The NBA draft will begin tonight at 7:00pm eastern time zone. Below are my opinions on some of the players that are going to be selected in the first round. The categories are self-explanatory and reflect the potential I see in each player.
Possible Future Member of the Hall of Fame
1 Karl-Anthony Towns-PF/C-19 years old-Kentucky
Having watched Kentucky play several times this year, Town rarely stood out as a great NBA prospect. This had a lot to do with Kentucky having so many NBA prospects and needing to show case them all, and Town not being allowed to display all of his gifts. He is a center that can play power forward that weights 250 pounds and is 7 feet tall. What makes him special is that he can literally do everything. He can dominate players in the post, accurately pass the ball to open teammates, block the shot of any player going to the rim, and make mid-range and three-point shots. Sky is the limit for Towns’ potential and he could be the best player on a championship team.
Could Make Multiple All-Star Games
2 D’Angelo Russell-PG/SG-19 years old-Ohio State
With Curry winning the MVP and NBA championship, a player that is a great shooter and passer can dominate the league. While I don’t see Russell as a Curry level prospect, I do believe he will be a very good player in today’s NBA. Capable of playing point guard and shooting guard due to his ability to make shoots of the dribble, in catch-and-shoot situations, and find open teammates in any situation and make a beautiful pass. Russell struggled against good competition in college, but his teammates were terrible and he was doubled often. He is very left hand dominant, has average athleticism, and played bad defense, but he seems like a hard work that can improve his handle with his right hand and put more effort in defense.
3 Jahlil Okafor-C-19 years old-Duke
To be honest, I really do not want to like Okafor. It has nothing to do with him as a person, but I personally would not want to build around a low post only center, that plays bad defense, and is a 50 percent free throw shooter. With all of that said, it is hard to watch him play and not be impressed. He currently has more post moves and is a better passer than 90 percent of the centers in the NBA. I see no way he does not average at least 18 points per game. It is also possible he improves his defense with better conditioning and more effort. I’m not confident in him improving his free throw shooting, because bad free throw shooting centers Dwight Howard, Shaq, and DeAndre Jordan never did. Okafor is probably the least likely player to be a bust in this draft and is a lock to make at least one all-star game in his career.
4 Kristaps Porzingis-PF-19 years old-Latvia
Is he the next Dirk Nowitzki or Darko Milicic? The reality is that he is nether. Porzingis is a three-point shooting, 7-1 power forward, that weighs around 220 pounds, and is a great athlete. He is a prospect that will need time to develop his skills and is the biggest boom-or-bust pick in the draft. He is not a good passer, has a limited post game, must gain weight to survive in the NBA, and needs to improve his basketball IQ on defense and offense. If Porzingis does all of these things, he could be as good as Anthony Davis and Kevin Garnett.
5 Emmanuel Mudiay-PG-19 years old-Guangdong
An athletic point guard that can do everything but shoot. This is a description that could describe Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo, and John Wall. Of those three points guards, which one does Mudiay compare to? I think he is a poor man’s John Wall. He was one of the top rated players coming out of high school, but went back on his commitment to play at SMU to make over a million dollars playing a year in China. Mudiay can blow past defenders anytime he wants to and is a good passer. He is not as athletic as Wall or Russell Westbrook, but he should be a top 5 athlete at the point guard position. While his shooting in every facet in the game needs to improve, his shoot is not broken to the extent of Rondo or MCW. If he ever learns how to shoot, he can be one of the top players in the NBA.
6 Mario Hezonja-SG/SF-20 years old-Barcelona
The most athletic European prospect I have ever seen and one of the best shooters in the draft. Watch any video of him on YouTube, and I guarantee you’ll come away impressed. He does have two possibly major flaws. He has very limited dribble moves and he rarely gets to the free throw line as a result. His speed and athleticism should result in him getting easier shots and free throws, but until he learns some crossovers and ways to draw contract, he will only be an athletic jump shooter. The second issue is his arrogant personality. I originally thought this was a plus, but people that know more about him than me claim this to be a big issue. Hezonja doesn’t just annoy his opponents with his trash talk and brazen attitude, but has gotten on the nerves of his coaches and teammates. He could control the ball and take almost every shot on a team that has LeBron or Curry. If Hezonja can fix his ball handling and learn some humility, he could be a constant all-star.
7 Willie Cauley-Stein-C-21 years old-Kentucky
Looking for the next Tyson Chandler? A player that can cover the point guard or center in a pick-and-roll, be an elite rim protector, and is athletic enough to catch lobs on a fast break? Willie Cauley-Stein is the perfect no offense great defense center. There are some medical questions about his surgically repaired ankle, but he is a lock to be competing for defensive player of the year for many seasons, if he stays healthy.
