2015 NBA Rookie-Season Predictions for Every 1st-Round Pick

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2015

2015 NBA Rookie-Season Predictions for Every 1st-Round Pick

0 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    Rosters for the 2015-16 NBA season are already starting to take shape. 

    Obviously, we have a long way to go. The draft may be in the rearview mirror, but there are trades yet to come, and plenty of players will change teams during the always hectic free-agency period that begins July 1. 

    Before we dive into those uncertainties, let's take a moment to celebrate the young men who just entered the world's best basketball league. Sixty players were taken off the board—including the 30 first-round picks that you'll soon see featured—and fans will ideally come to know and love them in the coming years. 

    But how will they fare right away? 

    Looking at their college numbers and analyzing their new situations, that's the question we're now concerned with. Here, we'll be projecting their rookie-year numbers in five major categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) by attempting to determine their expected playing time and role with their NBA squad and then adjusting from there.

    It's a subjective process, especially because further player movement will change things, but we're trying to be as objective as possible with these guesstimates. 

30. Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors

1 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    School: UCLA

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks, 21.9 PER

    Kevon Looney just landed in the perfect situation. 

    The UCLA product is a bit raw and was always going to benefit from working hard both in practice and during the offseason to improve his jumper. Now, he'll be afforded plenty of time to focus his energies in non-game situations—or play in the NBA Development League.

    The defending champions are simply too deep to involve him heavily. 

    Even when David Lee departs, Looney won't be anything more than a third power forward in the rotation. Draymond Green will be the starter once he inks an extension as a restricted free agent, and Marreese Speights should continue serving as the backup for a Golden State Warriors organization content to just run it back. This 19-year-old won't be filling a role any larger than the one James Michael McAdoo occupied in 2014-15. 

    It would be shocking if Looney spent more than 10 minutes per game on the court during his rookie go-round. 

    Stat Prediction: 3.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

29. Chris McCullough, Brooklyn Nets

2 of 32

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Syracuse

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 2.1 blocks, 18.9 PER

    Players taken late in the first round don't typically make sizable impacts during their rookie seasons, but Chris McCullough could be the exception. He's not widely hailed as an NBA-ready prospect, but the Brooklyn Nets should be eager to kick off their youth movement. 

    McCullough's physical gifts will help him right off the bat. He's a gifted athlete with incredible quickness, which allows him to serve as a more mobile power forward than you typically see, even during this pace-and-space era. However, the former Syracuse contributor needs to add strength, and that will show on the boards, where he'll fail to make much of a mark. 

    Even with Thaddeus Young (assuming he re-signs with the Nets), Mirza Teletovic, Cory Jefferson and Earl Clark fighting him for minutes at the 4, McCullough should find himself on the court with regularity. His upside dictates that.

    However, his performances will be anything but consistent as he attempts to make the difficult transition from Syracuse to the sport's highest level. 

    Stat Prediction: 5.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.7 blocks

28. R.J. Hunter, Boston Celtics

3 of 32

    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Georgia State

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 22

    Position: SG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 19.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 25.8 PER

    The Boston Celtics desperately need someone who can knock down shots from the perimeter, and that's exactly what R.J. Hunter does best. Don't be fooled by his lackluster shooting percentages at Georgia State; he won't be forcing up nearly as many attempts at the NBA level, nor will he draw such heavy attention from defenses.

    As Jonathan Givony writes for DraftExpress.com, he still shows the signs of being a formidable shooter:

    He shows great confidence and aggressiveness as a shooter, though, hitting some deep and incredibly difficult looks that only real snipers do. That, combined with his mechanics, the huge volume of threes he attempts (over seven attempts per game), and his sparkling percentages from the free-throw line (89 percent as a junior) lead you to believe that he'll find a way to develop into a very dangerous shooter in the NBA, particularly when he's drawing less attention from defenses than he did as a marked man every night for Georgia State.

    Boston finished the 2014-15 campaign with more three-point attempts than all but a dozen teams throughout the Association, but it connected at a 32.7 percent clip. That was the No. 27 mark in the league, ahead of only the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets. 

    Even though the Beantown backcourt is crowded, head coach Brad Stevens will ensure that Hunter has a chance to loft up some bombs. 

    Stat Prediction: 7.2 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks

27. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers

4 of 32

    David Becker/Getty Images

    School: Wyoming 

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 22

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks, 25.3 PER

    With Julius Randle returning from his devastating leg injury and the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers rostering both Ed Davis and Jordan Hill for another season, Larry Nance Jr. won't have too many chances to play big minutes as a first-year contributor. He'll be reserved for mop-up duty and will likely spend a significant portion of the season with the D-League's Los Angeles D-Fenders, where he can continue to work on developing his offensive game.

