For the last nine weeks, our Consensus Mock Draft team has been giving you their view of the 2015 NBA Draft. With the draft just hours away, here is the final Mock Draft of the season:
Alex’s Notebook: The 2015 NBA Draft is just one day away, yet it is still very hard to predict what is going to take place on Thursday evening. One reason why this is so difficult to mock out is because there may be a lot of movement on draft night, with a lot of teams seriously considering trades to move up or down.
Multiple league sources have predicted that there will be a significant amount of draft-day deals, which could really shake things up on draft night and introduce some surprises.
The Atlanta Hawks (No. 15), Boston Celtics (No. 16) and Milwaukee Bucks (No. 17) are among the teams trying to move up, according to sources.
These franchises that want to trade up are reaching out to teams like the Indiana Pacers (who hold the No. 11 pick) and Oklahoma City Thunder (who hold the No. 14 pick), because there’s a sense that they may be willing to trade down to add an additional asset depending on how things pan out on draft night.
Meanwhile, teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers are trying to acquire a mid-to-late first-round pick. The Pelicans don’t have a first-rounder, but they want to change that. The Sixers have the No. 3 pick, but sources say they would like to turn a package of their second-round selections (No. 35 and No. 37) into an additional first-round pick, and they’ve had discussions with at least one team: the Portland Trail Blazers about the No. 23 pick.
The Los Angeles Clippers are trying to acquire a pick as well, although they may just add a second-rounder (which isn’t too difficult to do). They have worked out a number of players in that range and have made it clear that they’re going to try to land a pick.
Then, there’s the New York Knicks, who continue to consider trading down since they haven’t fallen in love with anyone at No. 4. It’s possible that the Knicks will stay at four and decide on someone, but they’re definitely weighing all of their options and seeing what they could get in return for the selection.
The Denver Nuggets have been mentioned as a possible trading partner for the Knicks, since they have Ty Lawson (who reportedly wants out of Denver), Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler’s partially guaranteed $7.1 million contract, the No. 7 pick and several other first-round picks and young players that could be shipped out in a deal. Looking at Denver’s assets, it’s clear they could put together some interesting offers.
Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan recently told the Orlando Sentinel that the team will consider trading down as well. However, it seems the more likely scenario is that the Magic stay put and draft Kristaps Porzingis at No. 5, since he would fill several needs for them (adding shooting as well as rim protection next to Nik Vucevic) and he’d be the best-player-available pick too. Orlando would likely only consider trading down if Porzingis gets snatched up by Philadelphia or New York.
This is only a small sample of the discussions that are taking place around the league at this very moment. Expect many more rumors to surface over the next 24 hours and don’t be surprised if we see a decent amount of trades on Thursday, which would make for a very fun evening.
Joel’s Notebook: I had this dream last night that as final mock drafts started coming out from all the major news outlets, something odd started to happen: all of them, at least through the 14 lottery picks, were exactly the same.
While this would never happen in real life, it does sort of represent the certainty we feel at this point about some things in this draft. We know, for example, that Minnesota most likely will take Towns with the No. 1 overall pick. Sam Hinkie really could take Kristaps Porzingis at No. 3, if he prefers him over D’Angelo Russell. Emmanuel Mudiay at No. 6 makes a ton of sense, and it does look he’ll be the guy to drop. Cameron Payne is going in the lottery, probably to Indiana or OKC, but maybe higher.
And so on. We know some stuff. But as good as we all feel about our final mock drafts at this point, the truth is that there are going to be some picks that knock everybody’s socks off Thursday night. Philly grabbing Porzingis would be one of them, no matter how much we might hear Chad Ford tell us that he’s the second-best long-term prospect in the draft. Frank Kaminsky’s name has seen a resurgence of late, too, with his name being linked to both New York at No. 4 and Sacramento at No. 6.
On the opposite side of that spectrum are players we could see take a surprising tumble. With all the point guard depth in this draft, it looks like the love for Tyus Jones as a potential lottery pick is gone. With Russell, Mudiay, Payne and Jerian Grant all looking as though they’ll go ahead of him, Jones could somewhat surprisingly find himself going in the late-20s. Stanley Johnson and Kelly Oubre both are pegged as lottery picks but haven’t seen much buzz compared to other, flashier players. One or both of them could drop out of those top 14 picks too.
Whatever happens Thursday night, it’s clear that all the mock drafts are not the same, not even here in this article, but that’s a good thing. Nobody wants to know the actual results before they happen, anyway. Well, unless you’re following Woj on Twitter.
Moke’s Notebook: After nine weeks of mock drafts, we have arrived at the grand finale. I do not have many changes. Heading into the draft, there are still some questions as to what the Los Angeles Lakers do at number two, as there are still some who believe they may take D’Angelo Russell there, but I’m sticking with Jahlil Okafor after Karl Anthony-Towns goes to the Minnesota Timberwolves first. As enticing as it may be for the Philadelphia 76ers to go after Kristaps Porzingis, with Dario Saric still overseas and Joel Embiid facing questions about his health, the Sixers simply cannot afford to take another gamble here and Russell is as safe a pick as possible, so I stuck with him at number three.
Leading right up to the draft, there are at least four players that I am told are in play for the Knicks, and that includes Porzingis. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks drafted the Latvian big man and then used him to trade back and acquire the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein or Trey Lyles. Personally, I think Emmanuel Mudiay is what the Knicks need at number four and will stick with him, officially, but there are some out there that believe his attitude and handlers have soured a fair number of teams on him.
I could see Frank Kaminsky slipping to the Indiana Pacers, as well. For a while, I had the Detroit Pistons taking Kaminsky to replaced Greg Monroe, who I believe is on his way out of Motown, but with Ersan Ilyasova’s arrival, Stan Van Gundy, I’m told, is attempting to build a floor-spacing team built around Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. In that regard, Mario Hezonja makes sense for the club, assuming he gets past the Denver Nuggets and Charlotte Hornets.
The latter half of the lottery is just as difficult to predict because this is a real life game of dominoes. As I said in a radio interview last week, the prevailing sentiment about this draft is that it is actually a lot deeper than many of us had imagined before we began this process. Sam Dekker, Stanley Johnson and Frank Kaminsky are going to provide tremendous value to whichever team they fall to in the late lottery and toward the end of the first round, value will be had, as well. On a personal note, I am most interested in seeing where Cameron Payne and Tyus Jones end up.
Steve’s Notebook: With the 2015 NBA Draft just hours away, things are starting to take shape. The top of the draft seems fairly set, but there are still a few questions that may not get answered until the picks start to unfold, namely where a few guys with very wide draft ranges will ultimately land.
There has been a sense that R.J. Hunter was firmly in the mix at No. 17, but with the draft nearing, the feeling from executives is that Hunter could go in the teens or drop to the mid-to-late 20s, with more than one insider claiming that the feel on Hunter is the teams that like him, love him and the teams that don’t, really don’t. There may not be a more polarizing prospect in the middle of the draft than Hunter, making him one of the harder guys to project.
UCLA big man Kevon Looney is in a similar situation. There is a sense Looney is in the mix at 20 to Toronto, but that’s far from locked in. Washington at No. 19 has expressed some interest, but they are far from ready to lock in as well. League sources say there is a chance that San Antonio is willing to trade up a few spots and that Looney may be their target. Looney’s floor is still far from decided and his ultimate spot may be tied more to how the draft plays out.
A name to watch in the mid-to-late first round is LSU’s Jarell Martin, as our own Alex Kennedy reported that he has a commitment in the mid-to-late first round, which could shake things up wherever he gets picked. There is also a sense that Golden State, who struggled to get some guys in for workouts because of their lack of available playing time, are reportedly interested in trading up and could be the landing spot for Martin or even Rashad Vaughn.
While trade talk is sure to dominate the next 36 hours, the last chairs in the first round still seem wide open and there could be some surprises at the bottom of the first.
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