2015 NBA Mock Draft: Dog Days Edition
It's never too early for a mock draft, and with events like the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy and Adidas Nations all wrapped up, we actually have a better sense of who might be poised for breakout seasons.
The 2015 class isn't as strong at the top or deep at the bottom as 2014's, but the lottery is likely to be dominated by one-and-done freshmen and international projects.
To avoid irrelevant debate, the draft order reflects last season's final regular-season standings. The Milwaukee Bucks finished with the worst record in 2013-14, so they get the first pick in the 2014-15 mock draft.
And any trades that have been made in the past involving 2015 draft picks were taken into account.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6'11", C, Freshman
Jahlil Okafor will enter the year as the No. 1 overall favorite, given the certainty he presents as a 6'11", 272-pounder with soft hands and quick feet.
And chances are that he dominates at times this year in the ACC, where there won't be many big men capable of containing his overwhelming blend of size, strength and touch.
Okafor is the type of center who can get a bucket against a set defense, whether he's spinning baseline in the post or drop-stepping into the lane for a flip shot or jump hook.
And that 7'5" wingspan helps make up for a lack of burst or above-the-rim explosiveness. He doesn't get great lift, but with that high release point, his shots are still tough to contest.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Emmanuel Mudiay, China, PG, 1996
I'm not even sure a quiet year in China could do much damage to Emmanuel Mudiay's stock. Point guards with Mudiay's upside are just too enticing.
At 6'5", he has serious mismatch potential, thanks to that terrific size and athleticism for a ball-handler.
Mudiay is rock-solid in just about every facet of the game, from his command of the offense and facilitating skills to his scoring attack off the dribble.
He has that lightning-quick first step to break down the defense and the size and vision to make plays from within it.
Like most young but talented guards, improving that jumper will be atop his to-do list moving forward. It's not broken, but it's not smooth, either.
I wouldn't expect Mudiay's stock to move much until the predraft process arrives next May. It's going to be too tough to fairly evaluate him in China, where his role and fit will be far from ideal.
3. Orlando Magic: Karl Towns Jr., Kentucky, 7'0", C, Freshman
If anyone from college basketball is prepared to challenge Jahlil Okafor for the No. 1 pick, it's Karl Towns Jr., whose advanced skills and unique versatility drive his can't-miss NBA potential.
At 7'0", Towns does everything from scoring in the post and shooting to dishing out dimes from the elbow and rebounding.
He just has an unteachable feel for the game, and he plays with noticeable energy and passion.
In 21 minutes against French professional team Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket in the Bahamas, he went for 19 points and 10 boards, making it look effortless at the offensive end.
Last year's Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school, Towns could surface as a No. 1 overall candidate next June.
4. Utah Jazz: Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6'9", PF/C, Freshman
At 6'9", 254 pounds (LeBron James Nike Skills Academy measurements), with imposing strength and explosive bounce, Cliff Alexander is built more like a superhero than a college freshman.
He's one of those big men who makes the hoop look nine-feet high when soaring above it. Alexander is a monster around the basket, where he finishes strong, controls the glass and protects the rim.
And Alexander plays hard. He has a live, nonstop motor.
He's just raw and unpolished at the moment. We've seen him score with touch on his jump hooks and even knock down the occasional outside shot. But don't expect him to be the same one-on-one scorer Joel Embiid was for Kansas last year.
5. Boston Celtics: Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6'7", SG/SF, Freshman
Stanley Johnson has had a busy yet productive summer following the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic back in April.
Johnson generated some positive buzz at the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy and Adidas Nations after winning MVP of the Under-18 FIBA World Championships.
You'll hear it now and probably once every Arizona broadcast—Johnson is a grown man for a freshman. As a 2-guard or wing, he plays right through contact in the drive-and-slash game, where he's tough to keep from getting to the rack.
And he's improved as a shooter on the perimeter as well. Johnson has shown he can stretch the floor off the ball or step into pull-ups around the arc and stick them off the dribble.
Defensively, he's physical and tenacious. Johnson is the type of guy that opposing scorers wish would guard somebody else.
Outside of Jahlil Okafor and Karl Towns Jr., there might not be a safer bet in the field than Johnson.
6. Phoenix Suns (via Lakers): Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6'7", SF, Freshman
Kelly Oubre could be the favorite to lead the top tier of freshmen in scoring this year at Kansas. He just knows how to put the ball in the hole, regardless of the angle.
Standing 6'7", he's a smooth athlete who can knock down shots in a variety of different ways, from runners and floaters to step-back jumpers and explosive finishes around the rim.
Oubre has also shown off some dangerous shot-making ability on the perimeter, and though his consistency will obviously need to improve, that jumper is certainly a weapon.