    If Nance does suit up in purple and gold, he'll get to show off his dunking prowess in transition. Meanwhile, his athleticism will help him make an impact on the glass and while playing defense—don't be surprised if he's one of the 2015 class' best per-minute steal and block threats. 

    But the 22-year-old is still a work in progress, and the Lakers aren't going to ask him to speed up his development, especially with Randle stealing the spotlight at the 4. If that allows his career trajectory to look just like his father's, no one in this organization will complain. 

    After all, the older Larry Nance played in 80 games for the Phoenix Suns during his rookie season in 1981-82. Long before he'd become a three-time All-Star, the No. 20 pick of the 1981 draft came off the bench for every one of his appearances and followed up his final year at Clemson by averaging just 6.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.9 blocks in the desert. 

    Stat Prediction: 3.2 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks

26. Nikola Milutinov, San Antonio Spurs

5 of 32

    Last TeamKK Partizan

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, 18.8 PER

    "I am just normal 20-year-old guy who is blessed to do what I love the most—play basketball," Nikola Milutinov said after the San Antonio Spurs made him a first-round draft pick, as reported by Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News on Twitter. 

    If he really wants to play basketball, he'll stay overseas for another year. KK Partizan will offer him more minutes than the Spurs, no matter who the vaunted organization winds up signing during the offseason.

    "Buford said the Spurs' front office has not addressed whether Milutinov will join the roster next season," Lorne Chan reported for Spurs.com just after the draft. "He will not participate in the Spurs' Summer League next month, because he will be playing for the Serbian national team."

    For now, the safe assumption is that he'll spend another year abroad (at least) before he suits up in a San Antonio uniform. 

    Stat Prediction: N/A

25. Jarell Martin, Memphis Grizzlies

6 of 32

    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    School: LSU

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 21

    Position: SF/PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, 21.6 PER

    Different names, same story. 

    Zach Randolph will still be entrenched as the Memphis Grizzlies' starting power forward. And now that Jon Leuer is no longer with the team, Jarnell Stokes should step in as the primary backup. Just as Stokes was a third-string power forward during the 2014-15 season, so too will Jarell Martin serve as the third-stringer in 2015-16, assuming he can beat out JaMychal Green for the role. 

    Martin's versatility and ability to line up at the 3 will aid him, but that's another crowded spot on Beale Street, especially after the team acquired Matt Barnes and his grit-and-grind mentality, which should fit in perfectly with Memphis' yearly desires. 

    Unless his jump-shooting ability magically improves—and it could for this 21-year-old—playing time will be hard to come by during his first foray into the world of professional basketball. 

    Stat Prediction: 2.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks

24. Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves

7 of 32

    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Duke

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.1 blocks, 20.4 PER

    Even though Zach LaVine has already spent one year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tyus Jones is more ready to come in and immediately serve as the backup point guard for this up-and-coming squad. And that's the role he should fill, jumping over LaVine and Lorenzo Brown on the depth chart, which essentially forces last year's top pick over to the other backcourt position. 

    Much as was the case at Duke, Jones won't serve as a potent scorer.

    But his passing skills are phenomenal, and they should immediately translate, thanks to his ability to see lanes before they develop and then weave the ball into them. Plus, Jones has a knack for depressing his turnovers, which should help as he tries to earn minutes on a team that will make a bit of noise in the Western Conference playoff push. 

    He won't play enough to find himself in Rookie of the Year contention, but he won't be spending an inordinate amount of time on the pine either. 

    Stat Prediction: 6.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks

23. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets

8 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    School: Arizona

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, 21.8 PER

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may have shown the occasional flash of offensive ability while at Arizona, but he's far from being a finished product on the more glamorous end of the court. He can be an impact defender on the first day of his professional career, but he's not going to contribute much as a scorer, and his points will likely come almost entirely from the transition game. 

    Will he play much, though? 

    After trading Mason Plumlee to acquire him, as first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets clearly like what he offers. But he's still going to be stuck behind numerous incumbents, and that's increasingly true if the team re-signs Thaddeus Young, who can capably spend time at the 3. 

    Hollis-Jefferson's lockdown ability should guarantee him a bit of time on the floor, but he's not going to be a key contributor at 20 years old. 

