Tag Archives: Jahlil Okafor

Note-A-Bulls: Chicago routs 76ers to finish Circus Trip on a high note

On a six game road trip, you would typically consider it a success if you can go 3-3; but, when final game of the trip is in Philadelphia against a glorified D-League team and you’re already in good shape at 3-2, you want to come out of it 4-2. The Bulls did just that Friday night, taking care of business in the way they’re supposed to, topping the struggling 76ers 105-89 to improve to 10-6 in a game that was never truly in question. They led wire to wire, which afforded Jimmy Butler the chance to sit out the entire fourth quarter and gain some much needed rest.

  • The first quarter was a seesawing of scoring runs – the Bulls came out of the gate 8-0 with good focus, great energy, and a sense of urgency that was hard to find last year, but has been (dare I say?) fairly consistent in their first 16 games so far. The Sixers responded with their own 6-0 run, the Bulls back with another 8-0 run, and the Sixers closed on an 11-3 run of their own.
  • The first quarter was the Bulls only real hiccup to speak of, hanging on to just a four point lead, 23-19, as they committed seven turnovers, perhaps a little too giddy. But, the Bulls were able to settle in, with only five turnovers for the remainder of the game and really put the game away in the third quarter with a 33-17 period.
  • Butler and Dwyane Wade led the way with 26 points apiece, in 30 and 28 minutes, respectively, and both shooting over 60% for the game; Butler with his tenth straight 20+ point game.
  • Jimmy continues to be the minutes leader for this team, even in a blowout, and is seen in all sorts of five-man combinations. Aside from the starting five, Butler was out there with Isaiah Canaan, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Denzel Valentine, which is only the third time this season we’ve seen such a lineup. This lineup also produced some unselfish, but sloppy, play late in the third quarter that resulted in a pair of threes from Valentine and Mirotic, snuffing any Sixers hopes by expanding the lead to 90-64.
  • It was the Dwyane Wade show early in the fourth quarter, scoring the Bulls’ first 11 points, including a step-back three. His three point shooting is really remarkable – it’s something I never thought would be a reasonable part of his game (especially not a step-back three), but he has demonstrated an ability to make that shot this year, at just about a 39% clip.
  • Rajon Rondo had quite the performance – it’s true that his numbers were steady and consistent with a classic Rondo game with six points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists, but what was perhaps more impressive was his defense and agitation. He took a charge, was pesky and meddling, and fought through screens, in addition to being a court captain, championing the best court vision on either team.
  • Note-A-Bull: This team is still without Doug McDermott and Michael Carter-Williams, but fortunately their presence wasn’t needed.
  • The Sixers are still in rebuild mode, as their most recognizable names are Joel Embiid (who sat this game out), Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova, Jerryd Bayless, and Gerald Henderson. Buzz, your girlfriend, woof. They’re still having a hard time progressing, now 4-12 on the season, but are hopeful that all of this will do their players some good and will develop into valuable learning experiences down the road.
  • Up Next: The Bulls get a few days off and come home to face the Lakers, while the 76ers host the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
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BULLet Points: Bulls overcome ugly start, blow out 76ers

