to add lower body strength, but his tremendous length and instincts give him real potential as a rim protector. There are some concerns about whether he’s a lazy kid or he has the work ethic to be great. He has looked rather sloppy as a freshman with his footwork, and his balance is porous when asked to defend on the perimeter.
5. Justise Winslow (Duke). Winslow is one of the top athletes in this year’s draft with an NBA body at 19 years of age plus great explosiveness and speed. He has experienced ups and downs like most freshmen, but his level of consistency and skill level has been better than advertised. It’s difficult to find five prospects that are better than him. He’s got solid shooting touch, although his shot still needs work, combined with defensive ability and a great NBA body. He’s incredibly fast off the dribble and has really impressed with his ability to make plays while operating at a high rate of speed. Where the question marks still arise are his consistency and assertiveness.
4. Myles Turner (Texas). Turner has had an up-and-down season so if he enters the draft, he will likely be a player that is selected with patience in mind. The real enigma with Turner is just how his legs will turn out. He’s got some real issues limiting his fluidity, whether they be related to a hip falling out of alignment, shin splints related to growth, tendinitis or more permanent issues. Roy Hibbert had horrendous mobility until his junior year in college, and some bigs take time to grow into their bodies. Turner is excellent in the half court with the ability to knock down mid range jumpshots, make plays at the rim, and also be a force as a shot blocker. He is averaging three blocks per game in just 20 minutes per contest.
3. Stanley Johnson (Arizona). The Southern California product is a proven winner and gives Arizona an X-factor to potentially win the national title this season. The Artest comparison is actually a solid one for Stanley, but he’ll need to play with more defensive intensity in order to become a Metta World Peace type of lock-down defender. With such a tremendous body and incredible strength, he has the makings of a stand out defender at the NBA level. It’s amazing to think he still hasn’t ever gotten into serious weight training. He’s certainly not a finished product as his jump shot needs some tweaking. He has a low release point. Talented enought to be a one-and-done Top 3 pick if he stays hungry and delivers down the stretch.
2. Emmanuel Mudiay (Guangdong Southern Tigers, China). An elite level PG with the dynamic talent to to be in the category of point guards such as Derrick Rose, John Wall and Damian Lillard. He has a terrific feel for the game, and will just need to learn to become more composed with his decision making and shot selection. Teams have a smaller sample size to work off of, and that may ultimately keep him from going first. He’s had a solid showing in China, scoring well and not appearing to be too affected by culture shock. Some aspects of his skill set are nearly impossible to discern from his games there, including defense, but he has good defensive ability and potential. While his skill level may not have had the same development as it would have with a year under Larry Brown, he’s definitely got a leg up on the rest of his classmates in the marketing department. What makes him such an intriguing prospect is his fiery and competitive nature. Mudiay has great confidence, communicates well and loves to compete.
1. Jahlil Okafor (Duke). Okafor came into Duke in tremendous physical shape and has lived up to the hype as a potential No.1 pick. While he’s a below-the-rim player, his ability to use his strength to clear space for shots, a la Kevin Love or and Al Jefferson makes him a highly effective post player. His body control is outstanding and it makes him a very good athlete despite the lack of great leaping ability. His footwork and ability to use fakes and control his body allows him to be an offensive nightmare for opponents. He’s got an enormous wingspan which allows him to play bigger than his height and grab rebounds. He’s a focused individual and should end up a very good NBA center, even if he may not have the upside to be an absolute superstar. Okafor has received comparisons to Tim Duncan from some scouts, and while we feel this is a stretch, when he starts banking in shots high off the glass, it’s hard not to be reminded of The Big Fundamental. A surefire Top 3 pick and the lowest risk of the ”Big 3”.