Latest list expands to two rounds for the home stretch
POSTED: Jun 19, 2015 2:06 PM ET
Point guard D'Angelo Russell's skill set could be too good for the 76ers to pass up with the No. 3 pick.
The final week countdown to the 2015 NBA Draft has arrived with calculators needed to count the possible scenarios for the top half of the lottery alone, so many potential twists that the 2014 selections are still in play and that doctors may still have a say in what happens in the war rooms in 2015.
It will be in one location in particular -- Philadelphia -- and then the dominoes fall from there.
Does news that Joel Embiid, the No. 3 pick a year ago, suffered a setback in his recovery from a foot injury change what the 76ers were thinking for June 25? Probably not. Philly is in a bad enough spot in the standings that it will take the best on the board with the third pick, not make a decision as a response to the Embiid medical update.
Just for the sake of discussion, though: The projected offensive game of Latvia's Kristaps Porzingis next to the defense Nerlens Noel showed in his just-completed rookie season is a very good fit. Porzingis with Embiid and Noel expected to play in 2015-16 would have been enough of a traffic jam of big men that finding big minutes for all three was going to be a challenge. But power forward Porzingis complementing center Noel as Embiid needs more time to recover becomes more appealing.
Maybe the 76ers would be aiming for Porzingis anyway if Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor have gone 1-2 to the Timberwolves and Lakers. Maybe they have D'Angelo Russell rated ahead of Porzingis and any speculation about the Embiid factor is moot. Or maybe Minnesota takes Towns and the Lakers go Russell, a realistic outcome, and the Sixers are choosing between big men anyway, Okafor and Porzingis.
It's the perfect setup as the speculation at the top of the board enters the final days. The latest read as the mock expands to two rounds for the home stretch, in consultation with executives and scouts around the league:
Karl-Anthony Towns | Kentucky | C-PF | 7-0 | 250
While it is possible to see the appeal of Minnesota choosing Jahlil Okafor as the inside threat and counter-punch to Andrew Wiggins in the open court, teams expect the Timberwolves to go with Towns and his higher ceiling. Towns has a good chance to become more versatile than Okafor on offense and much better on defense. "He can be great," one general manager said. "I don't think he's scratched the surface."
Jahlil Okafor | Duke | C | 6-11 | 270
Picking Okafor over one of the guards, D'Angelo Russell or Emmanual Mudiay, would be a vote that the Lakers also believe 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle will develop a mid-range game. If he doesn't, L.A. would have two isolation players who need the ball inside, a traffic jam on offense. Beyond that, some teams, though not as many as during the college season, still see Okafor as the second-best prospect in the draft and bound for a long career as a post scorer, but mostly only from the post.
D'Angelo Russell | Ohio State | SG | 6-5 | 175
Yeah, the Embiid factor, plus some teams rating Porzingis as the better prospect. There is a strong case to be made for Porzingis. But Russell seems almost the perfect fit for a team that has gone heavily front court the last two drafts -- Noel, Embiid, Dario Saric -- and needs a lot of help in the backcourt as well. Rarely is there a guard with Russell's skill set of being able to beat teams with the shot or the pass.
Kristaps Porzingis | Spain | PF | 7-0 | 220
Prospect Highlights: Kristaps Porzingis
Watch some highlights and see why Kristaps Porzingis has been rated as a NBA draft prospect.
Emmanuel Mudiay will be very tempting, but Mudiay is not a great fit for Phil Jackson's triangle (although Jackson does like big point guards) and the Knicks need size. Although Porzingis needs to get stronger, no one in the draft matches his potential on offense, with range out to the arc as a 7-footer and the ability to put the ball on the floor. As a Latvian who has been playing away from home for years, in Spain's challenging ACB, he also has the emotional toughness to handle New York.
Justise Winslow | Duke | SF | 6-7 | 230
Winslow's two-way game is a very good fit for the roster being built on defense, even if Orlando re-signs Tobias Harris as a free agent. Winslow is a highlight-reel athlete who had big moments in the tournament after an inconsistent regular season. He can be a good shooter and a very good defender, all with a very high ceiling. The big question: Could the Magic go Emmanuel Mudiay a year after drafting Elfrid Payton or Willie Cauley-Stein a year after taking Aaron Gordon and look to trade down the line?
