Tag Archives: NBA draft

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.

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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.

 

 

2015 Mock Draft 2.0

I’ll hopefully be updating these occasionally leading up to the draft. Here’s the first one, from March 18th. Feel free to ask me any draft questions, or just tell me how wrong I am on Twitter @jeff_berest.

*Draft order is based on final standings/lottery odds

**Opinions on players are my own, and based on what I’ve observed thus far.

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

Towns will make the T’Wolves young roster even younger and give them a dominant low-post threat and rim protector on the other end. Wiggins and Towns could become a lethal force to be reckoned with in the West for years to come.

2. New York Knicks/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

Mudiay and Russell are also in play, but the Knicks can’t afford to miss on this pick considering they don’t have a first rounder next year and Okafor has by far the highest floor. His defense is a concern but isn’t poor enough for another player to supplant him at this spot.

3. Philadelphia 76ers/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Congo

At this point it’s a battle between the “known” in Russell and the “unknown” in Mudiay. Mudiay exhibits elite athleticism and can get to the rim at will—an ability Russell has not shown in his game. Although Mudiay has an average to below-average jumpshot, the Sixers and Sam Hinkie will likely gamble on a two-way player and elite athlete with superstar potential over the possibly higher floor of Russell any day.

4. Los Angeles Lakers/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

Jordan Clarkson did an admirable job in his rookie campaign but by no means does that shore up the point guard position for the Lakers’ future. They really need a rim protector as well, but this may be too rich of a spot for Willie Cauley-Stein. Russell is best player available at this point, and he creates a very formidable backcourt next year with Kobe Bryant returning. Assuming they don’t splurge on Rajon Rondo.

5. Orlando Magic/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

Justise is probably the best wing defender in the draft and he improved his offensive game throughout his freshman season at Duke. He also provides the Magic some insurance if they do not retain Tobias Harris.

6. Sacramento Kings/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Latvia

Kings have been searching for another talented big man to play alongside Boogie Cousins for a while now. Porzingis can stretch the floor and has great athleticism for his size; although he needs to build upon his slight frame.

7. Denver Nuggets/Mario Hezonja/SG/Croatia

Nuggets need another wing player, and Hezonja is a good athlete and talented offensively. He can shoot from anywhere, can get to rim, and has good court vision. Like Porzingis, if Hezonja played college ball he might be considered one of the top 3 or 4 prospects in this draft.

8. Detroit Pistons/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

I don’t know why people are down on Stanley since the tournament ended. He struggled offensively this season but that might have been because of Arizona’s system. He still has great size for an NBA forward and huge defensive potential. Down the road, Stanley Johnson going eighth might end up as one of the steals of this draft class. Detroit having a huge need at SF also helps his case for being taken at this spot.

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

It wouldn’t shock me to see WCS go a few slots higher than this, and even though the Hornets are desperate for shooters, this is too good of a value to pass up. The Hornets would benefit from taking him here and at least entertaining offers. Al Jefferson isn’t getting any younger and their current rim protector Bismack Biyombo is a free agent and also doesn’t know how to play basketball.

10. 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.

11. Indiana Pacers/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

The Pacers need to add to the frontcourt due to David West’s approaching free agency. There isn’t much that separates guys like Lyles, Looney, Portis, and Harrell except team preference, really. Lyles has a legit face up game that is comparable to West and could easily step into the starter’s role once he leaves Indiana.

12. Utah Jazz/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

Oubre was a bit of a disappointment at Kansas and could never become a consistent scorer. But his potential is what still makes him a lottery talent. Jazz need to add more shooters and Kelly can play the 2 and 3 spot behind Burks and/or Hayward.

13. Phoenix Suns/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

Who would’ve guessed another point guard for the Suns? This is a point in the draft where Grant is probably the best value and his ability to player either guard spot suits Phoenix too well to pass up. Also, who knows what happens with Brandon Knight this offseason.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

OKC has struggled to fill the 2 spot since the James Harden departure. Booker underwhelmed in his freshman year, but like many of his teammates at Kentucky, there is plenty of untapped potential. He at least gives the Thunder a perimeter shooting threat right away.