  • It was a tale of two halves Monday night at the United Center. While the Bulls ultimately cruised to a victory that saw the brief liberation of Bobby Portis, the first 24 minutes were some of the ugliest the Bulls have played this season.
  • After a slow offensive start to this game from both teams, the 76ers had a huge second quarter. Jahlil Okafor was 4/4 in the period and flashed some impressive moves in the post, going over, around and through Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. Okafor finished the game with 22 points on 9/17 shooting, but his impact was not felt at all beyond halftime.
  • Had it not been for the huge effort of Jimmy Butler, the Bulls would have needed to overcome a lot more than a five point halftime deficit. Butler was 8/9 from the field and 3/3 from the line over the first two quarters of the game. Butler connected on a couple of lobs to the rim and looked like the only Bull playing with any energy or effort on the offensive end. Jimmy finished the game with 23 points (7/7 from the line) and only played 10 second half minutes in a game the Bulls had secured before the fourth quarter.
  • Derrick Rose had one of the most discouraging performances to date Monday night. In 26 minutes of action, Rose scored only six points and grabbed one rebound. More concerning than his point total was the fact that he only attempted three field goals and had just four shooting possessions against an opponent that does not exactly feature premier point guard talent. Philadelphia played without shot blocking machine Nerlens Noel, but Rose still seemed unwilling to attack the basket at all in this game. In the first half, with his team struggling to generate any good looks, Rose was uncharacteristically passive on offense. For a player mired in a season long slump from close range, a home game against Philly seemed like a good chance to build up some confidence. (Editor’s note: after the game, the Bulls said that both Rose and Butler are a little sick).
  • If Rose isn’t going to attack with the ball, he needs to start playing better without it. Rose, who is a putrid 23% from three this season, is not helping anyone by standing still around the arc when another Bull has possession. He needs to start moving effectively off the ball to create some easy scoring chances on cuts to the hoop.
  • Fred Hoiberg’s decision to move Mirotic to the bench in favor of Taj Gibson continues to pay dividends. The matter of who starts the game is not as important to me as the shake up of the big man pairings. Gasol and Mirotic never made sense as the duo to soak up the largest share of minutes. With two defensive minded and two offensively inclined big men it always made sense to stagger the rotations to consistently have complementary pieces on the court.
  • Mirotic found his groove in this game against Philadelphia’s second unit. The streaky second year man contributed 17 points on Monday and connected on 5/8 of his three point attempts. Whether the boost came from playing alongside the scrappy Joakim Noah or he is not yet good enough to compete with NBA starters, this night hopefully marks the start of consistent production from Niko.
  • The Bulls took control of this game after outscoring the 76ers 34-12 in the third quarter. More than a third of the offensive output came from Tony Snell, who played his best game of the season. Snell scored a season high 16 points on 5/10 shooting and did most of his damage by being aggressive in the paint. Snell struggled to find his shooting stroke but was able to score three the hard way on two occasions during his explosive third quarter. While Snell’s performance was encouraging, I want to see him do it against a roster better than the summer leaguers Philly plays every night.
  • Joakim Noah finished with a very Joakim Noah box score: five points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. Noah, whose two field goals came on offensive rebound put-backs, was able to dominate the inferior competition and displayed the hustle and effort that has sustained him his whole career.
  • While four minutes and twenty six seconds is nowhere near long enough to satisfy my appetite, it was nice to see Bobby Portis go to work in garbage time. Portis scored three times in his brief stint, flashing a smooth post move and a confident mid range jump shot. The Bulls maintained a lead of at least twenty points for nearly the entire fourth quarter, and I wish Hoiberg had given Portis a little more time to get into the flow of the game. In his garbage time run, Portis saw the offense run through him in the post. I want to see what Portis can do as an energy player cutting off the ball or diving to the hoop on pick and rolls. If he’s restricted to nothing but garbage duty, the Bulls will enter an uncertain offseason unsure of what they have on their hands.
  • Coming up: the Bulls face the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday at the United Center.

BULLet Points: Bulls take care of business in Philly

  • The most exciting part of Monday’s Bulls-76ers matchup was the mystery surrounding who would start in Chicago’s frontcourt. Joakim Noah was announced alongside Pau Gasol, but an apparent tweak to his surgically-repaired left knee had Niko Mirotic on the floor at tip-off. The Bulls managed against a winless 76ers team, winning 111-88.
  • The first half was full of runs by both teams. After a 12-11 start by Philadelphia, Tony Snell checked in and the Bulls went on a huge run. It was fairly predictable, given the on/off court splits of Snell and Doug McDermott thus far:

  • The Sixers fought back to start the second quarter, though, and it took a late Chicago run to notch a 52-43 halftime lead. At one point in the half, Derrick Rose scored on three straight possessions, craftily converting around the basket. He finished with 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in 28 minutes, a very solid performance.
  • The Bulls maintained a healthy lead throughout the third quarter and Philly never threatened again. Niko Mirotic caught fire in the second half and tallied 20 points and ten rebounds overall. It was an encouraging night after three straight duds from the young power forward. Most importantly, Mirotic found his groove once again from distance, knocking down three of seven. It remains to be seen if Fred Hoiberg inserts Joakim Noah into the starting lineup when he’s available again.
  • Jimmy Butler had a quiet scoring night with just seven points, and none after halftime. He still contributed across the board, though, adding six rebounds, five assists and a team high +29 in only 26 minutes.
  • Doug McDermott continues to shoot lights out. He knocked down seven of 15 shots for 18 points in 28 minutes in his third straight start. While McBuckets has actually been worthy of his nickname this season, he is still completely lost on the defensive end. Even today, the Bulls only outscored Philadelphia by five points in his minutes; the other four starters were between +14 and +29, with Tony Snell at +18 off the bench.
  • Pau Gasol had a very nice game, posting 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. He had his way with rookie Jahlil Okafor for most of the night on both ends. Still, there were plenty of possessions where Gasol was a statue under the basket. His defense has nearly completely eroded outside of one-on-one matchups; the Bulls need to figure out what to do with the future Hall of Famer.
  • Bobby Portis saw his first (scant) rotation minutes of the season with Noah out. He failed to make much of an impact and was yanked amidst a fervent 76ers run in the second quarter.
  • The 76ers are easily the least talented team in the league, but they play admirably hard under third-year coach Brett Brown. The ball is constantly moving on offense, which is pretty impressive given the dearth of NBA-level guards on the roster. Defensively, I thought they did a good job with their positioning to slow down the Bulls. With only nine players available–Nerlens Noel sat out with a wrist injury–they just ran out of gas.
  • Jahlil Okafor had an impressive stat-line with 21 points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, but I thought it was fairly empty production. He needed 25 attempts to get there and doesn’t quite have a grasp of good shot selection yet. It’s understandable given Philly’s roster, but Okafor was often overmatched by the Bulls’ underwhelming defense. Still, he also showed some amazingly mature touch and post moves around the basket. I’m confident he’ll be a good shooter eventually too.
  • Coming up: the Bulls get to take most of the week off as they don’t play again until Friday, when they’ll take on Charlotte at the UC. They’ll hope to avenge last week’s embarrassing blowout loss.

2015 Final Mock Draft

The draft is tomorrow! Let’s dive in for one final mock of how it may play out. Long live Hinkie!

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky

The Wolves are rumored to have already notified Towns they are selecting him Thursday night. He’s the best player in the draft, I have zero reason to doubt this. Although draft rumors are usually false…

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

Even though Russell may be tempting, it’s so rare to find big men as skilled as Okafor. The Lakers are willing to overlook his lack of a defensive presence and questionable rebounding and free throw shooting skill.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Guangdong

There’s so much noise about Russell and Porzinigis I find it hard to believe the Sixers are really that strongly interested given that Hinkie plays it so close to the cuff. I’ve flipped on this pick so much in the past few weeks, but I just feel like Mudiay is ultimately the type of talent Hinkie prefers even if Russell’s offensive game is more advanced.

  1. New York Knicks/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

The Knicks definitely luck out that Russell drops to #4. He fits extremely well in the triangle offense. If the Sixers take Russell, I’m really clueless at what the Knicks would do.

  1. Orlando Magic/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Sevilla

Perfect stretch 4 to match with Vucevic. His ceiling as a Dirk/Pau mix with more athleticsim is scary for opponents to think about. But he obviously has a larger bust potential if he is unable to add to his lean frame and battle underneath with NBA bigs.

  1. Sacramento Kings/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

Willie Cauley-Stein is in play but Winslow’s upside I feel is too good to pass up. Of course getting a rim protector would be nice, but WCS offers nothing on offense and Winslow has a skill set very similar to that of Kawhi Leonard’s. Kings front office wants an impact player, I don’t think they care about drafting for need either (an example would be Stauskas over Payton last year).

  1. Denver Nuggets/Mario Hezonja/SG/Barcelona

Best player left on the board and Hezonja has the skill to become a star. Lights out shooter and ultra-competitive. If he played college ball in the U.S., he would definitely be considered for a top 3 pick. Size for his position is another huge asset.