Emmanuel Mudiay | China | PG | 6-5 | 190
College Highlights: Emmanuel Mudiay
Watch some highlights and see why Emmanuel Mudiay has been rated as a NBA draft prospect.
The Kings being able to choose between Mudiay and Willie Cauley-Stein would be an ideal outcome. Both would fit needs, one a speed point guard for a team that wants to play fast and the other a defensive presence alongside DeMarcus Cousins who would be able to win games without taking shots from Cousins. Mudiay is the choice because he can defend at a high level and run an offense. The shot is the big question, but the Kings need a distributor more than a scorer.
Mario Hezonja | Spain | SG | 6-8 | 215
Prospect Highlights: Mario Hezonja
Watch some highlights and see why Mario Hezonja has been rated as a NBA draft prospect.
A welcome addition for a team that needs help on the perimeter. Hezonja, after years of being tracked by the NBA as a top prospect, turned 20 in February and remains as promising as ever. The native of Croatia can score in a variety of ways, including with range, has excellent size for the backcourt or good size for a potential move to small forward, athleticism, and experience against good competition.
Willie Cauley-Stein | Kentucky | C | 7-0 | 245
The very mobile Cauley-Stein next to Andre Drummond? No one would score inside on the Pistons. Plus, it protects against Greg Monroe's potential free-agent departure. Questions about his passion for the game will not go away, to the point that WCS himself is mentioning the criticism without being asked, but the special level of defense and athleticism could also push him into the top five. He will head into the draft with preparation unmatched from the college game: three seasons of experience in pressure situations, three seasons against top competition and, best of all, three seasons of Kentucky practices filled with future NBA players.
Stanley Johnson | Arizona | SF | 6-7 | 245
Don't rule out Devin Booker jumping into the to 10 -- Charlotte is that anxious for a shooter. Johnson provides some of that, at 37.1 percent from behind the arc last season, and the defense as a physical presence with power, speed and the body of a prototype small forward who may be capable of defending as a rookie. He might be physical enough right away to check some power forwards in a small lineup. The tipping-point question: Do the Hornets feel good enough about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's progress as a perimeter threat to feel Johnson or Kidd-Gilchrist can handle shooting guard on offense? Because no one will be drafted to play ahead of MKG.
Myles Turner | Texas | PF-C | 6-11 | 240
He has NBA size as a freshman. He also has a game. Turner can play inside on offense or defense, with the potential to become an impact shot blocker, and a shooting touch on a jumper with range. NBA teams would like to see more explosiveness. If they have seen it in recent workouts, Turner could inch up the board.
Cameron Payne | Murray State | PG | 6-2 | 180
Like his predecessor at Murray State, Isaiah Canaan, Payne has a very good feel for the game, a trait always particularly welcome in a point guard. Turning 21 before training camp opens may be a hit to his potential, but teams also see the maturity of someone with a chance to play backup minutes right away. Proving he can handle the pros without ideal strength is one of the keys to his career longevity.
Trey Lyles | Kentucky | PF | 6-10 | 250
Lyles has advanced skills for a freshman, with range on his jumper, a soft touch, and the kind of footwork others that size would hope to have after two or three years in college. Some big men have to grow into their body. Lyles looks as though he is already there at 19 years old. He played out of position a lot at Kentucky, at small forward to get on the court while the Wildcats also used big men Towns and Cauley-Stein, which was not ideal but did show he has a good feel for the game.
Frank Kaminsky | Wisconsin | PF | 6-11 | 245
First, the experience: Kaminsky had four years of facing good competition and a lot of pressure situations in the tournament, including as the best player on the team that came within minutes of a national championship. That will be attractive to a front office looking for an immediate contribution over a prospect who needs more time to develop. The college Player of the Year lacks strength, so defense could be a challenge, but he should be a good complementary player who can shoot, pass and put the ball on the floor.
Devin Booker | Kentucky | SG | 6-6 | 205
It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to imagine before the season Booker challenging for the team lead in scoring, before finishing one point off the pace of Aaron Harrison. But his perimeter game was that good, at 47 percent overall and 41.1 behind the arc while adding 82.8 percent from the line. He had one of the biggest climbs up the board in 2014-15 with the kind of shooting the NBA loves to see and good size for his position.
