Re-Drafting the 1st Round of the 2015 NBA Draft, Midseason Edition
If NBA teams knew in June what they know now about the league's rookies, how many would ask for a mulligan?
Would the Los Angeles Lakers, who've seen head coach Byron Scott berate No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell after seemingly every game, take a longer look at center Jahlil Okafor or power forward Kristaps Porzingis? Might a few of the nine teams that passed on Justise Winslow think twice about letting the gifted Duke Blue Devil drop to the Miami Heat? Is there any chance power forward Bobby Portis would still land in the Chicago Bulls' lap at No. 22?
And if general managers had the benefit of hindsight, how would their knowledge of what's happened to their rosters in 2015-16 affect the picks they made and trades they triggered last summer?
For our purposes, we'll stop at the bottom of the first round, using each prospect's performance through half a season as a barometer for where he might land in a redone draft. The team that actually drafted each player is listed in parentheses.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Actual Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has more than lived up to his billing as the top prospect in the draft class of 2015. He's second among rookies in points (16.1) and blocks (1.8) and first in rebounds (9.4), and he's tied for ninth in the entire league in double-doubles (23).
According to Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell, Towns' shooting stroke is already the prettiest—and deadliest—on the team.
"He is our most consistent shooter," Mitchell told MinnPost's Britt Robson. "K-Mart is supposed to be a shooter. Karl is a better shooter than him. A 20-year-old rookie."
And that's to say nothing of Towns' interior game, which has also turned his coach's head.
"Karl is just fluid, man," Mitchell went on. "He can just go drop-step [claps his hands] and go up and under."
With Towns joining swingman Andrew Wiggins, the reigning Rookie of the Year, the T-Wolves have two tantalizing pillars around which to build for the future—and wouldn't likely have it any other way.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C (New York Knicks)
Actual Pick: D'Angelo Russell
If Towns is No. 1 in his rookie class, Kristaps Porzingis is 1A. His combination of size (7'3"), shooting (34.2 percent on 3.4 three-point attempts per game), board crashing (2.6 offensive rebounds, 3.7 second-chance points per 36 minutes) and rim protection (two blocks per game, 46.2 percent opponent field-goal percentage at the hoop) had Kevin Durant, a rare specimen in his own right, comparing Porzingis to a unicorn.
The Los Angeles Lakers got a close look at this mythical beast from Latvia during the predraft process—and then some.
"I was getting dizzy in the workout, so tired that I couldn't speak, or put a sentence together," Porzingis told the Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski of his audition in L.A. "There were a few moments where I thought I might collapse, but no moments where I was going to give up."
Even so, the Lakers passed on Porzingis with the No. 2 pick. Per Woj, they felt he was "too long term of a project."
So far, he's shown himself to be anything but. The New York Knicks' prized rookie has as many double-doubles this season (16) as Golden State Warriors' All-Star forward Draymond Green.
"After that I was like, ‘All right, OK, I’m riding with you from now on,'" Anthony told Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins regarding his reaction to Porzingis' childhood cornrows. "The kid has an aura about him."
The kind of aura that, along with unique skill set and prodigious upside, would've made the 20-year-old a perfect extension of the Lakers' storied lineage of big men into the modern NBA.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jahlil Okafor, C (Philadelphia 76ers)
Actual Pick: Jahlil Okafor
With the heights that Towns and Porzingis have reached, there's no disrespect in calling Jahlil Okafor the third-best player in his class. Nor is there any shame or disappointment in him being just that.
He leads all rookies in scoring (17.4 points) and ranks third in rebounds (7.3 per game) behind only Towns and Porzingis.
Since the Sixers brought in a real-life professional point guard, Okafor has looked much more like the dominant force down low he was at Duke. According to NBA.com, he's converted a scorching 63.9 percent of his shots while sharing the floor with Ish Smith, who Philly acquired from New Orleans in late December.
Pair Okafor with something more than a backup-caliber floor general going forward, and the Chicago native may make another giant leap.
