Way-Too-Early 2015 NBA 1st Round Redraft
Karl-Anthony Towns is the top player in the 2015-16 NBA rookie class.
That hasn't changed in the six months since the annual talent grab. But the stocks behind his have performed like roller coasters, with some experiencing significant peaks and valleys.
There's been enough movement, in fact, that we re-evaluated the first 30 selections. Though it's so early in these players' careers, we've seen enough to make three changes in the top five, pull two players out of the top 10 and banish one top-20 pick from the first round.
There isn't a ton of production to examine since the campaign is only a little over one-quarter complete. But we weighed the data we have—including that from these prospects' pre-NBA years—to help pin down the picks.
Potential still played a massive part in this discussion. We factored in team needs and situations, as well.
Time will almost certainly shift this draft board even more, but for now, here's our view of how the first 30 picks should have been spent.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
Original Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
There's no need for second-guessing when something is done correctly the first time. That's clearly the case for the Minnesota Timberwolves and their prized prospect, Karl-Anthony Towns.
The skilled 7-footer leads the freshman class in rebounds (9.4 per game) and player efficiency rating (22.4, qualified for minutes-per-game leaderboard) and is tied for the lead in blocks (2.0). He's already a borderline-elite two-way talent. Defensively, he's slicing 2.1 points off his opponents' regular field-goal percentage. Offensively, he's drilling shots from every level (including 40 percent of his threes) and dropping absurd dimes.
"Should his numbers hold steady, as they have all season, Towns will be just the fifth rookie to average at least 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes," Bleacher Report's Dan Favale wrote. "His company? Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Ralph Sampson and eventual Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal."
Towns isn't the only potential star in a rookie crop that could have both top-tier talent and depth. But he's easily the best player available, which is saying a lot considering the next one up is surrounded by buzz bigger than his 7'3" frame.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Original Pick: D'Angelo Russell
Kristaps Porzingis was long touted as a highly intriguing but organic-granola raw prospect. In a certain sense, the 20-year-old still fits that bill.
He's not going to be a 42.5 percent shooter for his career. And he'll likely shatter his current nightly contributions of 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds.
That's a way of saying his best is yet to come—a terrifying thought considering the level he's already reached.
Porzingis ranks third among rookies in scoring and second in boards. He's tied with Chris Paul, Marcin Gortat and Dwight Howard at 18th overall with 11 double-doubles, and Porzingis has the eighth-most games with multiple blocks (16).
He's already hinting at having the coveted, seldom-seen combination of long-range shooting and shot-blocking. With ample room for both physical growth (he could significantly bulk up his 7'3" frame) and in-game improvements, he'd be an obvious choice for a Los Angeles Lakers franchise still searching for a star to carry it into the post-Kobe Bryant era.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor
Flash back to June, and the Philadelphia 76ers might have been tripping over themselves to grab D'Angelo Russell here. With glaring needs for distribution and perimeter shooting, they'd still give him a long look in our mock world.
But Jahlil Okafor's combination of immediate production and long-term potential would save his spot in the No. 3 slot. He's an absurdly advanced low-post player, with both the footwork to elude defenders and the brute strength to power through them. He's currently the top scorer in this class (17.6 points per game), and he's quieted concerns over his free-throw shooting with a 73.6 percent conversion rate.
"He is a post presence at 6'11" and 275 pounds projected to one day regularly command a double-team," NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper wrote. "He's an interior threat with great footwork for someone who went high school to college to the NBA in successive seasons and has the potential to beat double-teams with his passing."
At some point, the Sixers will probably need to balance their frontcourt-heavy roster. But with Joel Embiid waging a losing war with the injury bug and Dario Saric suiting up overseas, this isn't the time for Philly to value need over talent.
4. New York Knicks: D'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
Original Pick: Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks needed to leave the draft with an interior anchor and potential focal point of their triangle offense. In reality, it seems they've done just that by nabbing Kristaps Porzingis.
However, with the three bigs most likely to wear the transcendent tag already off our board, the 'Bockers grab the best perimeter player: D'Angelo Russell. The 6'5" lead guard has stumbled out of the gate, but his scoring punch and court vision can leave scouts drooling in his wake.
"Russell's versatility as a passer, scorer and shooter is what separates him from [his peers]," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote in June. "He also oozes with the confidence and maturity teams typically look for in primary decision-makers."
