With the lottery results finally in, here’s my first crack at a mock draft. Each pick is given with a few sentences of analysis, giving a reason for why the team makes that pick and how the player might contribute to the future of the team.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jahlil Okafor 6-11 270 C Duke Freshman
Breakdown: Okafor would provide a low post presence for the Timberwolves and should be able to contribute immediately. Oft-injured veteran center Nikola Pekovic could come off the bench and give opposing bench units problems (or perhaps be traded?), while Anthony Bennett or Adreian Payne complement Okafor nicely as stretch 4’s. Gorgui Dieng provides depth up front as well.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Karl-Anthony Towns 7-0 250 PF/C Kentucky Freshman
Breakdown: Towns would give the Lakers a complementary frontcourt piece to 2014 first-round pick, power forward Julius Randle, and slide into the starting center spot immediately. Towns can stretch the floor from the center position and provide versatility to defend both frontcourt positions. Towns is a shot-blocker who can also shoot it – both a premium in today’s NBA.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – D’Angelo Russell 6-4 195 PG/SG Ohio State Freshman
Breakdown: Russell would immediately be the best guard in Philadelphia’s rotation, as he’s able to play either guard spot effectively thanks to superior ball handling and shooting ability. Russell would fit in nicely in Brett Brown’s offense with his ability to stretch the floor. Philadelphia would have a bright future with the addition of Russell to go along with youngsters Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric once Saric joins the 76ers when his situation in Turkey gets settled.
4. New York Knicks – Emmanuel Mudiay 6-5 190 PG China
Breakdown: You have to go best player available if you’re the Knicks here, and Mudiay would be that pick. The talented point guard can get anywhere he wants on the floor and would give Carmelo Anthony a quality point guard who can get him shots. Speed and athleticism is Mudiay’s game, and the Knicks would have a quality point guard they haven’t had since, yes, Stephon Marbury.
5. Orlando Magic – Kristaps Porzingis 7-1 220 PF/C Latvia
Breakdown: The Magic face a tough choice here between Porzingis and Duke swingman Justise Winslow. I believe the choice would be the highly talented and versatile Porzingis. It might take time for him to develop, but Porzingis has some of the highest potential remaining at the fifth pick with his combination of size, shot-blocking, shooting ability and athleticism.
6. Sacramento Kings – Willie Cauley-Stein 7-0 240 PF/C Kentucky Junior
Breakdown: Cauley-Stein would provide a defensive-minded presence alongside DeMarcus Cousins. Cauley-Stein would improve Sacramento’s defense immediately with his ability to switch on pick-and-rolls, and he can guard almost anybody thanks to his freakish lateral quickness. While never known for his offense, Cauley-Stein could develop into a Tyson Chandler-esque slasher of the lane, attacking the glass for put-backs and alley-oops.
7. Denver Nuggets – Justise Winslow 6-6 220 SG/SF Duke Freshman
Breakdown: Winslow would give the Nuggets a physical presence on the wing who’s versatile enough to play either small forward or shooting guard. Winslow shot the ball better than expected as a freshman and will need to continue to develop range to be a threat on the perimeter. A trio of young players in Winslow, Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic would give Denver some nice building blocks for the future.
8. Detroit Pistons – Mario Hezonja 6-8 215 SG/SF Croatia
Breakdown: Hezonja would bring the Pistons stability at the small-forward position with the ability to stretch the floor and attack the rim. Stan Van Gundy is looking for shooters to put around center Andre Drummond, and Hezonja fits the bill. A perimeter trio of a re-signed Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Hezonja surrounding Drummond has potential to be dominant in a few years.
