2015 NBA Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition
The NBA combine typically marks the official beginning of the predraft process.
Unfortunately, Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, as well as international prospects Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja and Kristaps Porzingis, won't be attending the combine, which takes place May 14 and 15. And the majority of the projected first-round prospects who will be there won't participate in basketball-related activities.
Still, just about every prospect in attendance will be expected to get measured and go through athletic testing. They'll also meet NBA team executives for interviews, arguably one of the most important aspects of the predraft process.
With seven weeks to go before the draft, here is our most up-to-date first round, which could potentially change after the combine.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, 6'11", PF/C, Freshman
Karl-Anthony Towns just makes too much sense for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who could use some frontcourt versatility and rim protection defensively.
Towns' low-post game got sharper with every month of the season. And though he didn't take many jumpers, his 81.3 percent free-throw stroke highlights his stretch-4 or -5 potential.
He also blocked 4.3 shots per 40 minutes while showcasing quick feet and above-average athleticism.
There won't be a better player from the 2015 draft if Towns puts it all together. The gradual improvement he made from Day 1 to April can only be viewed as encouraging.
2. New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C, Freshman
If the Knicks miss out on the No. 1 pick and Karl-Anthony Towns, it wouldn't be shocking to see them trade down, whether it's for a guard, Duke's Justise Winslow or Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein. Trading out for an established talent will likely also be on the table.
But if they stick at No. 2, it's tough to picture them passing on Jahlil Okafor, who has something to offer immediately on a cheap rookie deal. That's something the Knicks should value, given the small window they have to work with.
Okafor won't even be attending the combine, but he's reportedly in "phenomenal shape," per DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony.
D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay would represent bigger home run swings, but in this situation the Knicks will likely play it safe with Okafor.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State, 6'5", PG/SG, Freshman
Without an asset in their backcourt, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely be deciding between D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay. But Mudiay ultimately shares many of the same weaknesses (poor shooter, wild decision-maker) as Michael Carter-Williams, whom the Sixers just dealt at the trade deadline.
Russell is a world-class passer and ball-handler who also has the size, shooting stroke (95 threes, 41.1 percent from downtown) and scoring ability (19.3 points per game to lead all freshmen) to play the 2.
That versatility should create some flexibility for the 76ers when rebuilding. They can essentially add any guard to pair alongside him, whether he's a 1 or a 2.
Either way, he just might be the top prospect on the board at No. 3. Mudiay's athleticism and strength will be enticing, but Russell's skill level and maturity are a bit more convincing.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: Emmanuel Mudiay, China, 6'5", PG, 1996
Instead of paying for an overpriced point guard in free agency, the Lakers may be better off building their backcourt through the draft.
Emmanuel Mudiay (6'5") and Jordan Clarkson together could make for a dangerous playmaking duo.
Regardless, Mudiay is arguably the top talent available, something the Lakers can't afford to pass on.
He's an above-the-rim athlete and a major weapon in transition and ball-screen situations.
Mudiay isn't a great shooter or decision-maker, but hopefully the Lakers can surround him with free-agent talent to help ease the transition.
5. Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'6", SF, Freshman
Justise Winslow could help the Magic continue building their identity. Like Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo, Winslow is a phenomenal athlete and relentless defender.
He's also still a bit raw offensively, but he flashed enough promise to suggest improvement will come, particularly on his jumper (41.8 percent from three).
Winslow would also give the Magic some insurance in case Tobias Harris leaves in free agency.
In the worst-case scenario, Orlando gets an energizer who can guard multiple positions and finish above the rim. He has a high basement floor to go with a big-time two-way ceiling.
6. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Junior
Even if Willie Cauley-Stein's offensive game fails to develop, the Kings should still value his defensive versatility.
He'd give them an immediate upgrade in rim protection, as well as a unique weapon capable of switching onto guards in pick-and-roll coverage.
Though not a scoring option to feed, he shot 59.3 percent from the floor over his three-year career at Kentucky. The Kings could use a few easy buckets a game off tips, lobs or transition opportunities.
There's no reason Cauley-Stein can't play the 5 alongside DeMarcus Cousins at the 4.
7. Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'8", SG/SF, 1995
The Nuggets must prioritize talent over filling a positional need, which makes Mario Hezonja an option at No. 7.