    Stat Prediction: 4.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks

22. Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls

9 of 32

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    School: Arkansas

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.4 blocks, 29.5 PER

    Thanks to his knack for scoring on the interior, stroking in jumpers from the perimeter and showcasing his defensive chops, Bobby Portis may be ready to compete in the NBA. But this felt more like a move for the future than anything else. 

    The Arkansas product should eventually make Taj Gibson expendable, and he'll be ready to step in when Father Time diminishes the impact of a healthy Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol. But we haven't reached that point yet, and I haven't even mentioned Nikola Mirotic, who should be given more consistent minutes by new head coach Fred Hoiberg than he ever received from Tom Thibodeau. 

    There are just more bodies than there are rotation spots, even if that won't be true for much longer. Unless there's a trade coming, Portis will be the odd man out for much of the season, developing in practice and by spending some time in the D-League. 

    Stat Prediction: 3.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.2 blocks

21. Justin Anderson, Dallas Mavericks

10 of 32

    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Virginia

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 21

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 23.8 PER

    This one is rather tough to predict, seeing as the Dallas Mavericks' roster is totally incomplete. Per Rotoworld.com's depth charts, they only have eight people ready to go, and Justin Anderson begins behind Chandler Parsons in the pecking order. 

    That last part isn't going to change, but there's a strong chance the Mavs could go after someone else who's more ready to compete than this former Virginia standout. Anderson eventually profiles as a three-and-D contributor, but not every sharpshooter is capable of making an immediate impact. 

    Right now, the safest bet involves Anderson playing a typical rookie role and earning between 15 and 20 minutes. He'll come off the bench as a member of the second unit but by no means serve as the key piece on it. That should be enough for him to build up a shooting rhythm, and even though he's also a strong stopper, his perimeter work figures to be his biggest contribution as a rookie.

    Keep in mind that the stat line above came in only 27.8 minutes per game. Anderson won't reach those numbers, but he's not going to fall too far off them either—unless, of course, a new piece moves ahead of him in the rotation, which is still a distinct possibility. 

    Stat Prediction: 8.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.2 blocks

20. Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors

11 of 32

    Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Utah

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 23

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 2.0 blocks, 29.2 PER

    The backup job should be Delon Wright's to lose from Day 1. 

    After thriving at Utah and showing off his versatile skill set, Wright enters his tenure with the Toronto Raptors behind only Kyle Lowry on the depth chart, and it should stay that way. This 23-year-old has proved himself at the collegiate level, and his game is ready for the next level because of to his 6'5" size, defensive ability and overall feel for the game. 

    Right away, head coach Dwane Casey should have some confidence in him, handing him a significant number of minutes as he attempts to keep Lowry fresh for the stretch run—and, to a lesser extent, DeMar DeRozan, as Wright has the size necessary to line up at the 2 in two-point guard lineups.

    "We saw him as a big point guard that can guard," Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri explained after the draft, per Eric Koreen of the Vancouver Sun. "[He was on the] all-defensive team and takes great pride in it. ... We also see him kind of a late bloomer. We're hoping there’s a little bit more development there. He knows how to play."

    Defense probably won't win Wright a championship right away, but it will guarantee him significant run north of the border. 

    Stat Prediction: 9.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks

19. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks

12 of 32

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    School: Notre Dame

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 23

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 25.5 PER

    Only the triangle offense will hold back Jerian Grant. 

    That's not to say he'll be a bad fit for the system run by Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson, but rather to point out that the triangle doesn't allow a point guard to dominate the ball. It helps limited specialists such as Steve Kerr (during his playing days) thrive, but it's geared more toward wing players and passing big men than possession-eating 1-guards. 

    Still, Grant should be a sleeper in the Rookie of the Year race, if for no other reason than his surefire playing time and the fact that someone on the Knicks has to put up numbers. Jose Calderon shouldn't start over him, and that's assuming the Spanish 1-guard even remains on the roster.

    This young guard is ready for the transition, as David Ray wrote in his final scouting report for NBADraft.net: "Jerian Grant could help just about any team from Day 1. He's a smart, well-rounded player with highlight-reel hops (ask Tadric Jackson), and NBA-level skills at the point."

    Jerami Grant outperformed his draft position in 2014-15 while playing for the bottom-feeding Philadelphia 76ers; now it's his brother's turn to do so for another of the Eastern Conference's cellar-dwellers. 

    Stat Prediction: 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks

18. Sam Dekker, Houston Rockets

13 of 32

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    School: Wisconsin

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 21

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 25.5 PER

    Remember when Chandler Parsons debuted for the Houston Rockets? He moved into the starting lineup pretty quickly, averaging 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks per game during his rookie season out of Florida. 

