By HoopsHype | June 20, 2015 ET
1. Minnesota: Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky). The Timberwolves have to explore all options here and a case could be made that guards D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay have more star potential than Towns and Okafor. And Kristaps Porzingis may have even entered the picture with his excellent Vegas workout. But for a team like the Timberwolves that has difficulty attracting talent through free agency, a chance to solidify their frontcourt is likely too difficult to pass up. Towns is less NBA ready offensively, but his superior mobility, defense and overall potential make him the choice over Okafor.
2. LA Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (Duke). The Lakers could decide the value is relatively equal from 2-4 and listen to offers from the Knicks. The emergence of Jordan Clarkson as one of the top rookies and the team’s potential PG of the future could make this pick easier, if they indeed decide he has the talent to be a top flight point. Okafor retains the highest likelihood of going second, and while the league has certainly shifted, becoming more lead guard dominated, bigs retain a lot of value just because of the scarcity of high-level ones. Okafor and Towns both have Top 3-5 center potential. So while mocking Russell here is tempting, Okafor remains the pick.
3. Philadelphia: D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State). Russell worked out for the Sixers and while he didn’t blow the doors off, he was solid and remains the likely pick. Mudiay had a strong workout with the team and may have increased his chances. Kristpas Porzingis has also been linked to this pick, but we consider the team’s backcourt need will ultimately dictate the pick. They may look to milk Orlando out of an asset in order to move up and flip spots and grab the remaining PG at 5, or they may just play it safe and take their top target, which is presumed to be Russell. Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is extremely closed mouthed so if you hear a rumor about what they will do, it is advisable to take it with a grain of salt. Russell’s shooting ability is what gives him a slight edge over the stronger and more athletic Mudiay for them.
4. New York: Emmanuel Mudiay (Guangdong Southern Tigers, China). Knicks fans and media came unhinged when the team fell to the fourth pick in the draft after the lottery. Yet Mudiay has as good a chance at anyone of being the biggest star to come out of this draft. He has the personality to handle being in New York and may be the climate changer they need. Kristaps Porzingis has become a hot name and there’s a chance the Knicks will swing for the fences with a sweet shooter with great length and mobility. Mudiay would bring a more NBA ready option as a natural leader and should turn out to be the best Knicks pick in years… which isn’t so difficult considering there haven’t been many.
5. Orlando: Kristaps Porzingis (Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain). Many scouts in Europe see ”Zinger” as a no-brainer Top 5 pick. He has a diverse skill set and great length. Would bring a much-needed shooter to a lineup of defensive-minded players. The Magic need talent, and Porzingis offers a player who can be an offensive standout.
6. Sacramento: Justise Winslow (Duke). If the Top 5 goes as expected (in some order), this pick is likely to come down to Winslow or Hezonja. The assumption that Vlade Divac is more likely to take a European player may or may not be the case. The team has taken shooting guards in each of the past two drafts, so Winslow as a SF seems to make more sense. Then again it’s a new regime and rumors have suggested the team is shopping Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas.
7. Denver: Mario Hezonja (FC Barcelona, Spain). The Nuggets need to swing for the fences with the player they view having the greatest chance to be a star. Hezonja fits that. He’s got an air of confidence and truly believes that he’s the best player in this draft. His shooting is legitimately among the top prospects available, which would be a welcomed addition for a struggling Denver team in need of putting points on the board.
8. Detroit: Trey Lyles (Kentucky). Detroit is prepared to let Greg Monroe walk in free agency and Lyles would be a good replacement, giving them a PF whose face-up skills would mesh well with Andre Drummond. Lyles personality as a blue collar worker and shy, non-attention seeker would also blend well with the city of Detroit.
9. Charlotte: Cameron Payne (Murray State). After moving Lance Stephenson without even having to give away this pick, the team can look to add a solid piece. Willie Cauley-Stein is a player teams may target here in a trade. That also is a possible scenario with Payne. He would offer the team a bigger and better long-term option at the point guard position over Kemba Walker, who has proven to be a great leader, but may not have the talent to lead them on a playoff run.
