Jeff Goodman Mock Draft 4.0
Just seven weeks remain until the NBA Draft, and it's still a tough call for the No. 1 overall spot. Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor? Prior to the draft lottery, the Minnesota Timberwolves had the best shot of getting the top pick -- and look for Flip Saunders to go with Towns over Okafor if that happens.
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie will have a huge decision on his hands with which point guard to choose. We've got the answer, as well as the rest of the first round in our latest Mock Draft, including both Wisconsin Badgers being selected in the lottery.
Note: Draft order determined by odds of earning No. 1 overall pick.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns
Analysis: It won't be an easy call for whichever team winds up with the No. 1 overall pick, but the Wolves already have below-the-rim big man Nikola Pekovic, and they have him under contract through 2018 for big money. It's tough to imagine a Pekovic-Jahlil Okafor frontcourt, and the Wolves could use a long, skilled power forward. Towns can do more away from the basket than he displayed in his lone season at Kentucky, and it also won't hurt to have Kevin Garnett tutor Towns for a year or so.
2. New York Knicks - Jahlil Okafor
Analysis: The Knicks need just about everything, so Phil Jackson has to go with the best player on the board -- and it'll be Okafor if Towns goes No. 1. Okafor is a rare breed, a true center who can score in the post with a variety of moves. He's a high-basketball IQ guy with tremendous footwork and hands. He would take some of the pressure off Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end, but needs to improve on the defensive side of the floor.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell
Analysis (1): This is a tough call for Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. He needs a point guard after dealing Michael Carter-Williams, and the top two will be on the board: Ohio State freshman D'Angelo Russell, who can do it all, but isn't nearly as physically blessed as Emmanuel Mudiay -- a strong, athletic kid who is the new age point guard. Russell gets the nod here. Russell, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel will be a nice young core.
4. Los Angeles Lakers - Emmanuel Mudiay
Analysis: The Lakers got solid production from rookie Jordan Clarkson, but the franchise won't pass on Mudiay. Mudiay is a big, strong athletic point guard who put up huge numbers in China (when healthy) but it was against subpar competition.
5. Orlando Magic - Justise Winslow
Analysis: General manager Rob Henningan will have a tough call here since he could use a skilled power forward. However, it'll be too difficult to pass on versatile power wing Winslow -- who would give the Magic even more toughness and athleticism. He's also a good insurance policy in case the team doesn't re-sign Tobias Harris.
6. Sacramento Kings - Kristaps Porzingis
Analysis: The 19-year-old Latvian forward would give the Kings something they could sorely use: A forward who can step out and make shots. Porzingis played in the Spanish ACB this past year and is extremely skilled. He's got a combo is size, skill and athleticism -- but needs to add strength to his thin frame.
7. Denver Nuggets - Mario Hezonja
Analysis: The Nuggets could use a big wing who can shoot it from beyond the arc. Hezonja is 6-foot-8 forward from Croatia who played in Spain who can do just that, but questions abound about his immaturity.
8. Detroit Pistons - Stanley Johnson
Analysis: It's still unclear what Stan Van Gundy will do with his backcourt, but it's clear he needs a wing with size. Enter Johnson. His stock dropped a bit, but he's still a big, strong wing who has plenty of potential. He's young and showed flashes last season as a freshman at Arizona. If Johnson's perimeter shot improves, he could be a short and long-term answer.
9. Charlotte Hornets - Willie Cauley-Stein
Analysis: Al Jefferson puts up numbers, but he's a major liability on the defensive end and WCS can change that. Cauley-Stein can't really score, but he will anchor the defense and provide a rim-protector that's been lacking.
10. Miami Heat - Sam Dekker
Analysis (4): The Heat need to hit a home run here, and Dekker showed the potential with his play in the NCAA tournament. He's long, athletic and displayed a mental toughness with huge games on the sport's biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng aren't spring chickens. This team needs some fresh legs to go along with Hassan Whiteside.
11. Indiana Pacers - Frank Kaminsky
Analysis: The Pacers' two most glaring needs are a front-line point guard and a power forward to replace the aging David West. There's no point guard in this portion of the draft, so the Pacers could trade down and grab Jerian Grant, Cameron Payne, Tyus Jones or Delon Wright or grab a power forward. Kaminsky was the best player in college basketball, is extremely versatile and could help fill an immediate role as a pick-and-pop big man.
12. Utah Jazz - Jerian Grant
Analysis: The Jazz have a nice, young frontline with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. The need is in the backcourt, although it's still too early to tell what they have with last year's first-round selection Dante Exum. The addition of Grant gives them a combo guard with size who can play alongside Exum, Trey Burke or Alec Burks.
