Chad Ford Mock Draft 4.0
The NBA regular season is over and we are beginning to get a clearer picture about a couple of things.
We have a rough idea of the draft order now. Obviously, the lottery on May 19 will shake things up at the top, but for the most part, we have a draft order.
Second, we are getting very close to figuring out who is in and who is out of this year's draft. Underclassmen have until April 26 to declare for the draft. Most have made their decision. Just a handful of potential first-rounders have yet to decide -- namely D'Angelo Russell, Stanley Johnson, Kris Dunn and Christian Wood.
It's very likely that Russell will be in. The rest are bigger question marks and could shake up this mock draft. Look for updated versions of this mock throughout the week if any of these players decide to return to school.
Remember, my mock draft is different from my Big Board. In a mock draft, I don't tell you where a player should go but rather what each team in the draft will likely do with its pick(s). Obviously, we are still a long ways away from teams making up their minds. The NBA draft combine and team workouts are ahead for players to improve or hurt their draft stock.
Nevertheless, it's time for my fourth full mock draft of 2015. It's my best stab at a full first-round mock draft after taking into account team needs. If you want to see what the mock would look like if your favorite team won the lottery, check out our Lottery Mock Draft machine.
Note: Traded picks are denoted by numbers with explanations at the bottom.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns
While the Wolves had the worst record in the NBA, they actually have one of the brightest futures in the league. Andrew Wiggins will likely win the Rookie of the Year Award and has the talent to be a transcendent player. Zach LaVine finished the season strong and won the dunk contest. Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng all had their moments, and several other players such as Anthony Bennett and Adreian Payne have strong futures as well. Adding Towns to the team just makes them scarier -- an athletic big man who can score inside and outside and protect the rim. In two years, this team is going to be very hard to contend with.
2. New York Knicks - Jahlil Okafor
Phil Jackson might not want to rebuild, but he needs to. The free-agent money New York will throw around this summer is unlikely to land a superstar to pair with Jahlil Okafor. However, with Okafor, the Knicks have a great chance of adding a dominant big man who can score at will. There are few big men in the NBA who can do what Okafor can already do on offense. Defensively? That's a bigger question mark and might lead the Knicks to consider Emmanuel Mudiay instead. But for now, Okafor remains the No. 2 prospect on our Big Board, and he is a nice fit in New York.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Emmanuel Mudiay
If you listen to SMU coach Larry Brown, who recruited Mudiay before he signed to play professionally in China, the point guard is the guy the Sixers have wanted all along. With Michael Carter-Williams now running the point for the Milwaukee Bucks, Mudiay is suddenly a fit -- perhaps a better one than either Towns or Okafor given the 76ers' cornucopia of big men. While Mudiay is a bigger question mark than others on the board, he also has the most upside of anyone. GM Sam Hinkie hasn't shied away from taking risks in the past, and I doubt he will this year. If Mudiay, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric perform as well as Nerlens Noel did at the end of this season, Hinkie and coach Brett Brown are going to have a very dangerous team going forward.
4. Los Angeles Lakers - D'Angelo Russell
Will Kobe Bryant will ever be able to perform at an All-Star level again? It's doubtful. What the Lakers need is the next player who can light it up offensively. Russell is that guy. He's not the same player as Bryant (who was much more athletic and aggressive and a better defender). But Russell brings a lot to the table that Bryant didn't (a sweet 3-point shot and the ability to get others involved). Russell is more James Harden than Bryant, and given how challenging it was to find chemistry with Bryant on the floor, that might be a good thing. With Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, the Lakers will finally have a young core to get excited about.
5- Orlando Magic - Kristaps Porzingis
The Magic are very happy with their young backcourt of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, and have a big man to anchor them in the middle. What they need is a big, athletic rim protector who can also stretch the floor. Enter Porzingis. There are few international players who have come into the league with his talent. He might duplicate Channing Frye a bit (albeit as a better version of Frye), but the Magic shouldn't hesitate to pick him. Porzingis is a better long-term prospect in virtually every way.
6. Sacramento Kings - Willie Cauley-Stein
The Kings will be tempted to grab Justise Winslow, who would be a steal at this point in the draft. However, they have even bigger needs. The Kings need a rim protector to pair in the frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins, and Cauley-Stein is the best on the board. But rim protection is just part of his appeal. Cauley-Stein doesn't need the ball to impact the game (a great thing on a team filled with guys who do need the ball) and he can guard all five positions on the floor. If the Kings are going to have an identity as a defensive team, it starts with Cauley-Stein.
