There’s some sort of postseason going on, Stephen Curry is flying through the air, Klay Thompson is luckily OK after a Vincent Van Gough scare, there’s only two teams left… but all of that is less exciting to us than the new blood to enter the 2015-16 Fantasy player pool! As we’ve done for the second straight year (is two years considered a tradition yet?!), Slim and I mocked the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft by alternating picks for their respective teams with a fantasy outlook for each rook. 2014 didn’t… um… go quite to plan. But hey! We got a couple right and this year doesn’t quite offer the top-to-bottom talent as 2014. With a little bit more of an even playing field, I have a feeling this Draft will feature even more trades and more surprising risers and fallers… Hopefully we get a good portion of the lottery right! The optimist in me is ready ta go! Here’s our 2015 Mock NBA Draft:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns – PF/C (JB)
Woooo, about to be the third straight #1 overall pick heading to Minnesota! And well, two of them should be pretty entertaining to watch, amiright?! (sorry to have lost your click, Anthony Bennett‘s family…) Look at Andrew Wiggins and Towns play together, already in sync! Towns will give the Wolves great versatility up front and a great defender to spell the – I dunno – 12 minutes a game Nikola Pekovic will play. I love this stat – in 321 less minutes, Towns had 34 more blocks than Okafor. The Wolves need some more explosiveness on defense rather than a pure post scorer. Although if the Wolves do champion Okafor, I could see them squeezing out a decent ransom from the Lakers to swap the top two picks – I bet LA would love Towns.
While I think he’s a great fit for the Wolves and will be effective in the NBA right away, I’m not sure if Towns will be the best fantasy pick. Splitting time with Pek will be frustrating, but he’ll be close to must own when Pek has his inevitable injury issues. The blocks should translate, he’s a good FT shooter, and should pull down a few boards. But with the bevy of shotblockers to emerge last year, I don’t know if he’ll be a top 100 draftable guy.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Jahlil Okafor – C (Slim)
The Lakers have holes at every position (*cough* except PG *cough*) and with Towns off the board Okafor makes the most sense as the #2 option behind Kobe this year and LA’s #1 option in ’16-’17. The biggest question mark seems to be whether or not Okafor and Julius Randle can coexist offensively since neither has much of a jump shot. Then there’s the question of whether or not Jal-El, yes he is Superman’s brother from another mother, and Randle can successfully defend the interior. Questions abound and the only answer I can come up with is that Jordan Clarkson is one sexy Filipino American and if he asks me my answer is yes, I will have his child.
Jal-El should start and see 30 minutes immediately out of the gate. He’s going to score well on a high percent, he should board at a good clip, and we’re praying to whichever god is listening that his 1.42 blocks per game in college carries over to the NBA. The biggest problem for us is his .510 FT% on 5.1 attempts per game as a Dookie. He should be a solid pick on fantasy draft day but he’s only going to find his way on my team if I’m punting FT%.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – D’Angelo Russell – PG/SG (JB)
Just like how the top 2 need bigs, the next two need points! It’s all been foretold! Is it me, or every time I see D’Angelo Russell’s name I think of The Wire… Anyway, D Barksdale has some great polish (he’s not from Poland!) with the ability to create both in transition and in halfcourt sets off pick-and-rolls. He’s a scorer just as much as a passer; a perfect fit for the Sixers scheme.
If this comes together, he’s the Sixers starter day one. He should be less turnover prone than Michael Carter-Williams was in 13-14 and won’t rack up the steals, but otherwise shouldn’t be too much different than MCW’s rookie season. Well, the FG% shouldn’t be as bad either. MCW owners are like, “oh my god! He’s MVP caliber!” I’m of course not going there, but he’s probably the first rookie off the board for me next year in Philly.
4. New York Knicks – Emmanuel Mudiay – PG (Slim) traded to DEN for Ty Lawson
There has been a trade. The Knicks send Mudiay to Denver and receive back Ty Lawson and a future, conditional, protected, irrelevant for the next 5 years, 1st round pick. If they can now sign a big man (Aldridge?) then maybe, just maybe, they could consider themselves a playoff caliber team. A little bit of hope there for the Knicks, but I am thoroughly convinced if they do want to be a playoff team next year then this pick needs to be traded.
