Tomorrow is the big day and rumors are flying. While some of the rumors may end up coming to fruition, plenty of teams are putting out smoke screens, and spreading rumors. A strong BS detector is paramount in order to sift through the false information. As with every year, just a few small trades or unexpected picks will set off the dominos (picks), in an unpredictable order. Here is our last stab at a first round projection, with notes.
|1.||Karl-Anthony Towns 7-0 250 C Kentucky Fr.||While Kentucky fell short of a National Title, Towns grew up, taking over as the team’s go to scorer. He willed the team into the Final Four with his late game heroics against Notre Dame. He is also very cerebral, showing a strong feel for the game along with leadership and a competitive streak when he gets challenged. With nice passing ability, he possesses a multidimensional skill set. Towns is especially intriguing considering the premium NBA teams put on bigs with the ability to knock down outside shots. He’s not as ready to contribute as Okafor, but he is a stronger defender and outside shooter, making many consider him the superior long term prospect. Towns finished the season strong with a number of impressive tournament performances. He needs to continue to add lower body strength, but his tremendous length and instincts give him potential as a rim protector. Late in the season he surpassed Okafor on many team’s boards, and now is the favorite to go first.
Why Minnesota takes Towns: The Timberwolves are not making it public but appear to have decided on their guy, the player we projected going first going into the college season. Minnesota is not expected to reveal their decision until the pick is read by Adam Silver. Towns has the ability to play on both ends, not to mention he fills a need for Minnesota. Despite Flip Saunders being a huge fan of Okafor, his superior mobility, defense and overall potential makes him Towns choice.
NBA Comparison: Andrew Bogut
||Jahlil Okafor 6-11 270 C Duke Fr.||Okafor was considered a strong favorite to be the top pick by scouts and pundits for much of the season. He struggled in the final month and in particular the tournament. He’s still considered a possibility to go first but Towns has become the clear favorite. While he’s a below the rim player, his ability to use his strength to clear space for shots, a la Al Jefferson makes him a highly effective post player. His body control is outstanding and it makes him a very good athlete despite the lack of great leaping ability. His footwork and ability to use fakes and body control make him an offensive nightmare for opponents. He possesses an enormous (7-foot-5) wingspan which allows him to play bigger than his height and grab rebounds. While many feel he lacks the upside of Towns, his body of work and ability to contribute from day one are favorable. He should end up a very good NBA center, with a chance to be a dominant one at the offensive end.
Why LA Lakers take Okafor: Okafor has become the highly probable choice at 2, and while the league has certainly shifted, becoming more lead guard dominated, bigs retain a lot of value just because of the scarcity of high level ones. The emergence of Jordan Clarkson as one of the top rookies and the team’s potential PG of the future probably makes this pick easier. Okafor and Towns both have top 3-5 center in the league potential.
NBA Comparison: Brook Lopez
||D'Angelo Russell 6-4 195 PG/SG Ohio St. Fr.||Russell was the most productive and exciting freshmen in the country. His feel for the game and readiness is extremely advanced. He generally doesn’t blow by opponents off the dribble with sheer speed, though at times he did, but his craftiness to rock opponents off balance to create space is very good. He’s proven to be an excellent 3 point shooter, showing the ability to get shots off very quickly as well. While he’s not an elite athlete, his excellent length and potential to play either guard position gives him a great deal of intrigue. He’ll need to focus more attention on his defensive intensity. With Steph Curry taking the world by strong in his MVP level season, players with less athleticism like Russell receive a boost.
Why Philly takes Russell: Russell worked out for the Sixers and while he didn’t blow the doors off, he was solid and remains the likely pick. Kristpas Porzingis has also been linked to this pick, but we consider the team’s backcourt need will ultimately dictate the pick. Russell’s shooting ability is what gives him the edge over the stronger and more athletic Mudiay for them. If the Lakers shock everyone and take Russell, Philly is expected to draft Okafor here.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy
||Emmanuel Mudiay 6-5 190 PG Congo 1996||An elite level PG with the dynamic talent to to be in the category of PGs such as Derrick Rose, John Wall and Damian Lillard. He has a terrific feel for the game, and will just need to learn to become more composed with his decision making and shot selection. His decision to bypass college and play in China where very few scouts and GMs saw him adds an unfamiliarity that will be tough to overcome. Teams have a much smaller sample size to work with, and that could ultimately make him slide (to 4 or 5) and potentially become the steal of the draft. Dante Exum was an even greater unknown going into last year’s draft, but that leap of faith appears to be working out for Utah, which helps Mudiay’s cause. He stood out in the showcase events that scouts were allowed to attend at the end of his high school career. And many viewed him, us included, as the top prospect in the class. Although he missed a good portion of the season in China due to an ankle injury, when he did play he was impressive. Some aspects of his skill set are nearly impossible to discern from his games there, including defense, but he has good defensive ability and potential. What makes him such an intriguing prospect is his fiery and competitive nature. Mudiay has great confidence, communicates well and loves to compete.
