The wait is over…the 2015 NBA Draft is here. Coverage kicks off at 7:00 ET on ESPN, so we are just a few hours away from learning the fates of tomorrow’s stars. Top prospects like Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor & D’Angelo Russell are along the few potential All-Stars from this class but there is lots of talent throughout.
But how will it all shake out? Well, we’ve got you covered on what to expect on this eventful night of trades, surprises and everything in between. Starting with our Big Board (top 60) and ending with our final Mock Draft, there’s plenty of material to prepare you for the main event!
“#DOFGAME Big Board”
“Head of the Pack”
1. Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
2. Jahlil Okafor (Duke)
3. D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State)
4. Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)
5. Emmanuel Mudiay (Congo)
6. Mario Hezonja (Croatia)
7. Justise Winslow (Duke)
8. Stanley Johnson (Arizona)
9. Willie Trill Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
10. Myles Turner (Texas)
11. Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
12. Kelly Oubre Jr. (Kansas)
13. Cameron Payne (Murray State)
14. Devin Booker (Kentucky)
15. Bobby Portis (Arkansas)
16. Trey Lyles (Kentucky)
17. Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
18. Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
19. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona)
20. Tyus Jones (Duke)
“Make ‘Em Pay”
21. Justin Anderson (Virginia)
22. Kevon Looney (UCLA)
23. Delon Wright (Utah)
24. Rashad Vaughn (Louisville)
25. Christian Wood (UNLV)
26. Jarell Martin (LSU)
27. RJ Hunter (Georgia State)
28. Terry Rozier (Louisville)
29. Guillermo Hernangomez (Spain)
30. Chris McCullough (Syracuse)
“In the Race”
31. Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)
32. Robert Upshaw (Washington)
33. Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
34. Cedi Osman (Macedonia)
35. Jordan Mickey (LSU)
36. Joseph Young (Oregon)
37. Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse)
38. Jonathan Holmes (Texas)
39. Nikola Milutinov (Serbia)
40. Anthony Brown (Stanford)
41. Michael Frazier II (Florida)
42. Andrew Harrison (Kentucky)
43. Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France)
44. Richaun Holmes (Bowling Green)
45. Arturas Gudaitis (Lithuania)
46. Cliff Alexander (Kansas)
47. Olivier Hanlan (Boston College)
48. JP Tokoto (UNC)
49. Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)
50. Norman Powell (UCLA)
51. Travis Trice (Michigan State)
52. Vince Hunter (UTEP)
53. Josh Richardson (Tennessee)
54. Aaron White (Iowa)
55. Julian Washburn (UTEP)
56. Michael Qualls (Arkansas)
57. Satnam Singh (IMG Academy via India)
58. Daniel Diez (Spain)
59. Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming)
60. Quinn Cook (Duke)
“Doggy Bag (News & Notes)”
-There have been a whirlwind of deals (and rumors) over the past 48 hours. So far, notable players such as Lance Stephenson, Nicolas Batum & Gerald Henderson have all switched teams, signaling an array of moves on the horizon.
DeMarcus Cousins is the HUGE star supposedly on the block but the Kings would be absolutely foolish to depart with their best player since Chris Webber in the early millennium. So, even though the Lakers will put all hands on deck to acquire Cousins, expect him to stay put for the near future.
Also, the Knicks are keen on moving back in the draft to select either Kentucky’s Trey Lyles or Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. Boston could be a potential suitor, as they hold the 16th and 28th picks of the first round.
-Willie Cauley-Stein & Kevon Looney are two prospects whose stocks have fallen in recent weeks. Cauley-Stein reportedly has a fort injury that could sideline him through the start of next season and questions surrounding Looney’s work ethic and NBA position are not going away.
It will be interesting to see if either of them takes a nosedive into the first round.
-The Sixers are the real wild cards of this draft. With the 3rd overall selection and FIVE second-rounders, they might potentially trade a pick, or two, to teams looking to buy into the draft (LA Clippers) or can package to move up late into the first round.
Stockpiling as many assets as possible is GM Sam Hinkie’s strategy, so look for the Sixers to maximize their leverage.
Frank Kaminsky will be selected before Willie Cauley-Stein. With Charlotte’s recent trades, they are “attaching” themselves to Kaminsky in the 9th spot. Though he and Al Jefferson would be a dumpster fire defensively, Frank is a stretch four that the Hornets sorely lack.
Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison will NOT be among the 60 players drafted. Aaron, the less heralded of the Harrison twins, has struggled in workouts and underwhelmed down the stretch for the Wildcats in the tourney. His route to the NBA will begin in the Summer League.
There will be 7 or more trades. Seven might seem like a high number but with free agency around the corner, teams are either fighting to clear cap space or gather assets for a run at some of the league’s marquee names.
“Don’t Schleep: First-Round UnderDOGS”
As we profiled earlier in the month, this class has no shortage of impact players that will be chosen later on in the draft. For a full-list of our favorite second round (and beyond) prospects, check it out here!
In the meantime, here are a few overlooked guys who have the potential of developing into UnderDOGS. This time around, we’ve included first-round prospects!
1. Rashad Vaughn (UNLV): Vaughn, more of a throwback two-guard, is rocketing up the first round and could find himself in the lottery before it is all said and done. As the second-youngest player in the field, he has a high ceiling as a scorer and defender.
If you need someone to flat-out get buckets, Vaughn is the guy.
2. Terry Rozier (Louisville): Rozier is more of a combo guard than pure point but starred in an increased role after Chris Jones’s dismissal from the Cards. He isn’t a knockdown shooter but will be able to come in off the bench and create instant offense for a team.
3. Jerian Grant (Notre Dame): Pedigree aside (father: Harvey and uncle: Horace both played key roles in the league), Grant has all of the tools to be a successful NBA player: extremely high character and work ethic, great size for the PG position (6’4), and a nice feel in the P&R. Teams who covet a floor general in the second unit, like Washington, Chicago and Dallas, would love to have Grant run the show.
4. Bobby Portis (Arkansas): Bobby Portis might not be an All-Star but he will be an important piece to a very good team. He has a high motor, can rebound through traffic and is an improving distance shooter.
Portis is slated to go anywhere from 12-22, with teams like Milwaukee, Boston & Atlanta as strong possibilities.
5. Jarell Martin (LSU): Martin is an explosive athlete but we love him because he is highly confident and is a versatile scoring threat. Although he’s a tweener who struggles to defend, Martin could easily average 12-15 ppg in a couple of years.
“NBA DRAFT DRINKING GAME”
Much like many other high-profile spectacles, the NBA Draft is FULL of cliches and common themes that occur each year. From sleeper picks, to game-breaking deals to international surprises, there’s intrigue all around. Here’s a “fun” way follow along throughout the night!
-You hear the phrase, “Man of Mystery”
-Jalen Rose mispronounces a prospect’s name
-Jay Bilas is irate whenever a productive college player falls
-You see a god-awful draft suit…like this one!
1 Shot Everytime…
-Chris Broussard says, “I was told”
-The camera cuts away to a disapproving Knicks fan
-A prospect is deemed as “red-flagged”
-Fran Fraschilla says an international player is “two years away from being two years away”
-A coach/GM awkwardly dances around a player they just acquired (and subsequently cannot comment on)
“The First 14”
1. Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman): Since winning the Lottery back in May, not much has changed for the Wolves, who are expected to nab Towns as the number one pick. He is an excellent fit as a potential franchise center and can grow for years to come with Andrew Wiggins & Zach LaVine.
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
2. Jahlil Okafor (Duke, C, Freshman): Throughout all of the trade speculation and hooplah surrounding LA’s pick, they won’t, and shouldn’t, overthink it. Okafor is the best low-post big to enter the draft in quite some time and will be a double-double threat from Day 1.
NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson
3. D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State, PG/SG, Freshman): The draft truly starts here, in the hands of the trigger-happy 76ers. If Russell falls, he can both score and captain the ship for many, many years and has the type of upside that could harvest into multiple All-Star appearances.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy
4. Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia, PF/C, International): Falling to number 4 is not as damning as it seems for New York. Porzingis, much like Towns, Okafor and Russell, is a potential All-Star due to his immense skill set. That said, this pick could be in play as Phil Jackson targets Kentucky’s Trey Lyles and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky.