4. New York Knicks: Myles Turner, C (Indiana Pacers)
Actual Pick: Kristaps Porzingis
Just because Porzingis is already off the board doesn't mean the New York Knicks can't scoop up a skilled big man with the No. 4 pick.
Since mid-January, Myles Turner has been every bit as promising as the more ballyhooed giants in his class. Over his last six games, he's averaged 19.7 points on 62.2 percent shooting on one end and swatted away 2.5 shots a night on the other.
Any concerns about the 19-year-old playing next to another big—like, say, center Robin Lopez—went right out the window when he dropped 20 points next to center Ian Mahinmi in Turner's first career start for the Indiana Pacers at power forward. He doesn't have Porzingis' ridiculous shooting range, but he's comfortable popping out beyond 16 feet (49.3 percent on shots in that zone, per Basketball-Reference.com) and can gallop from end to end.
If not for a chip fracture in his left thumb that cost him 20 games between mid-November and late December, Turner might be pushing Porzingis and Towns for Rookie of the Year honors. And if he'd wound up in New York instead of Indianapolis, we'd all probably be hearing much more about Turner's star turn right now.
5. Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, SF (Miami Heat)
Actual Pick: Mario Hezonja
The Orlando Magic are already loaded with athletic wings who aren't exactly knockdown shooters. Why, then, would they spring for Justise Winslow, whose shooting splits (40.8 percent from the field, 26.8 percent from three, 67.3 percent from the line) might make your eyes bleed?
Because Magic coach Scott Skiles prizes defense above all else, and defense is what Winslow does best. According to NBA.com, he's held his marks 2.1 percent below their average shooting percentages this season, including a 4.7 percent difference from three.
"Nineteen years old," Dwyane Wade told Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley. "I can't imagine what that would have been like for me—guarding Kobe [Bryant] and [Allen] Iverson at 19. I wasn't ready. I just know when he's on the floor, we're a lot better defensive team."
Winslow's ability to guard multiple positions, at 6'7" and 225 pounds, makes that so.
"This is a dynamic wing league," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told Buckley. "This is a league of speed, quickness, athleticism. Guys who can do a lot at the 6'6" to 6'9" range. And that's one of the reasons we drafted him. You have to be able to have guys on your roster that can compete at those positions."
The Magic could use some of Winslow's versatility and tenacity on that end. Since the start of 2016, they've been one of the seven worst defensive teams in the league while losing 12 out of 13 games.
6. Sacramento Kings: Devin Booker, SG (Phoenix Suns)
Actual Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein
Drafting a shooting guard in the lottery for the third time in as many years would've made the Sacramento Kings the subject of ridicule. But really, what have they done in recent years that hasn't had that effect?
Heck, they actually tripled up on centers when they selected Willie Cauley-Stein and subsequently signed Kosta Koufos with DeMarcus Cousins, the NBA's best big, already on the roster.
Why not do the same with Devin Booker? Unlike Cauley-Stein and Koufos, he'd have been better than the incumbents he'd be battling.
Ben McLemore, the No. 7 pick in 2013 and the Kings' current starter at the 2, is starting to find his stroke (46 percent from the field, 37.2 percent from three) after two underwhelming seasons. Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 pick in 2014, still hasn't scratched 40 percent shooting on field goals since Sacramento dumped him on the Sixers.
Booker (46.5 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three) is already ahead of both of them and, as the NBA's youngest player, is three years younger.
Granted, the Kings don't seem too concerned about adding youth now that they're gunning for a playoff spot. But in terms of pure shooting, Booker would've given Sacramento another weapon to help them space the floor for Boogie's bruising post game and point guard Rajon Rondo's slices to the rim.
7. Denver Nuggets: Cameron Payne, PG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Actual Pick: Emmanuel Mudiay
Assuming the Denver Nuggets are still keen to nab the best available point guard, Cameron Payne now looks like their best bet.
For one, Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets' actual selection at No. 7, has been brutal as both a shooter (33.2 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from three) and caretaker (16.2 turnovers per 100 possessions, the highest mark of any guard among rotation regulars).
