1. Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl Anthony Towns – PF/C – Kentucky
Karl Towns may be the safest pick in this draft. He doesn’t have the bust potential that Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Kristaps Porzingis all have. But he also fails to posess their massive upside.
Towns is a down on the block, tough gritty big man who will fight for rebounds and get put backs. He reminds me of how Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers played this postseason – always scrapping for loose balls, getting offensive boards, etc.
Towns fits in with Minnesota, where Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine will be tasked with most of the scoring. The Kentucky product would join the last two first overall picks (Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) on what would be a deep T-Wolves team, looking well on its way to future success.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 11.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1 BPG
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Jahlil Okafor – C – Duke
Okafor is the star power that Los Angeles needs in this draft. They got a big win when the lottery gave them the second overall pick, and this would be a second big win for a franchise that desperately needs it.
The Lakers are sure to address their talent-deficiency problem in free agency. But getting a guy like Okafor in the draft is a cheaper alternative and one that could work out better in the long term.
Kobe won’t live forever, and the Lakers need to plan accordingly. Okafor could easily be the future of this franchise, along with whatever free agent(s) the Lakers attract this summer. He is well worth the second pick.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 13.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1 BPG
3. Philadelphia 76ers
D’Angelo Russell – G – Ohio State
Russell is a mystery, perhaps the biggest in this draft. His skillset allows him to be the most talented player in the draft, and perhaps the most versatile.
The combo guard can make any and all defenders pay off the dribble, with the pull up, or from three. His offense reminds me much of Monta Ellis, capable of playing either guard spot and leaving defenders in his dust.
Russell is the talent powerhouse that Philly needs to really kickstart their rebuild. They have a few pieces like Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten, Isaiah Canaan, and the one legged Joel Embiid, but Russell is the real deal.
The Sixers can finally start trying after Russell, along with the 5 other picks they have in this draft, join the team.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 15.6 PPG, 4.5 APG
4. New York Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis – PF – Latvia
The biggest question mark that may come with the biggest reward of the draft, Kristaps Porzingis has heard wild praise in the recent weeks.
He has been called the best player in the draft and better than Karl Towns by scouts, and the hype around the Latvian is rising to record levels.
He poses an interesting threat to NBA defenses. The 7’1′ power forward can shoot the three and handle the ball, a skill rarely possessed by those that tall. He could easily be the next Dirk Nowitzki.
However his shiny attractiveness has a drawback. He is small and lanky, and would easily be bullied down on the block, no matter his height.
But Dirk also had his doubters, and many said the same thing. Kristaps has wild potential. Enough to put him in the top four.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 10.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG
5. Orlando Magic
Willie Cauley-Stein – Center – Kentucky
A pick that few project, Willie Cauley-Stein makes more sense that you may think.
Nikola Vucevic is a star, perhaps the biggest on the Orlando Magic. But he isn’t much of a rim protector.
The Magic are compiling assets to gear up for a playoff run – one that could see them have success. Their backcourt is talented, with Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Evan Fournier.
The frontcourt is also talented, and hyper athletic. Aaron Gordon, Kyle O’Quinn, Mo Harkless, and Tobias Harris if he returns. And Nikola Vucevic is the anchor in the middle. But the frontcourt lacks rim protection, and Cauley Stein is sure to be a premier rim protector once he reaches the NBA.
Cauley-Stein is not a flashy pick here, but a good one if the Magic seek instant help.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 5.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG
6. Sacramento Kings
Emmanuel Mudiay – PG – Guangdong Tigers
Mudiay is a scary good ball handler. His upside is that of a top 5 point guard in the NBA.
The Kings will bite on that alone. Their desperate need for a gamechanging playmaker is greater than their need for a stretch four here.
