2015 NBA Mock Draft: Post-Regular Season Edition
With the 2014-15 NBA regualr season complete, the projected draft order is one step closer to set. Next up is the May 20 lottery.
Underclassmen still have until April 26 to declare early, and we've already seen a tremendous number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors do just that.
Some potential first-round prospects we're predicting to return include Michigan's Caris LeVert and UNLV's Christian Wood.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, 6'11", PF/C, Freshman
With the highest two-way ceiling in the projected 2015 field, Karl-Anthony Towns' fit in Minnesota couldn't be any better.
He has the inside-out skill set and defensive potential to complement Nikola Pekovic, as well as the upside to ultimately replace him—if needed.
Towns' low-post game gradually progressed with each month, while his 81.3 percent free-throw shooting demonstrates the touch he didn't necessarily have the freedom to show off at Kentucky.
Compared to Duke's Jahlil Okafor, Towns is the better athlete, more versatile scorer and finer overall defender, both in pick-and-roll coverage and rim protection.
The Wolves might not get immediate Rookie of the Year-type results, but coming off a 16-win season, there isn't any rush. Towns and Andrew Wiggins could eventually be a dynamite one-two punch.
2. New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C, Freshman
Karl-Anthony Towns might offer greater upside, but for the New York Knicks, it's tough to complain about Jahlil Okafor at No. 2.
Okafor gives them an immediate scoring presence inside on a rookie contract—which is important for a team that is looking to build its roster through free agency.
From his back-to-the-basket game to his face-up attack, he's as sharp in the post as any big man we've seen in years. Okafor has a polished yet deep arsenal of go-to and counter moves, which allows him to consistently create high-percentage shots for himself.
There is no question he'll need to improve on defense (rim protection, pick-and-roll coverage), but if you're the Knicks, you draft him based on his offensive potential and the "sure thing" vibes he gives off.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Emmanuel Mudiay, China, 6'5", PG, 1996
Assuming general manager Sam Hinkie continues to draft based on long-term potential, it's tough to imagine him passing on Emmanuel Mudiay.
At 6'5", 200 pounds with above-the-rim burst for a point guard, Mudiay offers the most upside of anyone left, as well as the ability to fill a need in the Sixers backcourt.
Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell will be in play, as will Duke's Justise Winslow, but Mudiay's mismatch size and electric athleticism could give him an edge during workouts.
If he can convince the Sixers his jumper (13-of-38 from three, 27-of-47 from the line in China) and decision-making (3.3 turnovers per game through 12) are correctable, odds are he'll be the pick.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State, 6'5", PG/SG, Freshman
With Towns and Okafor off the board, you'd like to think the Lakers will grab whichever of the top two guards fall to them.
D'Angelo Russell would certainly work at No. 4. You could make the case he's as safe as anyone in this year's field, given his size, elite skill level and basketball IQ. Russell isn't as athletic as Mudiay, but he's the more polished scorer and passer, as well as the more dangerous shooter (95 made threes, 41.1 percent from deep) by a mile.
For the Lakers, a team expected to build the roster through free agency, Russell's versatility also holds value. L.A. could essentially go out and add anyone to pair alongside him, whether it's a point guard like Rajon Rondo or a 2-guard like Wesley Matthews.
5. Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'6", SF, Freshman
Given the identity of the Orlando Magic, Justise Winslow would seem like an obvious target for general manager Rob Hennigan, who's recently drafted athletic, defensive-minded players like Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo.
However, Winslow's offensive upside is equally as enticing as his defense and motor. We saw it during the NCAA tournament, when he averaged 16 points over Duke's final five wins.
Though still raw, he's flashed the ability to slash and finish through or above traffic, as well as stretch the floor as a shooter (41.8 percent on threes) and even knock down the occasional pull-up.
If he hits his stride and continues to improve, we could be talking about the top two-way 2015 prospect outside of Karl-Anthony Towns.
