The NBA Draft is almost here and each team is breaking down who they want and why. Check out what I think each team should do. (photo courtesy of http://www.lakersnation.com)
The NBA Draft will be upon us very soon. And there will be a lot of young men that will becoming instant millionaires. But where will they go and who will be taking them? Many have taken stabs at trying to predict it, so here at the The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog, I have decided to take our stab at it and explain as to why some teams will be taking some players. Here are the first 15 picks of my mock draft and why. Disclaimer: This will not include trades of picks or anything like that. The predictions of picks will be for the team that has that pick at that certain time. Well, let’s get started!
1st Overall (Minnesota Timberwolves): Jahlil Okafor (C), Duke
The Minnesota Timberwolves already have the reigning Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, to build around and now they have the 1st overall pick. With the team they currently have, they are more of a speed team. With players like Zach Levine and Wiggins filling the wings and point guard Ricky Rubio dishing assists, it would actually make more sense for them to select Towns to run with this team. But again, the Timberwolves do need someone they can throw the ball to in the post and get a basket. And with that notion, they may not want to wait and see what Towns becomes at the NBA level. So with the affinity that Timberwolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders has for Okafor, it is almost a no-brainer that he gets selected there. When the game slows down, the Timberwolves are hoping Okafor can be the guy to sustain their offense with his offensive footwork and soft touch. Of course the Timberwolves may suffer defensively with the young big man, but they will take their lumps there if the big man is able to produce for them.
2nd overall (Los Angeles Lakers): Karl-Anthony Towns (F/C), Kentucky
One of the coveted big men in this draft is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. Assuming Flip Saunders is still in love with Okafor, the second most-coveted big man is headed West. The Lakers are looking for yet another piece to help them in their rebuild. They selected power forward Julius Randle last season out of Kentucky and he was essentially hurt all year after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season. But even though they lost their top rookie, the Lakers still got great play from second-round pick Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri. Now with Randle coming back next season, the Lakers can add a healthy but aged Kobe Bryant and versatile big man in Towns. The big man out of Kentucky will add rebounding, shot-blocking and versatility to the Lakers frontcourt and he will also be able to learn the Laker way under Kobe for what some think is Kobe’s last year in the NBA. Look for the Lakers to begin the rebuild with Towns, Randle and Clarkson and maybe another piece in free agency to add with Kobe Bryant. It may take a little time for Towns to show his skills. But once Towns settles in, the Lakers will be happy with the monster they end up drafting.
3rd overall (Philadelphia 76ers): Emmanuel Mudiay (G), Guangdong Southern Tigers (Chinese Basketball Association)
The Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to get multiple picks in the lottery. But with the way the ping pong balls dropped, they ended up with only one. However, the 76ers still ended up in great position with the 3rd overall pick. The last couple of years, the 76ers selected injured players and essentially redshirted them for their first season in the NBA. Well, this season will be something different. The 76ers have some nice complimentary pieces that would fit well on a team that had a star. But the team is void of star power currently as they stand. Nerlens Noel is a player the team is high on, but they also have a decision to make with how they can use he and Joel Embiid. They may try Noel at the power forward position, but they will be physical and rugged up front. The problem with this team is they do not have a point guard. Well, in this draft, they have their choice of which point guard they want. Some may want the services of D’Angelo Russell here, but the 76ers may have others ideas. 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie was the only general manager to fly to China to see Mudiay and that should tell you right there the way he is leaning. The 6’5” point guard, who many don’t know a ton about, will be the 76ers international man of mystery this year and he will be one that will have Philly fans excited because of his size, speed and athletic ability.
4th overall (New York Knicks): D’Angelo Russell (G), Ohio State
The Knicks are going to have a lot of cap space this summer and plenty of Knicks fans were hoping the number one pick would be joining the players the Knicks are able to obtain with the money available in free agency. Well, everything did not pan out as well as the Knicks and their fans had planned. But all hope is not lost. Things could have been worse for them and they could have landed even further back. They will more than likely not get one of the coveted big men in this draft and that could have been something that would have helped Carmelo Anthony when he returns next season. But another thing they didn’t have last season was solid point guard play. The Knicks need a player that can be special with the basketball and bring some sizzle to the Garden. Russell is as talented an offensive player as there is in the draft. He has a nice stroke, good handles and can make the perfect pass in a tough situation and he is no slouch defensively either. He and Carmelo together and maybe a big man in free agency could be an interesting dynamic together. And the Knicks will finally have a point guard that could compete with the top point guards in the NBA potentially in a point guard driven NBA.
