2015 NBA Mock Draft: A Very Early Look at Next Year
With the 2014 NBA draft now in the past, it would be weird if we didn't have a 2015 mock draft ready to roll.
Unfortunately, the board isn't as strong as the one we just saw drafted, but there are still some really nice young prospects to round out the top 30.
The draft order was generated based on the final standings from the 2013-14 NBA season. And we've taken into account future trades.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C, Freshman
With Jahlil Okafor, we're talking about All-Star potential at the center position, based on his blend of overwhelming physical tools and a polished offensive game.
You can feed him the ball in the post and watch him go to work. He has moves to go to and others to counter with, and with that 7'5" wingspan, he gets shots off with ease.
He's going to make an immediate impact at Duke. Look for him to jump out as the early No. 1 overall favorite.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SG/SF, Freshman
One of the higher-profile incoming freshmen, Stanley Johnson's resume just got another boost, as he was named MVP of the 2014 U-18 FIBA World Championships.
If I'm the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that could really use help on the wing, I already have my eyes on Johnson. At 6'7", he's a strong, physical 2-guard or small forward who plays through contact and gets to the rack. And he has a threatening jumper to complement the attack game.
He also has Kawhi Leonard-like defensive potential. He's the type of guy you stick on the opposing team's top scorer.
He'll be an impact player right away for Sean Miller and Arizona.
3. Orlando Magic: Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU, 6'5", PG, Freshman
A 6'5" point guard with smooth athleticism, Emmanuel Mudiay is loaded with offensive potential.
He has the size of a 2-guard with the handle and shiftiness of a 1. He is a dangerous playmaker who can break down defenses off the dribble and finish in the lane and at the rack.
I don't even think this one's close—Mudiay should easily be considered the top point guard prospect in the country. And it probably won't hurt having Larry Brown in his corner for a year at SMU.
4. Utah Jazz: Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6'9", PF, Freshman
Strength, power, athleticism—that's Cliff Alexander's game. He's one of those big men whom you fear will shatter the backboard glass with one of his ferocious above-the-rim slams.
He resembles a young Amar'e Stoudemire. He's explosive around the rim, though he's a better rebounder and a more physical presence inside.
At this point, he doesn't have the offensive polish of Stoudemire, and that post game is something he'll be working on.
But at just 18 years old, he's already a man amongst boys. Alexander has monster long-term two-way potential.
5. Boston Celtics: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6", SG, 1995
A 6'6" 2-guard with mesmerizing athleticism, Mario Hezonja is in position to follow Dante Exum from 2014 as the first international prospect taken off the board.
Scouts have been aware of his talent since he won MVP of the Under-16 European Championships two years ago.
He is the type of kid who can generate offense on demand, whether he's creating his own shot on perimeter, effortlessly gliding to the rack or spotting up from three.
Look for his role for Barcelona to increase, as well as the NBA draft buzz surrounding him.
6. Phoenix Suns (via Lakers): Karl Towns, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Freshman
Karl Towns is a unique 7-footer with an exceptionally advanced offensive game. He can create and make shots in the post or handle the ball away from the rim. And his passing instincts are terrific.
He can also stretch the floor as a shooter and knock down threes with comfort.
Kentucky is going to have a jam-packed frontcourt next year, but I've got Towns emerging as the can't-miss prospect from the crowd.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia, 7'0", PF, 1995
Three weeks ago, we were referring to Kristaps Porzingis as a potential 2014 lottery pick. That was before he withdrew.
Now, he'll likely enter the 2015 draft as a potential top-10 pick.
At 7'0", he's superathletic, incredibly mobile and highly skilled for his age. Porzingis can operate away from the rim, where he's a threat to attack off the dribble or pull up for a jumper.
Off the ball, he gives his guards a glowing target off cuts and lobs, and he fills those open-floor lanes in transition.
He'll have to get stronger to play in the post at the NBA level, but at 18 years old, his two-way potential is tough to ignore.
8. Detroit Pistons: Caris LeVert, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Junior
With Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary all off to the pros, Caris LeVert is going to get one heck of an opportunity.
Even with those guys in the lineup, he still managed to put points on the board and occasionally take over games as an offensive weapon.
At 6'6", he has excellent size, length and athleticism for the 2-guard position. And he shot 40.8 percent from downtown on 1.6 makes per game last year.
You can write him down as the biggest breakout prospect in 2015.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'9", PF, Junior
Montrezl Harrell blends size, length and strength, and whether his offensive skill set improves or not, his physical tools alone are worth targeting in the first round.
However, the second half of last year has given us reason to believe he might be in line for a monster junior year.
He really started to figure it out down the stretch.
Harrell is an NBA-caliber athlete—look for him to complete the package by adding some go-to moves to the repertoire.
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'7", SF, Freshman
A terrific athlete with an NBA body, Justise Winslow aces the eye test for a wing, and he has the basketball IQ to go with it.
He plays hard and with energy. He's an excellent passer and active rebounder, and he can fly above the rim or explode to the rack.