6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Junior
With a slight drop-off in perceived talent after No. 5, the Kings will still have a number of quality options to choose from, including Arizona's Stanley Johnson, Croatia's Mario Hezonja and Latvia's Kristaps Porzingis.
But Willie Cauley-Stein might have the edge, given the certainty he offers in terms of his strengths and projected role. The Kings would know what they're getting from Cauley-Stein, and it's something they can undoubtedly use.
He projects as the most valuable defensive asset in the draft, with the size and athleticism to protect the rim, as well as the foot speed to switch onto guards or pressure full court.
Chances are he can bring some of that defensive versatility to the table as a rookie. The Kings need it. They finished No. 27 in the league in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.
7. Denver Nuggets: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia, 7'0", PF, 1995
The Nuggets aren't in position to pass on talent to fill a need. They'll grab whoever is No. 1 on their board, regardless of position.
Kristaps Porzingis, the recent recipient of this year's Eurocup Rising Star Trophy, ultimately has the upside worthy of top-five looks. He offers something the Nuggets' big men don't: The ability to stretch the floor as a shooter and face up from 25 feet away.
At 7'0", he shot 45.9 percent from downtown in Eurocup play. He has a clean, quick-release jumper that's tough to contest, along with the ball skills to put it on the floor or separate into pull-ups, step-backs or fallaways.
He's also an exceptional athlete who can get up for buckets and blocks high above the rim.
There is a little bit of risk tied to his skinny 220-pound frame, but between the outside stroke, size and athleticism, Porzingis has a game built for today's NBA.
8. Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'8", SG/SF, 1995
With Mario Hezonja, the Pistons could land both the top available prospect and fill a need at the wing position.
At 6'8" with the ball skills of a 2-guard, Hezonja is one of the best athletes in the draft and a potential mismatch down the road. He's shooting 41.2 percent from downtown this year combined between Euroleague and Spanish ACB play.
And Barcelona has even used Hezonja as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, given his handle, vision and scoring ability.
According to MLive.com's David Mayo, Pistons head coach and president Stan Van Gundy will be making a postseason trip to Spain to check out Hezonja and Latvia's Kristaps Porzingis.
Arizona's Stanley Johnson may be the safer of the three, but Hezonja represents the bigger home run swing.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Freshman
An ugly NCAA tournament may have diminished some of the allure tied to Stanley Johnson, but he's still a top-10 prospect. According to DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony, Johnson is looking for assurance he'll be called in that range before committing to the draft.
I don't see the Hornets passing on Johnson at this point in the lottery, given his two-way potential and Charlotte's need for a reliable wing. At 6'7", 245 pounds with a promising shooting stroke and excellent defensive tools, Johnson should be viewed as one of the safer options in this year's field.
He'll have some adjustments to make as a finisher and improvements to make as a shot-creator, but Johnson's basement floor is high. Successfully making those adjustments and improvements could ultimately take his game to an All-Star level.
10. Miami Heat: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, 6'5", PG/SG, Senior
Jerian Grant played himself into the lottery conversation after leading Notre Dame to an Elite Eight appearance and averaging 6.7 assists as a senior.
He's really an exceptional passer and ball-screen operator, but at 6'5" with scoring ability (16.5 points per game), Grant also offers the versatility to hold down either backcourt position.
Miami didn't get much from Shabazz Napier this year. Norris Cole is gone, Goran Dragic will be a free agent and the Heat lack depth behind Dwyane Wade.
Already 22 years old, Grant should be able to offer something immediately to Miami's backcourt, whether it's at the point or the 2 slot.
11. Utah Jazz: Jakob Poeltl, Utah, 7'0", C, Freshman
With a handful of young wings and guards on the roster, the Utah Jazz could be looking to add some depth behind Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
Jakob Poeltl would make sense in the late lottery. Nobody played Duke's Jahlil Okafor tighter all year, having held the potential top pick to just six points in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
He also shot 68.1 percent from the floor, and that's without much offensive polish.
By adding Poeltl behind Gobert, the Jazz could eventually have one of the more intimidating defensive frontcourt duos.