7. Denver Nuggets - Justise Winslow
Winslow has been the hottest name in the draft since March, and for good reason. He's blessed with an elite NBA body and athleticism and plays with a crazy motor every second he's on the floor. There are questions about his ability to shoot off the bounce, but the rest of the package is totally there. Since Arron Afflalo has been shipped off to Portland, Winslow should fit right in between Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari next season.
8. Detroit Pistons - Mario Hezonja
The Pistons need shooting and have a pretty big hole at small forward next season. Hezonja should be a nice fit. Not only does he stretch the floor, but he's very athletic and likes to attack. Given that he's been playing at the highest levels of European basketball this season, he'll be more ready than most rookies to step in and play right away. With Stan Van Gundy eyeing the playoffs next season, that's a major factor in who they select with the No. 8 pick.
9. Charlotte Hornets - Kelly Oubre
The Hornets were a major disappointment this season. They desperately need to get a shooter for their system, and I think they may skip over a few potentially more talented candidates to get one. The question is which one. Oubre has the most upside, Devin Booker has the sweetest stroke, and R.J. Hunter might be the most prepared to come in and contribute right now. But I think they'll have a hard time passing on Oubre, who has elite size and length to go along with a smooth shooting stroke. The fact that Bill Self also turned him into a committed defender this year makes him an even more attractive candidate.
10. Miami Heat - Stanley Johnson
The Heat's future is very much up in the air this summer. Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng can opt out, and Chris Bosh's health is still a major question mark. Drafting for need probably isn't the smartest move. Johnson would be a nice fit regardless of what the others do. He's one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, can play the 2 and 3, and he's a fierce competitor. He can back up both Wade and Deng if they come back, or take a starting role if one of them (likely Deng) decides to leave.
11. Indiana Pacers - Myles Turner
Larry Bird threw down the gauntlet in the Pacers' exit press conference. They are going to play faster next season, and lumbering center Roy Hibbert may no longer fit in the plans. With an aging David West and Luis Scola also occupying the Pacers' front line, it's time for an infusion of youth. While Turner runs awkwardly, he's a very good prospect this late in the draft. He's an excellent post defender and rim protector, and on offense he can shoot the 3 with ease. He needs to get stronger and be more consistent, but he has the talent of a top-five pick.
12. Utah Jazz - Kevon Looney
The Jazz will probably be pinching themselves if Looney somehow lands here. He was widely regarded by scouts as a top-five pick most of the season, but his uneven finish began to worry scouts about his NBA readiness and position. Still, it's tough to find many players with his combination of skills, length and versatility. He reminds me a bit of a young Lamar Odom and should be perfect backing up both Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward in Utah.
13. Phoenix Suns - Frank Kaminsky
Big man Alex Len really started to come along this season, but the Suns don't have a lot of options in the middle behind him. For a team that will again be eyeing the playoffs next year, Kaminsky should be a good fit. He's a different type of center than Len -- Kaminsky thrives facing the basket and stretching the floor -- but he's an adequate rebounder and shot-blocker to play the middle. Some scouts love him and some think he's a potential bust, but this is the right point in the draft to roll the dice on Kaminsky.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder - R.J. Hunter
The future in OKC has never been more clouded. They have two superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the long-term future of both players has never been in more doubt. The team could lose both to free agency in the next few summers. But for now their best chance to keep them around is to give them one more shot a title next year. Assuming the Thunder find a way to re-sign Enes Kanter this summer, their biggest need is at the 2, where the combination of Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson has played to decidedly mixed reviews. I think a player such as Hunter could thrive in OKC. Despite his shooting slump this season, he's an elite shooter, with crazy range, who can handle the ball and defend. He's a potential upgrade over all four perimeter players mentioned above.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Sam Dekker
The Hawks get the right to trade picks with the Nets as a result of the Joe Johnson trade. If they can add Dekker, it will be another feather in the cap for a trade that keeps on giving and giving. Dekker's versatility, toughness, ability to stretch the floor and high basketball IQ make him a great fit on this Hawks team. And newly named Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer runs the right sort of offense to set a player like Dekker free. This would be an ideal fit for him and the team.
16. Boston Celtics - Trey Lyles
He won't be a superstar for Boston, but Lyles is the type of heady player who should thrive in Brad Stevens' system. Lyles has a soft touch around the basket and a sweet midrange jumper, and he just understands the game. With Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko both hitting free agency this summer, there will be a need at the 4 behind (or maybe in front of) Jared Sullinger.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Devin Booker
I don't think any team was more bummed than Milwaukee that Jakob Poeltl dropped out of the draft on Monday -- the Bucks really need a center. But with no real centers left who are worth drafting this high, they move on to their second need: another 3-point shooter in their backcourt. Booker isn't sexy, but he might be the best shooter in the draft and could be a nice long-term backup for Khris Middleton at the 2.