  1. Detroit Pistons/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

Probably would’ve liked Winslow to slip to this spot. I also wouldn’t rule out them taking a power forward to replace Greg Monroe like Turner, Kaminsky, or Lyles. Stanely is arguably as good as Winslow and his draft value was likely suppressed by the system he played in at Arizona.

  1. Charlotte Hornets/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky

If this scenario happened it’s likely the Celtics would move up in a hurry and mortgage some picks to grab WCS. He’s still the best player available at this spot and with Al Jefferson on the last year of his deal as well as Biyombo likely leaving in free agency, the Hornets could use a rim protector to launch them into the postseason.

  1. Miami Heat/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

I’m not a huge fan of Booker and I think he’s being overrated right now because of his shooting stroke. But this pick gives the Heat some options if in fact Wade doesn’t return. They’d potentially have an interesting and offensively gifted backcourt of Dragic and Booker.

  1. Indiana Pacers/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

Pacers could use another young big man like a Myles Turner, but getting an impact PG to lead them back to the postseason is key. The window might be closing for the Pacers with this current squad until they can re-tool again with new players around Paul George. If Cam Payne is as good as advertised a lineup still featuring George, West, and Hibbert could still possibly get back to conference finals.

  1. Utah Jazz/Myles Turner/C/Texas

Even after trading away Enes Kanter this pick still makes sense for the Jazz. They need depth now and Turner is versatile enough to play both the 4 and 5. Turner can stretch the floor which is something Favors nor Gobert can do at the moment.

  1. Phoenix Suns/Frank Kaminsky/PF/Wisconsin

Alex Len and Markieff Morris is a solid frontcourt but like the previous Jazz pick they lack depth. Kaminsky can play the 4 or 5 and stretch the floor creating even more interesting lineup possibilities for Hornacek and the Suns.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

The Thunder aren’t likely to make it back to the lottery for a few years and they have to make this pick count. Oubre is extremely raw but has the most upside at this point in the draft. He has some time to mature under Durant and could possibly be needed to step in in 2016 if KD leaves OKC.

  1. Atlanta Hawks/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

It’s unclear whether the Hawks will re-sign Paul Millsap, but if they don’t Lyles should be ready to fill that role for the Hawks. He’s a very gifted offensive talent who already has an NBA body.

  1. Boston Celtics/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Tyler Zeller aren’t really inspiring the Celtics to not draft replacements. Portis is best big left on the board and is very coachable player who has a solid offensive game and motor that will run for 48 minutes.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

Bucks could really use another big man to play minutes for them, but instead settle for one of the best shooters in the draft. They need more shooters to surround guys like MCW and Giannis who don’t have a jump shot. RJ will be a role player to start and is insurance if they don’t resign Middleton.

  1. Houston Rockets/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

The Rockets started Jason Terry during the entire playoffs this year. I rest my case for Jerian Grant.

  1. Washington Wizards/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Paul Pierce might not return to the Wizards and I personally believe Otto Porter is overrated. Even if the Wiz believe in Porter, at least bring in some competition and bring out the best in of these guys to become your full time starting SF.

  1. Toronto Raptors/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

So they got nothing out of Bruno Caboclo last season and now after getting trounced out of the first round of the playoffs this year they need to get some impact players. RHJ is going to immediately become one of the best perimeter defenders from day one and the Raptors will just have to hope his offensive game develops.

  1. Dallas Mavericks/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

The Rajon Rondo experiment failed in dramatic fashion, and now there is a glaring hole at PG. Makes sense for Mark Cuban to bring in the reigning NCAA tournament MOP.

  1. Chicago Bulls/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

It’s unclear how Hoiberg and the front office is going to approach this draft, being that it’s their first together. But Hoiberg doesn’t have an allegiance to Derrick Rose and Delon Wright is an interesting PG talent standing at 6’5″. Even if Rose is healthy, the Bulls still need depth at that position.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers/Christain Wood/PF/UNLV

Wood is undeniably a boom or bust talent. He showed up out of shape at the combine and many execs doubt his commitment to the game. But his ceiling is high as a stretch 4 who can be a rim protector on the other end. Wood is a project, but if Aldridge leaves town he is a project worth taking on.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers/Terry Rozier/PG/Louisville

Kyrie is constantly hurt and if the Cavs are still relying on Delly to play backup PG next season they should be ashamed of themselves because he is awful. Rozier is one of the best pure scorers in the draft and could become one of the better sixth men in the league. He is great insurance policy if Kyrie gets hurts again (he will).