15. Atlanta Hawks/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Dekker shot up draft boards during the tournament and I don’t think the Hawks are content with matching any huge offers a team will throw at DeMarre Carroll. So this leaves a gap at the SF position in Atlanta. Dekker is a decent enough athlete but has a good jumper and can get to the rim, as well as being a great rebounder for his size.

16. Boston Celtics/Kevon Looney/PF/UCLA

I’m not sure how Looney would fit in with the Celtics, but he is by far best player available at this spot, and was once thought of as a top 6 or 7 pick in this draft class. He has the ability to play both forward spots and is good offensive talent; also has good ball-handling skills for a player his size.

17. Milwaukee Bucks/Frank Kaminsky/C/Wisconsin

Frank the Tank proved himself against elite competition in the tournament this year and it wouldn’t be surprising if he goes much higher than this. He is solid in the post and creates mismatches with his ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line. The Bucks need to add more bigs, and it will only be a short move for Kaminksy going from Madison to Milwaukee.

18. Houston Rockets/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

The Rockets don’t really have any depth behind Beverley at PG, and his injury history will force the Rockets to add another ball handler in this draft. Payne is more of distributor than most guys in this draft and he will certainly mesh in the backcourt with Harden.

19. Washington Wizards/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

Both Gortat and Nene are getting up there in age and the Wizards frontcourt is lacking athleticism. Harrell isn’t gifted on the offensive side of the ball yet, but he plays with a ton of energy and attacks the basket on offense and defense. He will provide an instant spark to the Wizards’ bench right away and eventually edge his way into the starting lineup, probably sooner rather than later.

20. Toronto Raptors/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough are free agents this summer and Bobby Portis is a solid 4 with a good face-up game. He isn’t just a back-to-the-basket type of big, and is also a great value pick at 20 for the Raptors. Portis was SEC player of the year for a reason and seems like he could be a contributor in year one.

21. Dallas Mavericks/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

Tyus Jones draft stock is soaring after the NCAA tournament and, needless to say, the Mavs are looking for a replacement for Rajon Rondo. Tyus Jones isn’t an elite athlete but is a good scorer and a decent distributor. There may be better point guards who are taken after him in this draft, but teams will want his clutch gene that he displayed in the NCAA Championship and throughout the tournament.

22. Chicago Bulls/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

Rondae is another player that could go much higher if a team is comfortable just taking a defensive specialist. The Bulls could be looking for a point guard, but Hollis-Jefferson is too good to pass up here. Having Rondae and Jimmy Butler lock down opposing wing players every night is scary for other Eastern Conference teams. Rondae and McDermott combining their offense and defense at the SF spot is a good potential replacement for free agent Mike Dunleavy.

23. Portland Trail Blazers/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

Regardless of whether LaMarcus Aldridge leaves Portland, the Blazers aren’t going to find his replacement at #23 in the draft. R.J. has a ton of upside and he and Damian Lilllard have the potential to be a poor man’s version of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Wes Matthews is obviously a question mark coming off of surgery and entering free agency. Portland is hoping for a steal here in grabbing R.J.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers/Justin Anderson/SG/Virginia

The Cavs could use a center here but Anderson is a really good value pick, considering he was borderline lottery before his injuries this season. He is a great shooter and holds his own defensively.

25. Memphis Grizzlies/Christian Wood/PF/UNLV

Memphis needs another rim protector and to add some athletes to its frontcourt. Wood could be an instant upgrade in both those departments to Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer. Wood is raw but he’s a good project for the Grizzlies.

26. 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. 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.

27. Los Angeles Lakers/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

Lakers are desperate for a rim protector and Upshaw provides just that. They were toasted night in and night out in the paint by opponents and Upshaw, who is still a bit raw, could find some minutes in this rotation from the start.