Kelly Oubre | Kansas | SF | 6-6 | 205
Oubre has the look of an NBA wing -- the height (though needing to fill out and get stronger), the athleticism, the ability to play in transition and above the rim. His shooting dropped off the second half of the season, all the way to becoming a non-factor in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. He needed a good postseason and didn't get one.
Sam Dekker | Wisconsin | SF | 6-9 | 230
Boston has been making a lot of calls in an attempt to trade into the top 10. Dekker was one of the stars of the tournament, even with the no-show in the championship game, but that was also after failing to show dependable three-point range most all regular season. It's tough to know which Dekker will end up in the pros. But with his size at small forward and the ability to put the ball on the floor, Dekker projects as a versatile offensive threat.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | Arizona | SF | 6-7 | 215
Hollis-Jefferson rebounded and blocked shots at a high rate for a wing, a good sign as part of his decision to return to Tucson for a sophomore season despite an impressive 2014 tournament. He has always played with that kind of energy. The key will be convincing front offices he has a consistent jump shot, but teams, including Milwaukee, understandably love the defense. The Bucks will also look at bigs, making Montrezl Harrell a possibility.
Montrezl Harrell | Louisville | PF | 6-8 | 230
Harrell continues to project to somewhere around the middle of the first round, about where he was headed in 2014 before returning to school. Other things have stayed the same as well. He remains a combination of athleticism and effort/energy NBA teams love, a Kenneth Faried-type, down to the position, who will generate wins with his work on the offensive boards and hustle everywhere.
Jerian Grant | Notre Dame | PG | 6-5 | 205
The return to the Fighting Irish after academic issues limited him to 12 games last season was a success. The fifth-year senior -- son of Harvey Grant, nephew of Horace, brother of 76er rookie Jerami -- generates offense, for teammates as a true point guard and for himself while continuing to improve as a shooter. Becoming a consistent three-point threat would be an important next step. No matter what, he is the example of when staying in school helps a prospect's stock.
Kevon Looney | UCLA | PF-SF | 6-9 | 220
The concern among front offices is that he is a tweener, albeit a fading concern in the new NBA. Looney turned 19 in February, so there is time to bulk up, and he is already very productive on the boards, gathering 9.2 rebounds in 30.9 minutes. He can handle power forward in that regard. Showing a hint of three-point range with limited opportunities is a nice look on the resumè. Looney, naturally, insists he can be successful at either position.
Tyus Jones | Duke | PG | 6-1 | 185
The lack of physical gifts teams prefer -- athleticism, size -- is a hit to the draft stock. But what a gifted distributor. Jones has great instincts, especially for a freshman, sees the court, plays at different speeds, and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.16-1 through Jan. 21. This is from the Tyler Ennis-Kendall Marshall book of playing with control, not flash. The starring role in the championship game was just a chance for more people to see it. The other reason Dallas would like Jones: He's not Rajon Rondo.
Delon Wright | Utah | PG | 6-5 | 190
Wright has size, can deliver the ball to the right place at the right time and defends, plus has the added value of being more NBA-ready than a lot of the players who will be picked before him. The two seasons in a major conference and two at a junior college will be a selling point to some front offices. The brother of Trail Blazer Dorell Wright was sixth in the Pacific 12 in blocks last season as a junior despite playing in the backcourt.
Justin Anderson | Virginia | SF-SG | 6-6 | 225
This is the Justin Anderson the NBA had waited to see. It took until his junior season, but Anderson added a three-point game to become a scoring threat, shooting 45.2 percent from behind the arc. That and his work on the other side of the ball makes him an ideal prospect -- 3-pointers and defense, a good combination for a wing.
Bobby Portis | Arkansas | PF | 6-11 | 230
Portis can fit in the stretch-four mold, someone who can make a shot with range (though not yet out to the three-point line) and pass. That's good. His presence on the court is even better. Portis has a nice feel for the game and plays with nonstop intensity.