5th overall (Orlando Magic): Willie Cauley-Stein (F/C), Kentucky
The Orlando Magic have been out of the spotlight since they traded away Dwight Howard. The team has not been close to being a playoff-caliber squad and that is quite bad considering they play in the Eastern Conference. But this team does have some young pieces they can build with. Victor Oladipo is starting to catch his stride in the NBA, starting point guard Elfrid Payton got better as the season went on and Nikola Vujevic was a machine inside. The Magic fired their head coach, Jacque Vaughn, during the season and hired former Magic player Scott Skiles to man the ship. With Skiles, the Magic will have a demanding head coach that will want to execute and play hard. And what better piece would fit his scheme than Kentucky Willie Cauley-Stein? The athletic big man from Kentucky will remind some of current Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah with his game. He is not a scorer, but he is a guy that will defend, block shots, rebound on both ends of the floor, give you putbacks and play hard at all times. The passing is not the level of Noah, but he can have a great effect on a team that is trying to form an identity.
6th overall (Sacramento Kings): Kristaps Porzingis (F/C), Latvia
The Latvian big man joins a long line of European players that have tickled the fancy of many scouts and executives. Many of those that have observed the 7’1” big man have been wowed by the things that this kid are capable of. He can shoot the midrange shot and can put the ball on the floor. And he is also not too bad an athlete. For the Kings, they would love to have a guy like this join their team. George Karl is still missing a power forward that would complement starting center DeMarcus Cousins, but this guy could be the guy. With many comparing his skills to that of Dirk Nowitzki, he would be able to space the floor for Boogie to operate in the paint. Porzingis, for all his talent, is one that could take time to develop though. He is still pretty young (19) and the step to the NBA could be one that proves difficult for him at first. But the Kings have a history of taking guys like Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu, so naturally he would be a choice for them. Look for Karl and company to take him with their selection.
7th overall (Denver Nuggets): Justise Winslow (G), Duke
Winslow was the less-heralded member of Duke’s big three recruits last season (Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor). But over time, he became the most important member of the trio. Winslow played well down the stretch and helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to the National Championship. Not a bad way for a freshman to start and end his college career. Winslow is an intriguing prospect for many. He is a very solid defender and can be special offensively, especially on the fast break. With the team the way it is in Denver, they will probably be more uptempo. And with the skills of Winslow, he would fit in perfectly with what they would like to do. He and Ty Lawson would be a perfect fit beside each other or he could slide to the small forward position at times even though he is not the ideal height for the position (slightly under 6’6”). Imagine the type of energy Winslow and Faried could create on the court should they become teammates. Wow.
8th overall (Detroit Pistons), Mario Hezonja (G/F), Croatia
The Pistons will more than likely keep Reggie Jackson as their point guard and match him alongside Caldwell-Pope as their guard tandem. And even if they lose starting big man Greg Monroe, Detroit still will have the talents of Andre Drummond to sustain them. And even though he is limited in the post, Jackson could get him easier shots when he gets in the paint and distributes. But the biggest hole this team has had is the small forward position. They have not been solid there for a while and that includes two tours of service from their best small forward in over a decade, Tayshaun Prince. Adding Hezonja would bring some athleticism to that position along with someone that can shoot the basketball. He could slide into the starting lineup as the small forward eventually for the team should they sign a veteran to get the nod on the starting spot. But if he is drafted by the Pistons, he would be a welcomed addition and likely groomed as their small forward of the future. The only thing the Pistons would have to worry about is how his defense will hold up. And that could be the main reason he does not start immediately in Detroit for Stan Van Gundy.
9th overall (Charlotte Hornets): Stanley Johnson (G/F), Arizona
The Charlotte Bobcats are a team that struggled to score all season long. Al Jefferson was just not the same as he was the year before and Kemba Walker was not the same either due to injuries. They brought Lance Stephenson in for added scoring punch, but that move has proven to be a failure at this point. So in a move to get more offense, the Bobcats could bring in Stanley Johnson. The young guard/forward out of Arizona had some troubles shooting in college at times, but he can attack the rim and be a playmaker as well. With his addition and his acclimation to the professional game, he can definitely be a good addition to this team. And with his addition, it should be interesting to see what they do with Lance Stephenson, whether it be bring Stephenson in off the bench, start Stephenson or trade him before the season starts.