9. Charlotte Hornets – Stanley Johnson 6-6 242 SG/SF Arizona Freshman
Breakdown: Johnson would bring the Hornets a perimeter threat they sorely need, with the versatility to play and defend either wing spot. Johnson shot 37.1 percent from three at Arizona and will need to continue to develop that shot for the next level. Johnson would give the Hornets one of the best young defensive wing tandems while teaming with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
10. Miami Heat – Myles Turner 6-11 240 C Texas Freshman
Breakdown: Turner has some of the most natural talent at this point in the draft as a versatile frontcourt player with athleticism and a jump shot. He would give Miami versatility up front with Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, as he has the length and athleticism to match up with either power forwards or centers. Turner may be a bit raw, but he has a lot of potential with a high ceiling, something Pat Riley always keeps in mind while drafting.
11. Indiana Pacers – Frank Kaminsky 7-1 230 PF/C Wisconsin Senior
Breakdown: Kaminsky would bring something the Pacers haven’t had in the frontcourt in quite some time – legitimate three-point shooting. With David West having his last year under contract in 2015-16 and the future of Roy Hibbert in question, Kaminsky would provide depth next year and could develop into a starter in time with the Pacers. With stretching the floor being a premium in the NBA these days, Kaminsky brings an elite skill to the table as a stretch 4 or 5.
12. Utah Jazz – Devin Booker 6-6 205 SG Kentucky Freshman
Breakdown: Booker brings an NBA-level skill in shooting while providing insurance on the wing for a team that dealt with an injury to Alec Burks last season. Booker fits in well with Quin Snyder’s offense while spacing the floor, especially with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert clogging up space in the paint. The Jazz know what they’re getting with Booker, who has solid potential to become more than just a shooter in due time.
13. Phoenix Suns – Sam Dekker 6-9 220 SF Wisconsin Junior
Breakdown: Dekker would bring versatility between both forward spots while playing for the Suns. If he’s able to successfully transition to the NBA three-point arc and shoot as well as he did during the NCAA Tournament, there’s no reason to believe Dekker couldn’t be a quality sixth man initially and develop into a starter down the line. Add in his strength and height, and Dekker could potentially play as a small ball 4, too.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Payne 6-2 185 PG Murray St. Sophomore
Breakdown: Cameron Payne was a high-level point guard out of the pick-and-roll for Murray St. and would immediately provide Oklahoma City with stability running its bench unit. Payne could also evolve into a starting guard alongside Russell Westbrook and swingman Kevin Durant while being able to stretch the floor well enough to keep the defense honest. Payne will have an adjustment initially, but he has the potential to be a top 15 point guard in the NBA.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Trey Lyles 6-10 240 PF Kentucky Freshman
Breakdown: If Lyles falls this far, consider it a steal for the Hawks. Lyles is a finesse 4-man who was skilled enough for John Calipari to play out of position at Kentucky, playing small forward in bunches. Lyles is a talented power forward with ideal size and frame to play the position at the next level. He’ll need to bulk up some, but would provide insurance for Paul Millsap and Al Horford in spurts upon his arrival.
16. Boston Celtics – Kelly Oubre 6-7 200 SG/SF Kansas Freshman
Breakdown: Oubre is a bit of a boom-or-bust pick for the Celtics, but there’s nothing wrong with that at this point in the draft. As a wing, Oubre brings great length (7-2 wingspan) and lots of potential. He would give the Celtics an athletic wing defender to complement players like Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and second-year guard James Young.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Kevon Looney 6-9 220 PF/SF UCLA Freshman
Breakdown: Talk about a perfect fit. Looney, a product of Milwaukee, would fit the mold of an athletic, versatile 4-man with length and shooting ability. Looney would bring shooting (41.5 percent from three) to an offense that lacks perimeter threats and has some of the highest potential at this spot in the draft. He’ll need to add strength, but he should fill out in time and be a solid starter in the league.
18. Houston Rockets – Jerian Grant 6-4 200 PG/SG Notre Dame Senior
Breakdown: Grant would give the Rockets stability at point guard off the bench once Patrick Beverley returns from injury (and if he’s re-signed) and a potential long-term starter at the position. Current point guards Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni are both seasoned veterans, and Grant would inject youth into a position of need for the Rockets while adding another playmaker to help out James Harden.