What can we expect from the Congolese born, by way of a Texas high school, product? First off he’s a big kid and could probably, eventually, play both the 1 or 2 in the NBA. Second, at this point he’s more of a slasher than a shooter but everyone seems to think that part will develop in time. With a 30 minute starting gig in Denver he should give solid counting stats as the #1 option, with 3s and steals, but both percents and TOs could get a bit out of hand. If this really turns out this way then Mudiay will be on my short list for fantasy rookie of the year candidates. His ceiling is absurd and in a dynasty his price tag should be very high wherever he ends up.
5. Orlando Magic – Justice Winslow – SF (JB)
Tobias Harris is almost certainly walking from the Magic, opening a gaping hole at SF that seems perfectly suited for the talented one-and-doner from Duke. I heard someone comp him to James Harden once. I laughed at that person. Winslow is better on the defensive side of the ball! Not that he can’t score, but he’s not going to fill in Harris’ offensive shoes. However, he’d give the Magic probably the best defensive PG/SG/SF in the NBA and doesn’t need to have an assertive role on O with Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic the main options. The Magic – along with a good PF signing (cough, Channing Frye bust, cough) – could be a playoff contending team if they go this route.
If Winslow lands in a starting role, he’s so versatile and strong on D that I see him having no trouble racking up 32-33 minutes a game. And he should be a multi-cat powerhouse if so, able to give rainbow lines on the regular. That said, I don’t think he’s going to shine in any one stat and will be more of a metrics-friendly ranked guy over his true value. A great stat-stuffer in the late rounds that I could see dropped in a lot of leagues and be a key streamer.
6. Sacramento Kings – Willie Cauley-Stein – C (Slim)
It’s finally going to happen. The Kings are going to make the right pick. “But DeMarcus Cousins is a Center, why would they draft another Center?”, you ask. First, I appreciate the question. Second, it’s because Cauley-Stein can guard 1 through 5, and on offense he just needs to stay out of Cousins way. In this scenario you match Willie up with the opponents best big and let Cousins rest up for the offensive end.
Even with a nearly 30 minute role Cauley-Stein won’t be much more than a niche contributor, a couple of boards, a steal and 1.5 or so blocks. Useful for sure, but there isn’t much upside for any offensive production.
7. Denver Nuggets – Mario Hezonja – SG/SF (JB)
Full rebuild mode! After trading for Mudiay, the Nuggets get another quality youngun to develop with the Croatian winger. Hezonja has a lot of professional experience playing the last three years for Barcelona, and pro experience actually dates back to when he was 14 in the Croatian leagues. I only had one thing I could go pro at when I was 14, if ya know what I mean! He has been on the NBA radar for a while, but withheld his name last year (smart move) and looks to be an easy top 7 or 8 pick this year, if not higher.
A shooter with good size, Hezonja profiles to be a little ThrAGNOFfy early in his career. Even if he goes to the Nuggets who don’t have a standout at SG for the moment, I don’t think he’ll start right away despite the professional experience. He’s still only 20 – but on the board at #7, he’s clearly the direction Denver should go with the best upside remaining.
8. Detroit Pistons – Kristaps Porzingis – PF (Slim)
If there’s one thing I miss about David Stern it was his uncanny ability to horribly mispronounce a player’s name on draft day. Porzingis is a 19 year old 7-footer out of Latvia and that’s about the sum total of what I know. We’ve all heard a few things, “He can shoot 3s, block shots, he’s got a high ceiling”, etc. Maybe the ghost of Darko makes Detroit go a different route. Or maybe it’s the ghost that gets Porzingis drafted by Detroit. I’ve said too much.
I don’t think any team out there thinks they draft Kristaps to play immediately. He needs a lot of seasoning. I don’t mean just your usual salt and pepper. These Porz chops need fire!
9. Charlotte Hornets – Stanley Johnson – SF (JB)
Virtually every mock has SJ heading to the Hornets with the 9th pick, as he fits an immediate need at the wing for a team with a bigger wing shortage than during last year’s Super Bowl. A defensive-minded wing, Johnson could immediately play the starting 2 next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the 3, then Charlotte brings in Mo Williams (seems like he’s staying) for offense alongside Kemba Walker for combo sets.
