Now that the NBA Draft Lottery has been determined, it's finally time to take a look at which pro prospects fit where and why. Minnesota Timberwolves fans cheered as their team secured the No. 1 overall pick in the May 19th lottery, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic. (Sorry Knicks fans. You can't seem to catch a break!)
Without further ado, here's my first 2015 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns (PF/C, Kentucky)
Towns had is coming-out party during the NCAA Tournament, as we all were able to appreciate his versatility on both ends of the court. While Okafor is clearly the more polished post player, Towns has the ability to extend to the three-point line on the offensive end, and possesses much better shooting ability than the former Duke big man. Because of his upside and unique set of skills, I have Towns going first (right now).
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (C, Duke)
The Lakers didn't win the lottery, but they will be happy taking whichever big man isn't selected first. After a horrific season, specifically in terms of frontcourt production, the Lakers will draft their big man of the future in this draft, or so they hope.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell (PG/SG, Ohio State)
Russell is my favorite player in this draft. He can do it all, as evidenced by his 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game in his only season at Ohio State. The 76ers will be a young team to watch, as he would join Tony Wroten, Joel Embiid, and Nerlens Noel. Slowly but surely, Philly fans.
4. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay (PG, International)
The Knicks didn't get the No. 1 overall pick, but landing Mudiay, the draft's best international player, wouldn't be a letdown. In his one international season playing in China, he averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. He's young and very raw, but has freakish athleticism and a very high upside. He also could immediately start for Phil Jackson's rebuilding squad. (Then again, who couldn't?)
5. Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis (PF, International)
I watched the Magic play quite a bit last season, and something was painfully evident: the team needs a power forward to play alongside Nikola Vucevic. Porzingis, who is a young 7-foot international player, is looked upon fondly by NBA scouts and since Vucevic is a fellow international player, the fit might make even more sense. While the first four prospects in this year's draft are somewhat set in stone, from No. 5 on, it gets significantly more difficult to project what teams may be thinking.
6. Sacramento Kings: Justise Winslow (SF, Duke)
I expect the Kings to hear multiple offers for DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, but imagining a team with Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Cousins, adding Justise Winslow, and being coached by George Karl makes me smile. As seen in the NCAA Tournament, Winslow provides energy and contributes on and off the ball on both sides of the floor.
7. Denver Nuggets: Trey Lyles (PF, Kentucky)
Don't let 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in college bother you. Remember, he played at Kentucky! Lyles is, in my view, the second-best prospect (after Towns) to come out of Kentucky in this year's draft. The Nuggets would love to add Lyles' length in the frontcourt, especially since Darrell Arthur is an unrestricted free agent, leaving Jusuf Nurkic, Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson as the only frontcourt players who can make an impact on a nightly basis.
8. Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson (SF, Arizona)
Stan Van Gundy would love to add Johnson's athleticism to a starting lineup that includes Reggie Jackson (restricted free agent), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Greg Monroe (unrestricted free agent), and Andre Drummond. If he can convince those guys to stay and add Johnson to the mix, I like the Pistons' chances of heading to the playoffs next season.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Kaminsky (C, Wisconsin)
Regardless if Michael Jordan is making draft decisions anymore or not, it seems like his team always selects decorated NCAA players. Kaminsky won every major Player of the Year award last season in college, and while I don't think his game (or frame) translates to a solid NBA player, I don't think he will slip out of the top 10. The obvious concern is if he will be able to defend an NBA center in the post, and I think that answer right now is a resounding "no".
10. Miami Heat: Devin Booker (SG, Kentucky)
The Heat were desperately in need of a knock-down shooter last season, and I think Booker has the potential to be the next Klay Thompson. This would be a match made in Heaven, and because of his length and height, Booker could be groomed towards playing small forward, in my opinion.
11. Indiana Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein (C, Kentucky)
Pacers President Larry Bird went on the record saying that Willie Cauley-Stein was a "100 million dollar player" someday, in his opinion. Well, he might have the chance to pay him that. While most NBA analysts have the former Kentucky big man going in the top 10 (and some in the top 5), I think he falls due to his performance and attitude in the past NCAA Tournament. Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel said that Roy Hibbert may see his playing time completely cut next season, so there's a void to fill at the position. Cauley-Stein is very limited offensively, but has the ability to defend in the NBA at a high level.
12. Utah Jazz: Sam Dekker (SF, Wisconsin)
Sam Dekker showed the world that he can ball in the NCAA Tournament. Despite his inconsistency in the regular season, Dekker will likely go in the top 15, and I like the fit with the Jazz, who like fundamentally-sound players (like Gordon Hayward) and have shown the ability to mold these players into something special. Dekker, due to his athleticism, would be a nice fit here.
13. Phoenix Suns: Mario Hezonja (SG/SF, International)
Hezonja's name has been on the radar for a couple of years now, and the Nuggets might be inclined to give the international prospect a shot with this selection. Despite averaging just 5.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per contest through 53 games played for Barcelona last season, his potential is what NBA teams are looking at. The Suns might be a nice developmental setting for him, as the team would have a number of players ahead of him on the depth chart.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Myles Turner (C, Texas)
When Serge Ibaka went down with yet another injury this past season, the Thunder were in desperate need of a rim protector. Enes Kanter, though talented on the offensive end of the court, is simply not dominant defensively. Turner's huge wingspan and defensive abilities would allow him to fill a role off Oklahoma City's bench, which would be perfect for his development, playing on the same team as superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
15. Atlanta Hawks (From Brooklyn): Kevon Looney (PF, UCLA)
Paul Millsap is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. While the team will make every effort to re-sign him, Looney is a likely draft choice due to his age (19), and upside at the power forward position. I can also see the team going with a more experienced player at the same position, like Bobby Portis, but for right now, I'll slot in Looney here.
16. Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis (PF, Arkansas)
Speaking of Portis, I think the Celtics wouldn't let him slip by at this spot. Yes, the team already has Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk signed through next season. However, Zeller and Olynyk haven't been consistent at the NBA level, and Sullinger has not shown that he can stay healthy. Portis projects to be a solid NBA big man and his experience at Arkansas will only benefit him at the next level.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Oubre (SF, Kansas)
When they see young, raw talent, the Bucks don't hesitate (see Giannis Antetokounmpo). Oubre put up underwhelming numbers during his one and done year at Kansas, but NBA scouts love how he projects after a few years of development. The Bucks have a core, were a playoff team, and wouldn't require this pick to come in and perform right away.
18. Houston Rockets (From Pelicans): Tyus Jones (PG, Duke)
While I don't think Jones projects well as an NBA point guard, I would understand him going to the Rockets here. He's a winner (and the Rockets are as well), he plays with tenacity and grit, and he loves stepping up for his team in clutch moments. While I think Cameron Payne out of Murray State is the best point guard prospect in the draft, I think the Rockets would go with Jones at this spot.
19. Washington Wizards: Cameron Payne (PG, Murray State)
Payne averaged 20.2 points and 6.7 assists at Murray State last year, and as previously stated, I think he's the best NBA point guard prospect in this draft. While Ramon Sessions is still under contract and will likely be John Wall's backup next season, this would give Payne a season to learn under the tutelage of two veterans and look to make a strong impact in the 2016 season.
20. Toronto Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SF, Arizona)
The Raptors need help at the small forward position, as James Johnson and Terrance Ross have not lived up to expectations. Enter Hollis-Jefferson, who would likely split time and play off the bench right away, but who has a decent upside. This pick would make sense.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Jerian Grant (PG, Notre Dame)
Rajon Rondo definitely isn't coming back and J.J. Barea is an unrestricted free agent, which leaves 32-year old Devin Harris as the only point guard on the roster. The obvious need is at that position, as Jerian Grant out of Notre Dame would be someone who could come in and produce right away.
22. Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson (SF, Virginia)
Anderson would fit well into the Bulls' defensive-first philosophy. When healthy, he can also produce at the offensive end. While he will not be an impact player at the next level, he would provide depth off of the bench at the small forward and shooting guard spots, which the Bulls lacked this season.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Montrezl Harrell (PF, Louisville)
I can see Harrell moving up draft boards in the coming weeks, but right now I see the Blazers being a nice fit, especially if LaMarcus Aldridge decides to leave. Harrell is ready to play and produce right away, and would be a nice addition to the Blazers bench, where he could bring his energy off of on a nightly basis.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Christian Wood (PF, UNLV)
19-year old Christian Wood has a lot of upside. With a 7'2 wingspan, he would likely be able to spell Timofey Mozgov after a period of development and serve as a rim protector for the Cavaliers. This isn't a player who could walk in and produce right away (he might have to spend some time in the D-League), but it makes sense to take a shot with the 24th pick.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Rashad Vaughn (SG, UNLV)
The Grizzlies need help scoring the basketball. Vaughn averaged right under 20 points per game last season, and will likely be able to be a serviceable player at the shooting guard spot at the next level due to his scoring ability.
26. San Antonio Spurs: R.J. Hunter (SG, Georgia State)
With Danny Green testing the free agent waters, Gregg Popovich would simply draft Danny Green 2.0. Hunter is perhaps the best pure shooter in this draft, and would fit into the Spurs' system quite well. He also has a high basketball IQ, which Pop would love to add to his veteran, intellectual team.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (From Rockets): Delon Wright (PG, Utah)
After drafting Okafor, Wright would make a lot of sense. The Lakers need depth behind Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant next season, and Wright gives them just that.
28. Boston Celtics (From Clippers): Dakari Johnson (C, Kentucky)
The Celtics would have a crowded frontcourt already, but adding Dakari Johnson would make a lot of sense. Johnson will likely have to spend some time in the D-League, but he remains one of the top prospects at the center position in this year's draft and will likely translate into a solid rim protector someday.
29. Brooklyn Nets (From Atlanta): Cliff Alexander (PF, Kansas)
Alexander showed that he needs to put in a lot of work after his freshman campaign at Kansas in which he put up 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. However, he was ranked as high as No. 2 heading into that freshman season for his class. That would be enough for a team to convince themselves to take a shot on him with the No. 29 pick.
30. Golden State Warriors: Jarell Martin (SF/PF, LSU)
Martin was very productive at LSU and can play the small forward and power forward spots. Remind you of anyone? Oh yeah... Draymond Green. This seems like a natural fit to play behind Green in Golden State. In the coming weeks, I see Martin's stock rising, however.
So, who do you think your team is going to pick? Comment below and be on the lookout for Volume 2, coming in a few weeks!