    Sam Dekker has a similar game to the former Gator. His versatility allows for that comparison, as he can contribute in just about every manner imaginable when his perimeter stroke is clicking. However, he's not going to be afforded the same opportunity to succeed right away. 

    The Rockets are more competitive now, and Trevor Ariza stands directly in the way of this Wisconsin standout earning a starting gig during his rookie go-round. Dekker should still be a key piece during his inaugural season at the NBA level, but a line like Parsons' would be dreaming big.

    Pinch yourself, and you'll realize the expectations should be tempered a bit here, if only for the first campaign of his career. 

    Stat Prediction: 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks

17. Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee Bucks

14 of 32

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    School: UNLV

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: SG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 20.2 PER

    Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman gave the Milwaukee Bucks a grade of B- for their draft-day haul, and though he had kind things to say about Rashad Vaughn, he recognized that the UNLV shooting guard won't be ready to compete right away: 

    In Rashad Vaughn, the Bucks get a shot-maker and natural scorer. He doesn't offer much else in terms of playmaking and defense, but Vaughn has the ability to create and make shots from all over the floor. 

    Having finished third among freshmen in points per game, Vaughn ultimately projects as an instant-offense microwave coming off the bench...

    Vaughn is still 18 years old, and he may need a year in the D-League. But long term, he's a solid offensive prospect and highly skilled weapon in the backcourt. 

    The 2-guard will celebrate his 19th birthday before the 2015-16 campaign begins in earnest, but that doesn't change his timetable. He's a raw prospect with plenty of offensive talent, and even though Jason Kidd's Bucks desperately need scoring, he's not going to provide much of it during his rookie season. 

    Especially given the crowded nature of the wing positions in Brewtown, it would be shocking if Vaughn spends even 10 minutes per game on the court when he isn't suiting up in the D-League. 

    Stat Prediction: 4.1 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks

16. Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics

15 of 32

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Louisville

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 21

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.2 blocks, 22.1 PER

    Is Terry Rozier going to start over Marcus Smart? Absolutely not. 

    That alone makes this a questionable pick at No. 16, and the overly crowded nature of the Boston Celtics backcourt, as well as the possibility that Rozier could have been had much later in the first round, makes this even more inexplicable. The point guard from Louisville has rather similar skills to Avery Bradley, except he's far less polished. 

    With Smart, Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and others already set to take the main rotation spots, Rozier is going to spend an awful lot of time on the bench or ply his trade in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws. The latter would be great for his development, as he does have more upside than most of the aforementioned players. 

    But during the 2015-16 season, he's not going to put up big numbers in the NBA. Frankly, he'll be hard-pressed to put up any numbers. 

    Stat Prediction: 2.5 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks

15. Kelly Oubre, Washington Wizards

16 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    School: Kansas

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 21.1 PER

    If all goes according to plan, the Washington Wizards will let Kelly Oubre develop at his own pace rather than force him into a role that he can't handle. Even serving as the backup small forward during his rookie season would be too much, too soon.

    As a result, the Wizards will likely go after another wing player during the free-agency period, signing one to serve as the starter or Otto Porter Jr.'s primary backup. Oubre just needs to develop more before he can step into a spot like that, given his propensity for taking possessions off and his need to gain more consistency. 

    When he's focused and feeling it, the former Kansas Jayhawk can look like a bona fide two-way stud. But he had a hard time doing that in limited action at Lawrence, and changing that will be even tougher while playing for the Wizards. 

    Remember, he's only going to be 19 years old when he steps onto the court for the first time. This was always a long-term play.

    Stat Prediction: 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks

14. Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City Thunder

17 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    School: Murray State

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 21

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.5 blocks, 30.1 PER

    Obviously, Cameron Payne isn't going to start over Russell Westbrook at the point. Moreover, the 6'2" prospect from Murray State isn't nearly big enough to line up at the 2, and it's not like he should either. Payne thrives when he has the ball in his hands, and that makes him the ideal leader of the second unit, taking over when Westbrook and Kevin Durant need simultaneous breathers. 

    Though he'll be just 21 years old at the start of his rookie season, there's a certain level of maturity to his game. Payne is a confident player who knows how to control the flow of an offense, and that should help him immediately fit in as a primary backup for Westbrook. 

    Will Payne be a Rookie of the Year candidate? Probably not. Westbrook plays heavy minutes each and every season, and too many players on the OKC roster are capable of producing impressive offensive statistics. Talk about a good problem, right?

