NBA 2015 Big Board by: Dean Avgerinos
With the NBA Draft Lottery on the horizon, Sixers, Lakers, Knicks and Timberwolves fans anxiously anticipate their fate. Which pick will their respective team be awarded? Which promising young prospect will their respective team land as they look to bolster their roster and turn things around? As a preview of what my Post-Lottery Mock Draft will look like, here is my big board of the top 30 NBA prospects in the upcoming draft on June 25th.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns: C, Kentucky, 6’11”, 250 lbs.
Towns has an NBA body with the skills to succeed in this league. He has the highest upside out of the top four prospects, and barring issues during interviews or an injury, KAT is a safe bet to go first overall come June 25th. He has the potential to be both an elite offensive and defensive presence.
2. D’Angelo Russell: PG/SG, Ohio State, 6’5”, 193 lbs.
Russell has the size to play the both PG and SG at 6’5”. He has an exceptional ability to make tough passes look easy, and his shooting and scoring ability are excellent even without elite athleticism. He has been very confident as of late, claiming to be the best player in the draft at the combine. That mentality will attract teams because he mixes that with selfless play.
3. Jahlil Okafor: C, Duke, 6’11”, 275 lbs
What Okafor lacks in defensive ability, he makes up for with his offensive skillset. With already NBA level low-post scoring efficiency, he has the room to grow into one of the best offensive centers in the league. Defensively, he plays low to the ground, which hinders his shot-blocking ability. A team would only pick Okafor over Towns if they value his pro-ready offensive skills over the overall potential of Towns.
4. Emmanuel Mudiay: PG, China, 6’5”, 196 lbs.
The hype has cooled a little bit on Mudiay as of late. GMs already had to deal with his limited gameplay against foreign opponents, but he also elected to train on his own and skip the combine all together. He has elite power and athleticism, close to the level of John Wall and Russell Westbrook, but he has a poor outside shot. He can be an elite perimeter defender from day one, but teams such as the Sixers might value Russell’s scoring ability more.
5. Mario Hezonja: SG/SF, Croatia, 6’7”, 200 lbs.
Hejonza is an exceptional wing player who can shoot the three-ball as well as drive and finish with power. He has the size and toughness to defend both wing positions, and his tough mentality could attract teams looking for star potential early in the lottery.
Porzingis is another European prospect that international scouts rave about. He has a big body, and a sweet shooting stroke that make him an effective stretch-four in the NBA. He could potentially go in the top three depending on how the lottery shakes out. I don’t expect him to drop past eight in the draft.
8. Justise Winslow: SF, Duke, 6’6”, 222 lbs.
After an up and down freshman season, Winslow elevated himself to the next level during Duke’s NCAA Tournament run. He could easily find himself going as high as 4 in the draft due to his defensive ability to guard positions 1-through-3. Showing teams in workouts that he has a consistent shot will determine how high he goes.
9. Willie Cauley-Stein: C, Kentucky, 7’1”, 242 lbs.
According to Willie Trill, the Pacers’ Larry Bird referred to the center as a “$100 million player.” That exceptionally high praise is probably due to Cauley-Stein’s ability to defend every position in college basketball, and teams will be hoping that can translate to the NBA. If his offensive skills can develop along with his defense, his versatility will lead him to a successful NBA career.
10. Stanley Johnson: SF, Arizona, 6’6”, 242 lbs.
Johnson has an NBA ready body for a wing player, and brings toughness to his explosive athleticism. If he played better in the tournament, he would have been in Winslow’s place. He has a winning drive and that will ensure he doesn’t slip out of the lottery.
11. Myles Turner: PF/C, Texas, 7’0”, 239 lbs.
Turner was misused at Texas, but with his big athletic body and shooting ability, he will attract teams in the mid-lottery. He has a lot of potential, and in the right system with a little more freedom and ample playing time, Turner can grow into a potential All-Star down the road.
12. Cameron Payne: PG, Murray State, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
Payne has risen due to his potential to be the next mid-major point guard to excel in the NBA. He’s young, quick, and has a great feel for the game. If a team in the lottery has a need for a point guard, expect to see Payne taken over fellow prospects Jerian Grant and Tyus Jones.
13. Sam Dekker: SF, Wisconsin, 6’9”, 219 lbs.
Dekker showed in the NCAA Tournament that he has the capability to get hot and make plays so his team can win. He’s athletic, has a tough mentality and can hound you on both ends of the floor. I don’t see him falling past 16 in the draft.
14. Kelly Oubre: SF, Kansas, 6’7”, 203 lbs.
Oubre was a highly sought after prospect coming out of high school, and ended up choosing Kansas. He found himself lost most of the season and was really hurt by Bill Self’s team basketball, and thus relied on his potential and athleticism, paired with a promising shooting stroke to keep him in the lottery discussion. Expect interviews to be the key to where Oubre falls come draft night.
15. Frank Kaminsky: C, Wisconsin, 7’1”, 231 lbs.
Frank the Tank showed everyone why he deserves to be in the NBA next season by playing at his absolute best throughout the NCAA Tournament. As a graduate, his age will play a role come draft night. He will be more attractive to teams who are ready to compete because so will Kaminsky. His workouts against more athletic bigs will show teams how effective he can be out of the gate.