Shot selection and defense will likely be his two biggest hurdles next season, but Oubre should win plenty of scouts, fans and media over with his size, athleticism and scoring ability.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia, 7'0", PF/C, 1995
Kristaps Porzingis was hearing lottery buzz in June before deciding to pull out of the draft pool. And that was a pretty strong pool.
This year's isn't as strong. Porzingis could be looking at the top 10 in 2015, with a combination of size, athleticism and perimeter skills being his selling point to the pros.
At 7'0", he is more comfortable facing up, where his quickness is just too much for slower big men. He can actually put the ball on the floor and attack. And his jumper looks fairly promising for a raw, international big.
He'll have to add strength to a frame that doesn't take contact very well, but his physical tools, offensive skills and defensive potential form one attractive long-term package.
8. Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6", SG, 1995
Mario Hezonja hasn't received much playing time for Barcelona, but his talent and upside have been well-documented for years now.
At 6'6", he's a world-class athlete who can create his own shot from any spot on the floor. And he's dangerous from outside, whether it's off a spot-up, step-back or pull-up jumper.
Hezonja will ultimately have to show he can score within the offense as opposed to just one-on-one, but based on pure talent and skill, we're talking about a can't-miss type of prospect who is loaded with offensive potential.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Caris LeVert, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Junior
With Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III off to the pros, Caris LeVert should be in line for a monster junior year as the No. 1 option in Michigan's offense.
At 6'6", LeVert has textbook size and athleticism for an NBA 2-guard, along with the perimeter-scoring arsenal that makes him a threat to take over games on demand. He's the type of microwave wing who can erupt for points in bunches using that pull-up and spot-up jumper.
And he's become a weapon out of pick-and-rolls, whether he's scoring or dishing (averaged 2.9 assists per game) over ball screens.
There's a lot to like here, from his physical tools and offensive potential to his year-to-year improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if LeVert ends up leading the Big Ten in scoring as a junior.
10. Houston Rockets (via Pelicans): Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Junior
Montrezl Harrell's physical tools alone could be worth targeting in the first round. But it's the progress he made as a scorer down the stretch of last season that could land him in the lottery conversation.
He ended up averaging 14 points on a spectacular 61 percent shooting from the floor. A sensational athlete with explosive springs and a powerful body, he is unstoppable around the rim, and he's becoming a lot tougher to defend out to 15 feet away.
Harrell will ultimately need that jumper to become an every-game weapon, which would help set up his attack game from the elbows.
We've seen flashes of it all. This year, look for Harrell to put it together.
11. New York Knicks: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Junior
Willie Cauley-Stein should be ready to roll after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. And though his ball skills showed little improvement from his freshman to sophomore year, nobody is drafting Cauley-Stein for his offensive game.
His appeal stems from the impact he's capable of making around the rim, where he finishes, rebounds and protects the paint.
Cauley-Stein is coming off a season of averaging 2.9 blocks per game in less than 24 minutes. And he's shot at least 59 percent from the floor in both years at Kentucky.
Regardless of how many points he averages as a junior, expect Cauley-Stein to remain in the lottery conversation as long as he stays healthy and active.
You just can't teach this type of size and athleticism.
12. Denver Nuggets: Justise Winslow, Duke, 6'6", SF, Freshman
Justise Winslow should be an impact player right away for Duke—even without much of an offensive game.
An electric athlete with excellent size for the wing, Winslow's appeal starts at the defensive end, where he has lockdown potential at multiple positions. He's incredibly versatile, disruptive and tenacious.
At this point, Winslow is more of a glue guy—his off-the-dribble game is limited, while his jumper is a work in progress.
But his ability to make things happen off the ball, whether he's slashing, getting out on the break or forcing turnovers, is what ultimately drives his NBA potential. Think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Minnesota, Top-12 Protected): Kevon Looney, UCLA, 6'9", Fr
There should be a significant role waiting for Kevon Looney to fill at UCLA, where his offensive versatility will be tough to miss.
At 6'9", Looney can dominate the glass and finish around the rim or step outside and knock down jumpers around the arc.
“They told me I could show my versatility, that I’d be able to handle the ball some, that I could rebound, I could play inside-outside," Looney said of UCLA's coaching staff to Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register. "I saw it last year with Alford and his players. Kyle (Anderson) played inside-outside. Zach (LaVine) had a lot of freedom on the wing."
Looney has also earned the reputation of being one of those unselfish, team-first contributors. Look for that to play to his appeal as a potential one-and-done freshman prize.
14. Phoenix Suns: Myles Turner, Texas, 6'11", C, Freshman
Though not the lightest on his feet, Myles Turner blends shot-blocking instincts and tools with shooting touch on the perimeter—a unique combination.