    But if we look at the per-minute numbers, he's going to prove why he was so highly regarded heading into the June 25 festivities. 

    Stat Prediction: 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks

13. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

18 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    School: Kentucky

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: SG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, 19.4 PER

    Don't be fooled by Devin Booker's lackluster stats at Kentucky. He was playing as a part of John Calipari's platoon system and spent only 21.5 minutes per game on the court. Yes, that means per 40 minutes, he averaged 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.1 blocks. 

    Obviously, Booker isn't going to spend 40 minutes per contest suiting up for the Phoenix Suns. His playing time will be significantly more limited, and the 19-year-old will likely come off the bench to spell the team's starting shooting guard throughout his rookie season. 

    That said, he's going to play.

    Fresh off hitting 41.1 percent of his three-point attempts and taking 6.9 per 40 minutes, Booker should immediately function as the top perimeter threat in the desert, and that basically guarantees him minutes. But he's by no means solely a sniper, as he told reporters right after he was drafted, per Austin Elmer of SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun: 

    I think I'm a little more athletic than people know, I think I will be able to show that and also creating things for others. You know, throughout my whole high school career, I played a lot of pick-and-rolls, but I wasn't in the right position to do that at Kentucky. But I feel like I can show all that when I get to Phoenix.

    He'll "show all that" in a relatively limited role, but at least he'll get to show it. 

    Stat Prediction: 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks

12. Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz

19 of 32

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    School: Kentucky

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, 19.8 PER

    The Kentucky caveat also applies here.

    While calling Lexington home and playing for John Calipari, Trey Lyles spent just 23 minutes on the court during his average game. He didn't get a chance to fully strut his stuff, and his numbers are further depressed because he was asked to share the ball with so many other elite talents. Now, he's headed for a similar situation with the Utah Jazz, who are on the rise in the Western Conference. 

    Right now, there's no chance he displaces Derrick Favors from the starting lineup. The former lottery pick is one of the league's more underrated players, fully capable of playing like an All-Star on any given night. But thanks to Lyles' jump-shooting ability, he could quickly supplant Trevor Booker as the primary backup. 

    This Wildcat doesn't have three-point range, but he has a strong mid-range jumper that should open up space for the other bigs in the rotation, allowing him to play with the paint-bound Favors or the rim-crashing Rudy Gobert. 

    Stat Prediction: 6.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.4 blocks

11. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

20 of 32

    Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

    School: Texas

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PF/C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 2.6 blocks, 25.5 PER


    That describes Myles Turner, who will attempt to make an immediate impact with the Indiana Pacers despite entering the NBA at a tender 19 years of age. And unlike some of the other teenagers in this class, he didn't put up elite numbers during his college days, struggling to produce as a top option for the Texas Longhorns. 

    In time, Turner could become a star. He has the rare combination of shot-blocking skills and three-point range, even if his stroke was inconsistent in Austin.

    But until he develops more regularity and grows into his 6'11" frame, his lack of strength and inexperience is going to hold him back at the professional level. 

    Even if David West, who has already opted out, and Roy Hibbert, who would have to be traded, are both gone from the Pacers roster, it would be tough to trust Turner as an immediate starter. He has a lot of tools to work with, but NBA readiness is not one of them. 

    Stat Prediction: 8.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.2 steals, 1.5 blocks

10. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat,

21 of 32

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Duke

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks, 22.3 PER

    What are the chances Pat Riley has a deal with the devil? That's the only possible explanation for Justise Winslow slipping down to the Miami Heat at No. 10, even though he entered the draft as the top-rated wing player on most boards and was literally the perfect fit in South Beach. 

    If Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng or both leave town this summer, however unlikely any of that may seem, Winslow will likely spend his rookie season on the floor for opening tips. But even if the veteran starting five is intact, he'll have a big role right away, given his readiness for the transition and the Heat's dire need for depth on the wings. 

    It wouldn't be shocking to see Winslow spend as many as 30 minutes per game on the court in 2015-16, especially because he'll either start for a departed Wade/Deng or see his playing time increase during the inevitable rest nights the two incumbents use if they do return. But that doesn't mean he's going to put up monstrous stats, since this Duke standout won't function as one of the featured options in Miami. 

    That's a role he'll have to earn down the road. 

    Stat Prediction: 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks

9. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets

22 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    School: Wisconsin

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 22

    Position: PF/C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.5 blocks, 34.4 PER

    "Charlotte's shopping Cody Zeller hard for wing players. If Zeller gets moved, Frank Kaminsky will be serious candidate at No. 9," Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted for Yahoo Sports before the 2015 NBA draft. The selection process has come and gone since then, but Zeller is still on the roster. 