18. Houston Rockets - Kriss Dunn
The Pelicans sent their pick to the Rockets as part of the Omer Asik trade. The Rockets are hunting for a point guard and will have a lot of options at this point in the draft. Dunn, Jerian Grant, Cameron Payne and Tyus Jones are all serious options here. There have been rumblings that the Rockets have eyes for Jones, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. But I'd be surprised if they passed on Dunn if he declares. Dunn is bigger, more athletic and a more dynamic passer than Jones. Dunn doesn't have the steadiness of Jones, but the NBA upside is much greater.
19. Washington Wizards - Bobby Portis
Portis is one of the least sexy players in the draft -- but that might just make him appealing to the Wizards. Portis is so solid in every way; he does just about everything well, though nothing great. The Wizards already have their young core, but with only one year left on Nene's contract, it's time to start grooming a successor.
20. Toronto Raptors - Jerian Grant
With NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams heading to free agency, the Raptors might not be able to keep him around much longer. I'm not sure his replacement is in this draft, but Grant would be an interesting choice nonetheless. He can play two positions, is a great athlete and gets anywhere he wants on the floor. His versatility and maturity make him a great pick for a Raptors team that is in win-now mode.
21. Dallas Mavericks - Cameron Payne
Rajon Rondo hasn't exactly worked out according to plan. There's still some time for playoff Rondo to make an impact in Dallas, but even if he does, he's an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if he plays well other suitors will surely come calling. While the last thing the Mavs need is a rookie point guard, they do need depth. Many scouts think Payne, who shows a great balance between scoring and distributing, is one of the biggest sleepers in the draft.
22. Chicago Bulls - Tyus Jones
The Bulls are experiencing the joys of having a healthy Derrick Rose again, but finding a long-term backup for him is important. Jones might be the perfect guy. He is coming off winning the Final Four MOP, has a basketball IQ well ahead of his years, and rarely turns the ball over. He could be the perfect long-term backup for Rose.
23. Portland Trailblazers - Montrezl Harrell
Both LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Freeland are free agents this summer. Aldridge should be back, but the Blazers could use some depth at the 4. Harrell is a bit undersized, but his length, athleticism and terrific motor mean he should be able to come in and impact the game right away.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Delon Wright
Matthew Dellavedova has been Kyrie Irving's primary backup all season. While Dellavedova has done an adequate job, Wright could be an upgrade. He's the rare senior who still has some upside. While his jump shot is a work in progress, he has the ability to get wherever he wants on the floor and is a good passer. He'd be a nice backup in Cleveland.
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Tony Allen is still one of the best wing defenders in the NBA, but at the age of 33 he's beginning to slow down. Enter Hollis-Jefferson, who might be the best wing defender in this draft. Blessed with an NBA body and elite athletic ability, he's a jump shot away from being a top-10 pick.
26. San Antonio Spurs - Justin Anderson
The Spurs are facing a pretty huge fork in the road this summer, when most of the team hits free agency. Some, such as Tim Duncan and even Manu Ginobili, could end up retiring. Others, such as Danny Green, might be too expensive to re-sign. Anderson seems to be a great get here -- especially if those elite 3-point shooting numbers he put up all season aren't a fluke. He has NBA athleticism and strength; if he can become a "3 and D" guy in the NBA, he has a lot of value.
27. Los Angeles Lakers - Dakari Johnson
The Lakers are pretty thin at the center position. While Johnson projects more as a backup than a star, the Lakers could use his rebounding and toughness.
28. Boston Celtics - Christian Wood
The Celtics could use some athleticism in their frontcourt, and Wood brings that. He needs to add strength and a more consistent jump shot, but Wood would immediately be the best shot-blocker on the Celtics.
29. Brooklyn Nets - Terry Rozier
Rozier isn't for everyone. He isn't a "true" point guard and is undersized to play the 2. But he's tough as nails, always plays in attack mode, and does enough as a PG to get time at the position. Deron Williams has two years left on his deal and Jarrett Jack has one, but if the Nets are serious about the future, they should start grooming Rozier now.
30. Golden State Warriors - Tyler Harvey
Tyler Harvey plays a lot like a poor man's Stephen Curry. Is there a destination in the league where Harvey would be more likely to progress from a poor man's Curry to the real thing than within Steve Kerr's offense in Golden State? Hey, you can never have enough shooting.