Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2015 NBA Draft. Included is a revised Mock Draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts and information from in and around the process.
Here is Consensus Version 4.0:
Moke’s Notebook: Now that the draft order has been set, there are two names that I would certainly keep in my mind as having the potential to blow things up, dramatically: Kristaps Porzingis and Julius Randle.
Like Dante Exum last year, Porzingis is looked upon as an international man of mystery, with some scouts and executives believing he can break into the draft’s top three. While that is difficult to imagine, the consensus top four being broken into could have ripple affects throughout the first round.
As it relates to Randle, assume for a moment that the Los Angeles Lakers want to fully commit to him. Would that make them reluctant to draft either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor with the second overall pick? Would a point guard cut from the mold of Emmanuel Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell make more sense for the franchise? These are questions that will be answered between now and the draft.
I was around when Charlie Villanueva, Stephen Curry, Dion Waiters and even Dante Exum landed in places we didn’t expect them to, and what I would bet on, above all, is that there will be at least two or three names that surprise us this June. Based on what we know today, Okafor, Towns, Mudiay and Russell are the consensus top four players, but rules (and mock drafts) were made to be broken.
Joel’s Notebook: Every year there’s a player who unexpectedly sneaks up the board and finds himself among the top five picks of the draft. Last year it was Aaron Gordon in Orlando, but in previous years we’ve seen Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson all be surprise top-five picks by the Cavaliers.
This year, it looks like there’s a pretty solid top-four in Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell, but the Magic are once again in a bit of a mysterious spot at No. 5. I’ve had Justise Winslow there since we started doing these mock drafts because I think he’s going to be a stellar two-way pro. I just can’t see him missing as an NBA stud. But just because I feel that way doesn’t mean Orlando will, and there are plenty of other kids available to them there that they could take a gamble on.
Willie Cauley-Stein wouldn’t be a huge surprise considering the value of rim protectors in today’s NBA. But one of the Euro kids – Kristaps Porzingis or Mario Hezonja – would be genuinely surprising there, even though Orlando can afford to grab a project like one of those players and wait for them to blossom with the rest of the roster.
I tend to lean toward Myles Turner as the guy who ends up getting drafted way higher than any of us expect. He didn’t have a great freshman season at Texas, particularly after coming out of high school so highly-touted, but he’s a huge, athletic kid with as much potential as anybody else in the draft. His ceiling is considerably higher than Cauley-Stein’s, for example, and teams are going to figure that out during the workout/interview process. He’s a likeable kid with so much ahead of him, and when one compares that to Gordon, Waiters, Thompson and Bennett, it’s the same kind of thing that got all of them drafted earlier than expected.
Turner’s not incredibly high on draft boards yet, and he may not go No. 5 to Orlando, but he seems surprisingly reasonable in the six-to-nine range.
Alex’s Notebook: For the first three versions of the Consensus Mock Draft, I had Jahlil Okafor at the top of my board. Now, I have moved Karl-Anthony Towns into the No. 1 spot.
While I still believe that Okafor is the better prospect (and I explained why here), some of the comments made by Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders made me think that they’re leaning toward Towns.
Immediately after winning the lottery, Saunders said on a conference call with reporters that the Timberwolves want their top overall pick to fit into an up-tempo system (which makes a lot of sense for them with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio among others part of the long-term plan).
“I think both [Okafor and Towns] are going to be All-Star type players, but I think when we look at anybody that we look at in the draft, it’s about how they will fit in with the players that we have, what their dynamic is and how we want to play,” Saunders said. “We feel that with Wiggins and with LaVine, that we can be an up-tempo team.”
That seems to suggest that Towns will be the pick, as he is the more athletic of the two prospects and seems like he could be more of a threat running the floor. Towns’ defense could also help him here, as Minnesota already has Wiggins – a very good perimeter defender – and may want to go with the better two-way player to build a very good defense rather than going with the better offensive prospect.
Okafor is the player to go with if you want the center who will be great in a half-court offense and who can make things happen with touches in the paint since he has great post moves, footwork, etc. The Los Angeles Lakers (a HUGE winner on lottery night) may land him with second overall pick and could have a very scary frontcourt for years to come with Okafor and last year’s first-round pick Julius Randle.
And honestly, it’s very possible that Okafor and Towns will both be eyeing the bright lights and huge market of Los Angeles and prefer (or at least not exactly mind) going No. 2 overall.
Steve’s Notebook: So now we know the order of the draft. Barring a blow-out workout or some kind of undisclosed injury, Karl-Anthony Towns likely becomes the top overall pick. There was a sense that Towns was likely the top pick prior to the lottery, but with Minnesota in control it’s almost a lock.
Sources close to the process had pegged Towns as the Timberwolves’ top target for most of the season. The only variable is if Towns is somehow red flagged.
That leaves the Los Angeles Lakers with a tough choice at No. 2. Do they take the best player (Jahlil Okafor) or do they go with the guy they had pegged at No.5 (Willie Cauley-Stein) or do they start trying to line up trade scenarios? The beauty of the second pick is there isn’t nearly as much external pressure to keep it, so moving around and trying to extract more than one asset out of the pick is possible.
Landing the third pick was something of a blessing for the Philadelphia 76ers as they get the first choice after the big guys are gone. This likely puts D’Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay and Kristaps Porzingis squarely in the mix for the third overall pick.
Sitting at No. 4, the New York Knicks can now draft the player they were said to covet after Towns, and that’s Cauley-Stein. The Knicks spent enough time on the Kentucky campus this season to qualify for summer classes, so they are extremely familiar with the Kentucky guys and Cauley-Stein at four is a real possibility. The wrinkle is Russell and Mudiay. If Russell is on the board at four, the Knicks may grab him. But if it comes down to Cauley-Stein and Mudiay, the Knicks may go with the defensive big man and pass on Mudiay.
The draft lottery finally rewarded the worst overall team with the top pick, which hadn’t happened prior to yesterday since 2004.
And if you did not see it yet, the NBA posted the entire lottery drawing process after the ESPN telecast, which you can find here.
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