Having an All-Star scorer like Carmelo Anthony alongside him would help ease the burden on Russell's shoulders. It could take some time before the 19-year-old's output matches his potential, but his skyscraper ceiling makes him the obvious choice here.
5. Orlando Magic: Myles Turner, C, Texas
Original Pick: Mario Hezonja
The Orlando Magic proved their willingness to gamble on the selection of explosive European import Mario Hezonja. They've since shown their affinity for floor-spacing bigs by promoting veteran sniper Channing Frye to the starting lineup.
Betting on the upside of 19-year-old stretch big Myles Turner would allow them to simultaneously scratch both itches. Before being sidelined by a fracture in his left thumb, he had converted 50 percent of his jump shots (and he hit 17 triples during his lone season of college ball).
Turner isn't close to Frye as a knockdown shooter yet, but there's a possibility the former can eventually reach the latter's level. What really sells the Magic, though, is Turner's chance to become the type of rim protector Frye and Magic center Nikola Vucevic have never been. Orlando might be 10th in defensive efficiency, but it could reach a new level of dominance by adding a top-shelf shot-blocker.
Hezonja has done nothing to lower his stock. But Orlando's perimeter could be crowded for the foreseeable future with Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier all under the age of 24. Nabbing Turner would fill one of the Magic's needs and net them a scratch-off ticket with a possible jackpot.
6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Original Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein
The Sacramento Kings were thinking about two things when they snagged Willie Cauley-Stein on draft night: defense and complementing centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins. Those same reasons are why the bouncy big man still makes sense.
Sacramento's defense has surrendered an additional 2.3 points per 100 possessions when it hasn't had Cauley-Stein on the floor. Considering this group is tied for 25th in efficiency at that end, it can't afford to let go of perhaps the most versatile freshman stopper.
"Very few players are as fast and laterally quick as Cauley-Stein, much less big men," SB Nation's Kevin O'Connor wrote in June. "... Most big men get exposed if they're away from the paint. Cauley-Stein won't be, offering his NBA team unique versatility."
Cauley-Stein can switch on to perimeter players and fend off bigs near the basket. The Kings need that protection behind their leaky perimeter defense, and the rookie's low-maintenance offensive game fits alongside Sacramento's ball-dominant starters.
7. Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Congo
Original Pick: Emmanuel Mudiay
Ty Lawson ranked third in assists per game last season (9.6) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.89). That's the caliber of player the Denver Nuggets parted with to clear a path for freshman floor general Emmanuel Mudiay, a decision that looks even better next to Lawson's off-court troubles.
The Nuggets really like Mudiay, and it isn't hard to see why. He has tremendous size (6'5", 200 pounds) for the point guard position, near-elite athleticism and a penchant for passing. His individual offense is clearly a work in progress (31.1 percent shooting, including 24.7 from three), but Denver sounds more than willing to help its 19-year-old franchise face get through the inevitable growing pains.
"We'd all love for Emmanuel to be an All-Star right now," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said, via Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. "But the reality is that's not going to happen. It's going to take time."
The Nuggets are wise to play the long game with Mudiay. They've been searching for a star since trading Carmelo Anthony in 2011, and Mudiay is their best shot to develop one.
8. Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
Original Pick: Stanley Johnson
The Detroit Pistons are a scorer shy of scary. They have one of the league's most prolific pick-and-roll partnerships in Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, a shutdown wing defender in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 6'10" spacer in Ersan Ilyasova.
But there's a nagging need for more perimeter scoring in the Motor City. Marcus Morris isn't meeting it with forgettable shooting rates from the field (42.2 percent) and long distance (35). Stanley Johnson can deliver it in spurts, but his best work comes at the defensive end—a line likely repeated on any of Caldwell-Pope's scouting reports.
Mario Hezonja would be just what Detroit needs. The 6'8" swingman has enough athleticism to take home a dunk contest title and the stroke to secure a three-point shooting crown. While he's struggled to find major minutes in Orlando, he's made the most of what he gets—racking up 13 points per 36 minutes and compiling a .467/.415/.933 shooting slash line.