8 Justise Winslow-SG/SF- 19 years old-Duke
If you watched any of the NCAA tournament, you could view Justise Winslow as the next Jimmy Butler. Winslow is athletic, a great defender, and a decent shooter. He shot 41 percent from the three-point line, but was a 64 percent free throw shooter. Winslow also struggled in games before the NCAA tournament, and benefited greatly from coach K’s decision to move him to power forward from small forward. At 6’5, Winslow is going to have to play shooting guard or be a short small forward, and took advantage of having slower power forwards trying to cover him. Most people would have Winslow ranked higher, but I personally see a good defender that can give his team a little offense that will never be a star.
9 Stanley Johnson-SF-22 years old-Arizona
The best way to describe Stanley Johnson’s potential is a sane Ron Artest. He is the ideal prototype for a 3-and-D player. Johnson is a good defender and a decent, but inconsistent, jump shooter. Johnson is athletic and physically imposing, but struggles to drive to the basket and finish with a dunk, layup, or shot.
10 Myles Turner-PF/C-19 years old-Texas
Turner had a disappointing season at Texas, but he has enough potential to be a steal in this draft. A shot blocker that has a good jump shot, Turner could be both stretch 4 or 5 and a rim protector. His post game is almost none existent and he might not be athletic enough to be a power forward. There are some health concerns, but they might not be a big deal. Turner is a boom-or-bust pick due to the hope that he will be a better NBA player than a college player, but he has the highest upside at this point in the draft.
11 Bobby Portis-PF-20 years old-Arkansas
The 2015 draft could be known as the undersized jump shooting power forward draft, because that could describe Portis along with several others. Portis is not a shot blocker, but is a good rebounder and defender. He is also a good mid-range shooter that can make open 3s. Lacks a post game and could struggle in the post against bigger power forwards.
12 Kelly Oubre-SG/SF-19 years old-Kansas
Kelly Oubre looks like an NBA all-star from a physical standpoint, but can easily be a bust based on his actual production. He was one of the top rated prospects out of high school, can shoot, and has the perfect body to be one of the top small forwards or shooting guards in the NBA. In college his coach Bill Self barely played him early in the season, and when he did play latter in the season, he was nowhere near the player he was projected to be. Oubre needs to improve his dribbling, work effort, defense, and his shot has a low release making it easier to block for players in the NBA. Oubre has a higher chance to be the next Dion Waiters than the next Paul George, but a great coach might be able to get through to him making him a potential steal in the draft.
Possible 6th Man
13 Frank Kaminsky-PF-22 years old-Wisconsin
Kaminsky is a good offensive player, but due to staying in college for four and questionable defense, I cannot put him in as a starter. Like so many power forwards in this draft, Kaminsky is a good shooter that can make 3s. Unlike other stretch power forwards in this draft, Kaminsky has a post game. He is not a very athletic player, but he does have quickness that might make him an average defensive player. The biggest problem with him is limited upside. It seems unlikely he improves much, and that makes him a good bench player.
14 Devin Booker-SG-18 years old-Kentucky
Booker is a great shooter and could be the next Kyle Korver. He cannot do more than shoot, but due to him being the youngest player in the draft, he might be able to improve more than other players with his limited skill set.
15 Cameron Payne
Many people think Payne can be the next Damian Lilard. A point guard from a small school that can do everything. Payne is a good passer, shooter, and ball handler. He has average athleticism and played against weak competition, so he could fail to replicate his college success at the pro level.
16 Trey Lyles
Lyles is a player I’m much lower on than most people. He has good athleticism and a decent shot, but he is a small forward/power forward hybrid, and this the type of player that might not become great at either position. He was the player that was probably hurt the most playing at Kentucky. In college he played small forward, but he is likely to be a power forward in the NBA. His ceiling is Paul Millsap and floor is Derrick Williams.
17 Sam Dekker
This might sound stereotypical to compare Dekker to fellow American white player in Gordon Hayward, but he is does seem like a poor man’s Hayward. I could be severely under rating Dekker, but his shot is too inconsistent for me to have much faith in him, and he has less time to fix it with him spending three years in college. He is mediocre at all traits and master of none, but could be a starter if he does become a great scorer or defender.
18 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Toney Allen has made a long NBA career as a player with zero offense and great perimeter defense, and Hollis-Jefferson can do the same thing. Hollis-Jefferson can be a better offensive player than Allen, because his athleticism will allow him to score more on fast breaks. Finals MVP Andre Iguodala showed the importance of having a good defender come off the bench.
19 Montrezl Harrell
An undersized power forward that is a great athlete and rebounder. He will not give the team anything more than hustle plays on offense, but getting a player with the potential of Tristan Thompson this late in the draft could be a steal.