NBA Comparison: Andrei Kirilenko (better upside)
5. Justise Winslow (Duke, SF, Freshman): Under GM Rob Henigan, Orlando has drafted athletic defenders in hopes of them developing offense down the road. Staying with that mindset, Winslow plugs in perfectly as a defensive-minded 3 man with an ever-growing offensive arsenal.
NBA Comparison: Jimmy Butler
6. Emmanuel Mudiay (Congo, PG, International): The Kings desperately need a point guard and would be elated if Mudiay drops to 6. He is a highly coachable and a standout athlete with a great feel for the position.
NBA Comparison: John Wall
7. Mario Hezonja (Croatia, SG/SF, International): Hezonja has the swag and raw talent to turn into an All-Star, which the Nuggets have lacked since Carmelo Anthony. Look for them to swing for the fences with their latest lottery pick.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Fernandez
8. Devin Booker (Kentucky, SG, Freshman): As Klay Thompson demonstrated in the Finals (and during the 2014-15 campaign), a lights-out shooting guard is game-changer. Although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope occupies the position, you can never have enough shooting, which is Booker’s specialty.
NBA Comparison: Klay Thompson
9. Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin, PF/C, Senior): Kaminsky has risen as of late and figures to call Charlotte his next home following their recent deals. Michael Jordan and co. are enamored with the All-American’s leadership, floor spacing and basketball IQ.
NBA Comparison: Kelly Olynyk
10. Stanley Johnson (Arizona, SF, Freshman): The Miami Heat are a very talented bunch. If they stay healthy and retain Hassan Whiteside, a 2016 playoff berth is almost a cinch. Adding Johnson gives them a tough-minded forward with upside on the perimeter.
NBA Comparison: Ron Artest
11. Willie Trill Cauley-Stein (Kentucky, C, Junior): Cauley-Stein’s slide should end here, as the Pacers are ready to move on from the ever-inconsistent Roy Hibbert. WCS is the MOST versatile defender in the draft and could man the middle in Indiana for 10-15 years.
NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler
12. Myles Turner (Texas, PF/C, Freshman): Utah played excellent towards the end of the season as a defensive-minded, equal opportunity squad. Though they would have loved for Kaminsky to fall, Turner is a raw big with a sweet shooting touch.
NBA Comparison: LaMarcus Aldridge (BEST CASE)/Meyers Leonard
13. Trey Lyles (Kentucky, PF, Freshman): Phoenix could go a number of ways here, including trading out of the first round. If they keep the pick, Lyles gives them another inside presence to complement Alex Len and the Morris twins.
NBA Comparison: Carlos Boozer/Noah Vonleh
14. Cameron Payne (Murray State, PG, Sophomore): There’s a reason why OKC is a perennial contender when healthy: they draft extremely well. Payne is a nice change of pace guard who will be able to spell Russell Westbrook, or play next to him, in year 1.
NBA Comparison: George Hill
“Playoff Teams & Contenders (plus the Lakers)”
15. Bobby Portis (Arkansas, PF, Sophomore): We love Portis’s game and feel it will translate extremely well to the next level. Though Atlanta features a gluttony of “bigs,” they need more size. Portis has a nice range to his jumper and is relentless on the boards.
NBA Comparison: Terrence Jones
16. Sam Dekker (Wisconsin, SF, Junior): The Celtics are not far off from contention…and this draft is an important step for them to build the roster. It would be an absolute steal if Dekker plummets to Boston at 16. With a nice perimeter game and impressive athleticism, he should have no trouble getting buckets in Brad Stevens’ offense.
NBA Comparison: Chandler Parsons/Caron Butler
17. RJ Hunter (Georgia State, SG, Junior): The Bucks have a surplus of athletes on the roster. Now, the onus is on finding more guys who can, you know, actually put the ball in the basket. Hunter is a big guard (6’6) who can stroke it from deep and fits nicely with Michael Carter-Williams (6’6), Jabari Parker (6’9), Giannis Antetokoumnpo (6’11) and, free-agent-to-be, Khris Middleton (6’8).
NBA Comparison: JJ Redick
18. Tyus Jones (Duke, PG, Freshman): The Rockets are very deep but lack many set up men on the roster. Patrick Beverly is a defensive star who struggles making plays, Nick Johnson is a combo guard, and Jason Terry & Pablo Prigioni have a combined age of 75. Jones, the M.O.P. of the NCAA Tournament, lacks size but is a floor general with a knack for making clutch plays.