He just picked up 18 blocks in five FIBA U18 World Championship games this summer. Turner's lack of mobility and explosiveness might limit his upside, but his near 7'4" wingspan and anticipation translate to quality rim protection.
Offensively, he can get you buckets on the low block and stretch the floor with a fluid jumper.
Turner's ceiling is debatable—but his NBA tools are not. The mid-first round sounds safe as a preseason prediction.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
Delon Wright has a number of tools and strengths that are likely to attract NBA attention this year. At 6'5", he has the size, length and athleticism that drive his mismatch potential.
Wright scored 15.5 points per game last year, with the majority of them coming within 15-18 feet of the hoop.
He's crafty off the dribble, where he can change speed and direction on a dime and find ways to finish within the defense.
Wright also averaged 5.3 assists per game, showing off legitimate instincts as a facilitator, while his 6.8-rebound-per-game average reflects his nose for the ball and activity.
Expect Wright to break through onto the first-round radar with an even bigger senior season in the Pac-12.
16. Charlotte Hornets: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'9", SF, Junior
Sam Dekker was the talk of the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy, where he showed off a new and improved body and a more dominant offensive game.
He measured in at 6'9" and was labeled as "clearly the most impressive performer in Las Vegas," according to CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello.
Dekker's shooting inconsistency really hurt him as a sophomore, but he has the shot-making ability and mechanics to turn that jumper around as a junior.
He's a high-IQ guy with great passing instincts and a terrific motor. Expect a little more consistency and production as a scorer from Dekker in 2014-15.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via Nets): Terran Petteway, Nebraska, 6'6", SG, Junior
One of the most under-the-radar scorers from the 2013-14 season, Terran Petteway is a name that every college basketball and NBA draft fan needs to know.
He averaged 18.1 points per game last year to lead the Big Ten. Petteway can go off. He's a microwave scorer who generates offense from every level within the defense.
His offensive confidence is at a whole other level—almost to a fault. Petteway's shot selection and self-control are a bit out of whack, but there's no denying his ability to light it up.
I'm predicting around 20 points per game for Petteway in a breakout junior year.
18. Washington Wizards: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Sophomore
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson flashed some attractive two-way upside as a freshman, with his defensive versatility ahead of his raw offensive skills.
You have to love his ability to lock down three positions, given his size, length and foot speed.
Offensively, his game is predicated on athleticism—Hollis-Jefferson blends a quick first step with an explosive last one to get to and finish at the rim.
But his ball skills are limited, as is his shooting range. He only hit two three-pointers last season, and you just don't see many NBA wings get by without a jumper.
There's no secret as to what Hollis-Jefferson must add as a sophomore.
19. Chicago Bulls: Terry Rozier, Louisville, 6'1", PG, Sophomore
No more Russ Smith means extra touches and minutes for Terry Rozier, who's in position to explode onto the radar in a full-time role as a sophomore.
Rozier is lightning off the bounce. He's a headache to contain on the perimeter, where his shiftiness and hesitation dribble can cause motion sickness.
And Rozier also has those above-the-rim hops the NBA guys traditionally drool over.
He even hit 36 three-pointers at a 37.1 percent clip in only 18.9 minutes per game last year.
Rozier will have to show he's capable of running an offense as a facilitator, but he has all the tools and talent, along with the opportunity in 2014-15, to emerge as a first-round NBA prospect.
20. Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Taylor, Texas, 6'1", PG, Sophomore
Isaiah Taylor had a sneaky-good year as a freshman, which he'll look to expand on as a sophomore to enter the first-round conversation.
He's tough to contain off the dribble, thanks to his quickness and scoring attack inside the arc, where he can get to the rim, stop-and-pop or float runners over the interior defense.
And he plays with good poise out there. He has the ability to run the offense and set up teammates for buckets.
He'll have to expand his shooting range, but his near 75 percent free-throw mark and strong mid-range game are both promising developments.
"Kids should watch Texas guard Isaiah Taylor's mid-range game. It's such a lost art," tweeted ESPN's Jeff Goodman.
Taylor sprinkled in some big games last year. Expect more of them as a sophomore.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
Bobby Portis should be ready to turn those freshman flashes into every-game occurrences as a sophomore. He passes the first-round eye test with his 6'10" size, 7'1.5" wingspan and baseline-to-baseline mobility.
And he has some nice skills to match the physical tools. Portis can score with his back to the rim or face up to attack and finish on the move.
And on occasion, he has shown some touch from outside as a shooter, although he'll need to improve his stroke moving forward.
He's also an active defender who blocked 1.6 shots per game last year—a number powered by his aggressiveness, athleticism and length.
There's a lot to like about Portis' game if he can put it all together.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Chris Walker, Florida, 6'10", PF, Sophomore
Ruled academically ineligible for most of his freshman year, Chris Walker will get his first real shot to showcase his athleticism and bounce inside.