12. Indiana Pacers: Trey Lyles, Kentucky, 6'10", PF, Freshman
Trey Lyles' skill level is excellent for a 6'10" forward. If only he were a little lighter and more explosive on his feet, he'd be a top-10 prospect.
He's sharp in the mid-range with a jumper that could ultimately be his moneymaker in the pros. He's also a threat to score in the post or face up and attack slower bigs off the dribble.
Lyles may never be a plus defender, but his polished offensive game could carry him to a long NBA career. He offers starter potential as David West's future replacement in Indiana.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kris Dunn, Providence, 6'3", PG, Sophomore
Kris Dunn blew up as a sophomore; he averaged 15.6 points per game, led the nation in assist percentage and helped guide the Friars to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.
He's an outstanding athlete capable of setting the table for teammates, scoring one-on-one and turning open-floor opportunities into easy buckets.
With long arms, quick feet and active hands, he also finished fifth in the country in steal percentage.
Though the Suns will likely look to re-sign Brandon Knight, it's certainly no guarantee. Based on what general manager Ryan McDonough told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (h/t ArizonaSports.com's Adam Green), it wouldn't be surprising if Phoenix let someone else overpay for Knight in free agency.
"We'd certainly like to re-sign him, but we're going to do what's best for the team. Long-term, he's a free agent, he's going to do whatever's best for himself and his family, and hopefully for the Suns as well."
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin, 7'0", PF/C, Senior
Frank Kaminsky could help the Oklahoma City Thunder as a rookie. Though a lack of athleticism and strength might limit his ability to separate in the post, his 41.6 percent three-point stroke should translate right off the bat.
We've also seen Kaminsky's terrific footwork and body control, particularly on spins off line drives. He can put the ball on the floor, attack slower-footed bigs and score around the key.
Still, a team like the Thunder should value Kaminsky's stretch potential as a center who can step outside and pull defensive anchors away from the rim.
15. Atlanta Hawks (via Nets): Myles Turner, Texas, 6'11", PF/C, Freshman
The Atlanta Hawks could use another wing if DeMarre Carroll leaves in free agency, but they won't find an immediate replacement at No. 15 in the draft.
Like most teams, the Hawks should be targeting the top talent on the board, regardless of position. And that could very well be Myles Turner, who, at 6'11", flashed the rare versatility to stretch the floor and protect the rim.
He'll have to become more consistent from outside, but his jump-shot mechanics and shot-making ability are undeniably promising. And with that 7'4" wingspan and sound instincts, he blocked 2.6 shots in only 22.2 minutes per game.
Turner isn't ready to contribute next year, but neither are most rookies.
16. Boston Celtics: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'9", SF, Junior
Though Sam Dekker broke out as a scorer in the NCAA tournament, having averaged 19 points over Wisconsin's final five games, his selling point revolves around his do-it-all versatility.
Dekker isn't great in any one area of the game, but he's a threat to drive, pass, knock down open shots and defend multiple positions. And at 6'9" with above-average athleticism, he's going to have a nice physical advantage over most wings.
If Dekker can find a way to start consistently making threes, his NBA value will skyrocket.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SF, Freshman
It wasn't the smoothest season for Kelly Oubre, who flashed potential but also struggled with inconsistency and effort.
There is still no mystery as to what drives his appeal as an NBA prospect. At 6'7", he's an above-the-rim athlete with a promising shooting stroke, and he can knock down shots from every spot or angle on the floor. Oubre also has some sharp defensive tools, between his length and quickness.
But he doesn't create or pass (28 assists in 36 games), and his motor tends to sputter. Those weaknesses could ultimately limit his NBA value.
I'm betting on Oubre taking a mini slide down the board. Although, his two-way upside should be worth the gamble for the Bucks at No. 17.
18. Houston Rockets (via Pelicans): Cameron Payne, Murray State, 6'2", PG, Soph.
Despite averaging 20.2 points, 6.0 assists, 2.4 made threes and 1.9 steals per game, Cameron Payne didn't receive much national attention.