19. Washington Wizards – Bobby Portis 6-11 245 PF/C Arkansas 240
Breakdown: The Wizards are aging up front between Nene and Marcin Gortat, and Portis provides potential and ability to contribute right away at this spot. Portis has the size to play both frontcourt positions and even showed intriguing touch from the perimeter at Arkansas, shooting 14-of-30 (46.7 percent) from three as a sophomore last season.
20. Toronto Rapters – Montrezl Harrell 6-8 255 PF Louisville Junior
Breakdown: Harrell would bring stability at power forward for the Raptors and someone who’s just mean on the court. Harrell attacks the rim ferociously and rebounds in and out of his area. He would be a solid addition on the front line alongside Jonas Valanciunas.
21. Dallas Mavericks – R.J. Hunter 6-6 185 Georgia St. Junior
Breakdown: Hunter would bring shooting ability to a roster that only shot 31.1 percent from three in the postseason. Hunter would be a future replacement at starter for Monta Ellis and can play alongside anybody initially, just because of his shooting alone.
22. Chicago Bulls – Terry Rozier 6-2 190 PG/SG Louisville Sophomore
Breakdown: Rozier would be terrific as a young, change-of-pace backup point guard to contrast the year-by-year veteran rentals the Bulls have been operating with the past few years. He could play alongside Derrick Rose down the line and run the bench units initially. Rozier showed big improvement running an NBA-style offense in the 5-on-5 portion of the NBA Draft Combine.
23. Portland Trail Blazers – Justin Anderson 6-6 230 SG/SF Virginia Junior
Breakdown: Anderson improved his shot-making this past season, shooting 45.2 percent from three. If he’s able to stretch that out to the NBA three-point line, Anderson should be able to play and defend either wing position off the bench and possibly develop into a starter down the line.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 6-7 210 SG/SF Arizona Sophomore
Breakdown: Hollis-Jefferson helps immediately with wing depth off the bench and his defense on the ball. The Arizona product could develop into a lock-down defender quickly, and if he ever turns into any sort of perimeter threat, he could be an excellent two-way player
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Delon Wright 6-5 180 PG Utah Senior
Breakdown: Wright would upgrade the Grizzlies’ backcourt and backup point-guard situation. He’s a slasher who needs to improve upon his shooting ability to truly maximize his ability in the pros. Wright is the brother of current Portland wing Dorell Wright.
26. San Antonio Spurs – Christian Wood 6-10 215 PF UNLV Sophomore
Breakdown: Wood has some of the highest upside in the draft at this point as a stretch 4, and the Spurs would take a chance on him at this point. He had an unusually high body fat percentage at the combine at 14.7 percent, despite weighing in at only 215 pounds. He’ll also need to work on that jumper to be as effective as possible at the next level.
27. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarell Martin 6-9 240 PF LSU Sophomore
Breakdown: Martin really boosted his stock measuring at a legit 6-9 in shoes after being listed between 6-7 and 6-10 on multiple sites. That height should allow him to be effective immediately in the paint on bench units for the Lakers.
28. Boston Celtics – Rakeem Christmas 6-10 240 PF/C Syracuse Senior
Breakdown: My biggest riser among prospects at the combine would be a solid pick by the Celtics at this point in the draft. Christmas would be an immediate contributor off the bench with his shot-blocking prowess and mid-range game.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Tyus Jones 6-1 185 PG Duke Freshman
Breakdown: The poor Nets. They had their pick switched with the Hawks, but here they get a winner of a point guard who would provide immediate insurance for the oft-injured and aging Deron Williams and a possible starter down the line. Jones is simply a winner, but it might be hard for the Nets to develop a roster around him with the lack of resources they currently have.
30. Golden State Warriors – Rashad Vaughn 6-5 200 SG UNLV Freshman
Breakdown: The Warriors told R.J. Hunter they were looking for bench shooting, and with Hunter already taken, Vaughn is the next best bet. He’s young and has a lot of potential for growth in his shot selection, but playing in this system would develop his game quickly.