At this point, his strengths center on finishing, shot blocking, rebounding and pick-and-roll defensive potential, but at 220 pounds, he's not overly strong or very skilled with the ball.
Still, expect Walker's role to expand dramatically as a sophomore, when scouts will get a much cleaner look at the former McDonald's All-American.
"He’s not going to be in the same situation he was last year," coach Billy Donovan told Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. "He is going to be thrust into a playing situation and he’s going to have to be responsible, reliable and accountable, and I thought last year that was a hard part for him."
23. Golden State Warriors: Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore
Dakari Johnson emerged as a solid interior presence for Kentucky as a freshman, giving the lineup an option to feed on the low block and a huge target around the rim.
It's not always pretty, but Johnson can score inside with his back to the basket or off offensive boards, dump passes and lobs.
This year, he'll need to show off a little more range as a scorer. Johnson leans a little bit too much on his size and strength. Adding a face-up game or short jumper would do wonders for his stock.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5", SG, Sophomore
Wayne Selden should be looking at a bigger workload as a sophomore with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid off to the pros.
Scouts are drawn to Selden's size and diesel 230-pound frame for a 2-guard, which he uses to plow through traffic and finish after contact.
He's also sharp in the open floor and around the rim, where his body control is spot on.
Selden needs to bump up that three-point number over 35 percent this season. And he'll ultimately need to become a bigger one-on-one threat with the ball. Still, he has some quality physical tools and attractive complementary-scoring potential.
25. Houston Rockets: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Sophomore
Andrew Harrison has done a nice job through three exhibition games in the Bahamas against international competition, showing an improved command of the offense as a floor general.
He also looks a little more explosive and lighter on his feet. He struggled last year as a finisher around the rim, where his lack of athleticism was somewhat exposed.
This season, he'll have to do a better job of setting the pace and picking his spots as a passer, driver and pull-up shooter.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Miami): A.J. Hammons, Purdue, 7'0", C, Junior
A.J. Hammons chose to return for his junior year, and there's a good chance his draft stock will benefit.
He might even have a little extra motivation this season with Purdue bringing in Isaac Haas, a top-100 recruit and 7'0" center.
Hammons can be physically overwhelming on the interior, thanks to his height and 280-pound frame. He shot 51.1 percent from the floor and blocked 3.1 shots per game last year, and he's shown off some soft touch in between around the key.
A more polished, conditioned Hammons could generate first-round looks in a weaker 2015 draft than last year's.
27. Indiana Pacers: Juwan Staten, West Virginia, 6'1", PG, Senior
Juwan Staten had a breakout year last season that went slightly under the radar. He averaged 18.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 boards on 48.6 percent shooting.
He also took 253 free throws—Staten is explosive, both off his first step and his last. Though undersized, he has the above-the-rim hops and burst that allow him to elevate over defenders.
Staten's stellar ball security should also be highlighted—he only averaged 2.1 turnovers per game despite dominating the ball.
The obvious hole in his game is shooting—he only hit six three-pointers all season last year. But that jumper could be the only thing standing between him and the 2015 first round.
28. Boston Celtics (via Clippers): Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8", PF, Junior
Alex Poythress has arguably been Kentucky's best player during its first four exhibition games in the Bahamas.
His motor appears charged to the max—he has been constantly making plays off the ball without needing his number called.
Putbacks, offensive rebounds, steals, blocks, backdoor alley-oops and cuts—that's Poythress' game, and it's worth targeting late in the first round.
As long as Poythress' motor stays revved throughout the year, he'll be in the conversation as a potential energy guy at the NBA level.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Norman Powell, UCLA, 6'4", SG, Senior
A steady two-way 2-guard who does everything pretty well, Norman Powell should see a heavier workload as a senior with Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine off to the pros.
He's a terrific athlete who glides down the floor and can explode off the bounce. Powell is at his best attacking the basket and getting out on the break, as he shot less than 30 percent from downtown in his second consecutive season.
Powell will need to have a better year shooting the ball, but between his defensive tenacity, developing offensive game and standout athleticism, he could attract NBA attention during what should be a breakout senior year.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Brice Johnson, North Carolina, 6'9", PF/C, Junior
Brice Johnson should be looking at a 20-plus-minute role for the first time at North Carolina.
Last year, he flashed his athleticism and bounce around the rim, along with the wheels that get him up and down the floor with ease.
In the paint, Johnson is active, having averaged 6.1 boards and 1.3 blocks in just 19.4 minutes per game.
As he gets more expected touches in the offense, scouts will tune in to see what he does with them against set defenses.
Johnson ultimately needs to become a bigger threat offensively, whether it means developing a mid-range jumper or expanding his repertoire in the post.