With Caldwell-Pope handling the toughest perimeter assignment and Drummond providing protection on the back line, the Pistons could handle Hezonja's defensive shortcomings. If his offense proves as good as advertised, they might be glad to do it.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
Original Pick: Frank Kaminsky
Hindsight makes it easy to second-guess a lot of these decisions, but this was a head-scratcher even on draft night. The Charlotte Hornets not only passed over 19-year-old premier stopper Justise Winslow, they reportedly bypassed the chance to add four picks from the Winslow-seeking Boston Celtics, according to Grantland's Zach Lowe.
At the time, the Hornets may have convinced themselves that Winslow's defensive versatility was a tad redundant with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum already on the roster. Charlotte was clearly enamored with Frank Kaminsky, and it may have viewed the 22-year-old as its best bet to help spur a return to the postseason.
But looking back now, Winslow could have provided a bigger lift than Kaminsky has during his nightly runs of 18.7 minutes. The Hornets need a wing defender with Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined by shoulder surgery, and Winslow is the best this class has to offer. Despite matching up with marquee names every time out, he's trimming 4.5 points off his opponents' regular field-goal percentage.
Winslow's struggled a bit with his shot (42.3 percent from the field, 25.5 from three), but Kaminsky hasn't exactly set the world on fire (43.4, 35.6). With Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Spencer Hawes all factoring into Charlotte's frontcourt rotation, the Hornets don't need another scoring big. They could certainly use Winslow's defensive savvy, though.
10. Miami Heat: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Original Pick: Justise Winslow
You don't have to be a student of the game to recognize the Miami Heat's need for outside shooting. With Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic relentlessly attacking the basket, Hassan Whiteside rarely straying far from the rim and Chris Bosh still finding offense in the post, the three ball is oxygen for this offense.
Or rather, it would be if the Heat could unearth a steady source of it. Miami makes the fifth-fewest triples per game in the league (6.3) and is 27th in three-point percentage (32.4). The Heat lean heavily on the ignitable-but-erratic Gerald Green plus whatever Bosh and sophomore Tyler Johnson can provide.
They have yet to find a high-volume, high-efficiency sniper. Devin Booker already looks like that type of player, raining down 1.7 threes per 36 minutes on 56.7 percent shooting. He's only cemented his status as the class' top marksman, and, oh, by the way, he's the Association's youngest player, having celebrated his 19th birthday in late October.
Booker isn't merely a long-distance specialist. He's converting a sizzling 69.7 percent of his chances at the rim. But even if he only supplied outside shooting, he'd still be the right choice in South Beach.
11. Indiana Pacers: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Original Pick: Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers have enough size that they don't have to reach for a big to replace Myles Turner. Besides, the addition of Stanley Johnson would further enhance their shift to a smaller, faster style.
The 6'7", 245-pound swingman has the size, strength and athleticism to lock down the 2 through 4 spots. The quicker he's able to realize his potential as a stopper, the easier it becomes for head coach Frank Vogel to take Paul George off the toughest assignment. That could lead to more efficient offense for the MVP candidate.
Indiana has five perimeter players averaging double figures, so it could afford to wait for Johnson's offensive skills to develop. He's shown flashes of a powerful scoring punch (five outings of 15-plus points), but consistency has predictably been an issue. If the 19-year-old finds that, the Pacers could move Monta Ellis into an instant-offense sixth-man role.
Johnson is good enough now to strengthen Indiana for its playoff push. And his shot at stardom could help the Pacers rise above their good-but-not-great ceiling.
12. Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin
Original Pick: Trey Lyles
The logic behind the Utah Jazz's selection of Trey Lyles was sound. The 6'10" Kentucky product was billed as a multitalented big man, the type who can light the lamp from distance, make plays off the bounce and help the offensive flow with his passing.
The Jazz need that type of player. A sweet-shooting giant would give badly needed breathing room to the Derrick Favors-Rudy Gobert frontcourt and Utah's stable of slashers. Lyles has done little to suggest he's that player now or will become that player anytime soon.
Frank Kaminsky is already checking all of the above boxes. The 7-footer has converted 35.6 percent of his triples, 10.6 percentage points better than Lyles. Kaminsky has dished out 2.4 assists per 36 minutes, more than double what Lyles has managed. His handles are an underrated part of his game, and he takes care of the basketball (turnover percentage of 8 to Lyles' 12.9).