  1. Memphis Grizzlies/Justin Anderson/SG/Virginia

The Grizz could use some more frontcourt talent off the bench but Anderson is great value at #25 and could become a solid “3 and D” type player. He is a willing defender which suits the Memphis culture. He is also a decent shooter, and solid 3 point shooting is another Grizzlies weakness.

  1. San Antonio Spurs/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

Harrell isn’t going to replace Tim Duncan but he can eat up minutes while Duncan takes games off during the regular season. He has arguably the best motor in the draft and is relentless on the boards. His offensive game is developing but he has a lot of room for growth under Popovich.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Rashad Vaughn/SG/UNLV

If you didn’t hear, Kobe Bryant is retiring after this season. Vaughn is a talented scorer who has some upside at this point in the draft. Although I wouldn’t envy him for having to replace Kobe in LA.

  1. Boston Celtics/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

If Upshaw is healthy and stays out of trouble off the court he is arguably worthy of a lottery pick and is just as effective a rim protector as others in this draft like WCS or Myles Turner. At pick #28 he’s worth the risk for the Celtics.

  1. Brooklyn Nets/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU

Thaddeus Young opted out and the Nets are looking to deal Mason Plumlee, so they could be in desperate need of another big man soon. Martin is talented offensively and could provide some solid minutes for the Nets right away.

  1. Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse

Purely a speculative pick for the NBA Champs. If McCullough stayed healthy he could’ve been a lottery pick in 2016. Now David Lee and Andrew Bogut can play out their contracts and the Warriors can sit McCullough for the year and let him heal up and then join the nucleus of Steph, Klay, and Draymond the following year.

2015 Mock Draft 3.0

Welcome to my Mock Draft 3.0! Now that we’re post-lottery we know the order of the draft and there are some interesting changes. We still have a ways to go before June 25th and a lot will surely change before then. Here’s my take on how the first round might shake out if the NBA drafted today.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky

As much as we keep hearing that Flip Saunders and the T’Wolves may prefer Jahlil Okafor over Towns, I just can’t fathom them actually going that route. Minnesota was absolutely horrendous on defense last season, and by drafting Okafor that would only perpetuate this awfulness. Towns is a stud on both sides of the ball and has superstar potential to pair with Andrew Wiggins; hopefully Flip will do the right thing.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

It’s not crazy to think the Lakers would take D’Angelo Russell in this spot if they fall in love with him in workouts. But Okafor is as much of a sure thing as you will get in this draft; and as terrible a defensive frontcourt as Okafor and Julius Randle will be together, they will assuredly be a very potent scoring frontcourt and one that will wreak havoc on opponents.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

Taking Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, or Mario Hezonja sure seems like the Sam Hinkie thing to do here. But maybe for once the Sixers front office won’t think too hard and just take the best offensive prospect on the board who also fits a glaring need. The potential of the Russell/Embiid pick and roll is a tempting proposition.

  1. New York Knicks/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Congo

I would like to say I feel bad for the Knicks getting bounced out of the top two picks after enduring a very horrid season, but I don’t because I hate the Knicks so let’s just leave it at that. Phil Jackson would probably like to play this draft as conservative as possible, and Mudiay is the best player left on the board and also fits a need. He is a freak athlete and has a very high ceiling, although the John Wall comparisons are bit farfetched at this point.

  1. Orlando Magic/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Latvia

This pick wouldn’t necessarily be an indictment on Aaron Gordon, but maybe his inevitable role is energy guy off the bench; although the Magic probably weren’t thinking that last year taking him fourth overall. Porzingis is another huge unknown, but his ability to stretch the floor and pair with Nik Vucevic is what makes him the pick instead of taking a wing like Justise Winslow or Hezonja. If Porzingis is able to put on weight and develop an NBA body he could become a unique frontcourt talent.

