2015 NBA Draft: Final Lottery Predictions
The 2015 NBA Draft arrives on June 25th, giving NBA fans just a few days to prepare for their favorite team either landing the next player that could change their fortunes or send them deeper into despair.
The sweet and sour is what the NBA is all about, but every time the draft rolls around, everyone has their mind on the sweet. The teams picking in the lottery usually feel that way, but selecting the right prospect who fits your system perfectly is often easier said than done.
Let’s run through the lottery portion of the 2015 NBA Draft as we finalize our predictions for how the most important part of this year’s draft could unfold:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
Minnesota lacks a big that can effectively play at both ends of the floor and with Towns they get one. They probably can’t go wrong with either of the draft’s two best big men, but Towns arguably has the most upside of any player in this draft and is ready to contribute right now, as well.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
The Lakers are in a nice spot with the second overall pick, but they can’t go anywhere else but Okafor here. They have no reliable offensive help at center and pairing Okafor with Julius Randle could end up being what this franchise needs to turn things around. There are other options, but this feels like a no-brainer.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
Some see Russell as a lead point guard and others think he’s a scoring #2 guard. He’s definitely somewhere in between, but no matter what he is, his new team will get instant offense. The Sixers could go with a number of guys at this pick but they don’t have a franchise scorer. Russell gives them that.
4. New York Knicks – Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China/Congo
New York has Carmelo Anthony and pretty much nothing else, so it’s anyone’s guess what they do. Mudiay probably leads the way, as he’s a very entertaining point guard with a high ceiling. He struggles with his shot but in every other way he’d be a massive upgrade over Jose Calderon.
5. Orlando Magic – Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, Latvia
Porzingis is sky-rocketing up draft boards due to his size, fluidity and athleticism – and for good reason. Some think he’s the best talent in the draft, but I think he slides to the Magic. Orlando’s main need could be determined by what restricted free agent Tobias Harris inevitably does, but you just can’t pass on Porzingis, regardless.
6. Sacramento Kings – Justise Winslow, G/F, Duke
The Kings are an odd team to project in the draft, as they have uncertainty at shooting guard and power forward. However, if they keep Rudy Gay at the four spot, that opens up small forward, which could allow Winslow to be the perfect fit. For what George Karl seems to be trying to do, I think that gives the Kings the most upside and versatility within their current roster.
7. Denver Nuggets – Mario Hezonja, G/F, Croatia
Denver is set to change their roster significantly, so who they get may not matter much. The Nuggets will probably roll with pure upside here, and Hezonja offers that in spades.
8. Detroit Pistons – Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Greg Monroe is on his way out and the Pistons traded for Ersan Ilyasova, but they probably shouldn’t stop there. They still could use an extra big man at least for depth, and that’s where the ultra versatile Lyles fits in.
9. Charlotte Hornets – Stanley Johnson, G/F, Arizona
Johnson is an elite offensive talent with good length and the ability to defend at a high level. In other words, he’s probably a borderline top-five talent in any other draft and Charlotte might be getting a steal. They could be losing Mo Williams in free agency and Gerald Henderson leaves something to be desired, so they’ll take a crack at improving on the wing here.
10. Miami Heat – Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Booker is a terrific shooter with a compact release and reminds many of Golden State’s Klay Thompson due to a sound offensive game and the willingness to defend. Booker might actually be a tad underrated, so the Heat could be getting an arguable steal. They badly need instant offense off of their bench and Booker is an eventual starter, so this pick makes a ton of sense.
11. Indiana Pacers – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Roy Hibbert might opt out and even if he doesn’t, the Pacers need a long-term plan at center. Cauley-Stein is in the DeAndre Jordan mold, as he can clean the glass and defend at a high level, while he doesn’t create problems with his offense. He’s a no nonsense player that knows his role and that’s something the Pacers could use on the block.
12. Utah Jazz – Myles Turner, C, Texas
Utah is pretty well set at the four and five spot, but they could use some extra depth down low. Turner won’t love being a backup to start his career, but as a depth piece he’d be a fantastic addition to a Jazz squad that is steadily on the rise.
13. Phoenix Suns – Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky
The Suns are in a weird spot, as they are once again caught up in their multi-point guard lineup, yet they seem unsure if it’ll ever work. That could lead to them doing a number of different things, while they appear to have the bigs in place to progress with. Either way, Lyles is fantastic depth and solidifies their rotation down low.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Sam Dekker, G/F, Wisconsin
Dekker is a total wild card, as some teams view him as a potential starter and others like his spark off the bench. It won’t matter in OKC, as he’ll come off the bench but eventually be counted on for starter’s minutes – much like James Harden used to be. Dekker has a very versatile game, as he can attack the basket or hit shots from outside, while he’s also a capable defender.
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