Payne, on the other hand, has been far more reliable on both counts. Since taking over as Russell Westbrook's primary backup in late December, he's nailed 43.1 percent of his threes and turned the ball over just 7.1 times per 100 possessions.
At 21, Payne doesn't have the upside of the 19-year-old Mudiay. Nor can he, at 6'3" and 185 pounds, match Mudiay's impressive frame (6'5", 200 pounds).
But Payne came into the NBA more prepared to captain an offense after doing so for two seasons with the Murray State Racers. And with the Nuggets closer to competence than expected—thanks to small forward Danilo Gallinari's resurgence and the contributions of power forward Kenneth Faried and sixth man Will Barton, among others—Payne could put this franchise more affirmatively back on the right track.
8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Lyles, PF (Utah Jazz)
Actual Pick: Stanley Johnson
The Detroit Pistons have come a long way this season but could still use a stretchy, skilled power forward to pair with Andre Drummond up front. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Zach Lowe, Stan Van Gundy has his eye on Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, whom he coached in Orlando, to fill that role.
In this alternate re-draft universe, the Pistons wouldn't have to spend top dollar on a stretch 4. Instead, they could nab Kentucky's Trey Lyles with the No. 8 pick.
Since taking over at power forward for the then-injured Derrick Favors with the Utah Jazz, Lyles has knocked down a sizzling 47.4 percent of his threes. He's also flashed some nifty passing and cutting, which, as Lowe recently reported, has some inside the Jazz organization seeing the next Draymond Green in their midst:
Snyder has privately suggested Lyles might model Green's drive-and-kick game, Lyles said, and Snyder is trying to control his optimism about Lyles' recent play. "I like to say Trey has a good nervous system," Snyder said. "And he's clearly different than our other bigs in a way that gives us versatility."
Unlike Green, Lyles, listed at 6'10" and 234 pounds, isn't undersized for his position. Throw in his skill, savvy and youth (he doesn't turn 21 until November), and Lyles looks like the perfect partner for the 22-year-old Drummond going forward.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Bobby Portis, PF (Chicago Bulls)
Actual Pick: Frank Kaminsky
The Charlotte Hornets spent the No. 9 pick on Frank Kaminsky, the college player of the year at Wisconsin, but probably would've been better off trading it for the Boston Celtics' stash of picks. And if the Hornets still insisted on keeping it, they'd have to take a good, long look at Bobby Portis.
The Arkansas native and reigning SEC Player of the Year has flashed some intriguing potential amid all the injuries to the Chicago Bulls' once-crowded front line. In the first extended appearance of his career in December, Portis poured in 20 points and 11 rebounds while knocking down a pair of threes in New York.
Since then, he's turned in four more double-digit scoring nights, including a sturdy double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) against the Knicks on New Year's Day.
With Al Jefferson going down, Portis would've had ample opportunity to peddle his wares in Charlotte this season. Instead, the Hornets have been left to divert major minutes to Marvin Williams, while Kaminsky has struggled to shoot 40 percent from the floor.
10. Miami Heat: D'Angelo Russell, PG (Los Angeles Lakers)
Actual Pick: Justise Winslow
What is D'Angelo Russell, really?
He was billed as a point guard coming out of Ohio State, but "I've never really played point guard in my life," he told the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus. "I went to college, I was a basketball player and I played every position. I got to this level and point guard was just thrown at me, so it's something you've got to adjust to. It's the hardest position in this league. I'd rather it be hard now than later. I'll figure it out."
The Miami Heat would've given him the leeway to do so—or, better yet, to forge a less conventional path within their ecosystem. Dwyane Wade didn't fit comfortably into either backcourt spot coming out of Marquette, and he turned out quite well under Pat Riley's watchful eye.
Not that Russell is or will ever be on Wade's level. But with so many veterans to serve as mentors, Goran Dragic entrenched at point guard and a head coach, in Erik Spoelstra, who's as creative as anyone in his profession when it comes to fitting frameworks to his players, the 19-year-old would have the freedom and the time to find his true self on the court.