10th overall (Miami Heat): Devin Booker (G), Kentucky
Booker was one of the overlooked players on the loaded Kentucky basketball team last season. But there is no mistake that he was their best shooter. And when he got cooking, it was trouble for everyone. The Miami Heat are staring the potential end of the Dwyane Wade era whether it be this offseason if he indeed opts out of his contract and leaves or down the line when his body cannot hold up anymore. Whether he comes back or not, Booker would add a young guard that can make some things happen with the jump shot. Miami does not really have anyone on the perimeter that would be as consistent a shooter as he can be. And the great thing about him and potentially being a Wade replacement is he is not just a stationary shooter. Booker’s game off the dribble is underrated and many did not get to see it much due to the team he played with. But Booker can maneuver with the basketball (even though he does need a little bit more work with his handles). And the best thing that he can do is shoot the midrange jumper. That shot could be dangerous if he improves his handles. Booker would fit in whether being off the bench and would spread the floor for Bosh as well.
11th overall (Indiana Pacers): Frank Kaminsky (F/C), Wisconsin
The Indiana Pacers were playing without their star, Paul George, all season long. You would have thought that would have meant they would focus the offense more on center Roy Hibbert. But unfortunately, he was not able to come through like they have paid him to do and they struggled to get it done as a team without George. Some would think they would go point guard and select Cameron Payne out of Murray State, but they need someone that can get them some buckets and some production out of the center position. Kaminsky fits the bill for what they need. He needs to get stronger, but he can post and can also step outside and shoot. The Pacers offense would be better with the addition of him and with Hibbert going into the later stages of his contract, he could end up sliding right in as the starter eventually.
12th overall (Utah Jazz): Myles Turner (PF), Texas
The Utah Jazz finished the second half of the season strong after starting off slowly. The team had some issues with chemistry in regards to forward/center Enes Kanter, but when they traded him they seemed to play better. Derrick Favors and fellow big man Rudy Gobert fit better together as a duo than Kanter and Favors. But what that team is missing is another big man to fit in their rotation that brings something different than Favors asnd Gobert. Both players are athletic and can finish at the rim, but neither can shoot with any kind of range. With Myles Turner, the Jazz get a guy that can stretch the defense with his shooting ability and could cause some problems with his size as well. He would give them some pop off the bench as well. And with his addition, the Jazz would be able to continue their rebuilding process towards contention again.
13th overall (Phoenix Suns): Bobby Portis (PF), Arkansas
The Phoenix Suns were definitely a team that a lot was expected of last season. But with the team did not live up to expectations and did not make the playoffs. The results are a team that some are down on at this time. The Suns are known for pushing the tempo and guard Eric Bledsoe will be entrusted to do so going forward. But when you look at production in the post, the Suns really don’t have that one guy that can get you a bucket in the paint. With Bobby Portis, that issue is taken care of. Portis can post in the paint as well as can shoot the midrange jump shot. His addition would allow for the Suns to have a more fluid offense that can do everything. Love the Morris twins, but they cannot be depended on to score in the post at all despite their solid perimeter skills.
14th overall (Oklahoma City Thunder): Kelly Oubre Jr. (SF), Kansas
The Oklahoma City Thunder just could not stay healthy last season. And even though they had struggles there, they still almost made the playoffs. Despite that, this team is still looking for some additional parts to add to their arsenal. Looking at what is out there, they have some athletic wings that can make it happen. But they are missing that one lockdown perimeter defender that can take them to the next level. Although Oubre will not be the starter there in Oklahoma City over Kevin Durant, he could be that guy. Andre Robertson is nice, but he does not have the overall ceiling that Oubre does and the length advantage also goes to Oubre as well. With his addition, he will help make the Thunder a deep team under new head coach Billy Donovan. And although his offense may be sporadic at the beginning, he will definitely add to the athleticism they have and his versatility defensively will be a thing of beauty to watch.
15th overall (Atlanta Hawks), Sam Dekker (SF), Wisconsin
The Atlanta Hawks were definitely better than many expected, as they played their way into the first seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. And despite lacking a superstar, they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Free agency may not be kind to them this offseason as both their starting forwards, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Milsap, are free agents. With that in mind, the Hawks may be able to keep one but not the other. Assuming they are able to keep Milsap there in the ATL, the Hawks will be looking to add another small forward to their team. The best possible fit for them at that position is Dekker from Wisconsin. He has good size, athleticism and can shoot the basketball. And most importantly, he is able to defend at the next level. He should fit right in with what Atlanta likes to do and be an additional cog in their already talented and deep team.
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