As we’ve seen with MKG, Charlotte has no issues starting the defensive minded guys only to bench the starters for bigger minutes-offense off the pine. His O still needs some polish, and there’s still Lance Stephenson to feed a few minutes as well even though they seem way over him. The contract means Lance’ll have to play… Unfortunately…
10. Miami Heat – Frank Kaminsky – C (Slim)
Assuming of course the Heat bring back their core, then I imagine they will want someone who can step up and score from the 2nd unit immediately. Kaminsky certainly doesn’t have the highest ceiling (<– understatement), but he might just be the most NBA ready.
There are 20 minutes a night for Kaminsky game 1 on the Heat. Best case he’s Ryan Kelly. Worst case he’s Ryan Kelly. I’m not trying to be mean to the man, but I need Kaminsky to prove he can guard an NBA big before I trust he’s anything more than Ryan Kelly.
11. Indiana Pacers – Kelly Oubre – SF (JB)
Still a tad raw at 19 (well, pretty much everyone is 19 these days, but ya know…), Oubre has easy top-10 if not top-5 potential. 6’7 with a crazy 7’2 wingspan, one of his best assets is his smooth jumper and the Pacers want to run some faster O. They’ve already said they’d like Paul George to play some minutes at the 4 and really push the tempo, as their defensive-approach seems to be a thing of the past.
I see the need for Pacers to go big, but they could get a great running mate for Paul George in an explosive offense going Oubre. He’s likely a bench player almost anywhere he goes, so won’t be a strong fantasy pick in any redraft league. But in deeper dynasties, he might be worth a stash.
12. Utah Jazz – Bobby Portis – PF (Slim)
The Jazz don’t need a draft pick. Wanna trade? No. OK then who can help Utah make the playoffs this year? There are a lot of good Kentucky players but none of them were SEC player of the year. People say Bobby Portis isn’t an elite athlete and won’t be able to translate his game. He’s a 20 year old 6’11” stretch-4 who steals, blocks, and has ever increasing range. Yeah sure, those guys don’t do well at all in the NBA.
Portis’ numbers at Arkansas were very fantasy friendly. Low TOs, 54%/74% FGs/FTs his sophomore year. While I do think he plays this year, it might not be game 1. Trevor Booker played well last year and has another year on his contract, but in this scenario I think Portis is only one injury away from being 12-team relevant.
13. Phoenix Suns – Trey Lyles – PF (JB)
Front court depth was a big problem for the Suns – sure the Morris’ twins played fantastic – but other than Alex Len and when Brandan Wright came over, lacked any sort of length. Lyles had a little bit of an up-and-down season for Kentucky, but a big part of that was he had to play SF next to their twin towers. Some may see this pick as a bit of a reach, but his mobility, ability to create off the dribble for a 6’10er, and ability to slot at any front court position I think the Suns gamble on.
Lyles doesn’t excel in any particular area – not a great blocker given the length (but then again the out of position play could’ve been a factor) and only a decent rebounder – but he should have some nice games off the bench running the floor. Not a huge fantasy asset out of the gate.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Payne – PG (Slim)
Is he Reggie 2.0? If by that you mean OKC will barely play him for 2 years then yes. While this is terrible for us, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think he’s going to be Elfrid 2.0. By that I mean someone is going to trade ahead of OKC to land him. Either way, this is the farthest he falls.
Payne’s sophomore season was amazing, albeit not against the toughest competition. If his NBA ceiling is those numbers (20 ppg, 6 assists, 2 stls, 2.4 3s, 0.5 a block, 2.5 TOs) then he’s destined to be an all-star. Does any of that matter to OKC? Nope. DJ Augustin will take all those backup minutes, but we might look back on this draft one day and say Cameron Payne was the best point guard in it.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Sam Dekker – SF (JB)
Maybe someone who knows a bit more about college basketball would know this, but Dekker was a #13 overall prospect when committing to Wisconsin and could’ve been a first round pick either of his first two years. He stayed through his Junior season and had a great tourney run to boost his stock, and through those appearances got the layman’s attention. Aka me! He’s got a great all-around game, and would give the Hawks a great 3/4 option off the bench for some extra offense.
The Hawks just fell in the Eastern Conference Finals suffering several injuries to their wings, and everyone would expect them to contend again. Dekker is NBA-ready now and won’t be expected to do too much off the bench. And he won’t be expected to do too much for fantasy either, but if injuries rear their ugly head (particularly DeMarre Carroll – who along with Paul Millsap is a free agent as well), he could be an interesting ThrAGNOFfy guy for deepers.
16. Boston Celtics – Kevon Looney – PF (Slim)
I’m pretty sure Boston is eyeing someone else here, but this draft is no where near as deep as last year’s and they might need to trade up to get their guy. Looney is a bit undersized at the 4 but he’s a good, strong defender and should be able to succeed there in the NBA. He can shoot a 3, but his jump shot is probably the least NBA ready aspect of his game.
Boston has made promises to make big moves this offseason and if that happens then they can sit back and develop the 19 year old. If they don’t, then Looney could compete for minutes at some point in the season versus the likes of Boston’s current bigs. Either way Looney isn’t going to help us this year.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Myles Turner – C (JB)
The Bucks would be buckin’ if they got a big man like Turner this deep into the draft, as several mocks have him going earlier. Offering some great size for the defensive end, he also features a polished jump shot for a big that would give the Bucks an entirely different weapon at the 5 than John Henson or Larry Sanders the past few years.
With a solid role (which he certainly would have on the Bucks), Turner could offer a handful of 3s along with a boatload of blocks. He also hit 83.9% of his FT in his freshman Texas campaign. Those three things together in one player are uncommon, and while he’s certainly no Serge Ibaka, he could be a surprise contributor if he gets the minutes.
18. Houston Rockets – Tyus Jones – PG (Slim)
Duke’s style of play didn’t revolve around its PG and so Tyus had a Beverley-esque usage rate. The Rockets connection is purely coincidental as Tyus has a much higher perceived ceiling coming out of college than Patrick Beverley, but Beverley is a free agent. Nevermind, apparently there are no coincidences in life.
Tyus isn’t ready for the NBA. There is plenty of upside for a dynasty though and maybe he could eventually put up stat lines like, I don’t know, Patrick Beverley. Fine god, you win, there’s a plan.
19. Washington Wizards – Christian Wood – PF (JB)
This is one of the bolder reaches in our mock, but Wood is a perfect fit for the Wizards needs. He gives them length and explosiveness above the rim in their front court, which is littered with veterans and more, aherm, grounded big men.
At only 19-and-a-half, Wood will be one of, if not the youngest player entering the draft, making him a little bit of a project. His upside is easily lottery-level though, with length to block shots and an offensive game with enough upside to hit treys and get some nasty transition dunks. It may take a year or two, but the really deep dynasties might want to scoop him up earlier than later in the right situation.
20. Toronto Raptors – Devin Booker – SG (Slim)
I’m having trouble getting excited about Booker. I have an idea. I knew a Devin. She was a very pretty girl. I’m getting a little more excited now. Devin, the guy, shoots 3s, lots of 3s. I think I know what our Toronto fans would say, “We have a SG/SF who shoots 3s, now try this poutine, eh?” First, no, that’s nothing but starch and fat and second, I made this pick as an indictment of Terrence Ross.
Devin, the guy, might be the starting SG by the end of the year. Whether that’s in the NBA or the D-League I couldn’t tell you. He’s just ThrAGNoF. I might not even care that he has a starting job.
21. Dallas Mavericks – Jerian Grant – PG (JB)
The Mavs need an up-and-down facelift at PG. A starter. Bench guys. Everything. So I see no way that they pass on whatever PG they can get, and it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them trade up a handful of draft slots if they champion Tyus Jones or Cameron Payne.
A breakout as a senior usually spells bust to me. When I watched Notre Dame games, he didn’t seem to profile like a true PG and I think could be stuck in PG/SG limbo and not make much of an NBA impact.
22. Chicago Bulls – Robert Upshaw – C (Slim)
Breaking News! The Bulls aren’t getting any younger. Not that I believe Upshaw is NBA ready or anything, but he has big time shot blocking upside and the Bulls can afford to let him learn the game a bit more in the D-League.
I doubt he plays much if at all next year and if the stars align and he does play, he will be relegated to free throw punting teams only. But those sweet sweet blocks.
