NBA rookies are expected to make an immediate impact more than any other major sports' first-year players. Aside from draft-and-stash prospects, the expectation is that the rookies would join the regular rotation for their teams sooner rather than later.
The 2015 NBA draft doesn't look to be one of the strongest on paper, but we obviously won't know for sure until the guys are in the league for two to three years. This mock draft will spotlight three players who figure to make the biggest immediate impact, no matter where they land.
|2015 NBA Mock Draft|
|1||Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke||New York Knicks|
|2||Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C, Kentucky||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|3||D'Angelo Russell, SG/PG, Ohio State||Philadelphia 76ers|
|4||Emmanuel Mudiay, PG/SG, Congo||L.A. Lakers|
|5||Stanley Johnson, SF/PF, Arizona||Orlando Magic|
|6||Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia||Sacramento Kings|
|7||Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky||Detroit Pistons|
|8||Justise Winslow, SF, Duke||Denver Nuggets|
|9||Kristaps Porzingas, PF, Latvia||Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets)|
|10||Devin Booker. SG, Kentucky||Charlotte Hornets|
|11||Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas||Indiana Pacers|
|12||Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin||Utah Jazz|
|13||Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA||Phoenix Suns|
|14||Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame||Houston Rockets (via New Orleans Pelicans)|
|15||Bobby Portis. PF, Arkansas||Boston Cetics|
|16||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SG/SF, Arizona||Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami Heat)|
|17||Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah||Milwaukee Bucks|
|18||Kris Dunn, PG, Providence||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|19||Trey Lyles, PF, KEntucky||Washington Wizards|
|20||Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan||Chicago Bulls|
|21||Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville||Toronto Raptors|
|22||Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin||Dallas Mavericks|
|23||R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State||San Antonio Spurs|
|24||Tyus Jones, PG, Duke||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|25||Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma||Boston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers)|
|26||Christian Wood, PF, UNLV||Portland Trail Blazers|
|27||Robert Upshaw, C, Washington||L.A. Lakers (via Houston Rockets)|
|28||Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia||Memphis Grizzlies|
|29||Delon Wright, PG, Utah||Brooklyn Nets (via Atlanta Hawks)|
|30||Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas||Golden State Warriors|
|draft order per DraftExpress.com, picks by Mazique.|
The 6'11", 270-pound Duke Blue Devils big man is not the type of big-man prospect that Anthony Davis was, but he's still a highly skilled pivot player who will undoubtedly score effectively in the NBA. Back in April of 2014, before Jahlil Okafor had played a minute of basketball at Duke, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein had high praise for the young man from Chicago, Illinois:
I'm not saying Okafor is going to be Tim Duncan because that wouldn't be fair. Duncan is one of the best big men to ever play basketball at any level, but Okafor is going to be the best pure center that the college game has seen in quite some time.
He isn't blessed with excellent foot speed or great explosion. However, his footwork is advanced, and he has a nice shooting touch from the field—though it hasn't helped his miserable free-throw shooting.
He's made just 51 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe as a freshman.
There's hope that number can improve. According to Hoop-Math.com, Okafor makes 52.7 percent of his jump shots from two-point range. That's a high percentage for any college player, let alone a big man. In comparison, the Kentucky Wildcats' Karl-Anthony Towns makes just 43.5 percent of his two-point jump shots. Even a proven perimeter threat like the Wisconsin Badgers' Frank Kaminsky makes just 49.5 percent of his jumpers from inside the three-point arc.
When you then factor in that Okafor has a frame and the strength to effectively hold his position on the block, you have a player who can do damage on the block with his back to the basket, or as a face-up post threat.
That, basketball fans, is the type of presence that commands a double-team. When you command a double-team, you make everyone on your team better—as long as you're a willing passer.
Okafor needs some work in this area, but most young post players do. He'll never be a great shot-blocker or devastating rebounder, but his ability to score should be apparent early on and consistent throughout his career.
When a perimeter player has size, swagger and one-on-one dribble moves, he has the foundation of a future star. The Ohio State Buckeyes' D'Angelo Russell fits that description. The crafty lefty can really break down a defense.
He doesn't blow past opponents with blazing speed, but he has quickness, ball control and strength to get a step on defenders. Knocking down 41 percent of his three-point attempts also doesn't hurt.
It's hard not to see a little Brandon Roy in his game. Despite the fact that he isn't the most explosive athlete, like Roy, Russell has a knack for getting to the room and creating enough space off the dribble to get his jump shot off.
He also rebounds at a high clip for a guard with 5.7 boards per game, and he has proven to be a willing passer, averaging five assists per contest.
Russell doesn't lack when it comes to confidence. Buckeyes' head coach Thad Matta said this about his freshman star, per Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com:
"The great thing about him is he wants to take the shot," Matta said of Russell. "He doesn't remember the last shot. He says, 'Hey, give me the next one.' And I love that about him."
His first and perhaps last NBA team will too.
Undersized power forwards aren't usually guys you tab as players primed to make an immediate impact, but the Louisville Cardinals' Montrezl Harrell could one of those energetic and athletic enigmas that routinely records 12-point, 14-rebound double-doubles in the NBA.
There are some undeniable similarities between Harrell and Denver Nuggets forward the 'Manimal' Kenneth Faried.
What they lack in height, Harrell and Faried make up for in wingspan and athleticism. Harrell has a 7'3" wingspan and 8'11" standing reach. Faried's length numbers were very similar with a 7'0" wingspan and 9'0" standing reach.
Faried's ability to explode off the floor can be seen on a nightly basis, while Harrell has consistently proved he can finish above the rim at Louisville. Where Harrell may have an edge on Faried at the same stage of his career—and even now—is in the area of footwork and post moves.
Harrell has worked hard to add some depth to his offensive game, and it has shown in his last two seasons at Louisville.
His scoring average went from 5.7 as a freshman to 14 as a sophomore to 15.5 during the 2014-15 campaign. Harrell will never be a go-to guy in the pros, but as a workhorse, rebounder, defender and spark plug, he could be a nice addition to an NBA team.
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