    So too is Kaminsky, which seems to indicate that Charlotte could still move the more established player. After all, the Hornets seemed quite intent on landing the Wisconsin product, to the point that they turned down one heck of a package from the Boston Celtics, per ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg

    According to sources, the Celtics' final offer to the Hornets was a package featuring as many as six draft picks, including four potential first-round selections (a combination of picks from this draft and in the future). But the Hornets could not be swayed and turned down multiple offers to select Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky.

    It couldn't be any more obvious that Charlotte considers this big man a franchise player. He's going to play right away, and his well-rounded game will look quite nice on a team that needs more offensive production in the worst way. 

    Stat Prediction: 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.1 blocks

8. Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons

23 of 32

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    School: Arizona

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, 22.5 PER

    Stan Van Gundy went into this offseason with holes at each of the forward positions. Now he's filled both, trading for Ersan Ilyasova, formerly with the Milwaukee Bucks, and then drafting Stanley Johnson at No. 8. Just as Ilyasova will step into the starting five, so too will Johnson. 

    After his last season at Arizona, Johnson looks ready to make the leap. He's capable of knocking down perimeter looks, though his stroke isn't as consistent as it will need to be a few years down the road. However, his athletic slashing ability makes him a threat in virtually every situation. 

    Throw in some of the best defense you'll see from a member of this rookie class, and you have the makings of a first-year player who's ready to compete for both Rookie of the Year and one of the 10 coveted spots on the All-Rookie squads. But for him to earn either of those honors, voters will need to recognize his contributions on the less glamorous end, because his more traditional stats won't quite measure up to other members of the 2015 class. 

    Stat Prediction: 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks

7. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets

24 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Team: Guangdong Southern Tigers

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 18.9 PER

    So much depends on what the Denver Nuggets do with Ty Lawson. Though Emmanuel Mudiay is a raw commodity who needs some seasoning before he can live up to even a small modicum of his lofty potential, he could be thrust into a starting role right away if the franchise trades the diminutive floor general. 

    Lawson certainly thinks that's going to happen. He told a group of friends as much while smoking hookah and watching the draft Thursday night. 

    If it does, Mudiay will have a chance to show off his talent out of the gates, even if there will be growing pains. This 19-year-old is an aggressive point guard with a tremendous feel for the game, and that often manifests itself in his ability to find open teammates on a moment's notice. He won't score or rebound nearly as well as he did while playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers this past season, but his passing should translate right away. 

    "Head coach Michael Malone said he wants to play with pace and defend well, which means he should absolutely love Mudiay," James Herbert wrote for CBS Sports while predicting that Mudiay will make the All-Rookie First Team. "He will be asked to get to the basket and score as well as find open teammates."

    Stat Prediction: 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.1 blocks

6. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings

25 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    School: Kentucky

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 22

    Position: PF/C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks, 23.8 PER

    For Willie Cauley-Stein, it matters whether DeMarcus Cousins is still with the Sacramento Kings for the 2015-16 season. The two are both Kentucky products and already enjoy a friendly relationship, which will help ease the personal side of the transition from college ball to the ranks of the NBA. 

    For Cauley-Stein's production, it doesn't matter where Cousins plays. Whether he's lining up at power forward or replacing the big man at the center position, he's going to fill the same role—using his defensive prowess and unbelievable lateral quickness to suffocate other teams while picking up trash on the offensive end. 

    Regardless of who he suits up next to, this 22-year-old is a known commodity. That's a weird thing to say about a player who hasn't yet stepped onto the court for an NBA team, but Cauley-Stein has shown off his skills at Kentucky for years and boasts one obvious ability (defense) that will easily translate to the sport's highest level. 

    There won't be many counting stats here, but the big man will certainly have a positive impact on this troubled organization. 

    Stat Prediction: 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.9 blocks

5. Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic

26 of 32

    Last Team: FC Barcelona

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: SG/SF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 5.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, 13.3 PER

    Mario Hezonja may lead all rookies in self-assuredness. Thing is, it may not fall into the category of irrational confidence, excessive cockiness or flat-out hubris. 

    This swingman has game. 

    The Orlando Magic will bring him along more slowly if they end up re-signing Tobias Harris, but the departure of the incumbent forward would open the door for this rookie. Hezonja is capable of walking right through it, showcasing his shooting ability (which rivals that of anyone else in this draft class) and knack for creating his own shot. He'll need to learn plenty of offensive discipline in the NBA, but it's easier to get players to tone down the aggression than develop a killer instinct they've never possessed. 

