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The 2015 NBA Draft Lottery has concluded and everyone’s attention had turned toward the draft. Here are my early predictions for the entire lottery with brief explanations supporting my predictions.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves-Karl-Anthony Towns 6’11 C, University of Kentucky
This draft features two stud big men in Towns and Okafor; however, Towns’ ceiling is too appealing to pass up here. The Wolves will have an extremely bright future featuring Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio, Towns and Zach LaVine, along with role players like Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, and Kevin Martin. In addition, the Wolves also possess the best big man mentor in the game, Kevin Garnett.
2. Los Angeles Lakers-Jahlil Okafor 6’10 C, Duke University
Okafor is arguably the safest player in this draft. He came into Duke with a very polished low-post game and that showed throughout a dominant championship run. He was the clear-cut front-runner for the first overall selection for most of the season. The Lakers have a need for a low-post presence and Okafor’s old-fashioned post game will look perfect in purple and gold.
3. Philadelphia 76ers-D’Angelo Russell 6’5 G, The Ohio State University
Russell is an extraordinary talent who has the ability to play both guard positions. Russell is spectacular at getting into the lane and finishing. He also has a reliable three point shot. The Sixers did not need a big man like Okafor or Towns because of their recent draft picks of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. The Sixers have a gaping hole at point guard after trading away Michael Carter-Williams, and Russell could easily fill the gap.
4. New York Knicks-Kristaps Porzingis 7’1 PF, Latvia
The Knicks have had a tendency to draft and sign foreign players such as Danilo Gallinari, Pablo Prigioni, Timofey Mozgov, Andrea Bargain and Kosta Papanikolaou. These players may not have had success in New York, but something tells me that Jim Dolan is willing to take one more shot, especially considering the high upside in Porzingis. He offers extreme athleticism for a seven footer and is a skilled shooter.
5. Orlando Magic-Justice Winslow 6’6 SF, Duke University
If you watched the 2015 NCAA Tournament, you are highly aware of the freakish athlete Winslow can be. Magic GM Rob Hennigan has used his past three draft picks on Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo. These three players are all freakishly athletic, defensive players similar to Winslow. He could definitely add to the Magic lineup and contribute immediately. Should Tobias Harris skip town, Winslow should be able to fill the void.
6. Sacramento Kings-Emmanuel Mudiay 6’5 PG, China
Mudiay is the most interesting mystery of this draft. He grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo before moving to Dallas in high school. He committed to SMU before deciding to take his talents professionally overseas. He is a super talented point guard who played well for the Guangdong Tigers. The Kings have a solid temporary fix in Darren Collison; however, Mudiay is an unbelievable talent and has a ton of value at number 6.
7. Denver Nuggets-Mario Hezonja 6’8 SF, Croatia
Hezonja has been considered a top international prospect for a number of years and boasts a strong skill set including a great jumpshot. Hezonja has been compared the Andrew Wiggins of Europe. The Nuggets could use some help on the wing and Hezonja could be the solution. At the 7th pick, he has tremendous potential to become a stud in Denver for a long time.
8. Detroit Pistons-Stanley Johnson 6’7 SF, University of Arizona
Johnson is another freshman from Arizona entering the draft quite raw and unproven (Aaron Gordon). His physical talent is the reason why most teams would take a chance on him. The Pistons have two solid guards in Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson along with two dominant bigs in Greg Monros and Andre Drummond, so the Pistons could definitely add a wing to that core.
9. Charlotte Hornets-Devin Booker 6’6 SG/SF, University of Kentucky
Booker is another member of this year’s fantastic 38-1 Kentucky Wildcats team that featured seven NBA draft early entrants. Booker came in as a freshman and shined with his ability to shoot the ball. Naturally, Booker’s shooting ability is a perfect fit with Charlotte as they lack an outside presence not the wings. This pick is a little early; however, Booker is a perfect fit for Charlotte’s offense.
10. Miami Heat-Kelly Oubre Jr. 6’7 SF, University of Kansas
The Miami Heat were left in a weird spot when LeBron James left them for Cleveland, but after trading for Goran Dragic it has become clear that Miami is working to get younger and more athletic. Oubre Jr. was considered a top prospect for this draft coming out of college, but he was buried under a talented core at Kansas. Oubre showed some of his potential during his stint in Lawrence.
11. Indiana Pacers-Willie “Trill” Cauley-Stein 7’0 C, University of Kentucky
Stein’s name has been floating around since his freshman year at Kentucky. He has extreme athleticism for someone his size, but his defense is what stands out. Many analysts expect Cauley-Stein to be able to guard all five NBA positions with ease. Larry Bird, President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers, recently called him a $100M player, so it wouldn’t be shocking if they pick him at number 11.
12. Utah Jazz-Trey Lyles 6’10 PF, University of Kentucky
Lyles, similarly to Booker, had a decent year for Kentucky in Coach Calipari’s platoon system; however, he didn’t put up amazing stats. Lyles has an NBA ready body along with the capability of playing the stretch 4 position that is so highly valued. Lyles would back up budding star Derrick Favors for Utah and would provide a solid lift off the bench for an up and coming franchise.
13. Phoenix Suns-Myles Turner 6’11 PF/C, University of Texas at Austin
The Suns will have good guard production coming from Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for the next few years, but they lack a true big man. Alex Len is a decent player, but he isn’t the answer for Phoenix. Turner was the second overall prospect for college basketball last season and didn’t put up great numbers playing behind Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes. Turner started turning heads when given the right playing time. He could be a steal at 13.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder-Sam Dekker 6’9 SF, University of Wisconsin
Dekker played second fiddle to Frank Kaminsky over the past two final four runs of the Badgers. He is an exceptional shooter and uses his length to get into the paint with ease. The Thunder could use another wing to pair with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Dekker provides the outside shooting component.