11. Indiana Pacers: Frank Kaminsky, C (Charlotte Hornets)
Actual Pick: Myles Turner
Once their disappointing 2014-15 campaign came to a close, the Indiana Pacers made it clear: Change was in store for their frontcourt, particularly Roy Hibbert.
"We assume he's going to be back and if he comes back, we're probably going to play another style," said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, per the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner. "And I can't guarantee him anything. He's going to have to earn it."
Instead, the Pacers shipped Hibbert to the Lakers in July after taking Myles Turner at the draft in June. With Turner off the board here, Frank Kaminsky becomes the next-best option for Indiana.
Kaminsky may not be the speediest big man around, but his credibility from the perimeter (33.9 percent on 2.5 threes per game) would open up the floor for Paul George and company to make moves toward the middle.
And no, not the kinds of moves that Kaminsky is capable of.
12. Utah Jazz: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG (Denver Nuggets)
Actual Pick: Trey Lyles
The Utah Jazz are still a promising point guard away from unlocking their true potential. Per ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, the Jazz remain on the prowl, in part because they don't know what Dante Exum is yet:
What they do need is a much better point guard, even when Exum returns next season. He'll be 21, coming off an ACL tear, and anyone who says they know what he is, or what he could be, is lying. The Jazz will need someone to hold the fort until Exum is ready, and that player has to be better than Trey Burke and Raul Neto.
Emmanuel Mudiay wouldn't be an ideal fit. Lowe goes on to mention that Utah, with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood able to create, need a guard who's "a spot-up guy willing to grind on defense." Mudiay, with his crooked jumper (33.2 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from three), certainly isn't that.
But give the 19-year-old time, and he'll figure to improve across the board. He's looked much better since returning from an ankle injury that knocked him out for 14 games in December and January. In his last eight outings, Mudiay has averaged 14.3 points and 5.6 assists while knocking down 41 percent of his shots, including 38.1 percent of his threes.
13. Phoenix Suns: Larry Nance Jr., PF (Los Angeles Lakers)
Actual Pick: Devin Booker
On draft day, the Phoenix Suns didn't have any concerns at power forward, with the Morris twins holding down the fort. It wasn't until July, when the Suns dealt Marcus to Detroit, that Markieff Morris started to go nuclear in Phoenix.
Somehow, he's still a Sun, so the team isn't desperate for help at the 4 just yet. But if Phoenix's front office had any inklings around the 2015 draft about trading Marcus—and understood that his brother would be upset by that—taking Larry Nance Jr. would've made sense.
The University of Wyoming grad has emerged as one of the gems of his class' lower rungs. In 22 starts with the Los Angeles Lakers, Nance chipped in 7.3 points on 55.6 percent shooting, pulled down six rebounds, picked off 1.2 steals and flushed home his fair share of highlight jams.
Nance's athleticism and hustle would've made him a solid fit to grow alongside the young backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. And since Nance's dad was drafted by and spent his first six-and-a-half seasons in Phoenix, having this high-flying apple fall right next to the proverbial tree would've been a bit of basketball poetry.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Stanley Johnson, SF (Detroit Pistons)
Actual Pick: Cameron Payne
There's no easy way for the Oklahoma City Thunder to replace a stud like Kevin Durant if he skips town via free agency. But in Stanley Johnson, OKC could at least nab an insurance plan with some intriguing upside.
Folks around the NBA have already taken notice of what a physical specimen the 19-year-old L.A. native is, at 6'7" and 245 pounds.
"The first time I saw him in person was yesterday and I couldn’t get over how big and strong he is," Nuggets coach Michael Malone told Pistons.com's Keith Langlois. "That is a very strong, thick young man. He’s a guy, like all rookies, who has good moments and bad moments, but I know he can guard a lot of positions. He’s tough. His shot is getting better, he’s very good at getting to the basket and he does not lack any confidence. I think he’s got a very bright future ahead of him because of his ability to see both ends of the floor at his level."