The Jazz haven't made their anticipated leap this season, but they could be ready to launch with a healthy Dante Exum back behind the wheel next year. Having an immediate contributor like Kaminsky would only ease that ascent.
13. Phoenix Suns: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Original Pick: Devin Booker
At 20 years young, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is already a walking adhesive. He understands both his role and his weaknesses, and he adjusts his game accordingly.
His stats (6.1 rebounds, 5.2 points, 1.4 steals and 1.4 assists per game) seem to lack a wow factor until one examines the category that best captures his overall impact. The Brooklyn Nets are 6.9 points better per 100 possessions when Hollis-Jefferson plays than when he doesn't. Given his work ethic, that gap could widen over the course of his career.
"He's in the gym shooting every day after practice," Nets forward Thaddeus Young said, per Newsday's Roderick Boone. "He is probably always the last one to leave the gym, and he just puts the work in."
The Phoenix Suns could use everything Hollis-Jefferson has to offer: defense, toughness, hustle, length. P.J. Tucker has supplied those elements in the past, but he's 30 years old, and his numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Hollis-Jefferson was on a constant climb before breaking his ankle, and his stock seems likely to soar once he returns.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Oubre, SG, Kansas
Original Pick: Cameron Payne
With Kevin Durant back at full strength and Russell Westbrook unleashing basketball fury, the Oklahoma City Thunder liked their chances to contend regardless of what they added on draft night. Between Westbrook and backup D.J. Augustin, they were well-stocked at point guard. But they still pounced on the potential of Cameron Payne, planning more for tomorrow than today.
In a sense, snatching Kelly Oubre would follow a similar train of thought. The 20-year-old oozes raw ability from his lanky 6'7" frame, but he requires major amounts of seasoning.
Unlike Payne, though, Oubre could assist OKC while getting on-the-job training. Durant has a stranglehold on the starting 3 spot, but there's limited depth behind him. Kyle Singler has been almost unplayable (0.5 PER), and Anthony Morrow doesn't offer much outside of shooting.
Oubre's athletic gifts alone would help boost the Thunder's already-elite transition attack. He's capable of creating off the bounce, but his three-point stroke allows him to play off the ball—a must for any teammate of Durant and Westbrook. At the very least, OKC would pick up another young, long athlete whose upside might not make him the worst emergency option should Durant bolt via free agency in 2016.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Original Pick: Kelly Oubre (traded to Washington Wizards)
It's never too early to call for a mulligan, and the Atlanta Hawks have to be feeling buyer's remorse for their draft-night swap to get Tim Hardaway Jr. The former first-round pick has only suited up four times this season—six if you count his NBA D-League demotion.
The Hawks have a chance to right that wrong here, and they could do it by keeping their selection and spending it on 19-year-old scoring guard Rashad Vaughn. His 35.5 percent three-point stroke could find a spot in Atlanta's spread attack, and head coach Mike Budenholzer could tap into Vaughn's wealth of offensive creativity.
"He can really score in just about every way," one general manager told ESPN.com's Chad Ford in May.
The Hawks need wing help. Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore have helped fill the void left by DeMarre Carroll, but their promotions have depleted some of this squad's depth. Hardaway and fellow newcomers Justin Holiday and Lamar Patterson have all failed to provide consistent production. Vaughn looks like a better option now, and he's only scratching the surface of his true talents.
Nos. 16-18: Portis, Payne, Nance
16. Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Original Pick: Terry Rozier
Head coach Brad Stevens has molded the Boston Celtics into a defensive power, but finding steady offense has been a struggle. The roster only features three double-digit scorers, none of whom is shooting 45 percent from the field. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has vocalized his desire to add "a go-to scorer," per ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg.
Bobby Portis hasn't had the opportunity to prove capable of handling that role in the NBA, but his offensive gifts are glaringly apparent. He's putting up 23.4 points per 36 minutes on 46.2 percent shooting, and he tallied 17.5 points on 53.6 percent shooting for the Razorbacks last season. Even though Boston is loaded with bigs, it may not have any with a ceiling as high as Portis'.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Original Pick: Rashad Vaughn
The Milwaukee Bucks are still figuring out whether they have their point guard of the present or the future. Michael Carter-Williams remains rough around the edges, Greivis Vasquez had been having the worst year of his career before being sidelined by ankle surgery and Tyler Ennis has supplied more questions than answers.
