The next wave of NBA superstars is out there for the taking. Now it’s up to the teams around the league to figure out which players will live up to their potential at the 2015 draft.
All it takes in the NBA is one or two special playmakers to turn the fortunes of a franchise around, which is why the draft receives so much attention every year. The teams at the top of the draft this year will be some of the most storied in NBA history after a season of losing from the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks.
Perhaps Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor or D’Angelo Russell will be the next stars of the Big Apple or Hollywood.
With that in mind, here is a look at a complete first-round mock draft as well as some of the most intriguing picks.
*The order of the picks is courtesy of DraftExpress, as of Friday, April 17.
|2015 NBA Draft: Mock First-Round Selections|
|1||Minnesota Timberwolves||Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C, Kentucky|
|2||New York Knicks||Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China|
|4||Los Angeles Lakers||D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State|
|5||Orlando Magic||Justise Winslow, SF, Duke|
|6||Sacramento Kings||Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky|
|7||Denver Nuggets||Mario Hezonja, G, Croatia|
|8||Detroit Pistons||Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia|
|10||Miami Heat||Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin|
|11||Utah Jazz||Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA|
|12||Indiana Pacers||Myles Turner, C, Texas|
|13||Phoenix Suns||Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky|
|14||Oklahoma City Thunder||Kris Dunn, PG, Providence|
|15||Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets)||Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky|
|16||Boston Celtics||Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan|
|18||Houston Rockets (via New Orleans Pelicans)||Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin|
|19||Washington Wizards||Kelly Oubre Jr., SF, Kansas|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah|
|21||Dallas Mavericks||Montrezl Harrell, PF-C, Louisville|
|22||Chicago Bulls||Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame|
|23||Portland Trail Blazers||Christian Wood, PF, UNLV|
|24||Cleveland Cavaliers||Tyus Jones, PG, Duke|
|25||San Antonio Spurs||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona|
|26||Memphis Grizzlies||Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia|
|27||Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets)||Jarell Martin, PF, LSU|
|28||Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)||R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State|
|29||Brooklyn Nets (via Atlanta Hawks)||Delon Wright, PG, Utah|
|30||Golden State Warriors||Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas|
Intriguing Picks to Watch
It’s going to be an interesting offseason for the Indiana Pacers.
After finishing with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference two years ago, the Pacers missed the playoffs this season and could see some roster changes and alterations to their style of play. Pacers president Larry Bird suggested as much, per Candace Buckner and Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star:
If (Hibbert) comes back we're probably going to play another style and I can't guarantee him anything. He's going to have to earn it.
I didn't think he played that well, to be honest. I thought he always played hard. He's very durable but I don't think he had a great year.
That means Indiana could use an athletic big man who can get out in transition and still provide that critical rim protection that Hibbert is known for on the defensive side. Myles Turner fits that bill exactly.
Turner averaged 2.6 blocks a game in only 22.2 minutes of action a night in his one season at Texas and has the athleticism to fill the lanes on the break like a small forward. He is an ideal fit for the style of play that Bird discussed and could catch the Pacers’ eye by draft day.
Indiana’s pick is intriguing because the pieces are in place to contend in the Eastern Conference next season (assuming they are all back in Indianapolis). With a healthy Paul George, David West, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey and whoever the team drafts in the lottery, Indiana could challenge the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls right away.
It’s not very often that a group with the pedigree of Indiana’s core gets the opportunity to draft in the lottery. Look for it to take advantage.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Speaking of teams that will be ready to contend next season if health is no longer an issue, the Oklahoma City Thunder will also receive a lottery pick in this year’s draft.
Much like the Pacers, Oklahoma City has all the pieces to make a deep playoff run in 2015-16. Russell Westbrook won the scoring title and proved himself more than capable of directing an offense, Kevin Durant was last year’s MVP and Serge Ibaka is one of the best defenders in the league.
You would be hard-pressed to find many threesomes better than that around the league, and they have the opportunity to add a lottery pick to that group.
Kris Dunn would fit in nicely in Oklahoma City because he is a sharp-shooter who can take advantage of open looks when defenders collapse on Durant and Westbook or when double teams come toward Ibaka on the elbow. Dunn can also play either guard position and spell Westbrook at point when needed.
He would add some much-needed scoring punch off the bench as well after averaging 15.6 points per game at Providence.
Liam McGuire of TSN 1050 Toronto discussed the options the Philadelphia 76ers face with their early draft pick this year:
Philadelphia already has Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel down low, so taking Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t make much sense on paper from a positional need standpoint. If the 76ers end up with one of the first two picks, they will decide if the overwhelming talent that both bring to the table is enough to outweigh the positional considerations.
The thought here is they will take a guard in the form of Emmanuel Mudiay, D’Angelo Russell or Justise Winslow (who is more of a small forward but can play shooting guard if needed).
They all boast different skill sets that would complement the big men in the paint. Mudiay is a strong finisher who attacks the rim with fearlessness, Russell is an electrifying playmaker who is arguably the draft’s best passer and thrives in transition and Winslow is a lockdown defender who can guard a number of positions.
The 76ers are building toward the future. Adding any of those pieces would speed up the process.