28. Boston Celtics/Cedi Osman/SF/Macedonia

This is purely a draft a stash pick for the Celtics, because I don’t think there is anyone at this point who could contribute to an NBA team right away. Typically these types of picks are at the beginning of the second round but Osman has a ton of potential as a point forward who is very gifted offensively. He may not come over for a few years but it may be worth it down the road; the Celts have a plethora of picks over the next few years and they can afford this type of move.

29. Brooklyn Nets/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

Wright would certainly go a lot higher if he wasn’t already 24 years old. He is mighty talented and has elite size at the point guard position. Good thing is he’s still younger than any PG the Nets have, and is a good replacement for Deron Williams once he exits Brooklyn.

30. 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.

Bulls Trade Up for Doug McDermott

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The Bulls, as have been rumored for weeks, pulled the trigger and moved up in tonight’s draft. In desperate need of shooting and enamored with four year starter Doug McDermott from Creighton, the Bulls packaged the 16th and 19th overall picks along with a future second rounder for the rights to McDermott, who was taken 11th overall by the Denver Nuggets. Of course, McDermott could still be included in a sign-and-trade with New York for Carmelo Anthony, but it’s more likely that this means the Bulls are going to try and get rid of Mike Dunleavy. The Bulls have been following McDermott for a long time, and see him as a key piece to the future.

A glimpse of the future?
A glimpse of the future?

And hey, when asked what people will think about him when he retires, McDermott responded, “as a champion”. Welcome to Chicago, McBuckets.

The Age Minimum and the Fall of College Basketball

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder ? Game One

The last two months have been an exciting time for the NBA, and not just because of the exciting play on the court. The beginning of February marked the end of the David Stern Era and the dawn of the Silver administration. The new commissioner entered his new position amidst much buzz about major changes that he may bring to the NBA.

One such change was recently put into place. Recently, in an attempt to create more transparency between the League Office and the fans, Adam Silver announced that the NBA would be releasing it’s officiating points of emphasis memos to the general public. The move was roundly applauded by teams and members of the media who greatly appreciated the new commissioner’s show of good faith.

With the winds of change a-blowin’, the biggest issue that Commissioner Silver has been linked to is the NBA age minimum. After a decade or so of high school seniors jumping straight from geometry to Madison Square Gardens, the NBA enacted a minimum age of 19 in 2005. The “One-and-done” era that we find ourselves currently in has been hated on by old white men everywhere who claim that it has ruined college basketball and tradition and love of the game and integrity and rainbows and bunny rabbits too.

What the rule has actually done is this: it has gotten NBA scouts out of tiny high school gyms. It has allowed those same scouts a larger sample of games (and against better competition) to watch, making the evaluation process more precise. It has by absolutely no means harmed college basketball in the slightest. Guys who are ready to make the jump to the pros are content to do their year of slave labor the “college experience” and just head to the pros after a single season. It has forced coaches to work a little harder in recruiting, as the Ralph Sampsons and Tim Duncans of the world are likely gone for good.

But what if the age limit is raised to twenty? What would happen then? Old white men would likely parade through the streets, celebrating with the passion that would normally be reserved for the day when Viagra makes a pill that grows your hair back. But I suspect their triumph would be in vain, as a bump up in the NBA age limit would drastically harm college basketball as we know it.

Adam Silver, in aggressively pushing his age agenda, currently hides behind a veil of good intentions. Silver, in addressing his rationale for the increased limit, has cited a desire to allow the players to mature, both on the court and off, before they move into the professional ranks. But I surmise that the new commissioner has other motives in mind.

While high profile players seem to have accepted the 12 month delay before pay day, there has to be some question as to whether a forced second year of NCAA basketball would change kids’ mindset. While the NCAA likes to paint itself as the ultimate place to learn and grow, there are other options that exist today for American 18 year olds who want to play basketball. Top prospects have the option of spending the year overseas, or entering into the NBA Development League for a year.

The one-and-done era has seen relatively few guys choose an alternative route to college, but a deuces-and-deuces policy (just made that up and I’m pretty proud of it) could make that a much harder choice. Going to Europe poses many issues, and the high profile cases who have tried it so far have not been particularly successful. People who want to go to Europe must consider the stories of guys like Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Jennings, guys who tried to circumvent the NCAA but found that living in a strange land with little in the means of a support system was probably not the best idea.