    In 2014-15, Hezonja only played 15.1 minutes per game for FC Barcelona, but that's not an indictment of his skills. Most young players in the Spanish ACB don't spend an inordinate amount of time on the court, and this 20-year-old Croatian wing was no exception. 

    Suffice it to say, he'll exceed that average in 2015-16.

    That said, he still has to operate on a steep learning curve, and there will be plenty of struggles along the way.  

    Stat Prediction: 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks

4. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

27 of 32

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Team: Baloncesto Sevilla

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 20

    Position: PF

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks, 19.6 PER

    Let's get it out of the way right off the bat: Kristaps Porzingis is not Andrea Bargnani.

    Other than hailing from Europe and boasting tall, lanky frames, the two are nothing alike. The former No. 1 pick was a skilled big man who relied on his jumper, while the new addition to the NBA has a sweet shooting stroke and still displays athleticism that lets him constantly play above the rim. 

    However, don't make the mistake of expecting immediate stardom from this 7'1" beanpole. Porzingis has the upside necessary to become a star in years to come, but he has to fill out his frame and build plenty of strength before that can happen. He's going to be bullied during his first go-round in the Association, and his numbers won't look strong, no matter how much the New York Knicks put him on the court. 

    Patience is key here. But as Bleacher Report's Dan Favale points out, that's not exactly a specialty in Madison Square Garden: 

    He could need even more of a grace period than usual, not merely because he hails from a different country, but because he's a 7'1" floor-spacing twig, per Begley, and he will be pitted against more seasoned, stockier frontcourt opponents.

    If he's to actually develop into a more athletic, explosive, shot-blocking version of Dirk Nowitzki, it's going to take time. The Knicks, all the way up to owner James Dolan, aren't exactly merchants of time.

    Porzingis' performance in 2015-16 isn't going to be particularly pretty. But hold tight, because this pick could pan out in promising fashion. One lackluster year filled with development from a raw big man won't make the Bargnani comparisons any more valid.

    Stat Prediction: 9.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks

3. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers

28 of 32

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    School: Duke

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.4 blocks, 30.7 PER

    Jahlil Okafor is ready to dominate right away. 

    The 19-year-old big man is a flat-out stud on the low blocks, displaying footwork that could make Kevin McHale jealous. He's a master of the drop step, has shown off the patented Hakeem Olajuwon Dream Shake and routinely made even the best collegiate defenders look overmatched. 

    However, there are a few issues. 

    Conditioning has occasionally been a problem for this center, and he could have a little trouble adjusting to the rigors of an 82-game season. Expecting him to play heavy minutes right away is unrealistic, simply because the Philadelphia 76ers won't want to wear him down too early. 

    Speaking of the Sixers, they're the second problem. Not because they're embroiled in a permanent rebuilding cycle, and not because they seem determined to boast an entire roster of players who are 6'9" or taller.

    It's because Okafor was talented enough to command a double-team on the blocks wherever he went, and opponents can actually capitalize on that now that he's a member of the Philly organization. There are no shooters whom defenders have to stick with, and that's going to get him into a number of troublesome situations until the cast around him shows more promise. 

    Of course, this Duke product is a special talent, despite the looming trouble spots. He's still going to have a stellar rookie season and should be in contention for awards at the end of the year. 

    Stat Prediction: 16.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.3 blocks

2. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

29 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    School: Ohio State

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PG/SG

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 26.6 PER

    "[Jahlil] Okafor is going to be a good center in this league. I think D'Angelo [Russell] has a chance to be a superstar," Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott said about his team's newest addition, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding

    That chance will begin with the opening tip of the 2015-16 season. 

    Russell should be an immediate starter for the Lakers, teaming up with Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson to form a three-headed guard monster that can help the Purple and Gold achieve far more success than it has in the last few years. 

    One of the best shooters in this draft class, Russell is ready to stand out as a scorer in the NBA. Showing off some of the most impressive passing vision we've seen in years, he's ready to function as a primary distributor for a professional squad. Defense is a bit more of a question mark, but that's not our primary focus here.

    As James Herbert detailed for CBS Sports, this guard feels like a rare safe pick for postseason accolades: 

    This is your safest bet for All-Rookie, and he should probably be the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. The Lakers drafted him to put the ball in his hands and let him make plays. Sure, Kobe Bryant—if healthy—is going to do a lot of playmaking himself, but head coach Byron Scott would be crazy not to give Russell a steady diet of pick-and-roll plays every night. 