He's a crafty playmaker and passer with a lethal jumper and a dangerous runner and floater game. Payne looks just as comfortable and confident running a half-court offense as he does in transition, where he's terrific with the ball in his hands.
The only red flag with Payne has been the competition he's faced. But it's just gotten too hard not to buy in. Watch out for an Elfrid Payton-like rise up draft boards over the next two months.
19. Washington Wizards: Devin Booker, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Freshman
Devin Booker cooled off down the stretch this year, but he was hot for most it. He finished his freshman season with a convincing 41.1 percent three-point clip. At 18 years old, 6'6" and 206 pounds, Booker should eventually have a body built for an NBA shooting guard.
An inability to create one-on-one (outside of tough pull-ups) or get to the rim (made just 13 shots at the rim in the half court all year, per Hoop-Math.com) keeps his ceiling in check. Still, Booker's shot-making ability should still hold plenty of NBA value.
With Paul Pierce on the decline, Otto Porter struggling and no reliable depth behind Bradley Beal, Washington should be all over Booker if he slips.
20. Toronto Raptors: Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6'11", PF, Sophomore
Bobby Portis might be able to give the Raptors an immediate offensive upgrade at power forward, where he's polished in the post and consistently threatening in the mid-range.
With 6'11" size, Portis can score with his back to the basket or spread the floor as a shooter, thanks to a smooth jumper that should ultimately be able to carry him to a long career.
Portis has some pretty heavy feet, and it's that lack of explosiveness that limits his upside. However, his physical tools and skill set seem tailor-made for the NBA 4.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Kevon Looney, UCLA, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman
Kevon Looney looks like he might be one of the bigger boom-or-bust prospects in the field, given his offensive versatility and questionable NBA position.
At 6'9", he showcased the ability to face up and score out on the perimeter, where he nailed 22 of 53 threes and looked comfortable pulling up off the dribble.
With long arms and a sharp nose for the ball, Looney also brought in 9.2 rebounds per game. However, he lacks the off-the-dribble game and athleticism most wings possess. And at 220 pounds and with no real go-to moves in the post, he could have trouble playing power forward in the pros.
Looney has mismatch potential if he can figure out how to exploit his inside-out versatility, but there is also a chance he falls into tweener territory.
22. Chicago Bulls: R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, 6'6", SG, Junior
Though his 19.7-point-per-game average may not translate, R.J. Hunter's shot-making ability should. He made 253 threes in three seasons at Georgia State. Hunter can knock down jumpers effortlessly out to 28 feet away, and it's not just spot-up shooting.
He's excellent at running off ball screens and freeing himself up; that's ultimately where his value lies in the NBA. At 190 pounds, Hunter may have some trouble scoring one-on-one, but as a complementary weapon, he'd be the type of player you'd want to surround your post men and playmakers with.
Even if the Bulls re-sign Jimmy Butler this offseason, they could still use 2-guard depth on the wing.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Junior
Portland doesn't even have a true backup power forward, a role that ultimately has Montrezl Harrell's name written all over it.
Though not much of a post scorer or shooter, Harrell's value comes in the form of activity in the paint. With explosive above-the-rim athleticism and plenty of strength, he projects as an interior energizer who finishes, rebounds and defends the post.
Adding a jumper would take his game to a new level, but after three years, it just hasn't happened (9-of-37 from three, 59.7 percent from the line as a junior).
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tyus Jones, Duke, 6'1", PG, Freshman
The Cleveland Cavaliers could look to target a backup point guard, and given Tyus Jones' positive energy and winning track record coming off a national title, he'd make sense late in the first round.
Jones has terrific ball skills and a true facilitator's mentality. His vision and passing instincts are sharp. Though a lack of strength and athleticism will limit his scoring ability in the paint, he's more than capable from outside, where he hit 37.9 percent of his threes and looked comfortable pulling up.