The Kings have been offered Ty Lawson for this pick, and that is a deal that should be considered. But I bet the Kings would rather have the cheaper, higher upside option with Mudiay here. He fits right in the system and George Karl will have a chance to morph the Congonese baller into his future star.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 12.2 PPG, 5.5 APG
7. Denver Nuggets
Justise Winslow – Forward – Duke
Winslow probably deserves to go a little higher here, but the sheer fit of some of the other players with their teams drops the Duke product down to seven.
But Winslow would be entering a scenario that could turn around quickly in Denver. Most of their logjammed players are available via trade, and Winslow could see himself as a main part of the offense in his rookie season.
Winslow predicts to be a solid player with some star potential in the fold. He would be a good player to usher in a new era in the mile high city.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG
8. Detroit Pistons
Mario Hezonja – Guard / Forward – Croatia
Hezonja has massive star potential, and he could be a future top 5 shooting guard in this league if he falls in the right spot. Despite limited exposure overseas for NBA scouts to swallow, Hezonja is one big ball of talent.
I could actually see Charlotte attempting to trade up if Hezonja is still on the board at this point, but Detroit will make room on their wings for Hezonja.
He could be the star to bring the Pistons team, one rife with talent but lacks organization, to the forefront of the Eastern conference. A team with talent like Brandon Jennings, Reggie Jackson if retained, Hezonja, Andre Drummond, and Jodie Meeks could compete out East.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.7 PPG, 1.5 APG
9. Charlotte Hornets
Devin Booker – Guard – Kentucky
The recent trade that sent Lance Stephenson to the Clippers for Spencer Hawes and a soon-to-be cut or traded Matt Barnes was one not only to get rid of a locker room problem, but also clears up a logjam at the two guard position. As it stands, the Hornets have Gerald Henderson, P.J. Hairston, and Troy Daniels at the two guard.
Yet just one of those guards specializes at three point shooting (Daniels), and he also happens to be the one who doesn’t play under Steve Clifford.
Booker has been dubbed a dark horse to be a star, much like Klay Thompson or Monta Ellis. I think the Hornets will go with the risky pick here and bet on Booker panning out. He is a lights out shooter, and one that could likely have immediate effects for the Charlotte offense in desperate need of some help.
If he is still available, expect Charlotte to pull the trigger.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.5 PPG, 2.1 APG
10. Miami Heat
Stanley Johnson – Forward – Arizona
Stanley Johnson has been projected to go as high as top five and as low as mid teens, but the Heat will be happy that he fell to them at ten.
Johnson impressed in the NCAA tournament where he led Arizona to a deep run, alongside Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley, and TJ McConnell. He predicts to be a good slasher in the Association and, if he develops a consistent shot, he could be a second or third option on a playoff team in a few years.
But only if he gets play time. He may not get much next year behind Luol Deng.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG
11. Indiana Pacers
Jerian Grant – Point Guard – Notre Dame
George Hill has been great for the Pacers up to this point.
However, Hill has peaked, as has the current Pacers roster. To usher in a new sort of basketball that the Pacers want to play, Grant’s speedster play will speed up the Pacers game.
The Pacers have some good pieces in place (Example, All Star Paul George) but if they want to get back to being playoff contenders, they are going to have to shuffle around some pieces. For example, Roy Hibbert may be on his way out of town, and David West may also.
The Pacers will need to address their frontcourt problems in free agency, because Grant is too good of a fit to pass up on here.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 11.5 PPG, 5.8 APG
12. Utah Jazz
Myles Turner – PF / Center – Texas
Turner is a confusing prospect.
His physical tools and outside shooting capabilities make him look like what could be a revelation in the draft. But his output as a member of the Texas Longhorns basketball team was limited.
So limited, that it makes me wonder if Turner is deserving of a lottery pick, or even a pick in the teens. But I think Utah will gamble on the shooting center. They need a good replacement behind the French Tower Rudy Gobert, and Turner could turn into a big time player if given the opportunity.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 6.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG
13. Phoenix Suns
Kelly Oubre – Forward – Kansas
Oubre is the rawest of raw when it comes to draft prospects. The Kansas swingman possesses all the physical tools to be a lockdown defender and a weapon in transition. But much like Turner, his college production was subpar.
