2015 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Prospects Heading into Final Day of Season

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2015

Kentucky forward Karl-Anthony Towns (12) dunks as Alabama's Michael Kessen, second from left, and Shannon Hale (10) look on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

While half of the NBA is focused on making the playoffs and fighting for a championship on the final day of the year, the rest of the league has already turned its attention to the NBA draft.

Whether a team was intentionally tanking or just wasn't very good, the squads at the bottom of the standings will be rewarded with high picks in the upcoming draft. Fortunately, there are a few franchise-changing talents available at the top.

Although a lot can change in the coming months, here are projections for the first round with a breakdown of the top picks. Order based on standings as of April 15.

NBA Mock Draft 1st Round
1Minnesota TimberwolvesKarl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
2New York KnicksJahlil Okafor, C, Duke
3Philadelphia 76ersEmmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
4Los Angeles LakersD'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
5Orlando MagicJustise Winslow, SF, Duke
6Sacramento KingsKristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
7Denver NuggetsWillie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
8Detroit PistonsMario Hezonja, SF, Croatia
9Charlotte HornetsStanley Johnson, SG, Arizona
10Miami HeatKelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
11Atlanta Hawks (via Nets)Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
12Utah JazzFrank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
13Phoenix SunsJerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
14Oklahoma City ThunderDevin Booker, SG, Kentucky
15Indiana PacersMyles Turner, C, Texas
16Boston CelticsTrey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
17Milwaukee BucksKevon Looney, PF, UCLA
18Houston Rockets (via Pelicans)Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
19Washington WizardsSam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
20Toronto RaptorsBobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
21Dallas MavericksRondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
22Chicago BullsTyus Jones, PG, Duke
23Portland Trail BlazersMontrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
24Cleveland CavaliersR.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
25Memphis GrizzliesCameron Payne, PG, Murray State
26Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
27San Antonio SpursChristian Wood, PF, UNLV
28Boston Celtics (via Clippers)Caris LeVert, SF, Michigan
29Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks)Delon Wright, PG, Utah
30Golden State WarriorsDakari Johnson, C, Kentucky

Top Picks

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

While different people will have their opinion, there is no clear-cut leader for the top overall pick. ESPN's Myron Medcalf breaks down what the top options bring:

Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN

Good luck with the No. 1 pick. Okafor is ready now. Towns has the highest ceiling. Russell could have the best career.

Karl-Anthony Towns is unlikely to have a better rookie year than Jahlil Okafor, who is as polished as any big man in years. However, the Kentucky freshman simply brings more to the table for a potential NBA team.

Unlike his competition, Towns is a good defender who could develop into a quality rim protector. He also has shown signs of developing an outside shot, and he is far from a liability on the free-throw line. This all makes up for a weaker low-post game.

Additionally, a young, athletic team like the Minnesota Timberwolves could have success in the future as a fast-paced squad that out-hustles opponents up and down the court. Towns runs the floor well and should be better suited for this type of attack.

It seems like there is no wrong choice here, but Towns would be the smarter pick if Minnesota wins the lottery.

2. New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor

If you're looking at how a player fits in an organization, the New York Knicks can't do much better than drafting Okafor.

Will Phil Jackson calling the shots, the Duke star is the perfect fit down low for the triangle offense. He is outstanding with his back to the basket and can even create from the perimeter in one-on-one settings. Even against NBA defenders, he should score at a high rate.

Just as importantly, he knows how to pass out of the post when a shot isn't there while setting things up for his teammates.

Despite these positive traits, there are still concerns about how he will fare on the defensive end. Former NBA center Stacey King thinks this is an issue:

SiriusXM NBA Radio @SiriusXMNBA

"He showed me he can't play defense and I'd be concerned with that" @Stacey21King on Jahlil Okafor

Even when he gave max effort, Okafor never showed the ability to be a quality shot-blocker and doesn't have the quickness to guard pick-and-rolls at the next level. He could quickly be a star offensive player in the NBA, but there are plenty of questions about his all-around ability going forward.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Emmanuel Mudiay

Mar 18, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Emmanuel Mudiay of Prime Prep Academy poses for a portrait. He is a finalist for the USA Today Player of the Year Award. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA Today Sports

After trading away Michael Carter-Williams at the deadline, it seemed clear the Philadelphia 76ers would need to go after a point guard in this draft. Fortunately, there are two very good ones available at No. 3 if the draft plays out this way.

D'Angelo Russell was clearly the best guard in college basketball this season, filling up the stat sheet for Ohio State with 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and five assists per game. He came into college as a shooting guard but showed off an elite passing ability in his freshman season and proved to NBA scouts he can be a point guard going forward.

However, it's important not to dismiss Emmanuel Mudiay, who went to China instead of playing in college. Even without getting much playing time with his new team, scouts still like what they see in the former Texas high school basketball star.

ESPN's Chad Ford provided a scouting report on the prospect:

Mudiay's appeal is based around a terrific combination of size, athleticism and power at the point guard position. He can get anywhere he wants on the floor, finishes at the rim, and plays with a terrific motor. His jump shot still needs more work and he can still polish his point guard skills, but he's likely to be the first international player to hear his name called on draft night.

Russell has a better feel for the game at this point, but Mudiay has more athleticism and, in turn, more upside. Considering the 76ers continue to build for the future and don't mind waiting for players to develop, Mudiay is the more likely pick on draft day.

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter