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NBA Mock Draft: The Top Ten Picks

MAR 19 Div I Men's Championship - Second Round - Kentucky v Hampton

After the stock of multiple players both domestic and international has risen, Today’s Fastbreak takes a look at how the top ten might shake out.

1) Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns

The Timberwolves appear to have no intentions of trading away this pick, and with the potential to get Towns at the 1-spot it’s easy to see why they want to keep it. Towns measured in at 6’11, 250 pounds and is a better defensive player than the other big man vying for the top spot – Jahlil Okafor.

Overall, Towns has shown he’s arguably the best in his class in terms of complete upside. He shoots well, crashes the boards, can defend, and uses his size to his advantage like few others. Simply put, he’s a stretch-5 player with a lot of potential.

After getting ahold of Andrew Wiggins from Cleveland, Minnesota will have two of the most exciting young stars in Wiggins and Towns as well as a guy like Zach LaVine. If Rubio can remain healthy Minnesota and the T’Wolves can find an appropriate mix on the offensive end, they will find marginal success this year.

 

2) Los Angeles Lakers – Jahlil Okafor

The rumors have been swirling as to whether or not Los Angeles actually goes with him, but Jahlil Okafor is still a no-brainer at the second pick. He matches up well height-wise and has a variable offensive skill set that will only help him in the future.

APR 06 Div I Men's National Championship - Wisconsin v Duke

He will have to improve his post defense, but with the right coaching he could turn into an absolute monster. Fans in Los Angeles are still waiting to see how Julius Randle will bounce back from injury, but even having the opportunity to learn from a winner like Kobe Bryant should have any rookie up off their seat.

Okafor also has an incredibly compelling story – losing his mother at a young age, his father swept in to take care of him. Through an unbelievable amount of diversity, Okafor has made it from playing ball in the streets of Chicago to being a national champion poised as a top-three pick. Los Angeles will gladly take the size, but they would be getting so much more than they bargained for.

3) Philadelphia 76ers – Kristaps Porzingis

This Latvian stud has been turning quite a few heads since announcing his intention to head for the draft, and it’s hard to find a better all-around shooter than Porzingis. He’s 220 pounds but moves like a guard and has as much room to grow as anyone else in the whole class. He can score down low but also has a perimeter game, something the 76ers are in dire need of (one of a few things).

He’s likely the best international player at any position and Philadelphia would be lucky to have him. Though it appeared someone like D’Angelo Russell would be headed to Philly to spur their offense like then-Rookie of the Year PG Michael Carter-Williams did, but now it’s far more likely that the 76ers go with a big man and Porzingis is the perfect fit.

4) New York Knicks – D’Angelo Russell

Despite not getting a top two pick like many in New York thought they would, it appears Phil Jackson’s dream of getting D’Angelo Russell could still very easily come true. If Los Angeles doesn’t go with Russell and he’s still on the board when New York is on the clock, they would be silly to pass him up. He’s game ready and has a solid feel for the game – something that head coach Derek Fisher needs. He can also score pretty well, though he needs to improve his finishing at the rim even still.

NCAA BASKETBALL: JAN 03 Illinois at Ohio State

Russell’s vision and handles separate him from other guards in his class, and the only other person the Knicks should be willing to look at is Emmanuel Mudiay. Phil Jackson has already stated his desire for a player like Russell, so New York fans may be joined by those from #BuckeyeNation in 10 days time when the fourth pick is announced.

5) Orlando Magic – Emmanuel Mudiay

Even at the 5th pick, the Magic have the ability to go a number of different directions here and still be happy with their results. They could go big with WCS, or draft a wing player like Justise Winslow, but it’s more likely than not that they go with the best available scenario and draft Emmanuel Mudiay.

Mudiay is a different kind of point guard – big in size, fast, and athletic but is limited by shot selection. He has the size of a shooting guard but the handles of a point guard. Not a bad combination. His injury limited the amount of action he got in China this past season, but few GMs are willing to let this get to their heads as Mudiay still remains a coveted piece of this class.

6) Sacramento Kings – Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein has gone as high as Orlando in some mocks but as low as Charlotte in others. I, however, have always stuck him in Sacramento and will continue to do so because of his great fit. He’s already stated that it would be great to work with DeMarcus Cousins and a tandem consisting of those two is a scary thought for anyone in the Western Conference who lacks size.

He’s another Kentucky Wildcat jumping to the big leagues, but he’s another solid example of a prepared player with the ability to make it. He protects the rim well, is pretty versatile on both ends of the floor, and would gladly sit behind Cousins if it meant the two occasionally saw the floor together. If they do take WCS, Sacramento has the potential for one of the best young frontcourt twosomes in the league.

7) Denver Nuggets – Justise Winslow

It’s a shame that a player like Justise Winslow could still fall this far in the draft, though if you ask Denver I’m sure they would be thrilled. Like his Duke buddy Okafor, Winslow is a national champion and has the size for his game to translate at the next level. He’s an athletic wing who can blow by just about anyone to finish at the rim with strength. Like others though, Winslow still has plenty of work to do before he can count himself as a sure starter in the league.

Despite this, Denver is likely to go with the best available situation like Orlando and take Winslow if he’s still on the board. The Nuggets could use a wing player and while they could also use a shooter Winslow still has plenty else he can bring to the court – his motor being one of them.

8) Detroit Pistons – Mario Hezonja

Going with the “best available” theme, Mario Hezonja would be a good pick for the Pistons if Denver opts to go with Winslow. The Croatian has impressed in workouts and at 6’8″ and 200 pounds, he has the size to play forward and still stretch the floor well. He’s got a great shot and is basically a more productive version of current Indiana Pacer Damjan Rudez.

Detroit is looking for a number of pieces and after making even further front office changes, it would be no surprise to see Stan Van Gundy pull the trigger on Hezonja and take him with the eighth pick.

9) Charlotte Hornets – Devin Booker

Charlotte was absolutely dreadful from beyond the arc last year, and free agent addition Lance Stephenson only made things worse. With the departure of Stephenson, the Hornets best option is still to hit the draft and see what they could come up with, and Devin Booker would be a breath of fresh air offensively.

Booker is without a doubt one of the best three-point shooters in his class and can step in and contribute immediately. Charlotte needs a shooter and Booker can fill that role about as well as any other lotto pick. He’s young and has the legs to get up and down and defend well. Charlotte would be unwise to pass him up here.

10) Miami Heat – Frank Kaminsky

APR 06 Div I Men's National Championship - Wisconsin v Duke

Previously, I had Miami going with Devin Booker, but if he is not available it would be easy to see them returning to the original game plan of drafting Frank Kaminsky as the best player available. Kaminsky has shown his stuff in pre-draft workouts and remains a media favorite. His shooting, ability to run the floor, and overall caliber of the game is what keeps GMs coming back with intrigue – but the Heat may get the prize.

With Birdman being arguably the only true big man on the team, Kaminsky would be a welcomed addition to a Heat offense that is no stranger to playing with bigs who stretch the floor. I can see Kaminsky succeeding if Miami ends up pulling the trigger.

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