Oubre doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly with the Suns, but the team is about to undergo some real changes, and taking a high upside – high downside prospect like Oubre is a smart call.
The winger could develop into an Andre Iguodala type if it all pans out, and any team would love to have a player in the mold of the 2015 Finals MVP.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 6.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG
14. Oklahoma City Thunder
Cameron Payne – Point Guard – Murray State
After trading away Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline this year, the Thunder lacked a spark off the bench.
Payne has drawn wild praise after his workouts and could go as high as 6 to Sacramento. He would give the Thunder the force off the bench that they need to jumpstart a Finals run that they need more than ever next season.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 10.0 PPG, 3.9 APG
15. Atlanta Hawks
Trey Lyles – Power Forward – Kentucky
Whether Paul Millsap leaves the Hawks or not, Trey Lyles is a stretch four that the Hawks will want on their team.
The Kentucky power forward is talented in nearly every aspect of the game, but he isn’t a master of any. Joining a contender like the Hawks will give him an opportunity to be an effective player in two years.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 3.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG
16. Boston Celtics
Sam Dekker – Small Forward – Wisconsin
Dekker was a stud in the NCAA tournament for the Badgers, where him and Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin to the national title game. His stock improved greatly after the tournament, and I put him in one spot up in my post march madness mock draft back in April.
Unfortunately, Dekker lacks star potential. His best case scenario is a premier three and D guy, and that isn’t what most GMs are looking for in the lottery. Dekker may be a bust, but I would bet on him realizing his potential on a team that fits him well in Boston.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 8.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Bobby Portis – Power Forward – Arkansas
While the Bucks could use some backcourt help off the bench, Portis is too good of a steal here to let pass.
The Bucks are one of the tallest, longest teams in the league, with Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Michael Carter-Williams, and Zaza Pachulia already on the team. Portis is a monster in the paint and a glass eater, and he can give the Bucks even more options off the bench or perhaps in a starting role.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 8.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG
18. Houston Rockets
Tyus Jones – Point Guard – Duke
After a superb tournament and an especially fantastic championship game that made him and the Duke Blue Devils champions, Jones’ draft stock jumped heavily.
There is a chance he goes earlier than this, but he isn’t a better point guard prospect than Cameron Payne or Jerian Grant. But the Rockets are an ideal situation for Jones to fall into.
Their backcourt this past year was made up of an injured Patrick Beverley, and two dinosaurs in Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry, along with MVP runner up James Harden. Harden requested help in the backcourt to GM Daryl Morey, and Jones provides them with a guard who can man the point and be a primary ball handler for the Rockets.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 7.8 PPG, 4.2 APG
19. Washington Wizards
Montrezl Harrell – Power Forward – Louisville
Harrell is a prospect where you know exactly what you are getting. A tough, low block scorer that will go all out for rebounds.
Washington needs youth and fight down low, as Nene and Marcin Gortat are both getting up there in age. Harrell can be a bench big his first year or two, and eventually replace Nene as the starting power forward.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 5.5 PPG, 5 RPG
20. Toronto Raptors
Kevon Looney – Power Forward – UCLA
The Raptors, for being such a good regular season team, aren’t built for the playoffs.
While a lack of star power plays into that, a weak frontcourt is most to blame. Whether it be James Johnson, Patrick Patterson, or Amir Johnson, the Toronto power forward unit is weak.
Looney offers high upside in a lanky frame with the ability to shoot from three. The Raptors would be unwise to go for another Bruno Caboclo type project here, so Looney is a good bet.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 8.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG
21. Dallas Mavericks
Frank Kaminsky – Center – Wisconsin
My biggest faller from my last mock draft, the hype around Frank Kaminsky has faded. He led his Badgers on a miraculous run in the tournament, and he was named the player of the year – rightfully so.
But his skills may not translate to the NBA. His lack of explosiveness and rim protection make him a liability at the center position.
But his outside shot, ball handling, and eye for his teammates make him a good bench big on a playoff team and someone you want on your squad. If used correctly, Kaminsky could have a very long NBA career.
Plus, learning from a guy like Dirk Nowitzki, whom his skill set is similar too, can’t hurt.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 7.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG
22. Chicago Bulls
Delon Wright – Guard – Utah
Wright is a combo guard with good handles that could give Chicago that backcourt weapon off the bench that they need to be deep in the playoffs. He also offers a contigency plan by the offchance that Jimmy Butler finds a way out of Chicago this summer.
Delon, brother of Dorell Wright, a swingman for the Portland Trail Blazers, could easily pan out to be a type of Jamal Crawford, Jerryd Bayless type. The Bulls would be happy to snag him here.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.4 PPG, 3.2 APG
23. Portland Trail Blazers
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Swingman – Arizona
Portland needs to get deeper at every position, and RHJ is the best available prospect here. He offers limited upside, but he could be a lockdown perimeter defender in just a year or two, along with being a deadly transition weapon.
Portland needs all the help it can get to escape prolonged mediocrity.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 6.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG
24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Rashad Vaughn – Guard – UNLV
The Cavs will look to trade this pick, but if they don’t, they will draft for skill, not need.
As LeBron said after the Finals, “we ran out of talent.” That is something no team in the NBA Finals should have to admit. But after losing their two other All Stars, the Cavs looked like amateur hour performing at new heights and shattering expectations.
The addition of Rashad Vaughn, a talented guard out of Las Vegas, will only add to the talent on the bench for cheap.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 6.0 PPG, 1.5 APG
25. Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Anderson – Swingman – Virginia
Anderson is the type of player who can come into the league and make an immediate impact. He is the stereotypical 3 and D guy, and Memphis will welcome him as a key cog off the bench.
Anderson is an advanced offensive threat, and he may be a steal at 25 here for the Grizzlies.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.6 PPG, 40% from three.
26. San Antonio Spurs
R.J. Hunter – Guard – Georgia State
The sharpshooter from Georgia State may be a glorified prospect, as ISH writer @maxmarcovitch wrote in his underrated/overrated prospects piece. But he still possesses a clutch gene, as we saw with his game winner over Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
If Danny Green gets a megadeal in free agency, which is likely, Hunter could be a good fill in on a rookie deal.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 8.0 PPG, 38% from three.
27. Los Angeles Lakers
Christian Wood – Forward – UNLV
Wood is an oversized small forward, or an undersized power forward. Either way, the forward from Vegas averaged a double double this season, not very common in college basketball.
He offers solid skills, and would join Jahlil Okafor on the Lakers as the massive rebuild starts. He would be another good piece for the Lakers as they attempt to build up talent, or he could be dangled in trades for veterans.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 6.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG
28. Boston Celtics
Jarell Martin – PF – LSU
I much prefer Martin to his LSU teammate, Jordan Mickey. Martin offers a three point shot from the power forward spot, as well as good ball handling, good speed, and good transition offense.
The LSU product impressed in his rookie year at LSU, and I could see him being a steal if Boston uses him correctly.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG
29. Brooklyn Nets
Terry Rozier – Point Guard – Louisville
The Nets need talent at every position, but the point guard spot is particularly depressing.
Deron Williams hasn’t been the same for the last few years, and Jarrett Jack is nothing more than a solid sixth man. Rozier at least offers potential to be a late round stud and help out the Nets as they attempt to correct their roster after years of turmoil.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 7.8 PPG, 5.4 APG
30. Golden State Warriors
Jordan Mickey – Forward – LSU
The Warriors don’t have a glaring hole they need to address here, as we saw when they won the NBA championship with an equal usage of bench and starter players.
But rumors of David Lee and the Warriors attempting to find a trade partner, as well as Draymond Green’s impending restricted free agency (despite the fact that him leaving is very unlikely), the Warriors could go for a stretch four here.
Mickey offers athleticism and upside here as a backup plan.
Rookie Stat Predictions: 5.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG
31. Minnesota Timberwolves
Chris McCullogh – Forward – Syracuse
32. Houston Rockets
J.P. Tokoto – Guard – UNC
Houston needs more ball handlers in the backcourt, and Tokoto’s slashing ability and athleticism make him attractive.
33. Boston Celtics
Norman Powell – Guard – UCLA
Powell can score, and Boston needs scorers.
34. Los Angeles Lakers
35. Philadelphia 76ers
36. Minnesota Timberwolves
Terran Petteway – Small Forward – Nebraska
Petteway fills a need for Minnesota, although he may not see the court under Flip Saunders.
37. Philadelphia 76ers
38. Detroit Pistons
39. Charlotte Hornets
40. Miami Heat
41. Brooklyn Nets
Guillermo Hernangomez – Center – Sevilla
The Nets may look to trade Mason Plumlee and turn to Brook Lopez more. Hernangomez offers depth and a massive presence in the paint.
42. Utah Jazz
Jonathan Holmes – Forward – Texas
The Jazz could try and trade this pick, since some teams may really like Jonathan Holmes as a prospect. But the Jazz might as well go best available here.
43. Indiana Pacers
Mouhammadou Jaiteh – Center – France
The massive French center could replace Roy Hibbert, and join fellow French center Ian Mahinmi in Indiana.
44. Phoenix Suns
Brice Johnson – Power Forward – UNC
The UNC product impressed in the tournament, and the Suns have no reason to draft more centers.
45. Boston Celtics
Anthony Brown – Small Forward – Stanford
Safety pick. If Powell doesn’t pan out on the wing, maybe Brown will.
46. Milwaukee Bucks
Andrew Harrison – Guard – Kentucky
Perhaps a surprise, Harrison offers NBA level ball handling and deserves a shot in the NBA. The Bucks could use ball handlers behind Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis.
47. Philadelphia 76ers
Marcus Paige – Point Guard – UNC
He can shoot, for what its worth.
48. Oklahoma City Thunder
Brandon Ashley – Power Forward – Arizona
The Thunder will go for talent, and Ashley is a crafty athletic power forward who could give them good bench minutes.
49. Washington Wizards
Olivier Hanlan – Guard – Boston College
An UNDERRATED performer, especially in the clutch, the Wizards could get their sixth man late in the second round, as Hanlan could really pan out.
50. Atlanta Hawks
Treveon Graham – Power Forward – VCU
The Hawks have time to wait and see if Graham can develop into something more than the hustle machine he is now.
51. Orlando Magic
Aaron White – Forward – Iowa
If Tobias Harris walks, White can be the depth behind Aaron Gordon and Mo Harkless.
52. Dallas Mavericks
Aaron Harrison – Guard – Kentucky
Dallas needs backcourt help, and Harrison can shoot. Perfect match.
53. Cleveland Cavaliers
Joseph Young – Guard – Oregon
The Cavs get a steal here, as Joseph Young is a talented scorer, as he averaged nearly 20 PPG at Oregon last year.
54. Utah Jazz
Pat Connaughton – Guard – Notre Dame
The athletic yet undersized guard from Notre Dame deserves a shot at the NBA.
55. San Antonio Spurs
Nikola Milutinov – Center – Serbia
Spurs taking a foreign prospect? Unheard of.
56. New Orleans Pelicans
TJ McConnell – Guard – Arizona
He impressed enough in the NCAA tournament to get someone to bite, and New Orleans should as insurance behind Jrue Holiday.
57. Denver Nuggets
LeBryan Nash – Power Forward – Oklahoma State
Best available, and the Nuggets need all the talent they can possibly, maybe get.
58. Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Upshaw – Center – Washington
Also insurance behind Joel Embiid’s shaky future. Off court issues are a red flag, though.