NBA Comparison: Trey Burke
19. Kevon Looney (UCLA, PF, Freshman): The Wizards have a pretty nice roster, so they are afforded the luxury of taking someone like Looney, who’s stock has fallen due to a lack of a true position. Down the line, he and Otto Porter could provide tremendous support (on both ends) for John Wall and Brad Beal.
NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom
20. Justin Anderson (Virginia, SG/SF, Junior): The Raptors were the biggest disappointment of the 2015 Playoffs. They were exposed as a soft team with holes across the roster. Lacking wing depth, Anderson is a “3 & D” guy who should supplant Terrence Ross as the starting small forward by midseason.
NBA Comparison: Jeff Taylor
21. Kelly Oubre Jr. (Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman): Oubre Jr. could EASILY be the best wing in the entire draft 5 years from now. But without a refined game and concerns about his nonchalant attitude, it’s impossible to project where he will end up. Dallas needs to get younger and more athletic and they can reign in Kelly under Rick Carlisle’s disciplined regime.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gay
22. Jerian Grant (Notre Dame, PG, Senior): The Bulls will go one of three ways here: draft a PG, draft a SF, or trade out. The Bulls have to take some pressure off of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, so a shot creator is a necessity. Grant is fearless, NBA-ready, can make plays on both ends and is an immediate upgrade over both Aaron Brooks and the “Gritfather,” Kirk Hinrich.
NBA Comparison: Greivis Vasquez (more athletic)
23. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona, SF, Sophomore): With the Nicolas Batum trade yesterday, the Blazers find themselves without a small forward. RHJ needs to prove he can knock down shots but can lockdown 3 positions from the jump.
NBA Comparison: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Andre Roberson
24. Christian Wood (UNLV, PF, Freshman): The Cavs made the Finals despite a full roster. Wood could excel in transition next to LeBron James (who wouldn’t??) and Kyrie Irving and is insurance if Kevin Love and/or Tristan Thompson leaves in free agency.
NBA Comparison: Brandan Wright (better upside)
25. Rashad Vaughn (UNLV, SG, Freshman): The Runnin’ Rebels will have back-to-back draftees, as Vaughn makes a ton of sense for Memphis. The Grizzlies STILL can’t score and although Vaughn struggled with his shot selection as a freshman, he is a premiere bucket-getter who could turn heads next year.
NBA Comparison: Jeremy Lamb/Ricky Ledo
26. Guillermo Hernangomez (Spain, C, International): San Antonio will stay “international” with Hernangomez, a skilled big who prefers to bang and play on the interior. He likely won’t come stateside for a couple of seasons, however.
NBA Comparison: Joffrey Lauvergne
27. Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse, PF, Senior): Los Angeles has eight potential free agents coming off the books this summer. After adding Okafor early on in the draft, Christmas, a late riser, is a nice complement with his “multiple effort” style and (now) consistent 15-footer.
NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson
28. Chris McCullough (Syracuse, SF/PF, Freshman): The C’s likely won’t keep both first round picks but if they do, they will take a flier on a guy like McCullough, who can be eased into the NBA lifestyle at a slower pace.
NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas
29. Delon Wright (Utah, PG, Senior): Wright, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, might not even last this long. The long-armed, playmaker from Los Angeles can learn under Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack for a couple of seasons before assuming full-time duties.
NBA Comparison: Shaun Livingston
30. Terry Rozier (Louisville, PG, Sophomore): Despite winning the NBA Finals, the champs could use another guard to take pressure off of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Rozier can play both spots effectively and will be able to score with the best of them.
NBA Comparison: Norris Cole
NEXT UP (in no particular order): Jarell Martin (LSU), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Robert Upshaw (Washington), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Cliff Alexander (Kansas), Joseph Young (Oregon), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Dakari Johnson (Kentucky), Nikola Milutinov (Serbia), Cedi Osman (Macedonia), Olivier Hanlan (Boston College), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France), JP Tokoto (UNC), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Norman Powell (UCLA), Richaun Holmes (Bowling Green), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Anthony Brown (Stanford)