NBA Draft

Projecting 2015 NBA Draft Outlook for Expected One-and-Done Prospects

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterAugust 6, 2014

Projecting 2015 NBA Draft Outlook for Expected One-and-Done Prospects

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Some guys only need one year to ace their NBA auditions. 

    Though not loaded with as much potential star power as the 2014 class, the projected 2015 class looks to have a number of promising one-and-done prospects.

    These are the guys who are expected to make an impression and ultimately the jump to the pros after their freshman season in college.

    For each, I listed their 2015 draft range and projection.

Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: No. 1

    Jahlil Okafor just might be the prize of the 2015 class—a 6'11", 272-pound center with a 7'5" wingspan who really gets it. 

    This isn't just another raw big man who relies on size and athleticism. From spin moves into jump hooks to rise-and-fire jumpers around the key, Okafor has an advanced offensive repertoire and a tremendous feel for the game. 

    With overwhelming strength to gain position, nifty footwork to separate and soft touch to convert from any angle in the post, Okafor can consistently create high-percentage shots for himself with the game slowed down. 

    And that's what drives Okafor's No. 1 overall upside—his ability to take over games offensively in the paint. That, and the fact that he has some legitimate defensive potential inside as well. 

    Okafor isn't a spectacular athlete by any means, but neither are guys like Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan. His blend of size, fundamentals and intelligence should help make up for any lack of burst or lift.

    Okafor will enter his freshman year at Duke as our favorite to go first in the 2015 draft.

Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6'9", PF/C

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Top Five

    A monster interior presence powered by 6'9" size, a 254-pound frame and explosive athleticism, Cliff Alexander is the type of big man you fear might one day tear down the rim.

    The way Amar'e Stoudemire did in his prime, Alexander can make the hoop appear only 9 feet tall. He owns his space inside, where he gets up high for finishes, putbacks, rebounds and blocks.

    He's also a tough dude with a live motor. Alexander plays with a noticeable edge out there, and coaches will no doubt be drawn to the energy and activity he brings to the table. 

    Alexander's post game is a bit unrefined, as is his entire offensive repertoire, but we've seen occasional glimpses of touch, both with his jump hook and outside shot. 

    Just listening to him speak and answer questions, Alexander seems to have a good head on his shoulders and an understanding of what he needs to do. If his skills improve, or he shows flashes that suggest there's more to come, we could be talking about a top-three pick.

Karl Towns, Kentucky, 7'0", C

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Top Five

    It's tough to project what John Calipari's frontcourt rotation might look like, but Karl Towns' potential won't be hard to spot, whether he flashes it in a full-time role or a supporting one off the bench.

    At 7'0", you just don't see many big men with this type of mobility and versatility. 

    He's skilled offensively with a dangerous outside stroke. Towns shoots it with comfort and plenty of range, and regardless of how well the rest of his game develops, his stretch potential is intriguing in itself. 

    But he also has that touch working on the inside as well with his jump hooks in the line. 

    Towns' passing and ball-handling ability can't go overlooked either, which play to his unique versatility as a big. 

    He's not the most explosive athlete, and he tends to hang around the perimeter more than his size would suggest he should. 

    Donyell Marshall, Brian Cook, Rasheed Wallace, Channing Frye, Dirk Nowitzki—pick a comparison. I've heard them all. 

    Only time will tell whom he ends up resembling the most, but the NBA guys are bound to chase after Towns' valuable blend of size, shooting touch and all-around feel for the game.

Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SG/SF

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    Andrew Nelles/Associated Press

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Top 10

    Stanley Johnson looks like an NBA wing at 18 years old, thanks to his 6'7" size and 235-pound man-frame—and a willingness to use both.

    There's a sense of maturity about him, both physically and mentally. 

    "Anytime people say there's a better player in the gym than me, then that's the person I want to play against," Johnson said following the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy, via Sheila Mikailli of D1Circuit.com.

    Johnson also generated some buzz recently at Adidas Nations and the Under-18 FIBA Americas, where he won MVP after the United States took gold.

    A tough, intelligent wing, Johnson has a fairly strong offensive attack between his driving game and improving outside shot. 

    Defensively, he competes, and he has terrific tools to work with as he builds his reputation as a two-way player.

    Johnson lacks that explosive burst, which might limit his perceived upside as a scorer, but he should be cemented into the top-10 conversation as a safe yet potentially rewarding NBA prospect.

Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SF

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Top 10

    Kelly Oubre should be in line for a major freshman role at Kansas, where he'll look to show off his tremendous offensive versatility. At 6'7", he's capable of scoring or making plays from every level within the defense. 

    Jumpers, runners, floaters, leaners, layups—Oubre just finds ways to score despite lacking polish, which he'll eventually add over time. 

    Oubre generated strong reviews recently for his play at Adidas Nations, where he scored 20 points against Arizona standout freshman Stanley Johnson in a counselor game. Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips of College Basketball Talk noted Oubre's passing ability as well, saying that "he generally looked the part of potential impact player this season."

    While he's likely to do plenty of damage this season as Andrew Wiggins' replacement, it's his long-term NBA potential we're excited about. Oubre's all-around offensive game and expected immediate production should make him a regular in the 2015 draft conversation.  

Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'7", SF

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Lottery

    Justise Winslow should win you over as a freshman based on his defensive tenacity and versatility. At 6'7", he's a sensational athlete and ball-stopper on the perimeter who can lock down three positions or even switch onto a big if necessary. 

    Though a bit limited offensively in terms of his ability to create, Winslow can attack and score using angles and finish strong in the open floor. 

    He'll have to continue working on his jumper and ball skills, but Winslow excels in the areas you can't teach while flashing promise in areas where there's room for growth. 

    His selling point right now is his defensive impact, energy and team-first glue-guy approach. But any signs of offensive life should only enhance the buzz he'll generate from his defense and intangibles. 

    Think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Myles Turner, Texas, 6'11", C

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    Andrew Nelles/Associated Press

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Mid-First Round

    Myles Turner's appeal stems from his unique blend of shooting touch and shot-blocking tools for a 6'11" big man. 

    Usually you get one or the other. 

    But Turner can stretch the floor as a shooter and knock down shots in the mid-range. His pick-and-pop potential immediately stands out, thanks to his range and quick, fluid release. Turner has the ability to square up, rise and fire for a jumper as long as he has room.

    Defensively, he combines a near 7'4" wingspan with excellent shot-blocking instincts. He makes up for a lack of quickness with timing and length.

    But Turner isn't very explosive or light on his feet. And he lacks that bully strength on the interior to carve out space and go to work. 

    He'll have to show more than just spot-up shooting and rim protection, but Turner clearly has some strengths that should interest NBA evaluators.

Kevon Looney, UCLA, 6'8", SF/PF

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2015 NBA Draft Projection: Mid-First Round

    Kevon Looney doesn't scream one-and-done, but he should be locked into a major role this year at UCLA, where his toughness and versatility are likely to stand out from Day 1.

    Offensively, he's shown a comfort level facing up and scoring or stretching the floor as a shooter. And he offers a strong presence inside, given his ability to play through contact as a finisher and rebounder.

    Defensively, he can guard multiple positions, with the willingness to bang down low and the quickness to contain penetration on the perimeter. 

    Looney has also established the early reputation as being one of those team-first, unselfish contributors.

    ESPN recruiting analyst Joel Francisco (subscription required) said it best: "He always plays with purpose." 

    I'm expecting scouts to overlook some of the questions over his position (small forward or power forward?) and focus on his strengths as an inside-outside do-it-all combo.

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