He is loaded with upside powered by 6'8" size and above-the-rim athleticism. He projects as a mismatch on the wing, where he can handle the ball or spread the floor as a long-range shooter.
He's also arguably one of the more NBA-ready options, given his experience playing off the ball against quality competition in Euroleague.
The Nuggets found an international keeper in last year's draft with Jusuf Nurkic. This would be another good time to draft an overseas talent.
8. Detroit Pistons: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia, 7'0", PF,
With Greg Monroe expected to generate outside interest in free agency, the Pistons might be better off letting someone else overpay for him. Kristaps Porzingis should be viewed as more of a long-term replacement, but his upside is worth gambling on in the top 10.
Porzingis has 7-foot size to go with above-the-rim athleticism and a promising shooting stroke. And he has showcased a developing scoring attack consisting of turnaround jumpers in the post and step-backs from the short wing and corners.
As a projected stretch forward, he'd seem like an ideal complement to Andre Drummond, who does just about all of his damage in the paint.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Freshman
At No. 9, the Hornets should be thrilled to land Stanley Johnson, whose elite defensive tools (6'7", 245 pounds, 6'11 ½" wingspan, quick feet) and promising jumper play to the fact he's viewed as a safe bet.
Physically, he reminds of a mix between Kawhi Leonard and a young Ron Artest.
Charlotte has a handful of young power forwards and cornerstones at point guard and center. Johnson ultimately offers the versatility to play either wing position, where he could eventually give Charlotte an offensive upgrade.
Look for him to emerge as one of the winners following measurements and athletic testing at the combine.
10. Miami Heat: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, 6'5", PG/SG, Senior
With Goran Dragic entering free agency and zero depth behind Dwyane Wade, Miami could be attracted to Jerian Grant's backcourt versatility.
He's a terrific passer and facilitator (6.7 assists to just 2.2 turnovers per game) who also has the 6'5" size and scoring attack to slide off the ball at the 2.
After the No. 9 pick, a new tier of prospects begins. At No. 10, there isn't an obvious answer on the board. Grant's physical tools, ball skills and basketball genes make him arguably the safest bet on the board. The fact that he fills a need only improves the match.
11. Indiana Pacers: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin, 7'0", C, Senior
It appears the Indiana Pacers will be looking to make some changes moving forward, particularly up front, where Roy Hibbert's offensive limitations have raised concerns within the organization.
"We assume he's going to be back and if he comes back, we're probably going to play another style," Pacers President Larry Bird said of Hibbert, per the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner. "And I can't guarantee him anything. He's going to have to earn it."
Based on those strong comments, Frank Kaminsky would seem like an obvious target for the Pacers.
He is pretty much the polar opposite of Hibbert. Though he doesn't project as a rim protector, Kaminsky's ability to shoot the three and play out on the perimeter should help improve spacing dramatically.
And he could probably bring something to the table right away, given his size, high basketball IQ and skill level.
12. Utah Jazz: Myles Turner, Texas, 6'11", C, Freshman
Myles Turner possesses versatility just where the Utah Jazz can use some. While Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors play mostly inside the paint, Turner projects as a stretch 5 who sets up from the elbows out to the arc.
He also specializes in shot-blocking, thanks to impressive instincts and a 7'4" wingspan. That blend translated to 4.7 blocks per 40 minutes and a ridiculous 12.3 percent block percentage, per Sports-Reference.com.
Between Turner and Gobert, the Jazz could eventually have a defense that offers 48 minutes' worth of rim protection.
Turner's biggest challenge will ultimately be overcoming the physical transition, as he needs to add strength and improve his mobility.
13. Phoenix Suns: Cameron Payne, Murray State, 6'2", PG, Sophomore
Cameron Payne will make strong impressions over the next seven weeks; team workouts should go well for him.
Though a bit skinny, Payne has plenty of size and length to match his excellent ball skills. He's sharp in every aspect, from his long-range shooting to his floater game and facilitating instincts at the point.
Payne should also fare well during interviews as an articulate, high-character, competitive young kid.
I wouldn't bank on the Suns overpaying to re-sign Brandon Knight, who shot 35.7 percent in his 11 games played with the team. Phoenix could look to save that money for a wing and develop Payne as the team's long-term answer alongside Eric Bledsoe.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Booker, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Freshman
This late, Oklahoma City isn't finding an immediate upgrade at any starting position. The Thunder will take whoever is atop their board.
