2015 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions, Analysis for Top Prospects

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06:  Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after a play in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The top four players in the 2015 NBA draft almost seem a foregone conclusion at this point. Once you get outside that top four, the fun begins.

A lot can change between now and draft night, but most experts seem in agreement, projecting Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay in some order to occupy picks No. 1-4.

Outside of that group, plenty of potential All-Stars and an MVP or two reside. It's all about finding that right player and developing him. Kawhi Leonard is the perfect example of how the right situation can allow a player to truly flourish.

For the three players below, success in the NBA is far from a foregone conclusion. If they can become the best versions of themselves, though, they would be great value picks in the first round.

2015 NBA Mock Draft
1Minnesota TimberwolvesKarl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
2New York KnicksJahlil Okafor, C, Duke
3Philadelphia 76ersD'Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Ohio State
4Los Angeles LakersEmmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
5Orlando MagicJustise Winslow, SF, Duke
6Sacramento KingsWillie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
7Denver NuggetsStanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
8Detroit PistonsKristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia
9Charlotte HornetsMario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia
10Miami HeatFrank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin
11Indiana PacersMyles Turner, PF/C, Texas
12Utah JazzTrey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
13Phoenix SunsKelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
14Oklahoma City ThunderDevin Booker, SG, Kentucky
15Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets)Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
16Boston CelticsKevon Looney, PF, UCLA
17Milwaukee BucksR.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
18Houston Rockets (via New Orleans Pelicans)Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
19Washington WizardsBobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
20Toronto RaptorsCameron Payne, PG, Murray State
21Dallas MavericksDelon Wright, PG/SG, Utah
22Chicago BullsTyus Jones, PG, Duke
23Portland Trail BlazersChristian Wood, PF, UNLV
24Cleveland CavaliersAndrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky
25Memphis GrizzliesMontrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
26San Antonio SpursCliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
27Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets)Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
28Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
29Brooklyn Nets (via Atlanta Hawks)Jarell Martin, PF, LSU
30Golden State WarriorsJoseph Young, SG, Oregon
Draft order via Tankathon

Most Interesting First-Round Prospects

No. 5, Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 04:  Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts by slapping the floor after a play in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Trying to think of like-for-like NBA comparisons for college stars is always a somewhat foolish pursuit. No two players are exactly alike, and it's so tough to accurately forecast a player's career. So much is determined by his fit and coaching staff.

How good is Draymond Green right now on another team or without Steve Kerr coaching him?

With all of that said, it's hard watching Justise Winslow and not seeing somebody like Leonard. Offensively, Winslow is still a work in progress. Defensively, the Duke Blue Devil can guard any position 1 through 4.

At worst, Winslow should have a long NBA career simply for his ability to defend on the perimeter. If his shooting can improve somewhat, the sky is the limit.

That's what will make Winslow's first few years so intriguing to watch.

There's no telling what's going to happen with Tobias Harris. If the Orlando Magic are a bit wary of throwing a ton of money his way, Winslow would be a great replacement at small forward.

No. 10, Miami Heat: Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin

Apr 3, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky during practice for the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat's recent draft history isn't exactly glittering. That's largely by design since the franchise made the last four NBA Finals and utilized an organizational strategy that relied more on signing veteran free agents than drafting rookies.

That's what makes the Heat—and the player they might draft by extension—so interesting this year.

As long as Miami re-signs Goran Dragic and Chris Bosh makes a full return in 2015-16, this team could do some serious damage in the Eastern Conference next year.

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes that Pat Riley will look to put Miami in the best position to compete next year:

But it is clear, with his team built for the moment, with Dwyane Wade somewhat of an expiring commodity, that Riley again is looking to either draft for the moment, as he has with the three- or four-year collegians he has taken in recent years (Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shabazz Napier), or perhaps even trade at the moment of truth (the Heat could select and immediately trade on draft night without violating the NBA rule of not being allowed to trade successive future first-round picks).

With that in mind, could the Heat get a more NBA-ready player at No. 10 than Frank Kaminsky?

Kaminsky was a four-year player at Wisconsin and also a big reason the Badgers made the Final Four in back-to-back seasons. Few players have proven themselves more at the collegiate level.

Of course, the bigger question is whether Kaminsky's skill set will translate to the NBA. He's not overly athletic, and he can be a liability defensively.

"Not much upside with Kaminsky, but I still think he can be a solid NBA player," an NBA scout told Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman. "He reminds me some of Kelly Olynyk."

On some teams, that might be a red flag. On the Heat, Kaminsky would be a great fit.

Nobody would expect him to overtake Bosh for the starting job, so he wouldn't need to take on a large role in Miami. Plus, Kaminsky would add some depth at the 4 that the Heat are sorely lacking.

In the Winderman article, Riley is quoted as being a bit dismissive about the impact a rookie has on good teams. He highlighted Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart as first-year players who contributed to playoff teams but added, "Not one other pick in the first round, or second-round picks, are on teams that were in the playoffs."

Maybe the opportunity to draft Kaminsky would be too good to pass up.

No. 16, Boston Celtics: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 21:  Kevon Looney #5 of the UCLA Bruins fixes his facemask against the UAB Blazers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 21, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Joe Robb
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Kevon Looney is one of the biggest question marks in terms of where he'll be in five years. You could envision him blossoming into an All-Star just as easily as you could envision him flaming out after a couple of years and becoming a first-round bust.

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla compared Looney to a highly touted high school pitcher. The UCLA Bruin's ceiling is extremely high, but his risk factor is through the roof. He labeled Looney as a proverbial "project player" and feels that Looney would be best served on a ready-made winner:

The best bet for Looney is land with a playoff team that does not need him to impact immediately. If his work ethic is a positive, there is room for him to develop into a contributing NBA player. Age is on his side. The early season talk of the lottery, however, was premature in my opinion.

The Boston Celtics may not fit that description exactly, but they were a playoff team and have a clearly defined direction in which they're heading. It would be a stable environment for Looney to progress his basketball career.

Looney will undoubtedly need to bulk up once he hits the NBA, and his shot will need some work.

The Celtics have so many picks in the next few years that they can afford to gamble on a player with exceptional length, athleticism and upside.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.