He has to polish up his scoring attack off the dribble, but Winslow's tools and intangibles will attract plenty of NBA attention.
11. New York Knicks: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Junior
You won't find many 7-footers more athletic than Willie Cauley-Stein, a former high school wide receiver.
He returned for his junior season after blocking 2.9 shots in just 23.8 minutes a game as a sophomore.
Cauley-Stein is still fairly limited offensively, but he runs the floor for easy buckets, and he's a monster target around the rim as a finisher.
Between the rim protection he offers and his presence above the rim (off offensive rebounds, pick-and-rolls, dump-offs), you're looking at Tyson Chandler potential in the middle.
12. Denver Nuggets: Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SG/SF, Freshman
Silky smooth with a good frame and 6'7" size, Kelly Oubre should be able to make an immediate freshman impact.
And he has some nice long-term upside when you consider his physical tools, athleticism and versatility. Oubre can attack off the dribble and finish in traffic or slash off the ball and score in the lane.
He also rebounds, passes and handles the ball well for the position.
He will have to continue polishing up that jumper, but he does enough things well to stay effective in the meantime.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Minnesota, Top-12 Protected): Myles Turner, Texas, C
Myles Turner's game and potential center on his shot-blocking tools and shooting touch.
It's a rare combination for the high-profile recruit out of Texas.
He isn't the most fluid athlete, but his timing and instincts as a rim protector are terrific. He just picked up 18 blocks in five FIBA World Championship games.
And he can really shoot the rock. He has a nice, clean delivery with NBA range.
Turner's lack of athleticism and mobility hurt his upside, but he has some appealing strengths for a 6'11", 242-pound center.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'6", SF, Sophomore
A bouncy athlete with good size, strength and tremendous length, 6'6" Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has some serious defensive potential.
He has the ability to lock down three positions on the floor when you take into account his physical tools and scary quickness.
Offensively, he's a threat to score off cuts and slashes to the rack, where he finishes extremely well.
A heads-up passer with a live motor, Hollis-Jefferson just has to focus on improving his ball skills and jumper as a sophomore.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5", SG, Sophomore
A physical 2-guard with a diesel 230-pound frame, Wayne Selden has the NBA body to match the game.
He's strong attacking the basket, where he can play through contact and maintain the body control to finish in traffic.
And he has threatening shot-making ability from just about every spot on the floor.
At this point, he's good in a number of areas—he's just not great in any. But if he can raise his three-point percentage and improve his one-on-one game, Selden should find himself in that mid-first-round conversation next year.
16. Charlotte Hornets: Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore
At 7'0", 265 pounds, Dakari Johnson packs overwhelming size and strength on the interior, where he can back his man down and score over the top.
He played a significant role for Kentucky down the stretch last year, giving it a presence on the offensive glass and an option to feed on the low block.
This year, look for him to expand his post game and improve his touch and footwork.
But Johnson has a nice feel for the rim down low—I imagine he'll shoot a solid percentage from the floor next season.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn): Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
A long, crafty, do-it-all point guard, Delon Wright averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 boards, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals per game in his first year at Utah.
He has some impressive scoring instincts in the lane—he's one of those guards who find ways to score at awkward angles around the rim.
Defensively, he's a menace. He actually finished No. 4 in college basketball in defensive win shares this past season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Look for Wright to start the year under the radar and then eventually rise above it as the season progresses.
18. Washington Wizards: Jarell Martin, LSU, 6'9", PF, Sophomore
With broad shoulders and powerful athleticism, Jarell Martin has the ability to bang inside or face the rim on the perimeter.
He reminds me a lot of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris, who like Martin, has the body of a 4 with the mobility of a 3. He rebounds, runs the floor and finishes around the rim.
Martin also showed some promise as a shooter last season, and if he can fulfill some of it as a sophomore, he'll likely end up cashing in next June.
19. Chicago Bulls: Marcus Lee, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Sophomore
At 6'9", Marcus Lee has pogo-stick bounce around the rim, where he's a constant candidate to throw back a tip-in dunk or alley-oop.
And he is active—he has a live motor and a good nose for the ball around the rim.
He's not the type of forward you go to for offense, but his ability to make plays off the ball in the paint is what drives his NBA upside.
This year, look for Lee to improve some of his ball skills. He'll need to become a bigger threat offensively.
20. Toronto Raptors: Tyus Jones, Duke, 6'1", PG, Freshman
A pure point guard with a natural feel for the position, Tyus Jones brings his terrific floor game to Duke, where he'll share a backcourt with senior Quinn Cook.
Jones is a dangerous playmaker off the dribble, whether he's running a pick-and-roll, driving and dishing, or attacking the basket for a bucket. And he's a pretty good looking shooter for an incoming freshman.
He's not very strong or athletic, and that limits his upside at a position that's evolving, but his skill level and basketball IQ are high enough to draw first-round interest.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'9", PF, Junior
Shawn Long went off last year to average 18.6 points and 10.4 boards per night. He has the inside-outside game that just got Michigan State's Adreian Payne drafted No. 15 overall.