Even if the Bucks are still MCW believers, they could use a potential-laden prospect behind him. Cameron Payne, who notched 20.2 points and six assists in college, has the skills to fill that role—and perhaps surpass Carter-Williams sooner rather than later.
18. Houston Rockets: Larry Nance Jr., PF, Wyoming
Original Pick: Sam Dekker
The Houston Rockets' on-court production has lagged well behind their on-paper talent. The gap between the two was wide enough to cost Kevin McHale his coaching job after only 11 games, and the locker room seems in dire need of energy, grit and intensity.
Those three traits just happen to be among Larry Nance Jr.'s biggest strengths. His blue-collar mentality could help bring this roster together, and his explosive athleticism would pay dividends in Houston's fast-break game.
Nos. 19-21: Lyles, Harrell, Anderson
19. Washington Wizards: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Original Pick: Jerian Grant (traded to New York Knicks)
The Washington Wizards' transition to a pace-and-space style is underway. They're racing across the floor at a top-five speed and attempting more than seven extra triples a night compared to last season (24.1, up from 16.8). But their stretch 4 options are limited—Nene has never been a shooter, Kris Humphries is scrambling to add the three to his arsenal and Jared Dudley is undersized.
Trey Lyles has the ingredients to fill that role. His perimeter skills are strong enough that he suited up at small forward last season, and at 6'10", he has the size to bang underneath. His versatility should allow him to stay on the floor no matter what type of game Washington wants to play.
20. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Original Pick: Delon Wright
The Toronto Raptors should be set at four positions for the foreseeable future. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make up one of the league's premier backcourts, Jonas Valanciunas continues to thrive at the 5 and DeMarre Carroll has a four-year, $60 million commitment to man the 3.
But the power forward spot may need a makeover soon. Luis Scola turns 36 in April, Patrick Patterson has never played worse (9.6 PER) and Anthony Bennett has somehow taken a step back. Montrezl Harrell is overloaded with energy, and his effort shines no matter his workload. In other words, the Raptors could confidently view him as either a glue-guy starter or hard-working reserve.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Justin Anderson, SG, Virginia
Original Pick: Justin Anderson
Justin Anderson has a drool-worthy skill set. For evidence of it, look no further than NBA.com's rookie survey. In the poll, first-year players gave the three-and-D swingman the third-best chance (along with Emmanuel Mudiay) of having the finest pro career among this freshman crop.
Wesley Matthews' rapid recovery has limited Anderson's opportunities, leaving the latter's stat sheet underwhelming in every aspect (2.2 points on 41 percent shooting, 1.1 rebounds in 6.3 minutes). But as an explosive athlete with three-point range and a willingness to defend, his outlook hasn't dimmed during his quiet start.
Nos. 22-24: Dekker, Wright, Mickey
22. Chicago Bulls: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Original Pick: Bobby Portis
With Mike Dunleavy Jr. sidelined indefinitely, Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has limited options to address his team's lack of production at the 3 spot. Opening-night starter Tony Snell owns an unsightly 34.5 shooting percentage, Doug McDermott has the highest defensive rating (100.5) of any regular and Nikola Mirotic is best-suited to play the 4.
Sam Dekker could change that equation. He's an athletic jack of all trades, meaning he could fill whatever role Hoiberg needs him to play. Dekker's versatility could help power the Bulls' half-court offense, and his combination of quickness and mobility would pay dividends in the open floor.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
Original Pick: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (traded to Brooklyn Nets)
The Portland Trail Blazers already know they've assembled their starting backcourt of the present and future with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. However, they're still learning what they have behind that prolific pair. They should already have an inkling that they need a more reliable backup for Lillard than sophomore Tim Frazier (31 percent shooting, 2.4 PER).
Stability hasn't yet been a strength for Delon Wright, but in Toronto he's buried behind Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph. A consistent role could yield consistent production for the 23-year-old stat-sheet stuffer. Wright tallied 15.0 points, 5.8 boards, 5.2 assists and 2.3 steals a night in college, which is a testament to his malleability. And at 6'5", he should be able to join either of the Blazers' starting guards.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU
Original Pick: Tyus Jones (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves)
The Cleveland Cavaliers finally have a healthy roster. What they don't have, though, is an intimidating rim protector. No one averages even a block per game, and Cleveland ranks 27th with 3.9 rejections per game.
