On Thursday, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will lead a new generation of talent to the Association at the 2015 NBA draft.
Renowned for its impressive depth underneath the basket and when it comes to sharpshooters, the 2015 class offers teams a chance to secure foundation blocks for the future.
Unlike most years, the second half of the first round doesn't figure to be an afterthought. With an increased league emphasis on big men who can step back and shoot and on shooters in general, there are solid pro-ready contributors throughout the round.
Before things get underway, let's take a look at one final mock based on team need and the prospect stock market.
2015 NBA Round 1 Mock Draft
|1||Minnesota Timberwolves||Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke|
|2||Los Angeles Lakers||Karl-Anthony Towns, PF, Kentucky|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China|
|4||New York Knicks||D'Angelo Russell, SG, Ohio State|
|5||Orlando Magic||Justise Winslow, SF, Duke|
|6||Sacramento Kings||Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky|
|7||Denver Nuggets||Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona|
|8||Detroit Pistons||Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Cameron Payne, SG, Murray State|
|10||Miami Heat||Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia|
|11||Indiana Pacers||Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin|
|12||Utah Jazz||Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin|
|13||Phoenix Suns||Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas|
|14||Oklahoma City Thunder||Kelly Oubre, SG, Kansas|
|15||Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn Nets)||Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA|
|16||Boston Celtics||Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville|
|18||Houston Rockets (from New Orleans Pelicans)||Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky|
|19||Washington Wizards||Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona|
|21||Dallas Mavericks||Tyus Jones, PG, Duke|
|22||Chicago Bulls||Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville|
|23||Portland Trail Blazers||Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame|
|24||Cleveland Cavaliers||Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky|
|25||Memphis Grizzlies||Richaun Holmes, PF, Bowling Green|
|26||San Antonio Spurs||Delon Wright, PG, Utah|
|27||Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston Rockets)||R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State|
|28||Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers)||Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia|
|29||Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta Hawks)||Rakeem Christmas, PF, Syracuse|
|30||Golden State Warriors||Christian Wood, PF, UNLV|
Final Predictions for Most Intriguing Teams
No. 5: Orlando Magic
The Pick: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
This seems about right—the forgotten team in the top five takes a forgotten prospect lost in the hype of others over the course of the past month or so.
It's easy to forget the Orlando Magic feature a stunning crop of young talent, headlined by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo in the backcourt, with Nikola Vucevic down low.
What the team needs to round out the solid foundation is a pro-ready small forward with high upside, otherwise known as Duke's Justise Winslow. As a freshman, the Houston native averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, showcasing elite upside.
A scout who spoke with ESPN.com's Chad Ford puts it best:
And you're hoping the skill part comes based on his work ethic. It reminds me of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist a few years ago. The intangibles are outweighing some red flags on his game. The only difference is that Winslow is a better spot-up shooter than MKG. But the similarities are there.
Considering Winslow shot 49 percent from the floor and 42 percent from deep, it's clear he can help on the offensive side of the court right away, even if most consider defense his strong suit.
For a team capable of going many ways with a top-five selection, the Magic can't go wrong by hitting a position of need with perhaps the best prospect in the draft at the spot.
No. 6: Sacramento Kings
The Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
It seems the drama in Sacramento could have a direct impact on every team in the top 10.
Drama, as in the power struggle as the team decides whether to trade star big man DeMarcus Cousins, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
No matter what happens on such a dramatic front, the Kings won't mind grabbing one of the draft's top players in the form of Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein. By far the best defender in the class, WCS enters off a season in which he averaged 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.
It's worth mentioning, too, a Cousins-WCS nugget from ESPN's Ryen Russillo:
Should Cousins not stick around, WCS won't have any problems holding down the paint as a defender right out of the gates. He's a freak athlete for a guy who stands at 7'2" and 242 pounds with room to grow. In time, the offensive game will develop, too.
Perhaps scarier is the thought that the two big men can take the court and play together, crafting the best twin-towers look in the league. It's a big "perhaps" though, with the Kings winning no matter what if WCS is there when they walk to the podium.
No. 8: Detroit Pistons
The Pick: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Is it real hype or the biggest smokescreen?
Such is the question around Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis in the hours leading up to the draft. He's the biggest riser in recent weeks after arriving in the U.S. and putting on a show for scouts in Las Vegas.
Thanks to Porzingis' 7'2", 230-pound frame and an elite ability to convert shots from beyond the arc, many don't take issue with a Dirk Nowitzki comparison. Former teammate Ben Woodside spoke with Pistons.com on the matter:
Comparing anyone to Dirk is a tough task when he’s only 19, but he’s got a similar game. He stretches the floor really well. He can really shoot it. Just his style of game makes you think about how Dirk plays – his height, his release point on his shot. How he plays is similar to Dirk, but he’s extremely athletic, as well. Zinger’s a heck of a player. I enjoyed playing with him. I hope he shines.
It's a no-brainer for the Pistons should Porzingis take a dive. Coach Stan Van Gundy loves his players who can stretch the floor and get big men out of the paint. With Greg Monroe perhaps on his way out, too, it makes sense to pull the trigger.
There's a risk with Porzingis, but it's one teams hoping to contend will take without much in the way of hesitation. Look for the Pistons to be the team if the draft's current hot commodity winds up as more smoke than fire.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.