Another interesting development in the NBA, one that began with David Stern and is likely to continue with Adam Silver, is the growth of and investment in the D-League. The NBA is using the D-League as a laboratory of sorts for tweaks to the product. Zach Lowe has written about it not once, but twice  already this season. Teams are also using their own affiliated franchise to perform strategic experiments, excellently chronicled here on the Grantland Channel. With the NBA making serious efforts to build itself a thriving minor league system, the only missing ingredient is talented basketball players.

So far, the D-League is comprised mostly of undrafted free agents and retreads trying to hold on for one more shot at the big show. For the casual basketball fan, these are not the kind of guys that one would intentionally watch on TV. The allure of the always wild NCAA Tournament to its fans is two headed: First, there is the excitement of seeing the little guy compete. This year saw an unlikely run from Dayton to the Elite Eight, filled with upsets and nail biters along the way. Every tournament seems to have one captivating underdog story, be it Wichita State, Butler, VCU or George Mason. But by and large the Cinderella stories rarely make it out of the first weekend of the tournament. So why do people stay tuned in throughout the Final Four? Because even though seeing upsets is fun, what’s even more fun is watching basketball being played at a high level by, what is usually safe to assume, the stars of tomorrow. People love college basketball not just because there’s a marching band and people paint their faces, but because college basketball allows basketball fans to look into the crystal ball and get a glimpse of who the next superstars will be.

For the superstars of tomorrow, playing NCAA basketball has always been the obvious post-high school decision. But with an increase in the age minimum, that may no longer be the case. The NBA, in my best estimation, hopes that kids choosing between college programs will also have to consider signing up for the D-League. It is fair to question why someone would choose two years in the far less glorious development circuit to being the big man on campus for 24 months. The reasons are simple: the D-League can provide superior player development and superior compensation.

One may be quick to counter that college basketball offers the services of legendary coaches who have decades of success under their belts. But the reality is that college basketball is a drastically different game than the one played at the professional level, and to some extent the college game can stunt the development of a top talent. Is learning to master Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone going to make someone a better pro? Is operating in Bo Ryan’s clock eating no-fun-allowed system going to really grow anyone’s offensive abilities?

The NBA’s motive to get talented underage players into the D-League may be for developmental purposes, but could also be to achieve financial gains. A shift in talent from the NCAA to the D-League would result in a shifting of the eyeballs of basketball fans who would now be inclined to flip on a D-League game on a Saturday afternoon than a lowly NCAA game. This could be big business for the NBA and it’s development league. In 2010, the NCAA and CBS negotiated a 14 year contract that pays the NCAA a hair under $11 billion. While I know of no D-League TV deals in place now, if the Wiggins and Jabaris of the world were debuting in the D-League, it’s safe to assume that a network would be willing to fork up big cash to televise them.

This change in trend would also push every team to have their own D-League affiliate. The competitive advantage of having a team now is arguably insignificant for whatever the costs may be. But with TV money and unprecedented access to pro prospects, it would be incredibly foolish to not have a franchise. I have long bemoaned the lack of a Bulls D-League affiliate and will loudly celebrate the day that they do.

The precedent for players to enter the D-League before being drafted is being set today. Last year, after being dismissed from Georgia Tech on dubious charges, Glen Rice, Jr. spent a year in the D-League before being drafted by the Wizards early in the second round. This year, after being dismissed from UNC for head-scratching NCAA violations, P.J. Hairston has been thriving in the D-League and is likely to go somewhere in the back of the first round.

I, like any good basketball fan, will have secured a great spot on my couch Saturday night to watch the Final Four. My bracket having been ripped to shreds weeks ago, I will be rooting only for competitive and tight games. The excitement of seeing guys like Julius Randle and Shabazz Napier carry their teams is why college basketball is so fun. The NCAA Tournament seems like an American institution on par with the Masters. But one day soon, it may be the D-League playoffs that you are scheduling your vasectomy around.