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2015 NBA Mock Draft: Consensus Ver 8.0

Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the 2015 NBA Draft, including a revised Mock Draft based on the latest draft news and information.

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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.

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Alex’s Notebook: Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the toughest prospects to project in this draft class.

While there are teams showing interest in the big man early in the draft (such as the New York Knicks at No. 4, the Orlando Magic at No. 5, the Sacramento Kings at No. 6 and so on), there’s also word coming out that those organizations are split on whether Cauley-Stein makes sense with such a high pick.

Cauley-Stein obviously projects to be a very good defensive player in the NBA, but will his offense and the rest of his game continue to develop? That’s the question that executives around the league have about him.

Keep in mind, Cauley-Stein is older than many of the other prospects in the top of the draft (he will turn 22 years old in August), so there’s a belief that he has less upside than his peers.

It’s possible that a team could talk themselves into taking Cauley-Stein higher than I have him (especially if things don’t go down the way I have it mocked), but I also think it’s realistic that the Kentucky product drops to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 9.

The Hornets recently had a solo workout with Cauley-Stein, so perhaps his camp realizes this is a legitimate possibility as well and wants to establish that as his floor.

Cauley-Stein could go on to have a long, successful career in the NBA. But with his age and limitations, teams are more likely to go for younger, higher-upside prospects at the very top of the draft.

Joel’s Notebook: The back end of the first round has become really, really hard to figure out. Usually by this point I’ve got about five-to-six guys I like to round out the end of the round, but in real life that’s usually when things start to get a little unpredictable, as teams fall in love with prospects that a lot of mocks didn’t have going quite so high.

This year, the end of my first round often has included Christian Wood, Jonathan Holmes, Chris McCullough, Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, but I know from many of years of experience that at least half of those kids won’t be drafted until the second round. There are, of course, other players that could sneak into the first round, and I tried out a few of them in this week’s mock.

There has been, for example, plenty of chatter for a few weeks that Louisville’s Terry Rozier could be a first-round pick, but San Antonio is as high as I’ve ever had him. This also marks the first time I’ve had Michael Frazier in the first round, even though he comes out of Florida in a year where they were massively disappointing. Despite that, he’s got some good experience and is certainly much better than his recent tape shows. Arkansas’ Michael Qualls is another guy who could sneak into the first round, though he’s been overshadowed in this process by Razorbacks teammate Bobby Portis.

George de Paula, the Brazlian point guard with the huge hands, might have been a first-round pick, but he dropped out of the draft this year because he didn’t receive the first-round interest from teams that he desired. Plenty of other international kids could sneak into the back end of the first, though, with Nikola Milutinov, Guillermo Hernangomez, Arturas Gudaitis and Mouhammadou Jaiteh being the most likely candidates there. I don’t have enough international kids in my first round outside of the two lottery players. I think at least one of those four will get drafted in the first 30 picks, even though I don’t have them there right now.

Are these the sexiest names in the draft? Of course not, but as we’ve seen in recent drafts, there’s always a diamond in the rough at the end of the first round. One of the aforementioned players could be that diamond this year.

Moke’s Notebook: To this point, I have had Jahlil Okafor going to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first overall pick up until this point, and this week, have decided to flip he and Karl-Anthony Towns. The reports out of Minneapolis are saying the T-Wolves have made their decision and because I do not have any sources close to or within that organization, I won’t continue to fight. I could easily see a scenario where Okafor falls to the New York Knicks at number four, but the odds of the Los Angeles Lakers passing up on him seem to be a huge risk for the organization, even though I do think there are some legitimate questions as to how he and Julius Randle will flourish together. Still, the Golden State Warriors once had similar concerns over Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry and we all see how that worked out…

Obviously, the rise of the stock of Kristaps Porzingis throws a wrench into the top five, but I can’t see the Philadelphia 76ers passing on D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay. The team needs a point guard and my understanding of the Michael Carter-Williams trade was that it was done with the intention of drafting a new lead guard this summer. So, my top four players remain the same, even though Okafor and Towns are swapping places.

I am sending Porzingis to the Orlando Magic at number five mainly because I think his skills would fit nicely between Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. I don’t expect the team to bring Tobias Harris back, so I think Porzingis will fit in nicely. I still like Willie Cauley-Stein for the Kings at number six, and the way I have it shaking out is that the Denver Nuggets may be lucky at number seven with Justise Winslow.

The honest truth for me, though, is that I can easily see my draft board getting blown up. The prevailing sentiment that I have heard from the people that I talk to in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. is that this draft is believed to be much, much deeper than we initially thought and that although there are quite a few teams interested in swapping picks, there are a fair number of people reluctant to do so because nobody seems to know anything other than the fact that Towns will not be drafted anywhere below number two. That is the only thing that is being represented to me as a fact. Okafor could go as low as number four, while Russell or Mudiay could, as well. Some have Porzingis going as high as number three.

I thought things would be more clear as the draft approached, but the opposite has happened, especially with word out of New York City being that Cauley-Stein came away from his workout with the Knicks feeling as though he had impressed the pants off of them. This entire process has been much more dramatic than I think any of us imagined.

Steve’s Notebook: There are a few picks that can be had, and it seems there may be some movement all around the first round.

Word is that New York Knicks may trade out of the fourth overall pick if Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell come off the draft board as expected. This likely means the Knicks hold their pick until the draft starts to unfold and trigger something either with the pick directly or a player they draft at number four for another team, and consummate a deal when the other team seals the deal selecting a player the Knicks covet.

The name that keeps popping up is Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein.

It’s important to note that the fourth pick does carry a salary cap hit of $3.443 million. If the Knicks can trade down even to the No. 7 or 8 spot, they would save roughly $1 million in cap space and likely still come away with the player they seem to covet. That $1 million in cap space may be needed this summer in free agency.

There is talk that the Charlotte Hornets are open to moving up, as are the Brooklyn Nets and they could be dangling forward Mason Plumlee as inducement to get into the upper teens of this draft.

The L.A. Lakers are holding on to the 27th selection and they too are looking to move out of the $963,000 in guaranteed salary associated with it. There is a belief that if the Lakers cannot move up and grab a significant player in the mid-teens, they’d rather move out of that pick altogether.

The L.A. Clippers, who just consummated a trade for Lance Stephenson, are also looking to get into the draft. However, word is they are offering cash for a pick in the early 30s.

With the NBA draft roughly one week away, things are starting to heat up on the trade front as many teams are starting to get a feel for how this draft may play out and if the right guys are gone, moving down or out becomes realistic especially for teams with eyes on free agents.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Managing Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 17 seasons. Alex Kennedy is a Senior NBA Writer and Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last seven years. Moke Hamilton is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered basketball for the last five years. Joel Brigham is a Senior NBA Writer and has covered the NBA for the last 10 years.

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