10. Miami: Stanley Johnson (Arizona). The Heat have a number of free agents and the players they figure to have back likely will factor into this pick. Stanley Johnson is a Pat Riley type of player with a winning past and potential as a defender. Luol Deng may or may not be in their plans so Johnson would offer a nice replacement or insurance heading into free agency. With Dwyane Wade’s future also a question mark, a SG such as Devin Booker also makes sense here.
11. Indiana: Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky). The Pacers appear to be at their wit’s end with Roy Hibbert, who has regressed considerably in the past year. Payne is also said to be high on their list of targets and could be the choice if he’s on the board. Cauley-Stein could bring the athleticism to compliment Hibbert’s game if the team decides to keep him.
12. Utah: Myles Turner (Texas). The Jazz are said to be looking for depth in the frontcourt after deciding to move Enes Kanter before he hit the open market as a free agent. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are a nice tandem, however neither has the ability to extend the defense. Turner could develop into a big with the ability to play both 4 and 5 positions and be a big that could stretch the floor.
13. Phoenix: Devin Booker (Kentucky). The Suns are said to be a team who will move out of the pick if the right deal comes along. Boston could move up to this spot or potentially another team aggressively looking to add talent. Booker would give the Suns a shooter to develop for the future. He’s an underrated athlete who has benefited from the Klay Thompson comparisons and success.
14. Oklahoma City: Sam Dekker (Wisconsin). Word is this pick is being heavily shopped and there’s a lot of speculation that another team will be selecting here. The player that OKC would probably like to grab (Cameron Payne) probably gone by now. Dekker would potentially give the team a weapon when Kevin Durant is on the bench and some leadership for a team that seems to have lost its way after the trade of James Harden.
15. Atlanta: Bobby Portis (Arkansas). The Hawks had a terrific season behind a balanced attack, coming a few untimely injuries from reaching the Finals. They’ve made some excellent selections in recent years, in particular German PG Dennis Schroeder, who has supplied them with a boost off the bench. There is a lot of interest in this young PG and it’s unlikely that he can remain a backup for long as teams will make a strong move for him in free agency. Portis would give them another versatile scorer to compliment Al Horford in the frontcourt.
16. Boston: Montrezl Harrell (Louisville). It’s no secret that the Celtics are aggressively attempting to package their two picks to move up, but realistically how far can a 28th pick allow you to climb? Three or four picks at most. Other players will likely need to be involved if they really want to get into the meat of the lottery. The Celtics could use a rebounder and energy forward. They may or may not be drafting here so they are a team that can easily throw off mock projections. This figures to be another draft with a lot of deals made with teams looking to add value by trading out of their spots. Boston has some players higher up that they would like. If they’re unable to, Harrell would make sense for them at 16. Kelly Oubre could slide, but is a player with a lot of upside that Boston could potentially target here.
17. Milwaukee: Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin). Frank the Tank is well liked in the organization and after the surprising departure of Larry Sanders, they are in need of a center. Kaminsky is a local guy so the team is obviously familiar and comfortable with him. They already have a lot of talent on the team so taking a player viewed as low-risk, low-upside at a position of need fits. Milwaukee is a team on the rise and Kaminsky should be able to contribute faster than some of the other options available.
18. Houston: Tyus Jones (Duke). There is a lot of speculation that the Rockets may have a promise in place to select Jones. Jones shut down workouts after visiting Houston and the team has an obvious need for a stabilizing PG. The team has a heavy analytics approach to the draft and Jones scores very high with his efficiency and shooting ability. Whether he has the talent to merit a mid-first round pick is debatable, but he certainly would fit in well with athletic and defensive Patrick Beverley.