  1. Sacramento Kings/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky

When you consider Vivek Ranadive’s complete incompetence as an owner, you can’t really rule out any guys for this spot. We also have no clue how new decision-maker Vlade Divac plans to attack this. The Kings are desperate to pair DeMarcus Cousins with another elite front court player and Cauley-Stein is the best rim protector in this draft class. Vivek could certainly outthink himself and force Sacramento to take someone we’re not expecting, but right now Cauley-Stein makes the most sense for the Kings.

  1. Denver Nuggets/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

The Nuggets are searching for another wing to pair with Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Justise has an offensive game that will continue to blossom at the next level, but he is also the best wing defender in this draft; that’s something the Nuggets sorely need.

  1. Detroit Pistons/Mario Hezonja/SG/Croatia

I think Stan Van Gundy needs to swing for the fences with this pick, and taking Hezonja does just that. Mario Hezonja is a really exciting wing player who can shoot from anywhere, get to the rim, and is an explosive athlete. He has incredible upside and is matchup nightmare as a 6’8″ shooting guard.

  1. Charlotte Hornets/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

The Hornets desperately need shooters, and although Stanley isn’t exactly lights out from deep he’s clearly the best player left on my board. Charlotte still isn’t in any position to draft for need over best player available. They should take Johnson and figure the rest out later.

  1. Miami Heat/Myles Turner/C/Texas

Turner is still very raw and in Miami he’ll have time to grow and mature as a player behind Bosh and Whiteside. But having these three in a rotation has a lot of potential. Turner is a great shot blocker and can shoot from outside; he also plays the 4 and 5 spots. The Heat could use another guard or wing player, but Turner at 10 is great value.

  1. Indiana Pacers/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

The Pacers need to add to the frontcourt due to David West becoming a free agent next offseason. I think I’m a bit higher on Lyles than other power forwards but Trey has a legit face up game that is comparable to West and could easily step into the starter’s role once he leaves Indiana. I also like his overall potential compared to guys like Kaminsky, Portis, and Looney.

  1. Utah Jazz/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

Oubre was a bit of a disappointment at Kansas, only showing flashes and never becoming a consistent scorer. But his potential is what still makes him a lottery talent. Jazz need to add more shooters and talent in general and Kelly can play the 2 and 3 spots behind Burks and/or Hayward while he develops.

  1. Phoenix Suns/Frank Kaminsky/C/Wisconsin

The Suns already have a decent young frontcourt with Markieff Morris and Alex Len, but there isn’t really any depth behind these guys. Phoenix wants to spread the floor and some GM’s believe Frank is the best shooter in the entire draft, a huge asset at the center position. The Suns could go developmental wing player here, but I think Kaminsky could excel from the start in Phoenix.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

This pick may be a slight reach, but the Thunder need to win now and Hollis-Jefferson may be the best wing defender in the draft next to Justise Winslow. OKC was horrendous defensively last year and RHJ will help immediately. He is able to defend the both wing positions as well as point guards and he will give the Thunder a lot of versatility, and certainly isn’t averse to sitting back and letting Westbrook and Durant take shots.

  1. Atlanta Hawks/Kevon Looney/PF/UCLA

Atlanta will have to make a couple big decisions regarding impending free agents DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap, and as crazy as it sounds I think they should prioritize Carroll over Millsap. It’s so hard to find talented wing players in the NBA, especially ones who defend as prolifically as Carroll does. If Looney is on the board, he is a high upside pick whose game resembles Millsaps’ and could step in from day one and contribute.

  1. Boston Celtics/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

This would definitely be a huge surprise and cause a stir if this happened on draft night, because Upshaw has a ton of negatives and is a risk considering his history off the court. But all of his past transgressions aside he has all the measurable to be an elite rim protector, and if he can stay out of trouble he could become a flat out steal for Boston. To me it’s worth the risk at pick #16, especially for the Celtics who are clamoring for a true rim protector and have been rumored to be interested in trading up for Cauley-Stein.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

The Bucks could really use another versatile big man, but Booker is too good to pass up at this point. He may be the best shooter in this draft and has good size for his position. If they don’t want to overspend on keeping Khris Middleton this off-season, Booker would make a fine alternative and far cheaper.