Since mid-December, Johnson has shown the Pistons that the future is now, scoring 9.4 points per game and shooting a respectable 36.5 percent from deep.
If Durant were to stay in OKC, the Thunder could eventually consider plugging in Johnson at the team's typical 3-and-D spot between KD and Russell Westbrook, where the injured (and three-point poor) Andre Roberson is the incumbent.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Mario Hezonja, SF (Orlando Magic)
Actual Pick: Kelly Oubre Jr.
The Atlanta Hawks used this pick to draft a wing (Kelly Oubre Jr.) whom they then dealt to Washington in a three-way trade that brought Tim Hardaway Jr. to Georgia.
If that's still the approach, the Hawks—and, by extension, the Wizards—would do well to gamble on Mario Hezonja.
The 20-year-old's wily ways have cost him some playing time in Orlando, but his size (6'8", 215 lbs), shooting ability (36.8 percent from three) and all-around fearlessness could help him become a star wherever he lands.
Just not yet.
16. Boston Celtics: Willie Cauley-Stein, C (Sacramento Kings)
Actual Pick: Terry Rozier
The Boston Celtics' frontcourt rotation has inspired more trade rumors and conspiracy theories than moments of hope and excitement this season. Brad Stevens has juggled Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, David Lee and Tyler Zeller without finding a consistent solution in the middle.
Willie Cauley-Stein might not change that, but he'd at least bring considerable upside to the mix. Since returning from his most recent injury, Cauley-Stein has averaged eight points on 57.1 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 combined steals and blocks in under 24 minutes for the Sacramento Kings.
The Kentucky product still has a long way to go to bring his offensive skill up to par. But as ESPN.com's Zach Lowe noted, his size, length and athleticism make him fun to watch on both ends of the floor:
Cauley-Stein has been as advertised on defense, and he's more entertaining than expected on the other end, mostly because the Kings are addicted to throwing lobs that test the limits of his leaping ability and the stickiness of his hands. Even alley-oops that die with Cauley-Stein flying out of bounds or dropping the ball in midair are must-see TV.
By and large, that still beats what Boston has been getting out of its bigs.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Oubre Jr., SF (Washington Wizards)
Actual Pick: Rashad Vaughn
Why the Milwaukee Bucks opted for a scoring wing in UNLV's Rashad Vaughn isn't entirely clear. But if that's the direction Jason Kidd and company were going, they'd do well to pick up Kelly Oubre Jr. here.
The Kansas product has been up and down for the Washington Wizards this season, though his stroke from deep (36.2 percent on threes) points to a player who could help the Bucks unclog the court on offense.
And with his trampoline-esque bounce off the floor, Oubre would fit right in with long leapers Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams and John Henson.
18. Houston Rockets: Richaun Holmes, PF (Philadelphia 76ers)
Actual Pick: Sam Dekker
If Richaun Holmes was good enough for Sam Hinkie in Philadelphia, he'd probably catch the eye of Hinkie's former boss, Daryl Morey, in Houston.
As it happens, the Rockets were (and still are) in need of a long-term solution. Holmes might not be that guy in the end, but his energy and athleticism would come in handy for a ho-hum Houston squad.
"I knew from day one that he was going to be a good player in this league," Sixers forward Carl Landry told Philly.com's Bob Cooney of Holmes. "He's a competitor, has a good basketball IQ, understands the game and spacing. He's athletic and can run the floor, can shoot. For a big, he can post a little bit and all those things will get better over time. He's a guy that I see running in this league for a long time."
Chances are, the 22-year-old could give Clint Capela, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas a run for their money at the 4 in Space City.
19. Washington Wizards: Jerian Grant, PG (Washington Wizards)
Actual Pick: Jerian Grant
Even in a re-draft, Jerian Grant went in the right spot. The Washington Wizards traded Harvey Grant's son to the Knicks in the same deal that sent Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta and Kelly Oubre Jr. to D.C.
The Notre Dame product has started to show why New York was after him in the first place. In his last four games, Grant has chipped in 13 points twice and six or more assists three times off the Knicks bench.
