Tag Archives: Kristaps Porzingis

BULLet Points: Pack it up, the Bulls’ season is over

Yikes. The Bulls had an opportunity to assert themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a back-to-back against the conference bottom-feeder New York Knicks. After getting played out of the gym in the third quarter yesterday, the Bulls came right back out and got smacked again. The Knicks took an eight point halftime lead and never looked back, winning 106-94.

  • The Bulls offered zero resistance defensively on Thursday night. Sasha Vujecic got the Knicks going nice and early with three long distances makes (his only three attempts from deep) in the first eight minutes of the game. The Knicks never looked back, drilling shot after shot to methodically put the Bulls away. The Bulls cut it do 47-45 as the first half dwindled down, but Kristaps Porzingis drained back-to-back threes to end any threat. At the end of the third quarter, Arron Afflalo made a contested pull-up mid-range shot to beat the buzzer. The Bulls just couldn’t get a stop all night.
  • The Knicks shot 51.3% overall on 43.3% from deep. While the Bulls forced more turnovers (17-12), Chicago shot just 41.6% and 24% from three. The bench unit that’s found much offensive success lately came up horrifically short. Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Doug McDermott combined for just nine points on 2/16 shooting. Mirotic dropped 35 himself the night before (and had eight of those nine points last night).
  • Derrick Rose had another superb offensive game, even turning in his first dunk of the season!

  • Rose finished with 30 points on 13/23 shooting in 39 minutes. The playing time is excessive, especially given that Rose was questionable with a back injury. Furthermore, the Bulls were never really in striking distance to complete a comeback. Regardless, it was so much fun to watch Derrick fly around the court and show off his athleticism. You should absolutely read Drew Hackman’s analysis of Rose’s season here.
  • Cristiano Felicio weirdly played 21 minutes, and I just don’t see the infatuation with the guy. He may well be worthy of an NBA roster spot, but Fred Hoiberg‘s decision to play the undrafted free agent more minutes than Bobby Portis is a head-scratcher. Especially in light of the heavy minutes Rose and Jimmy Butler (a nauseating 39 minutes himself) are continually being forced to play. It sure sounds like Butler needs knee surgery. The Bulls need to stop overlooking the importance of minutes management and health. In a lost season, it’s incredibly destructive.
  • After dropping both games with New York, the Bulls are now big underdogs to make the playoffs. They’re 1.5 games back of Detroit with Washington hot on their heels. More importantly, they’ve simply been a bad team for weeks at this point. It appears to be (well past) time to throw in the towel on 2015-16.
  • I absolutely adore Kristaps Porzingis‘ skillset/game. He’s 7’3″ with the silky athleticism of a much smaller wing player. Porzingis is unafraid to hoist long distance shots, a ridiculously dangerous weapon because literally no other NBA player can really contest his shot. He’s only hit 33.3% of his triples this year, but European players traditionally take at least a year to adjust to the NBA three. Porzingis’ natural feel for the game, excellent rebounding, and all-around positive nature all lead me to feel confident in saying that he will be a major star. He doesn’t turn 21 until August.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Orlando on Saturday night. Honestly, who cares though? This team probably doesn’t deserve your attention unless you’re a masochist.

BULLet Points: Bulls drop critical home game against Knicks

A 115-107 loss to the Knicks at the United Center on Wednesday moved the Bulls to 36-34, and a game behind the Pistons, who currently hold the last playoff spot. With just a few weeks of the regular season remaining, the Bulls badly need to capitalize on a chance to at least sneak into the playoffs, though it could be argued that they are not sitting in an advantageous spot no matter what happens in these next few weeks, and maybe missing the playoffs is better for them in the long run. Let’s take a look at how last night’s game played out, and what ultimately led to the loss:

  • I don’t know that this is a trend per se, but the third quarter was the dagger in this game. This is something that has popped up more than once for the Bulls, and was ultimately too much to overcome last night. They shot poorly, scoring just 18 points and getting killed in the paint. In the third quarter alone, they missed eight scoring opportunities just in the paint, while allowing the Knicks to go 5/7 from three point range. New York ended up scoring nearly twice as many points, and it would be too wide of a gap for the Bulls to narrow in the fourth, even though they outscored the Knicks 34-23.
  • In general, the Knicks had a quality shooting night, going nearly 52% from the field, but it was their 56% three point shooting that helped seal this one for them. After the game, Carmelo Anthony gave us a tease of what could have been if he came to Chicago, and he was mentioned as a possible member of a one day “super team” that is the mastermind of LeBron James. Keep an eye out for The Decision: Part 3 sometime soon. Nick Friedell had this from Anthony after the game:
  •  I hadn’t seen much of Kristaps Porzingis firsthand, so even as he was killing my team, it was fun to appreciate his 29 point, 10 rebound performance.
  • The Bulls were essentially at full strength last night, with their regular lineup and prolific scoring from Nikola Mirotic, who led the team with 35 points and grabbed 6 rebounds along the way. Derrick Rose turned in a nice 21 points and four assists. Rose has quietly put together a fairly respectable season this year.
  • I was impressed at the way that Jimmy Butler found a way to contribute, even as he wasn’t shooting well, going 3/11 from the field last night and scoring just seven points. He still managed a team leading eight assists and grabbed three rebounds. Butler didn’t commit a turnover, either. On a night when his shooting is better, he’d have been the star of the game. Butler, of course, doesn’t feel the same, and hasn’t been satisfied lately with his own performance:
  •  I’m perhaps a bit too forgiving of what he’s done lately, but I think there’s been value in how he’s done on the court, even without the scoring that we are used to.
  • In general, I wonder about fatigue and the quality of defense with this team. The deep roster that used to be a Bulls cornerstone isn’t there anymore, and with injuries to key players that keep popping up, it looks at times as though they are just gassed. It’s hard to find the same motivation as the beginning of the season, I’m sure, and the waning weeks of this year might just be a labor of love at this point. With just 12 regular season games left, their sights have to be set on where the team goes from here. That said, giving up over 100 points on even a somewhat regular basis is not something we’ve been used to seeing from this team for a while.
  • In an effort to find a positive in last night’s game, the Bulls did not give up a turnover in the first half, and ended up with just six for the night. Somehow, they were still down by two points at halftime. They staged that fourth quarter comeback, but it wasn’t enough.
  • Coming up: the Bulls actually head to New York for a rematch with the Knicks tonight.

BULLet Points: Knicks spoil Bobby Portis Night

  • Back-to-backs are always tough, especially when the second game is on the road. You can almost always bank on a loss, even when they are the better team otherwise. This was very much the case tonight, as the Bulls dropped to 15-10 on a 107-91 loss to the Knicks. Not only had the Bulls played last night at the United Center against the Pistons, but they went through four overtime periods only to lose in the end. They got to New York very late in the night, and that showed as their very fast start in the first quarter faltered rather quickly.
  • Because of the late night, Pau Gasol stayed home in Chicago to rest, pushing Joakim Noah into the starting lineup. Gasol had played 48 minutes on Friday night, but that wasn’t the most on the team (Butler played 55 and Rose 54). Noah was the catalyst for an early surge in the first quarter, but even he couldn’t provide the energy to push them to maintain that lead for very long, as they were down 25-18 by the end of the first quarter. Noah finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but had a +/- for the night at -15.
  • #FreeBobbyPortis. It’s been a fun meme so far this season, but tonight was the first time we saw Portis get any sort of significant minutes. This happened, of course, because Gasol was not even in New York, but Portis may just have played well enough to earn a few more minutes going forward. He had only appeared in four games prior to tonight and had racked up a total of 26 minutes, but against the Knicks he played just under 23 and made them count. Though he was a -3 for the night (his defense is more than a bit shaky), he was second in scoring to Noah with 20 and grabbed 11 rebounds. His three turnovers were costly, but he provided a couple of three pointers late in the game that in other circumstances might have sparked a resurgence.
  • Unfortunately, the Bulls just looked too worn out. This showed in the lack of crispness on their offensive screens and plays as well as the transition defense. They didn’t shoot particularly well overall, but especially from deep (23.8%). Nikola Mirotic, for instance, made just one shot all night, and was 0/5 from three point range. He had been having a better stretch of games on offense, but the last two nights have not been kind to him. Doug McDermott struggled mightily too; the Bulls later announced he would not return with a sore knee. Hopefully it’s nothing big.
  • This was the first time I have been able to really watch Kristaps Porzingis, and he is definitely something special. I can only think of perhaps a handful of players I have watched who are as tall with that kind of athleticism. I don’t want to be hyperbolic, but he might even be the only one. At 7’3″ he moves and has the athleticism of someone 7 or 8 inches shorter. I was most impressed with his movement on offense, ball handling, and passing. It’s too early to tell, of course, but Rookie of the Year talk might not be totally out of line.
  • Along with Porzingis, the Bulls defense could not figure out Carmelo Anthony (+14, 27 points), and Arron Afflalo (+22, 18 points). Anthony especially played well off of assists from Porzingis and Jose Calderon. The Knicks are floating near .500 now, but they have the makings for a team that can make things interesting down the stretch.
  • Coming up: the Bulls play next on Monday night, when they will return to Chicago to play the 7-19 Brooklyn Nets.

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.