Devin Booker is the type of guard who'll work best as a complementary option alongside better playmakers. He'd fit nicely in Oklahoma City, where his ability to score without needing to dribble will be valued.
Booker is sharp shooting off spot-ups, curls and other forms of movement.
The Thunder don't get consistent shooting from Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters or Jeremy Lamb. Booker doesn't create much, but his jumper is typically on the money. I like the J.J. Redick comparison.
15. Atlanta Hawks (via Nets): Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SF, Freshman
Kelly Oubre should be a target for the Atlanta Hawks in the mid-first round, given the possibility of DeMarre Carroll bolting in free agency.
Either way, Atlanta lacks depth and athleticism on the wing.
Oubre isn't quite ready, having averaged 9.3 points and 21 minutes per game in one college season. He'll likely need to spend some time developing in the D-League.
But at 6'7", he has excellent burst, encouraging defensive tools and dangerous shot-making ability. There is lottery-quality upside here for the Hawks to develop.
16. Boston Celtics: R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, 6'6", SG, Junior
R.J. Hunter has to be on the Celtics' mid-first round radar, given the lack of size and shooting that Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart offer in the backcourt.
Despite a drop-off in accuracy his junior year, there isn't much doubt concerning Hunter's outside stroke. He hit 253 threes in three seasons at Georgia State, where he showcased his unlimited range, quick release and ability to shoot off movement.
Even though his 19.7-point scoring average isn't likely to translate, his shot-making ability should still hold value to the Celtics.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'9", SF, Junior
Sam Dekker doesn't shoot like Khris Middleton, who could end up leaving in free agency. But Dekker would be a solid value pick this late, where the Bucks would land a sure thing—even if his upside isn't overwhelmingly high.
Dekker could probably contribute as a rookie based on his strong 6'9" frame, above-average athleticism, versatile skill set and basketball IQ.
He doesn't specialize in any one area, but he covers a lot of ground, whether it's as a driver, shot-maker, passer or defender.
18. Houston Rockets (via Pelicans): Tyus Jones, Duke, 6'1", PG, Freshman
Without a realistic point guard option under contract for next season, the Houston Rockets are likely to have Tyus Jones highlighted on their board.
Jones is an excellent decision-maker and passer, and he has flashed promise as a spot-up and pull-up shooter.
He doesn't pack can't-miss upside, as he lacks the strength to defend at a high level or the athleticism to finish in traffic.
But as a facilitator who can set the table and score opportunistically on the perimeter, Jones grades out as a mid-to-late first-round talent.
19. Washington Wizards: Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6'11", PF, Sophomore
Bobby Portis offers excellent value this late, given his physical tools and skill set that's tailor-made for the NBA power forward position.
Portis has 6'11" size to go with a natural shooting stroke and a polished back-to-the-basket game. He also grabbed 1.9 rebounds more per 40 minutes as a sophomore, alleviating some of the concern attached to his low freshman average.
A lack of explosiveness limits his perceived upside, but Portis' size, jumper and ball skills should carry him to a long NBA career.
20. Toronto Raptors: Trey Lyles, Kentucky, 6'10", PF, Freshman
Trey Lyles doesn't wow you with athleticism, but his skill level and basketball IQ fuel some promising high-end role-player potential.
At 6'10", he has a smooth shooting stroke in the mid-range, as well as the ability to face up and attack or score with his back to the rim.
Toronto could use some offensive versatility up front. Unless the Raptors make any big moves, Lyles would likely upgrade their power forward position right away.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Christian Wood, UNLV, 6'11", PF, Sophomore
A bouncy big man with 6'11" size and face-up mobility, Christian Wood's athleticism and versatility drive some intriguing mismatch potential.
He's comfortable operating out on the perimeter, where he hit 25 threes and showed the ability to attack and score on the move.
Wood also grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 2.7 shots per game, highlighting his above-the-rim presence.
At 220 pounds, he's on the skinny side, but if he can continue building his body and improving his shooting stroke, we could be talking about a steal outside the top 20.
22. Chicago Bulls: Cedi Osman, Macedonia, 6'8", SG/SF, 1995
This selection screams draft-and-stash for the Bulls, who aren't going to find any short-term solutions or high-upside prospects.
Cedi Osman slowly generated more buzz with Anadolu Efes as the season progressed. He has terrific 6'8" size and smooth athleticism for a wing who can also handle the ball. And he received invaluable experience this year while playing heavy minutes in Euroleague.