According to Knicks coach Derek Fisher, Grant's improvement has stemmed from a tireless work ethic.
"The interesting thing about Jerian is, maybe what [reporters] like to say about me, you don’t know what he’s feeling," Fisher said in mid-January, per the New York Post's Kevin Kernan. "His facial expressions don’t really change. The same kind of attitude, the same kind of daily disposition, so you don’t know if he’s frustrated, OK with it, you just don’t know, but the one thing that you do know is that every morning at least two hours before practice he is on the court working out, improving, putting his time in, doing what he needs to do to get better.’"
20. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, PF (Houston Rockets)
Actual Pick: Delon Wright
Amir Johnson's departure to Boston left the Toronto Raptors with a hole at power forward—one that Montrezl Harrell could've filled.
The Louisville product has averaged 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per 36 minutes in Houston while converting 65.4 percent of his field-goal attempts. In the eyes of the Dream Shake's Josh Reese, Harrell is fit to start at power forward next to Dwight Howard:
Harrell is the best, most-underused option the Rockets have. Harrell brings a lot of the values the Rockets say they want on the team: toughness, aggressiveness, unselfishness, and hustle. All those and more sum up what Harrell provides when he is on the court.
Pace and the effort pick up when Harrell hits the floor. Like Corey Brewer, Harrell makes a lot of winning plays (just in a different way).
If Harrell is good enough to complement an established star in Howard and outwork Clint Capela, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, he could certainly hold his own next to a rising one like Jonas Valanciunas on a more defense-oriented Raptors squad.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF (Brooklyn Nets)
Actual Pick: Justin Anderson
The Dallas Mavericks spent the 21st pick on an athletic, defensive-minded wing in Justin Anderson. Given a mulligan, they just might cast their lot at this spot with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Granted, Hollis-Jefferson's fractured ankle complicates things a bit. But before the injury, the Arizona product was holding his own (and then some) at small forward for the Brooklyn Nets. In 14 starts, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 5.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals while offering up stout defense on opposing swingmen.
With the looming threat of Chandler Parsons skipping town this summer, the Mavs would need a prospect to groom at his position. Hollis-Jefferson has been more impressive than Anderson thus far, so he would be the pick.
22. Chicago Bulls: R.J. Hunter, SG (Boston Celtics)
Actual Pick: Bobby Portis
The Chicago Bulls have missed Mike Dunleavy Jr. all season. Without his stroke, Fred Hoiberg's offense—25th in efficiency, per NBA.com—has yet to take off.
Not that R.J. Hunter would've corrected this problem on his own. He's hit just 25 percent of his threes for the Celtics this season, albeit in limited playing time.
But, given time to acclimate to the NBA, the former March Madness star at Georgia State might just open up the floor for Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Chicago's offense.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Joseph Young, PG (Indiana Pacers)
Actual Pick: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
If the Portland Trail Blazers are still trading this pick to the Brooklyn Nets—which they did after selecting Rondae Hollis-Jefferson—why not use it to stock Brooklyn's now-depleted backcourt?
At that point, the Nets might not have known they'd buy out Deron Williams and had no clue about Jarrett Jack's impending knee injury. But they would've been so much better prepared for both eventualities with a lightning-quick point guard like Joseph Young on their roster.
The Oregon product has opened some eyes of late. In three games during the Indiana Pacers' recent Western Conference swing, he averaged 14 points and 6.7 assists while knocking down 51.5 percent of his shots and 40 percent of his threes.
It's a small sample but one that points to Young's potential in Indy—and, in this alternative universe, with the Nets.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tyus Jones, PG (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Actual Pick: Tyus Jones
The Cleveland Cavaliers' selection of Tyus Jones still makes sense for all involved. The Cavs dealt Jones—a native of Burnsville, Minnesota—to his home-state team for a pair of second-round picks.
Jones has played sparingly in Minneapolis, but the former Final Four Most Outstanding Player could be groomed as an option at the point should the T-Wolves decide, at some point, to move on from Ricky Rubio.