R.J. Hunter | Georgia State | SG | 6-5 | 185
Hunter shot to public prominence in the NCAA tournament after helping Georgia State upset third-seeded Baylor in the first round, but front offices knew of him long before. That means they're also aware of the big drop on three-point percentage, from 39.5 in 2013-14 to 30.5 last season, and overall, from 44.4 to 39.5. Hunter said it's because defenses put so much energy into stopping him. The Grizzlies need to become more of a threat from behind the arc.
Christian Wood | UNLV | PF | 6-11 | 220
While the lack of muscle is an immediate concern, with the possibility he will add bulk in time, the NBA sees a lot of upside on offense in particular. Wood has range on his shot or can put the ball on the floor to get to the basket, part of the development of going from a small role as a freshman to a breakout 2014-15. He can handle well enough, in fact, that Wood is selling the potential of becoming a point forward in the Giannis Antetokounmpo mold.
Rashad Vaughn | UNLV | SG | 6-5 | 200
Vaughn can score from several spots on the floor, with decent three-point range and the ability to create to get inside. The Lakers' second pick is in the range of several power forwards and centers, so a big man is a possibility, whether they go center in the lottery or not. Choosing this late in the first round is when the tired adage of Best Player Available is almost always true. The conflict in this case is that the best player, talent-wise, is troubled center Robert Upshaw. He would be an interesting choice here.
Jarell Martin | LSU | PF | 6-10 | 242
He has good strength and plays hard, with the ability to out-run slower power forwards. The pros generally regard rebounding as a skill the mostly translates to the NBA, and Martin recorded 9.2 boards in 35.1 minutes an outing while also leading the Tigers in scoring. Adding to the appeal on offense, he has played more on the perimeter facing the basket (when LSU had Johnny O'Bryant last season) and inside (this season).
Cliff Alexander | Kansas | PF | 6-9 | 255
The NBA doesn't care that he has not played since Feb. 23 as the NCAA investigates the potential of extra benefits, unless there is a hint of a pattern of problems. On the court, Alexander is a tough, athletic big man with the potential to become an inside force while needing to develop a game beyond the restricted area. This is when limited experience, having only seriously played basketball since high school, works in his favor. Alexander can sell how far he has come in a relatively brief time and that his obvious passion on the court is a sign of his determination to get better.
Terry Rozier | Louisville | PG | 6-2 | 190
Rozier can get his shot in a variety of ways, from a mid-range game to scoring off the dribble and crashing the rim with athleticism. A few inches taller and he would be a solid candidate for the 20s as a shooting guard. At 6-foot-2 and with a scorer's game, he still has a chance to be picked late in the first round with expectations of becoming a combo guard helped by being paired with some size in the backcourt.
Nikola Milutinov | Serbia | PF | 7-0 | 225
Milutinov has the look of a draft-and-stash candidate who could get picked late in the first round and remain overseas while getting stronger. That lack of muscle means the NBA team will have to be patient, but with an end result that could be a nice payoff. Milutinov can already play above the rim, rebound and a developing perimeter game.
Dakari Johnson | Kentucky | C | 7-0 | 255
He's more not ready than most of the others who are not ready, but 7-footers who were major prospects coming into college two seasons ago will always intrigue the NBA. "I could see Dakari getting drafted in the first round just based on his size," one executive said. Playing behind Towns and Cauley-Stein, Johnson averaged 16.3 minutes as a sophomore.
Jordan Mickey | LSU | PF | 6-8 | 235
The combination of a college season as a rugged inside player followed by good workouts, especially at the Chicago combine, pushed turned Mickey into a late contender for the first round. While he will not out-muscle many NBA power forwards, Mickey has enough size and more than enough athleticism to project as a contributor on defense.
Chris McCullough | Syracuse | PF | 6-10 | 220
McCullough is unable to work out for teams while recovering from a torn knee ligament that ended his freshman season in January. But he has a very promising foundation of mobility for the position and the ability to play above the rim. That chance to impact in transition and play inside despite a lack of muscle, especially in rebounding, is a unique package that has turned him into a possibility for the first round.
Rakeem Christmas | Syracuse | PF-C | 6-10 | 245
Christmas, like McCullough, will need to show he can play beyond Syracuse's signature zone defense. But there is enough talent to possibly break into the first round, with the ability to play inside, especially on defense as a shot blocker. Already a good athlete, the next step is to get stronger.