16. Kevon Looney: PF, UCLA, 6’9” 222 lbs.
Watching tape and reading up on what scouts have been saying all year, it is obvious that Looney has incredible potential due to his versatility. But the issue is he didn’t showcase that at UCLA, and in my opinion, I think he could have benefitted from another year at school. I see him in the next tier down after the rest of the lottery picks.
17. Trey Lyles: PF, Kentucky, 6’10”, 242 lbs.
Lyles was misused at Kentucky due to the logjam in the frontcourt. Playing the majority of his time at the three, he was unable to utilize his size and big-man skills throughout the season. Workouts against other bigs will increase his odds of jumping into the mid-lottery come draft night.
18. Devin Booker: SG, Kentucky, 6’6” 206 lbs.
Booker has the size and more importantly, shooting ability, that NBA teams want in a shooting guard. He is a smart ball player, and though he didn’t get all the minutes he deserved at Kentucky, I think that what he did show teams was that he can get the ball in the basket from long-range. That should solidify him as a top twenty pick.
19. Jerian Grant: PG, Notre Dame, 6’4”, 198 lbs.
The four-year Notre Dame guard has the ability and size to play either guard position, though was given most of the ball-handling duties at school. His improvement throughout college has put him in the position to be able to contribute solid minutes right away to a team in need of a steady back-up combo guard who can eventually start.
20. Bobby Portis: PF, Arkansas, 6’11”, 246 lbs.
Most people view Portis as a prospect who will evolve into a solid rotation player for your frontcourt. He has a lower ceiling than the prospects ahead of him, but his floor is also high. He will most likely go to a team who needs depth and is set at the backcourt spots. Both his offensive and defensive skillsets are above average in the draft.
21. R.J. Hunter: SG, Georgia St., 6’6”, 185 lbs.
Hunter has a high basketball IQ and can flat-out make shots. Those two things will be the reason teams take him, and teams will be hoping that his shooting translates to the NBA in his first year. He could rise or fall depending on his workouts due to shooting consistency.
22. Tyus Jones: PG, Duke, 6’2”, 185 lbs.
Jones showed throughout the NCAA Tournament, that he has the ability to lead and elevate his teammates. He is not as athletic as some of the other point guard prospects in the draft, but he is a proven winner. He might not hear his name called in the lottery, but he won’t last too far into the 20’s.
23. Christian Wood: PF, UNLV, 6’11”, 216 lbs.
Wood is a long, athletic rim protector who has a decent shot from 15-feet and in. He needs to gain a few more pounds of muscle, but his upside is very high for a prospect with his skills in the 20’s. If he can improve his shot selection and decision-making, he can be successful in the league.
24. Rondae Hollis- Jefferson: SF, Arizona, 6’7”, 211 lbs.
Hollis-Jefferson has all of the assets to be a productive defensive wing. His athletic skills are an obvious positive, but he shot is a work in progress. He can help a team right away on defense though, which will probably get him picked over players who look more like projects.
25. Delon Wright: PG, Utah, 6’6”, 181 lbs.
Wright is going to be the type of player that comes in and can step right into the backup point guard position. He will be able to provide on both sides of the ball. He’s quick, athletic, and has a big enough body to guard both guard positions. Expect him to go late in the first round.
26. Chris McCullough: PF, Syracuse, 6’9”, 199 lbs.
McCullough is a long, athletic big man. He showcased his skills at the combine during 5-on-5 games and shined. He’s a good shot blocker, but needs to improve on his toughness and gain some more muscle to be able to battle with other big men down low.
27. Montrezl Harrell: PF, Louisville, 6’8”, 253 lbs.
Harrell is a tough guy who can bully you down low with his strength and athleticism. He has a high motor, which will help as he tries to improve his offensive skillset. He needs to improve his shot from mid-range, but will benefit a team right away with rebounding and energy.
28. Robert Upshaw: C, Washington, 7’0”, 258 lbs.
With many guards and wings to choose from in the early second round, I think Upshaw’s stock has risen due to the fact that he has legit size for the center position. A team in need of a backup center picking late in the first will likely target him.
29. Tyler Harvey: SG, Eastern Washington, 6’4”, 181 lbs.
Harvey has one thing that teams covet, and that is elite 3-point shooting. He has excellent range, a high basketball IQ, and had a low turnover rate for a player with such a high rate of usage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hears his name called as early as 20. His only knocks are that he’s a bit undersized for the two-guard spot, and he could be a little bit more explosive.
30. Mouhammadou Jaiteh: C, France, 6’11”, 247 lbs.
Jaiteh is another big body who could see himself enter the first round conversation due to the lack of size in the second round. He’s an excellent rebounder with soft hands, but plays below the rim. He isn’t very athletic, nor is he very quick, but you can’t teach size. He’s a project that a team might take a chance on and stash overseas for a few years to develop.
31. Jarell Martin: PF, LSU, 6’9”, 239 lbs.
Martin is an athletic forward that can play both the 3 and 4 spots. He is a good rebounder with a high motor. He is a bit of a tweener due to his size, but his jump shot might help him stick to a team at the end of the first round.
Next 5 Prospects: Terry Rozier, Justin Anderson, Cedi Osman, George de Paula, Rashad Vaughn. Stick with us for all things NBA Draft related. We’ll have plenty of content in the weeks leading up to the draft!