Freshman forward Jordan Mickey could fill that void. Armed with a 7'3¼" wingspan and explosive athleticism, he can play much larger than his 6'8" frame. His lateral quickness also allows him to switch onto a perimeter player in pick-and-roll coverage. On a team overloaded with offense, Mickey could find his niche at the opposite end of the floor.
Nos. 25-27: Holmes, Milutinov, Grant
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Richaun Holmes, PF, Bowling Green
Original Pick: Jarell Martin
If you haven't heard of freshman forward Richaun Holmes, you should ask Al Horford about him. The All-Star center found himself on the wrong end of a posterizing throwdown by the springy Holmes, who averaged 14.7 points on 56.3 percent shooting (41.9 from three), eight rebounds and 2.7 blocks last season.
Two of those numbers, when taken in tandem, should leap off your screen: 41.9 percent three-point shooting and 2.7 blocks. The number of players who excel in those two areas can be counted on one hand. With the Memphis Grizzlies shifting away from their grit-and-grind style, Holmes could be the new-age, floor-spacing big they need.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Nikola Milutinov, C, Serbia
Original Pick: Nikola Milutinov
When the San Antonio Spurs deem a foreign player worthy of a draft-night selection, the only reasonable response is wholehearted agreement. Considering previous international picks have delivered the likes of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Luis Scola, Leandro Barbosa, Beno Udrih, Ian Mahinmi, Tiago Splitter and Goran Dragic, they've seemingly found the formula for what should be an inexact science.
If someone wants to say Nikola Milutinov isn't the right fit in the Alamo City, well, they're bolder than us. The 6'11" Serbian 7-footer sounds like he belongs in silver and black. ESPN.com's Chad Ford mentioned mobility, solid footwork and sound fundamentals among Milutinov's strengths. We should probably plan for him to become a rotation regular—at least—down the line.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
Original Pick: Larry Nance Jr.
Kobe Bryant might be the public poster child for the Los Angeles Lakers' sticky hands, but really, that's been a team-wide epidemic. The Lakers have the league's fourth-lowest assist percentage (52.1), and no one is averaging four helpers per game.
First-year floor general Jerian Grant already understands when to find his own shots and when to set them up for his teammates. Having a father (Harvey), uncle (Horace) and brother (Jerami) with NBA experience should have Jerian prepared for the Hollywood spotlight. His comfort playing with pace would also help the Lakers take advantage of their growing collection of young athletes.
Nos. 28-30: Hunter, McCullough, Looney
28. Boston Celtics: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
Original Pick: R.J. Hunter
R.J. Hunter has had a quiet start to his NBA career, but the promise of his perimeter stroke still makes him a worthy investment for the Boston Celtics. The team needs more quantity-plus-quality gunners to make head coach Brad Stevens' system successful. The Shamrocks attempt the fourth-most triples (27.9 per game), but they are just 21st in long-range accuracy (33.6 percent).
The 6'5" off-guard can shoot from just about anywhere, and he can create his own looks off the dribble. His percentage (27.3 from three) hasn't come close to his potential yet, but his rapid release, smooth mechanics and supreme confidence increase his odds of becoming a dangerous shooter.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse
Original Pick: Chris McCullough
No issue at all with the Brooklyn Nets' original pick. They desperately need to find a difference-maker, and at this stage of the draft, all the potential stars come with red flags. Chris McCullough is no different—he's still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January.
But he has the ceiling—on both sides of the ball—of a lottery pick. Long, athletic and smooth, he's a project well worth undertaking, particularly for a franchise with draft debts to pay in each of the next five years.
30. Golden State Warriors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Original Pick: Kevon Looney
With a brilliant 28-1 record, the Golden State Warriors are proving what they already knew in June—their current roster needs no lift from an unseasoned rookie. This rotation has already produced one title and looks like the early favorite to snag a second.
The fully stocked Dubs can afford to take the long view with this pick, and they'll handle it the same way they did on draft night. They'll roll the dice on 6'9" forward Kevon Looney's versatility and upside, hoping he can force his way into their championship system after hip surgery.