Jones, though, seems to be soaking up the experience of going against experienced guards in practice.
"Playing against Ricky, Zach [LaVine], Andre [Miller], those guys push me," he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Jerry Zgoda. "Being able to compete against them every day, you have no choice but to get better."
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Anthony Brown, SF (Los Angeles Lakers)
Actual Pick: Jarell Martin
The Memphis Grizzlies have searched high and low for shooting this season to little avail. Anthony Brown was spectacular in that capacity in college and has the stroke to be a solid marksman in the NBA in due course.
With Jeff Green and Courtney Lee both slated for free agency this summer, the Grizzlies could've prepped Brown to step into a bigger role in year two. In the meantime, Brown could push for a role in Dave Joerger's rotation with his defensive play.
"You can put him out there on the defensive end and he’s going to guard the guy," Lakers coach Byron Scott told the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina. "He’s going to use his athleticism and length."
26. San Antonio Spurs: Kevon Looney, PF (Golden State Warriors)
Actual Pick: Nikola Milutinov
What's better than one versatile, skilled forward out of UCLA? How about two of them?
That's what the San Antonio Spurs would have if they added Kevon Looney to a bench that already features fellow former Bruin Kyle Anderson.
Injuries have limited Looney so far this season. The Golden State Warriors' stacked rotation figures to do the same from here on out, just as the Spurs' would. In both situations, Looney would have the opportunity to sharpen his jump shot, tighten his handles and work on his snap judgment, be it in practice against championship-caliber pros or in live D-League action.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Terry Rozier, PG (Boston Celtics)
Actual Pick: Larry Nance Jr.
Without spending the No. 2 pick on D'Angelo Russell, the Lakers might still be hungry for a young point guard.
Enter Terry Rozier, a 6'2" bowling ball out of Louisville who's made his bones on the defensive end but has hardly spent time with the Celtics, let alone seen the parquet court at TD Garden, this season.
With the Lakers short on quality guards, Rozier would get some run, especially if he defends with the intensity and tenacity that head coach Byron Scott can't seem to squeeze out of his current crew.
28. Boston Celtics: Justin Anderson, SF (Dallas Mavericks)
Actual Pick: R.J. Hunter
Another athletic, defense-first wing for the Celtics? Why not?
At this point, Justin Anderson would be the best player available anyway. He showed off some intriguing skill during his days at the University of Virginia.
In Boston, Anderson would have an opportunity to spread his wings a bit more. That's the upshot of Brad Stevens' massive rotations, which have made it difficult at times for the C's to establish much continuity.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Delon Wright, PG (Toronto Raptors)
Actual Pick: Chris McCullough
The Nets' quest to pre-emptively restock their backcourt continues with Delon Wright. The L.A. native has the size (6'5") to defend shooting guards and the ball skills to play the point.
He'd certainly be getting more playing time in Brooklyn than he is in Toronto. With Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph soaking up minutes at guard, Wright's seen just 31 minutes of game time across 11 appearances. The Nets could peg Wright as a potential replacement for Joe Johnson once the former All-Star's contract expires this summer.
"I think I’m ready to play," Wright told the Toronto Star's Chris O'Leary. "I’m learning a lot from [Lowry] and Cory. [I’d like to] just get a chance to prove myself."
30. Golden State Warriors: Sam Dekker, PF (Houston Rockets)
Actual Pick: Kevon Looney
Like Kevon Looney, who the Warriors picked at No. 30, Sam Dekker is a multi-skilled forward who's spent most of this season battling back from surgery. Playing time wouldn't be any easier for him to come by in Oakland than it will be in Houston, where the Rockets remain in flux at power forward.
Not that Golden State would have to worry about finding much for him. The back injury that's kept Dekker out of action since November was reportedly a concern during his senior year at Wisconsin, per ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman. If the Warriors had an opportunity to draft Dekker then, they probably would've known from the start that he'd have to wait and watch for a while.
All stats accurate as of games played on Jan. 28, 2016.
Josh Martin covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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