19. Washington: Jerian Grant (Notre Dame). The Wizards could go in a number of directions here but are said to be targeting a combo to supply firepower along with the backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Grant would offer that, although a set-up guy like Delon Wright would probably fit even better.
20. Toronto: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona). Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has proven that he’s willing to think outside the box and take a player off the radar, as he did last year drafting Bruno Caboclo. He loves athletes and Hollis-Jefferson is a tremendous athlete with length and good strength as well. He has had impressive workouts and may be gone before this pick.
21. Dallas: Rashad Vaughn (UNLV). Vaughn has really helped himself with good workouts and is now considered a likely 20-30 pick. He gives the Mavs a wing with shooting ability. They could also be in the market for a PG, but a more likely scenario is that they look to replace Rajon Rondo in free agency as a PG that can truly run the show is not on the same time line with Dirk Nowitzki’s window.
22. Chicago: Justin Anderson (Virginia). Getting Jimmy Butler back into the fold has to be the team’s top off-season priority, but at this point it appears unlikely. They could look to add depth to their frontcourt with a player like Looney or McCullough, or Harrell if he slips, but Anderson’s shooting and potential as a defender on the wing makes him a solid fit for a team easing in new coach Fred Hoiberg.
23. Portland: Kevon Looney (UCLA). The Blazers may have a huge hole to fill if LaMarcus Aldridge leaves town. Looney isn’t a replacement as he’s a different type of player but he offers insurance going into free agency. A shooter like Vaughn would give them a scorer to go along with the versatile Wes Mathews and Dame Lillard in the backcourt.
24. Cleveland: Terry Rozier (Louisville). With Kyrie Irving’s fragility, having a strong, reliable backup PG is imperative for the Cavs. Matthew Dellavadova is an inspirational player, but it’s become obvious he cannot be relied upon as the team’s primary PG if Uncle Drew gets injured. Rozier has starter potential and would be the perfect fit alongside LeBron.
25. Memphis: Kelly Oubre (Kansas). Oubre falling this far would be a minor shocker but there is a lot of concern that his workouts have left him in a vulnerable position to slip. He has lottery talent but really struggled for much of the season, and he has not received great reports for his workouts. Memphis could use a wing with shooting and Oubre would offer a lot of upside at this spot.
26. San Antonio: Willy Hernangomez (Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain). The Spurs are known for drafting system players, and in particular Europeans. They would like to have as much cap space as possible to make a big splash in free agency with player such as LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, so moving this pick or taking a draft-and-stash guy makes a lot of sense. Willy would like to stay in Spain another two years and prove himself for Real Madrid, giving the Spurs the luxury of time to evaluate his progress.
27. LA Lakers: Delon Wright (Utah). With the Lakers taking Okafor at 2 on this projection, grabbing a best player available here would make sense. Wright is a PG who should be able to contribute quickly as he’s already 23.
28. Boston: Chris McCullough (Syracuse). The Celtics need talent and while McCullough will likely take a while to contribute, he offers a great deal of potential at this area of the draft. There have been some rumors that the team likes him, and it would be no shock if Danny Ainge goes after a kid who flashed major talent early in the season before coming down to Earth and then suffering an ACL injury.
29. Brooklyn: Norman Powell (UCLA). For a team that may be close to rebuilding, Powell would offer them a young, athletic defender on the wing. A lot of scouts project Powell in the second round, but there are teams that like him and consider him a first-round talent. His ability to become a consistent outside shooter is the key to his future but he’s a tough-nosed competitor with maturity. Brooklyn is said to be actively attempting to add additional first-round picks.
30. Golden State: RJ Hunter (Georgia State). Hunter may be a little bit overrated considering his body is extremely frail and he shot it poorly all season. He’s been built up by some as a lottery-level prospect, but a number of scouts question whether he’s actually a first-round talent. On the positive side, he measured and interviewed well and hit a big shot in the tourney and has hype around him. Would adding arguably the draft’s top shooter to a backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson really be fair?