Long shot 42.3 percent from downtown, dominated the glass and scored down low. And he even blocked 2.7 shots per game.
With Elfrid Payton off to the pros, the Ragin' Cajuns will rely on Long for offense in 2014-15. It's not crazy to think he could average 20 and 10 as a junior.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona, 7'0", C, Junior
Kaleb Tarczewski has made up for a lack of production with efficiency through two years at Arizona. He hasn't exactly been a featured member in Arizona's offense, but at 58.4 percent shooting from the floor, he's capitalized on his touches.
He's a good bet to score when he has position down low, where he can play with his back to the rim. And he shot 75.6 percent from the line, which reflects his touch as a shooter.
Tarczewski will ultimately have to expand his post game, and he'll definitely have to make a bigger impact on the boards. But he's a big boy with a nice feel for the game in the paint. A bigger role as a junior should lead to louder draft buzz.
23. Golden State Warriors: Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
Bobby Portis averaged 12.3 points, 6.5 boards, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 assists in 27 minutes for Arkansas. This is one versatile 6'10", 242-pound big man who can run, pass and make plays at the defensive end.
With the ball in his hands, he has the ability to face up, rise and fire or take a dribble or two and finish on the move. Without the ball, he puts himself in position to catch and finish around the rim.
Portis tends to drift a bit on the perimeter, but he has a promising inside-outside skill set to match an NBA power forward's frame.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Chris Walker, Florida, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
With top-shelf athleticism and some electric bounce in his legs, Chris Walker is good for finishing, rebounding and blocking shots high above the rim. He's an interior specialist who runs the floor and makes plays off the ball.
He missed most of last year after being ruled academically ineligible, and he barely got off the bench the few games he was allowed to suit up.
Scouts will have their eyes glued to Walker as a sophomore, when his role in the offense should expand.
"He’s not going to be in the same situation he was last year," coach Billy Donovan told Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. "He is going to be thrust into a playing situation and he’s going to have to be responsible, reliable and accountable, and I thought last year that was a hard part for him."
25. Houston Rockets: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Sophomore
This is going to be a critical year for Andrew Harrison, who didn't meet the high bar that had been set for him as a freshman.
Now he has something to prove, with many scouts down on his abilities and questionable body language.
He struggles finishing around the rim without much hops or explosiveness, so he'll need to improve his shooting stroke. And scouts will be looking to see if he can pick up where he left off with regard to his floor game—Harrison ran the point well during Kentucky's NCAA tournament run.
With a year of trial and error under his belt, he should be in position to have a bounce-back sophomore year.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Miami): Marcus Paige, North Carolina, 6'1", PG, Junior
Marcus Paige is coming off a productive sophomore year of averaging 17.5 points and 4.2 assists per game.
He's a fearless playmaker who can take over games with the ball in his hands.
He shot a respectable 44 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from downtown, thanks to his money touch with the pull-up, floater and long ball as a shooter.
At 6'1", 175 pounds without that blow-by explosiveness or above-the-rim hops, he has limited two-way upside. It's important he showcases his floor game as a point guard this upcoming year.
27. Indiana Pacers: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
He can shoot, drive and slash, and at 6'6", Aaron Harrison looks the part of an NBA 2-guard.
This year, he'll just have to put it all together. He's good at a number of things, but he really needs to establish some type of core strength.
My guess is it's going to revolve around perimeter scoring, given his shot-making ability off the dribble and from behind the arc. Harrison will probably need to shoot above 35 percent this year to qualify as a first-round prospect in 2015.
28. Boston Celtics (via Clippers): Brice Johnson, North Carolina, 6'9", PF, Junior
An athletic big with plenty of energy and bounce, Brice Johnson always finds himself in position to catch and finish.
He's active around the rim, where he keeps plays alive on the offensive glass and gives his guards a finishing target.
At just 210 pounds, Johnson will need to get a little stronger. And it wouldn't hurt if he added some polish and moves to his post game.
But he's big, athletic and energetic, and that blend always attracts NBA attention.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin, 7'0", PF, Senior
Frank Kaminsky put an exclamation point on a strong year with a 28-point performance against No. 1 seed Arizona in the NCAA tournament.
He has a deep scoring range for a 7-footer—he has nice footwork and moves in the post, and he's capable of facing his man up and attacking off the dribble.
And though not very slick or athletic, he can stretch the floor as a shooter with his 37.8 percent three-point stroke.
There's no upside here, but Kaminsky fits the bill as an offensive-minded backup NBA center.
30. San Antonio Spurs: A.J. Hammons, Purdue, 7'0", C, Junior
At 7'0", 251 pounds with a 7'3" wingspan, A.J. Hammons takes up a ton of space in the paint, where he blocked 3.1 shots per game as a sophomore.
He has a nice feel for the game in the post—he can score over the shoulder or bully his way inside for buckets.
There isn't much upside here, but 7-footers who can score down low and protect the rim are always in demand.
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