2015 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Elite Prospects Who Will Make Quick Impact

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 23, 2015

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 21:  D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes takes a free htrow in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 21, 2015 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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
Selection No.SelectionTeam
1Jahlil Okafor, C, DukeNew York Knicks
2Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C, KentuckyMinnesota Timberwolves
3D'Angelo Russell, SG/PG, Ohio StatePhiladelphia 76ers
4Emmanuel Mudiay, PG/SG, CongoL.A. Lakers
5Stanley Johnson, SF/PF, ArizonaOrlando Magic
6Mario Hezonja, SG, CroatiaSacramento Kings
7Willie Cauley-Stein, C, KentuckyDetroit Pistons
8Justise Winslow, SF, DukeDenver Nuggets
9Kristaps Porzingas, PF, LatviaAtlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets)
10Devin Booker. SG, KentuckyCharlotte Hornets
11Myles Turner, C/PF, TexasIndiana Pacers
12Frank Kaminsky, C, WisconsinUtah Jazz
13Kevon Looney, PF, UCLAPhoenix Suns
14Jerian Grant, PG, Notre DameHouston Rockets (via New Orleans Pelicans)
15Bobby Portis. PF, ArkansasBoston Cetics
16Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SG/SF, ArizonaPhiladelphia 76ers (via Miami Heat)
17Jakob Poeltl, C, UtahMilwaukee Bucks
18Kris Dunn, PG, ProvidenceOklahoma City Thunder
19Trey Lyles, PF, KEntuckyWashington Wizards
20Caris LeVert, SG, MichiganChicago Bulls
21Montrezl Harrell, PF, LouisvilleToronto Raptors
22Sam Dekker, SF, WisconsinDallas Mavericks
23R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia StateSan Antonio Spurs
24Tyus Jones, PG, DukeCleveland Cavaliers
25Buddy Hield, SG, OklahomaBoston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers)
26Christian Wood, PF, UNLVPortland Trail Blazers
27Robert Upshaw, C, WashingtonL.A. Lakers (via Houston Rockets)
28Justin Anderson, SF, VirginiaMemphis Grizzlies
29Delon Wright, PG, UtahBrooklyn Nets (via Atlanta Hawks)
30Cliff Alexander, PF, KansasGolden State Warriors
draft order per DraftExpress.com, picks by Mazique.

Jahlil Okafor

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Jahlil Okafor #15 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots over Skylar Spencer #0 of the San Diego State Aztecs during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte,
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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. 

photo credit: Brian Mazique

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.

D'Angelo Russell

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes acknowledges the crowd against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 19, 2015
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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.

photo credit: Brian Mazique

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.

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 12: Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 12, 2011 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

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.

Montrezl Harrell

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 22:  Montrezl Harrell #24 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts against the Northern Iowa Panthers against the Northern Iowa Panthers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Sea
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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

Both measure far shorter than 6'9" with Harrell at 6'6.5" in shoes for Team USA Basketball back in 2013. Faried was listed at 6'7.5" in shoes in his last official measurement at the 2011 NBA combine.

photo credit: Brian Mazique

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.

Willie J. Allen/Associated Press

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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