    Russell should eventually battle with Julius Randle for the right to be the face of this franchise in the post-Bryant era. But the preliminary stages of the fight will begin right away, since there's no point in babying the former Buckeye as he develops. 

    He just doesn't need that.

    Stat Prediction: 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks

1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

30 of 32

    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    School: Kentucky

    Age at Start of 2015-16: 19

    Position: PF/C

    2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.3 blocks, 31.4 PER

    Even if Nikola Pekovic is healthy, the starting spot at center should belong to Karl-Anthony Towns. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't going to draft a franchise centerpiece and let him wallow away on the bench when he's ready to make an immediate impact.

    After all, this team could be surprisingly competitive if all the young talent continues to progress. 

    The numbers you can see up above may not seem indicative of a No. 1 pick. But again, the Kentucky caveat applies here, as Towns received only 21.1 minutes per game during his lone season with the Wildcats. He also had to share the ball with the other elite talents in Lexington, whereas he'll be able to showcase his individual strength more often in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

    Towns already projects as a rare player in the NBA—the enviable big man who can protect the rim on one end and then step out beyond the three-point arc on the other. He's everything the Wolves needed at the 5, and it won't take him long to show that, even if the many mouths that need to be fed in Minnesota could put him at a disadvantage in the Rookie of the Year race. 

    Stat Prediction: 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.7 blocks

Rookie Leaders

31 of 32

    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Points Per Game

    1. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers: 17.0
    2. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers: 16.8
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 13.5
    4. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets: 12.5
    5. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets: 12.0

    Rebounds Per Game

    1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 9.0
    2. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers: 8.4
    3. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: 6.4
    4. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: 6.3
    5. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets: 6.3

    Assists Per Game

    1. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets: 5.8
    2. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks: 5.0
    3. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers: 4.9
    4. Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: 4.0
    5. Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City Thunder: 3.9

    Steals Per Game

    1. Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: 1.3
    2. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks: 1.3
    3. Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons: 1.3
    4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets: 1.2
    5. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers: 1.2

    Blocks Per Game

    1. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: 1.9
    2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 1.7
    3. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: 1.5
    4. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers: 1.3
    5. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets: 1.1

Early Rookie of the Year Standings

32 of 32

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    What is this not? 

    It's not a truly scientific look at this year's first-round picks, as we're not running any regressions or factoring efficiency into the rankings. Plus, no second-round selections are included, which is a flaw in and of itself.

    It's also not a peek into the long-term futures of these players. Some will develop in more expeditious fashion than others, and expected playing time in 2015-16 alone is heavily factored into these scores.

    Kristaps Porzingis, for example, should rise even higher in the coming years, but the rawness of his game and thinness of his frame will hold him back as a rookie. On the flip side, Frank Kaminsky is a more established commodity, but his upside may not be quite as lofty. 

    So, what is this? 

    Below, you can see a quick look at how all 30 first-round picks should stack up as rookies.

    Every selection was ranked from one through 30 in each of the five per-game stats we've been going over. The leader received the full 30 points, second place received 29 and so on, until the last-place finisher got only one. Because points, rebounds and assists are the more glamorous stats, we're tripling the scores in those categories, which makes the maximum possible points in any of those three an even 90. 

    The five scores were added up, such that a perfect overall grade would be 330. The worst would be 11, and projected points per game served as the tiebreaker.

    With that, we can provide an initial, nonscientific look at how the first-round prospects will stack up: 

    1. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers: 278
    2. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers: 272
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 272
    4. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets: 269
    5. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets: 260
    6. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: 257
    7. Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons: 249
    8. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks: 237
    9. Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: 231
    10. Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City Thunder: 203
    11. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: 203
    12. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks: 201
    13. Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic: 200
    14. Sam Dekker, Houston Rockets: 178
    15. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: 171
    16. Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: 167
    17. Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz: 163
    18. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: 142
    19. R.J. Hunter, Boston Celtics: 142
    20. Justin Anderson, Dallas Mavericks: 140
    21. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets: 137
    22. Chris McCullough, Brooklyn Nets: 136
    23. Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors: 100
    24. Kelly Oubre, Washington Wizards: 97
    25. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers: 72
    26. Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls: 56
    27. Jarell Martin, Memphis Grizzlies: 47
    28. Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee Bucks: 44
    29. Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: 42
    30. Nikola Milutinov, San Antonio Spurs: 11

    Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Sports-Reference.com and RealGM.com.

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.