  1. Houston Rockets/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

Patrick Beverley’s future with the Rockets is up in the air, and regardless they need depth at that position. Grant gives them a versatile guard with great size for the position, who can play both spots, and is a great scorer. Outside of James Harden, the Rockets don’t have guard who can get their own shot and contribute offensively.

  1. Washington Wizards/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Dekker is a borderline lottery talent who slipped a little bit in this mock. The Wizards need some youth up front, but Dekker is really good value here. He also fits the new floor-spacing identity they appear to be embracing.

  1. Toronto Raptors/Christian Wood/PF/UNLV

The Raptors are always trying to swing for the fences (ex. Bruno Caboclo). Christian Wood has a ton of upside as an extremely athletic stretch four who also has the tools to be disruptive force on defense. He’s unpolished, but if he can put all that raw talent together, the Raptors will have something special.

  1. Dallas Mavericks/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Dallas will surely be hunting for a point guard to replace Rajon Rondo this off-season, and maybe they do draft one here. But Portis presents great value at 21. Dirk is on the cusp of retirement and the Mavs experimenting with Amare Stoudemire last season after losing Brandan Wright proves they need an infusion of young talent in the frontcourt. Portis has a great face-up game and is a decent rebounder; he could be a nice fit with the Mavs.

  1. Chicago Bulls/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

Regardless of Derrick Rose’s injury history the Bulls need to upgrade the backup point guard spot. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich aren’t world beaters and they need another player to run the second unit and possibly take over if Rose goes down once again. Payne is a good distributor and decent offensive talent. Some scouts think he may be the best point guard prospect in this draft behind Russell and Mudiay.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

The Blazers aren’t going to replace a player like LaMarcus Aldridge by adding a big man late in the first round, and they still have to draft assuming they’ll be able to keep him long term. Still, the rest of the Blazers frontcourt is lacking athleticism and has older players like Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman. Harrell is relentless on the boards and provides non-stop energy on both sides of the ball. He’s still developing his offensive game, but he’s good value at this point in the draft.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers/Justin Anderson/SF/Virginia

The Cavs could use another center here but Anderson is a really good value pick, considering he was a borderline lottery pick before his injuries this season. He is a great shooter and holds his own defensively. He can play the small forward spot and knock down jumpers when LeBron plays the four late in games.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

The Grizzlies are desperate for outside shooting and this really inhibited them from making a deeper run in the playoffs this season. R.J. is a purely shooter. He has a slight frame and may be a liability on defense, but could become a spark off the bench for this team, before becoming a starter down the road if he develops.

  1. San Antonio Spurs/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU

I don’t think Tim Duncan is going to retire, and Martin isn’t necessarily a pick to try and replace him down the road (Editor’s note: I mean, who is??). But the Spurs lack a scoring presence from their other guys in their frontcourt. Martin is a very skilled big man and scorer, and could possibly contribute right away before eventually stepping in as a starter.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones could pair up again, this time in a Lakers gold and purple. Jordan Clarkson perhaps isn’t enough of a talent that the Lakers should forego drafting another floor general. Jones probably won’t slip this far, but wouldebe great value here. We already know he and Okafor have a ton of chemistry.

  1. Boston Celtics/Rashad Vaughn/SG/UNLV

Outside of Isaiah Thomas the Celtics don’t have any guards that really strike fear into an opponent offensively. Vaughn is a prolific scorer who is still developing other aspects of his game, and the Celtics could use as many shotmakers as they can get their hands on.

  1. Brooklyn Nets/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

Wright would certainly go a lot higher if he wasn’t already 23 years old. He is mighty talented and has elite size at the point guard position. The good thing is that he’s still younger than any PG the Nets have, and is a good replacement for Deron Williams once he exits Brooklyn.

  1. Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse

McCullough tore his ACL this season and before that was projected to possibly be a top ten pick in 2016. His talent still warrants him to be a first round pick. Golden State can afford to wait on him and get great value out of this pick. And by drafting him in the first round instead of the second, they lock him up for a few years.