23. Portland Trail Blazers – Montrezl Harrell – PF (JB)
I’ve seen virtually every mock have him land here, and as much as we like to be different I just couldn’t do it! I’m now a conformist! Ugh… Anyway, Harrell would be a perfect backup PF to LaMarcus Aldridge if he stays for a team ready to re-tool and re-contend, or an NBA ready starter if LA walks in a rebuild to see how it plays out.
I watched a good amount of Louisville games this past year, and he disappeared too much for me. Mostly on the offensive side that is, as he is a great defender and boarder. If REBOUNDNOF was a term, Harrell would fit it perfectly…
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – R.J. Hunter – SG (Slim)
Hunter had a bit of an odd season last year. He had more responsibility in the offense but at the expense of his shot. It isn’t too often a sub 40% shooter in their final year of college is a 1st round pick, but there’s plenty of other things to build on. Cleveland can bench him and let him develop; it’s a win-win all around.
One day Hunter is going to play meaningful minutes. Maybe Cleveland trades him to Knicks for a signed bluray of Oldboy, stranger things have happened. If that happened then Hunter could give lots of 3s and steals, FTs at high volume, he can block a shot… the fantasy upside is intriguing.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – SF (JB)
RHJ would be a huge get for the Grizzlies at 25th, bringing another defensive-intensive (rhyme time!) player to play wing off the bench. Not much of an offensive prospect, RHJ will be an above-average NBA defender day one as he was widely regarded one of the best defenders in college basketball.
As you’d expect with a prospect drafted late first round more for defense, there will be little-to-no fantasy value here. Long-term he could become a solid all-around guy, but profiles more like a role player – maybe Tony Allen-ish upside.
26. San Antonio Spurs – Rashad Vaughn – SG (Slim)
The Spurs have been drafting them young recently and at 18 years old, Vaughn fits the mold. He’s a super aggressive scorer and profiles long term as quick offense off the bench. The Spurs – and anyone who would look to draft Vaughn – is thinking much further down the road than this year.
ThrAGNoF bitches. *Slim throws a gang sign*
27. Los Angeles Lakers – Chris McCullough – PF (JB)
Few players this deep have the upside of McCullough, with a long 7’3 wingspan that could develop into a very toolsy NBA PF. He unfortunately tore his ACL last year, and beforehand was too thin as it was, so there’s a long road ahead before he can do much on a consistent NBA level.
While there’s a lot of hurdles, the upside could easily equate to a lottery pick. Even though Kobe Bryant has one year left and will “want to win”, the Lakers could use a deep building block piece like this to swing for the fences. Not much for fantasy in the next 2-3 years though.
28. Boston Celtics – Justin Anderson – SF (Slim)
This late in the draft you’re either going with depth or upside. You don’t get to have both. I think Boston chooses depth. Anderson is good at a lot of things, but great at none. Well, there is one: he went from a 30% 3-pt shooter his 1st two years to last year shooting 45% from deep.
If Boston thinks he’s that kind of shooter then maybe he can get a few minutes next year. He’s a little older than the others at 21, he mostly played a sixth man role in college, and there isn’t too much competition for playing time. But for us, just another ThrAGNoFer.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Andrew Harrison – PG/SG (JB)
Most mocks and outlooks project Harrison as an early 2nd rounder, but why not reach for a little youth at PG with a guy who has a pretty low floor and medium ceiling? It’s easy to forget that he was seen as a sure-fire lottery pick when he originally got to Kentucky, and could have an immediate backup PG impact when he hits the NBA.
With Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack still around, Harrison wouldn’t be able to provide much of an impact, but both vet PG have been frequented in trade rumors. For dynasty it seems like Harrison will likely be a career backup. However, in the right situation with an injury or a rebuilding team dumping vets, he could have some decent stretches.
30. Golden State Warriors – Delon Wright – PG (Slim)
A senior? They do exist. Delon is a slasher, he can play an uptempo game and he’s a well above average defender. He made strides with his 3-pt shooting his senior year, but if he wants to play for GS then he better practice.
There’s a bit of upside for steals and out of position blocks. Earning playing time is going to be tough. Fortunately he has the size to cover a SG. The best thing you can say about Delon Wright is that he’s versatile; not the highest praise but it makes it easier to earn minutes.
And there ya have it! Good luck to your favorite teams on draft day, and we’ll be recapping the big night once it’s said and done the day after!