Robert Upshaw | Washington | C | 7-0 | 260
Washington for part of the season, that is. Upshaw was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons, red flag enough except that he had previously been booted from Fresno State. Plus there was a heart ailment that forced him to curtail pre-draft workouts, a recurring problem that has not been serious enough to cause him to consider retirement. On talent, Upshaw is a clear first-round pick. Someone bites at some point.
Norman Powell | UCLA | SG | 6-4 | 215
Powell plays hard and fast all the time, an aggressive scorer who can excel in transition. That makes him a potential spark for the second unit. The problem is, that's the only consistent part of his offense, with his jump shot making occasional appearances but still inconsistent. Powell can also defend.
Guillermo Hernangomez | Spain | C | 6-11 | 255
The top international prospect at center, and the No. 2 big man from overseas behind only power forward Porzingis, Hernangomez is a skilled post player who won't blow anyone away but has the strength to play inside in the NBA, on both sides, and absorb contact. He can play with his back to the basket or handle pick-and-roll duty. It's the chance to add a rotation center in the second round, which doesn't happen often.
Anthony Brown | Stanford | SF | 6-8 | 210
Two seasons of big minutes has answered the health question after a serious hip injury. That would have been enough of an accomplishment. In the same junior and senior seasons, though, a big jump in three-point accuracy turned Brown into one of the best long-distance threats in the draft. The range plus the experience of four years in a major conference plus good size equals a chance to make the end of the first round.
Michael Frazier | Florida | SG | 6-4 | 200
Frazier is slightly undersized for a shooting guard, but the counter is that he can be a very good perimeter threat, and with range. That will always be valued in the NBA, even if Frazier is coming off a difficult season of struggling against extra defensive attention along with a sprained ankle. He is the kind of tireless worker coaches love.
Richaun Holmes | Bowling Green | PF | 6-10 | 245
Being named the defensive player of the year in the Mid-American as well as all-conference overall kept him in front of NBA scouts, Holmes' biggest move came after the season with a standout performance at the Portsmouth Invitational. With his size and athleticism, he can become a good defender, especially as a shot blocker.
Cedi Osman | Turkey | SF | 6-8 | 190
A project because he needs to fill out and improve his shot, but an intriguing one. Osman is nonstop energy, the kind of hustle player that fans in North America will appreciate as he transitions to the next level, perhaps after another season or two overseas. There is also enough talent that he was named MVP of the 2014 under-20 European championships.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh | France | C | 6-11 | 250
Prospect Profile: Mouhammadou Jaiteh
Get to know NBA Draft prospect Mouhammadou Jaiteh.
Jaiteh said he is fully committed to being in the NBA next season after putting his name in the draft the previous two years only to withdraw from consideration, including after several team workouts in 2014. He will be a physical presence who may be able to rebound right away, but while lacking a great feel for the game in many other areas.
Olivier Hanlan | Boston College | PG | 6-4 | 190
Prospect Profile: Olivier Hanlan
Get to know NBA Draft prospect Olivier Hanlan.
Another in what has become a regular flow of Canadians into the NBA, Hanlan can become a contributing combo guard because of his size, scoring instincts, and experience handling the ball. He is the first Boston College player to make first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference since Reggie Jackson in 2011.
J.P. Tokoto | North Carolina | SF-SG | 6-6 | 200
Prospect Profile: J.P. Tokoto
Get to know NBA Draft prospect J.P. Tokoto.
Focus is a question, but Tokoto is a major athlete with the potential to become a very good defender, the same explosiveness that may allow him to play some in the front court at 6-foot-6 and rebound well for his position. His shooting is the obvious concern after making just 42.8 percent of his attempts last season and 61.5 percent of the free throws.
Andrew Harrison | Kentucky | PG | 6-6 | 215
Harrison played better as a sophomore than 2013-14 as a freshman, despite a drop in minutes as a concession to the loaded Kentucky roster, a needed boost to his draft stock after initially failing to come close to reaching expectations. He will not be able to rely much on physically dominating opponents in the NBA, but has become more mature and better understands getting others involved.
Aaron White | Iowa | PF | 6-9 | 220
A smart, hard-working, experienced prospect who is not great in any area but does a lot of things well. White will beat a lot of big men down court and then be capable of scoring or facilitating. He hits the boards and takes advantage of being fouled by making free throws at a high rate. If the senior gets stronger, his chances of sticking in the NBA go up.
