With the NBA playoffs getting underway on Saturday, the 14 teams that didn't make the playoffs can officially devote all their attention to the offseason. Obviously, the upcoming NBA draft is a major part of that.
In scouting, teams look for all-around talents, but they also look for specialists or players with an outstanding skill that fits in well with the team's plans.
This mock draft will focus on the best attribute for three of the draft's top prospects. those players' names are highlighted in the table below. Further analysis is just below the table.
|2015 NBA Mock Draft|
|1||Minnesota Timberwolves||Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke|
|2||New York Knicks||D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China|
|4||Los Angeles Lakers||Karl-Anthony Towns, PF, Kentucky|
|5||Orlando Magic||Justise Winslow, SF, Duke|
|6||Sacramento Kings||Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona|
|7||Denver Nuggets||Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky|
|8||Detroit Pistons||Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Kelly Oubre, SG, Kansas|
|10||Miami Heat||Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia|
|11||Indiana Pacers||Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin|
|12||Utah Jazz||Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin|
|13||Phoenix Suns||Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas|
|14||Oklahoma City Thunder||Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky|
|15||Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn Nets)||Jakob Poeltl, C/PF, Utah|
|16||Boston Celtics||Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas|
|18||Houston Rockets (from New Orleans Pelicans)||Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame|
|19||Washington Wizards||Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Kris Dunn, PG, Providence|
|21||Dallas Mavericks||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona|
|22||Chicago Bulls||Delon Wright, PG, Utah|
|23||Portland Trail Blazers||Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan|
|24||Cleveland Cavaliers||Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville|
|25||San Antonio Spurs||R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State|
|26||Memphis Grizzlies||Christian Wood, PF, UNLV|
|27||Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston Rockets)||Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia|
|28||Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers)||Robert Upshaw, C, Washington|
|29||Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta Hawks)||Tyus Jones, PG, Duke|
|30||Golden State Warriors||Jarell Martin, PF, LSU|
|Picks by Mazique|
Karl-Anthony Towns' Low-Post Scoring
There's a great debate over who should be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Some people—myself included—believe Duke Blue Devils' center Jahlil Okafor is the most rare talent in the draft, and he's also the surest thing of any prospect available. Okafor's size (6'11", 272 pounds) and length (7'5" wingspan) coupled with his skill set are too much to pass on.
Thus, I have him slotted in the No. 1 spot.
Others like the upside of the Kentucky Wildcats' Karl-Anthony Towns more than Okafor's what you-see-is-what-you-get qualities. Ultimately, the first selection could depend on which team gets the first pick in the draft. This isn't one of those years where there's the one consensus pick that any team would take regardless of need.
At season's end, the Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the league's worst record. They will have the best chance to win the first pick. The T'Wolves could use size and low-post scoring more than anything, and I still believe Okafor is the best in the draft in that area.
However, don't take that as a swipe at Towns' game on the block. The Kentucky freshman has major game with his back to the basket. While he has other qualities, post scoring is his most prominent.
According to Hoop-Math.com, Towns shot an amazing 75.7 percent on field goals near the rim. He also made 43 percent of his two-point jump shots. This could stand to improve, but it still proves that not only can he operate with his back to the basket, but also turn and face with potency. This is one area where Okafor has him beat. Duke's big man makes 50 percent of his two-point jump shots.
Another impressive number is Towns' number of unassisted buckets at the rim. A total of 53.6 percent of his baskets near the rim were unassisted. Translation: Towns is getting the ball and being allowed to operate in the post and scoring with regularity.
Lastly, he makes 81.3 percent of his free throws. That's a huge edge over Okafor who made just 51 percent. In many ways, it feels as if a team couldn't go wrong with either player, but Okafor just edges Towns in my book.
Some might be wondering why, then, Towns is not No. 2 in this mock draft. Going on projected team need, the New York Knicks will almost certainly chase and land a major frontcourt presence in free agency. If that's the case, the team's biggest need would be a playmaker like Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell.
Stanley Johnson's Defense
You can't help but notice the physical similarities between the Arizona Wildcats' Stanley Johnson and former NBA player Metta World Peace.
Johnson is measured at 6'6.75" 243 pounds, which is almost identical to what MWP measured and weighed when he was still known as Ron Artest. DraftExpress breaks down Johnson's strengths and weaknesses in the video below.
The similarities to MWP don't end there. Johnson is also a physical and premier defensive player. His combination of size and athleticism allows him to body up against small forwards who like to post, but also stay with shooting guards on the perimeter.
Johnson's offense hasn't yet become what it could in a few years when he gets a little more consistency on his jump shot, but his defense will earn him minutes no matter where he plays.
The Sacramento Kings were so bad defensively this past season, Johnson's skill set would be a welcomed addition.
Jerian Grant's Playmaking
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish's Jerian Grant is perhaps the most underrated prospect in the draft. At 6'5", Grant is a legit point guard who is just as deadly as a playmaker as he is as a scorer.
Grant is a willing and solid passer. His height allows him to see the floor, and he has the quickness to get to the rim or draw the defense to open up the kick-out pass.
This past season, Grant averaged 6.5 assists per game.
Perhaps best of all, Grant is able to keep turnovers to a minimum. He tallied a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a senior. Throughout his collegiate career, he never had an A/T ratio lower than 2.7.
If the Houston Rockets could land Grant, they would join the ranks of the teams with the best backcourts in the NBA.
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