Ranking the Top 2015 NBA Draft Prospect at Every Position
If we were to create a starting lineup consisting of the top 2015 NBA prospects, this is what it would look like.
I picked the top dogs at each position—or the position that could suit them best once they eventually reach the NBA level. And then we ranked them.
The rankings were based on their NBA potential as prospects, with things like upside, safety, physical tools, skills and basketball IQ taken into account.
For each prospect, I also laid out his biggest competition at the position, as well as some honorable mentions who also deserve some recognition.
5. Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6", SG, 1995
Despite his minor role for Barcelona as the team's youngest player, Mario Hezonja has had scouts buzzing about his potential since 2011, when he took home MVP of the Under-16 European Championships.
From there, we saw him light up the Under-17 World Championships in 2012 and put up big numbers for Barcelona's second team.
Unfortunately, now playing in the Spanish ACB on a veteran squad, he now only flashes his appetizing upside in spurts and doses. But there's no denying that upside—at 6'6", Hezonja is a world-class athlete with a potent scoring repertoire.
He's capable of taking over games with the ability to create his own shot from any spot on the floor. On the ball, he has the pull-up and step-back jumper working, along with a smooth attack game off the dribble.
Off the ball, his outside stroke (he hit 15 of 38 three-pointers in ACB play) can help stretch the floor as a spot-up threat, while his ability to effortlessly elevate leads to buckets off slashes and backdoor lobs.
From a scouting perspective, he has all the physical tools and natural talent you can really ask for in a 2-guard. His challenge will be finding a way to channel it and ultimately score within the offense, as opposed to letting the ball stick to his hands in isolation.
Keep your eyes open for Hezonja at this summer's World Cup, where he could see some minutes for Croatia.
Top Competitor: Caris LeVert, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Junior
- Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5", SG, Sophomore
- Norman Powell, UCLA, 6'4", SG, Senior
- Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
4. Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SF, Freshman
Of all the top prospects in college basketball, don't be surprised if Kelly Oubre leads the way in scoring. This kid can really light it up with a lethal offensive package to match some unteachable instincts.
At 6'7" with a 7'1.5" wingspan, Oubre also has the measurements and explosive athletic ability the NBA guys typically drool over.
He can generate offense in a variety of different ways, from step-back jumpers and runners in the lane to slashes and drives to the rack.
But we're not just talking about a one-dimensional scoring machine. Oubre is versatile enough to fill up a box score. Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips of College Basketball Talk noted his passing ability at Adidas Nations early in August, while rebounding has always been viewed as a strength of his at the high school level.
Oubre's biggest competition for top wing in the draft class will come from fellow freshman Stanley Johnson at Arizona, but at this point, we'll take the better athlete and scorer.
Top Competitor: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Freshman
- Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'7", SF, Freshman
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Sophomore
- Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'8", SF, Junior
3. Emmanuel Mudiay, China, 6'5", PG, 1996
The debate over the top point guard prospect really isn't much of a debate at all. It's just too bad we won't get a chance to see Emmanuel Mudiay play at the Division I level.
He's the full package, from his 6'5" size and electric athleticism to his nifty handle and vision. Mudiay is just a nightmare to contain off the dribble, given his ridiculous change-of-direction ability and height advantage as a playmaker.
Only he'll be taking his talents to China instead of SMU, where he originally committed to play.
It just makes the evaluation process a little more difficult—specifically when it comes to comparing Mudiay's performance to those of the top prospects in college basketball.
But nothing can take away from the upside attached to Mudiay's NBA mismatch potential. Between his sensational physical tools, floor general qualities and razor-sharp offensive skills, Mudiay is what you'd want your point guard to look like if you were building one in the lab.
Not even a quiet year in China will keep scouts from viewing him as the top prospect at his position. With the jumper being his most concerning weakness early on, think John Wall when it comes to projecting Mudiay's outlook moving forward.
Top Competitor: Terry Rozier, Louisville, 6'2", PG, Sophomore
- Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
- Tyus Jones, Duke, 6'1", PG, Freshman
- Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Sophomore
- Isaiah Taylor, Texas, 6'1", PG, Sophomore
2. Karl Towns Jr., Kentucky, 7'0", PF, Freshman
Thought of more as a center during high school, given his 7-foot size, Karl Towns Jr. has flashed versatility that suggests he has NBA power forward potential.
We saw it during Kentucky's August trip to the Bahamas. Towns has shown he can play inside or out, in the half court or on the break.
He's not just limited to the post, although he's looked quite capable of scoring down low with his back to the basket. “I struggled in the beginning so I felt the best thing I could do was switch my game and go more inside attack and it worked,” Towns said after his 18-point, 12-rebound effort against Chalon, via Darrell Bird of 247Sports.
Towns is awfully comfortable facing the hoop, whether he's shooting, passing or attacking his man off the dribble. And between his ability to run the floor and his body control when finishing on the move, Towns has the wheels and agility you don't typically see from a traditional 250-pounder.
Sure, you could argue that Towns is a 5, but his skill set and foot speed could actually allow him to complement one at the 4.
I like the Rasheed Wallace comparison myself.
Top Competitor: Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6'9", PF, Freshman
- Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia, 7'0", PF, 1995
- Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Junior
- Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C, Freshman
At 6'11", 272 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, you can't miss Jahlil Okafor, whose blend of physical tools and polish allows him to dominate in the paint.
And that's where he projects to make an NBA living. With the strength to gain position, the footwork to separate and the touch to finish, Okafor is the type of big man you can feed and expect him to get you a bucket on the block.
As a back-to-the-basket scorer, he really knows how to use his butt and seal off his man. From there, we've seen him go to the over-the-shoulder hook or spin baseline into layups.
Facing up, he's comfortable putting it on the deck for a dribble and finishing on the move. And we've even seen him rise and fire for the occasional mid-range jumper.
Chances are Okafor shoots around 55 percent or higher at Duke this season. He's just too much for opposing frontcourts within 12 feet of the hole.
And while he's still a work in progress at the defensive end, Okafor certainly has the tools (length, foot speed) to one day anchor a unit as its rim protector.
In a field without a clear-cut No. 1 guy, Okafor will enter the 2014-15 season as the safest bet.
Top Competitor: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Junior
- Myles Turner, Texas, 6'11", C, Freshman
- A.J. Hammons, Purdue, 7'0", C, Junior
- Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore
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