Arturas Gudaitis | Lithuania | C | 6-10 | 255
Gudaitis has strength and moves well, a good starting point for a center. He has a relatively low ceiling, but may be able to score inside in the NBA.
Daniel Diez | Spain | SF | 6-8 | 215
He had a promising starting point -- good athleticism, the ability to score in different ways, great energy. Then Diez improved a lot in 2014-15, becoming more than a prospect for the highest levels of Europe. The NBA is a possibility, though maybe not right away, especially if the gains of last season are part of a continued upward trajectory.
Jonathan Holmes | Texas | PF-SF | 6-9 | 240
The key will be whether he can continue to develop a perimeter game, something Holmes has worked on while gaining the valuable experience of four seasons in a major program. For now, he mixes the quickness of running the floor with the strength of being a willing worker on the boards.
Alan Williams | UC Santa Barbara | PF | 6-8 | 260
Boundless energy and a physical presence is a good combination. Williams collects rebounds -- 11.8 in 32.6 minutes last season -- because he knows how to use his wide body and refuses to be outworked. That in itself is a good starting point for making the team as a longshot.
Larry Nance, Jr. | Wyoming | PF | 6-9 | 230
Nance -- the son of former Suns and Cavaliers forward -- is a versatile offensive threat who scored inside and from the perimeter in college while drawing a lot of fouls and making good passes. Continuing to develop his three-point shot and becoming an option as a stretch four would greatly help his case to make a team.
Tyler Harvey | Eastern Washington | SG | 6-4 | 180
Harvey proved to be a lethal perimeter threat while fighting off heavy attention from defenses, scoring from behind the arc and creating his own shot off the bounce. He led Division I in scoring and three-pointers. Defending shooting guards will be a challenge.
Joseph Young | Oregon | PG-SG | 6-2 | 180
Young could become a dependable reserve combo guard, especially if paired with a bigger guard who can handle the shooting guard on defense. Offensively, Young has a jump shot with range and a passing gear to get around defenders or play in transition. His leadership skills also improved a lot as a senior.
Pat Connaughton | Notre Dame | SG | 6-5 | 215
Connaughton was a fourth-round pick of the Orioles in 2014 and spent last summer with Baltimore's Class A short-season team with a $400,000 signing bonus, but he has made it clear to all concerned that making the NBA is a priority. In basketball, he is a three-point threat and such a competitor that he averaged 7.4 rebounds last season at 6-5.
Brandon Ashley | Arizona | PF | 6-9 | 230
Ashley does not have three-point range, but his athleticism and ability to score facing the basket is a good fit for the new direction of NBA power forwards. The experience of three seasons at a top program also helps.
Vince Hunter | Texas El Paso | PF | 6-8 | 210
The combination of an elite athlete and an aggressive offensive threat makes for an interesting longshot possibility. Hunter needs to get stronger to last. But if the physical tools and intensity translates at the next level, he will continue to rebound as well.
Quinn Cook | Duke | PG | 6-2 | 180
His intangibles -- leadership, composure, experience after four seasons and long tournament runs with a program under a constant spotlight -- are off the charts. That alone might get him drafted by a team looking for a hassle-free fifth guard. But Cook is smart with the ball and has become a good three-point threat who played off the ball a lot in 2014-15 after the arrival of Tyus Jones at point guard.
Michael Qualls | Arkansas | SG | 6-5 | 200
Qualls suffered a big hit when he a tore a knee ligament in a workout with the Suns, an injury that is expected to sideline him six to 12 months. He uses elite athleticism and a passion to play to defend, crash the boards and get to the line, improving his free-throw percentage each of his three years in school. But he is not a consistent shooter from the perimeter and has almost no three-point range. If he can develop so much as a mid-range game, there is a chance to make an impact as long as the recovery goes well.
Terran Petteway | Nebraska | SG-SF | 6-6 | 210
Petteway can get his shot, whether on a catch and shoot or creating off the dribble, allowing him to capitalize when Nebraska told him his role was to score. That would still be the case in the pros, but he will need to make better decisions with the ball and be more than a volume scorer.
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