13. Phoenix Suns - Kelly Oubre
Analysis: General manager Ryan McDonough needs a big-time forward who can eventually be an upgrade over Marcus Morris. He also needs athleticism to go along with Eric Bledsoe. Oubre is the easy selection here. He's raw, but has incredible upside due to his length and explosiveness.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder - Devin Booker
Analysis: Most college freshman struggle out of the gates shooting the ball from the perimeter, but not Booker, who has good size and can really knock down shots from long distance. He'd be a major weapon for OKC and new coach Billy Donovan (who knows Booker well), especially playing with a healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Myles Turner
Analysis (3): Most have him going higher, but NBA teams are concerned about his lack of athleticism and also the impending medical testing to determine whether he has any leg issues. Turner has size and skill, and would be an ideal fit for Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer's system.
16. Boston Celtics - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Analysis: Danny Ainge has a ton of picks, so he could certainly move up (or even down). The most pressing needs are shooters, and also an athletic wing with size. The truth is Ainge will go for the player he thinks have the highest upside. While Hollis-Jefferson isn't much of a shooter, he will improve, and he's a tough kid who brings length, athleticism and a guy who can really defend.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Bobby Portis
Analysis: John Hammond has some nice young pieces in Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Carter-Williams. Portis would give the Bucks a big man with some length and skill who plays hard and really produced in his time at Arkansas.
18. Houston Rockets - Cameron Payne
Analysis (2): Point guard is the need, even though Patrick Beverly went down this season. Darryl Morey will have some options here -- Tyus Jones, Cameron Payne, Delon Wright. Look for him to go with Payne, the scoring floor leader from Murray State who has been well-known in NBA circles for more than a year now.
19. Washington Wizards - Trey Lyles
Analysis: The backcourt is set with John Wall and Bradley Beal, so look for the Wizards to try and grab someone who can help along the frontline. There should be plentiful options on the board, especially at the power forward spot with guys like Trey Lyles, Bobby Portis, Kevon Looney and Montrezl Harrell all likely to go in this range. Lyles is super-skilled and played out of position this past season at Kentucky.
20. Toronto Raptors - Kevon Looney
Analysis: He's tough to figure because the UCLA freshman isn't skilled enough to play the small forward position, and isn't quite big and physical enough to play the 4. However, he rebounds at a high clip, and shows flashes of being able to make shots from the perimeter. He certainly could go higher but also is a candidate to slide.
21. Dallas Mavericks - Tyus Jones
Analysis: The Mavs need a point guard after Mark Cuban's failed Rajon Rondo experiment. There should be a couple of quality ones still on the board. Jones was the best player in the Final Four, is a pure point guard and also displayed the propensity to make big shots from the perimeter all year long at Duke.
22. Chicago Bulls - Delon Wright
Analysis: The Bulls are pretty well-stocked when healthy, but the key here is health. Derrick Rose will always remain a question mark, and Kirk Hinrich isn't getting any younger. Wright is an ideal backup for Rose because he's long, can defend and will only improve his jump shot.
23. Portland Trailblazers - Jarell Martin
Analysis: The long LSU forward can make shots from midrange and has also shown the ability to rebound at a high level this past season. That quieted many of the critics who questioned his toughness. Martin is a guy who has a high ceiling and the Blazers need someone up front.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Terry Rozier
Analysis: Cavs general manager David Griffin would like to upgrade the backup point guard spot, and Rozier gives the Cavs an athletic combo guard who can get to the basket and also is able to defend at a high level.
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Montrezl Harrell
Analysis: The Grizzlies could use a high-energy forward, especially one that brings the toughness that has been a trademark of the organization of late. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph's future are in doubt, so Chris Wallace will need to find an insurance policy up front just in case.
26. San Antonio Spurs - Justin Anderson
Analysis: The Spurs just need to grab the best player on the board and add some youth. Anderson was one of the nation's top players when healthy, but he was banged up down the stretch and his stock fell. He's an athletic wing and shot the ball well this past season after failing to do so his first two years at Virginia.
27. Los Angeles Lakers - Chris McCullough
Analysis (5): He certainly looks the part -- with length and plenty of skill. There was skepticism about him leaving after an underwhelming campaign in which he missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. However, McCullough has upside and is worth the risk this late in the first round.
28. Boston Celtics - R.J. Hunter
Analysis (6): The Celtics need a knock-down shooter, and despite the disappointing numbers this past season, Hunter is just that. He's a 2-guard who can make shots from deep, and Boston doesn't have anyone like that.
29. Brooklyn Nets - Rashad Vaughn
Analysis: The Nets just need to add youth, especially in the backcourt. They will likely go with the best player on the board, and Vaughn is a guy who can really get buckets in a variety of ways. He averaged 17.8 points and shot 38 percent from 3 last season as a freshman at UNLV.
30. Golden State Warriors - Darkari Johnson
Analysis: The Warriors could use more size up front, and Johnson is a traditional low-post player. He can score on the block, takes up space and can rebound and defend his position. Just a solid rotation big.