He'll likely struggle on defense, which should keep him in a backup role long-term. But as a table-setter and perimeter shot-maker off the bench, Jones has something to offer. The better the guys around him are, the more effective he'll be.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarell Martin, LSU, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
Jarell Martin emerged as one of the tougher covers in the SEC this past season. Though not much of a post player, he's a spectacular athlete with good feet and sound ball skills, which makes him difficult to stop in face-up situations and in transition.
At this stage, Martin has a capable mid-range jumper. Adding the three-ball would be huge for his game, as it would allow him to play some small forward or improve team spacing in a stretch-4 role.
Martin ultimately finished the year strong, having averaged 21.1 points and 11 rebounds over LSU's final seven games.
He reminds me a ton of Orlando Magic combo forward Tobias Harris. I'd imagine Martin could open eyes in workouts, where his size, athleticism and strong frame should stand out up close.
26. LA Lakers (via Rockets): Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Soph.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's lack of offensive progress had to have kept him from rising up draft boards, but his defensive potential should still attract interest in the 20-30 range.
At 6'7" with long arms and lightning-quick feet, Hollis-Jefferson has the ability to lock down opposing wings, guards and ball-handlers. In the NCAA tournament, he helped hold potential top-four pick D'Angelo Russell to 3-of-19 shooting.
Hollis-Jefferson's outlook would receive a major boost if he could start knocking down outside jumpers, but after making just eight threes in two years, I wouldn't count on it. He'll make a living in the pros as a defensive specialist.
27. Boston Celtics (via Clippers): Rashad Vaughn, UNLV, 6'6", SG, Freshman
Rashad Vaughn was this year's third-leading scorer among freshmen behind Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell.
He's highly skilled offensively, with the ability to create his own shot from any spot on the floor. Vaughn ultimately relies heavily on his jumper, and though he's lethal out to the arc (54 threes, 38.3 percent from deep), his shot selection has resulted in inefficiency and inconsistency.
Regardless, at 18 years old, his 6'6" size and dynamic scoring repertoire are worth looking into this late. The Celtics could use another 2-guard, anyway.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
San Antonio may need some additional point guard depth with Cory Joseph entering free agency, and Utah's Delon Wright would make sense as a late first-round option.
Wright struggled in the NCAA tournament, but we've seen enough of him through two years to understand his strengths and limitations. Those strengths should ultimately hold enough value in a backup ball-handling role.
At 6'5", he has a good feel for setting the table for teammates, particularly operating out of pick-and-rolls. He's also one of the better perimeter defenders in the draft, having racked up 155 steals and 77 blocks total as a junior and senior.
Wright doesn't offer much upside, but he seems like a safe bet to stick. He'll also likely contribute as a rookie.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks): Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6'8", PF, Freshman
Cliff Alexander's season didn't go as planned. After his role diminished down the stretch, he would eventually be forced to miss the final month of March due to eligibility issues.
However, Alexander's explosive athleticism and motor around the basket could still be worth targeting late. His 16.8 rebounding percentage and 7.7 block percentage are very solid numbers, and he did shoot 56.6 percent from the floor.
Alexander isn't a player you'd feature in the post, and a lack of shooting touch limits what he can do offensively. But if you leave him in the game long enough, his energy and above-the-rim presence should translate to activity inside.
30. Golden State Warriors: Chris McCullough, Syracuse, 6'10", PF, Freshman
A torn ACL suffered in January makes Chris McCullough a bit of a risk, but he could also become the draft's ultimate value pick.
At full strength, he flashed terrific upside fueled by top-notch athleticism, a promising mid-range jumper and impressive finishing ability at the rim. His 7'3" wingspan and foot speed also translated to 2.4 steals and 2.9 blocks per 40 minutes.
Given the traditional one-year recovery timetable for ACL injuries, as well as McCullough's skinny 220-pound frame, he's clearly a project. But this late in the draft, the potential reward could be worth the gamble and time it takes him to develop.
Follow Bleacher Report's Lead NBA Draft Writer on Twitter at NBADraftWass