Osman told Ajans Basketbol (via Sportando's Orazio Cauchi) he's willing to remain in Turkey for two more years. The Bulls could look to save a few bucks and let Osman continue developing overseas against quality competition.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Kevon Looney, UCLA, 6'9", PF, Freshman
Portland may want to look for another power forward to develop in case LaMarcus Aldridge leaves. The Blazers wouldn't be passing on any can't-miss options if they went with Kevon Looney, who offers upside and a little bit of risk.
He lacks the athleticism of a wing and the strength and post game of a traditional 4. But at 6'9", his ability to shoot (he made 22 of 53 threes) and handle the ball could be tough for opposing forwards to match up with.
He also has strong rebounding instincts, particularly on the offensive glass, having finished with 54 putbacks in 36 games, via Hoop-Math.com.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Justin Anderson, Virginia, 6'6", SF, Junior
If Justin Anderson can use workouts to convince general managers his jumper is for real, he'll likely get one first-round team to buy his three-and-D potential.
Anderson is a strong, bouncy athlete who shot 45.2 percent from downtown during the year. Though he doesn't create, he projects as a player who'll finish the plays that find him within the offense, whether it's off a spot-up jumper or a cut.
With Shawn Marion expected to retire, the Cavs could target Anderson's defense, toughness and shot-making ability for the wing.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarell Martin, LSU, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
Memphis could look to liven up its below-the-rim frontcourt with a little of Jarell Martin's athleticism.
Martin is explosive for a projected power forward. He's a face-up weapon and bully around the basket, where he uses his broad shoulders and burst to play through and above contact.
And he's capable of separating into and knocking down mid-range jumpers. Taking that shooting stroke out to the arc would ultimately do wonders for his outlook as a potential mismatch.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
If Cory Joseph chooses to leave in free agency, the Spurs can replace him with 23-year-old Delon Wright, whose defense, size and poise could translate right away.
He's shown he can blanket ball-handlers, cover scorers and force turnovers. And though not a particularly dangerous scorer, Wright can run a half-court offense.
San Antonio gets a steal here in Wright if he ever improves his jumper. For what it's worth, he made 26 threes as a senior after making just 12 in 2013-14.
27. Lakers (via Rockets): Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Sophomore
Limited offensive skills may keep teams from reaching too high on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. But at No. 27, you take him for his defensive specialist potential.
At 6'7" with long arms and lightning-quick feet, Hollis-Jefferson has the tools to lock down ball-handlers, 2-guards and wings.
And though not much of a scorer, shooter or playmaker, he's athletic enough to finish in the open floor, as well as off cuts and slashes to the hoop.
28. Celtics (via Clippers): Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Junior
Montrezl Harrell projects as an energizer up front and an active body in the paint.
At 6'8" without much of a jumper, something he's failed to really develop through three years at Louisville, Harrell may have some offensive limitations in the pros. But his strength, motor and above-the-rim athleticism should translate to finishes, rebounds and physical post defense.
Harrell would actually fill an immediate need in Boston, where the Celtics frontcourt lacks power and explosiveness.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks): Rashad Vaughn, UNLV, 6'6", SG, Freshman
Still just 18 years old, Rashad Vaughn has a scoring attack worth looking into, even though a lack of explosiveness could limit his effectiveness in the pros.
Vaughn won't be participating in basketball-related activities at the combine after averaging 17.8 points per game as a freshman.
At 6'6", he has good size and a high offensive skill level, particularly out on the perimeter, where he can create and make a variety of different shots.
He'll likely struggle getting to the rack and finishing, but Vaughn is dangerous enough with the jumper to carve out a Gary Neal-type career as a reserve-scoring specialist.
30. Golden State Warriors: Chris McCullough, Syracuse, 6'10", PF, Freshman
The Golden State Warriors aren't finding anyone who's going to help them out next year. They can afford to wait on Chris McCullough's ACL to heal.
He sure looked like a first-round talent prior to going down in January—even if he was a few years away.
McCullough has 6'10" size to match above-the-rim athleticism. And though still raw offensively, he flashed a promising mid-range jumper and impressive finishing instincts around the basket.
He's a skinny 220 pounds, but at No. 30, nobody is really a risk. McCullough is worth the gamble this late.