Why New York takes Mudiay: Mudiay has good size at the PG position which works well in the triangle. Despite Phil Jackson missing his workout, Kristaps Porzingis remains a real possibility with the Knicks if they decide to swing for the fences with a sweet shooter with great length and mobility. There’s also the chance someone else moves up to 4 targeting "Zinger". Trey Lyles has been linked to New York, as Phil Jackson gushed over him, but would only make sense from a value perspective if they were to trade down 4-5 spots. If a trade happens, a team could move up for one of the Euros. And don’t rule out Winslow as the pick for New York at 4.
NBA Comparison: John Wall
||Kristaps Porzingis 7-1 220 PF Latvia 1995||Porzingis had a terrific season, putting up 10 ppg. While his rebounding numbers could have been better (4 rpg), he is well liked by most European scouts, and has stated a case to be a top 5 pick. He combines both great length and athleticism with a soft touch on his shot. What he’s missing right now is the body strength to handle NBA athletes. If he can fill out and become respectable strength wise, similar to a Pau Gasol, he can have a very solid career in the league. He’s got narrow shoulders, and there is concern among scouts that strength will always be his Achilles and keep him from realizing his potential. Also of note, no Latvian player has made it big in the NBA yet, as top 10 pick Andris Biedrins was a big hope but failed to live up to expectations after free throw shooting derailed his confidence. Porzingis has a lot of believers and has jumped to the front of this year’s European crop. Look for him to grab a spot in the first 5-6 picks.
Why Orlando takes Porzingis: Many scouts in Europe see "Zinger" as a no brainer top 5 pick. He has a diverse skill set, and great length and would bring a much needed shooter to a line up of defensive minded players. The Magic need talent, and Porzingis offers a player who if he adapts to American culture and the strength of the NBA game can be an offensive standout. This is a match made in heaven, and an environment (smaller market, lower expectations, more patient fan base) that would likely give Porzingis his best opportunity to fulfill his potential.
NBA Comparison: Pau Gasol
||Justise Winslow 6-6 222 SG/SF Duke Fr.||Winslow is one of the top athletes in this year’s draft with an NBA body at 19 years of age plus great explosiveness and speed. He experienced some ups and downs like most freshmen, but his skill level proved better than advertised. He’s got a solid shooting touch, granted his shot still needs work. He’s got elite level defensive ability and a great NBA body. He’s incredibly fast off the dribble and has really impressed with his ability to finish plays while operating at a high rate of speed in the open floor. Where the question marks still exist are his consistency and assertiveness. While he’s probably a risky pick, due to having an unrefined skill set, he has upside that few can match.
Why Sacramento takes Winslow: If the top 5 goes as expected (in some order), this pick is likely to come down to Winslow or Hezonja. The assumption that Vlade is more likely to take a European player may or may not be the case. The team has taken 2-guards in each of the past two drafts, so Winslow as a SF seems to make more sense. Then again it’s a new regime and rumors have suggested the team is shopping McLemore and Stauskas. If Mudiay were to slide, he would be a tremendous value at 6. Mario Hezonja remains a real possibility here as well.
NBA Comparison: Kawhi Leonard
||Mario Hezonja 6-8 215 SG Croatia 1995||"Ha-zon-yuh", gazuntite!, has long been a highly coveted prospect in Europe due to his standout athleticism, but struggled to develop steady PT and consistency over the past few seasons with injuries and off court distractions. He finally gained consistent minutes this season and has produced. With a strong finish to the season, Hezonja could challenge Porzingis to be the first European off the board. He’s the most athletic 2-guard out of Europe in over a decade and shows a flare for making highlight plays.
Why Denver takes Hezonja: The Nuggets need to swing for the fences with the player they view having the greatest chance to be a star. Hezonja fits that. He’s got an heir of confidence and truly believes that he’s the best player in this draft. His shooting is legitimately among the top prospects available, which would be a welcomed addition for a struggling Denver team in need of putting points on the board.
NBA Comparison: Rex Chapman
||Stanley Johnson 6-7 242 SF Arizona Fr.||Stanley had a very solid freshman season, however his deficiencies were exposed to a degree as he struggled at season’s end. He’s not the most explosive athlete, though very good, and his offensive skill set shows a lot of promise, but remains unrefined. With such tremendous body strength, he has the makings of a stand out defender at the NBA level. Despite a dip in output and Arizona falling short of the Final Four, Stanley is unlikely to slip too far in the draft. He shows the will power and desire to continue to develop and polish his rough edges. He delivered four high school state titles and shows a winning mentality that should make him a valued role player at minimum.
Why Detroit takes Johnson: Johnson offers the Pistons a lot of value with both upside and the ability to contribute now at 8. They have a lot of needs and with a GM/Coach (Van Gundy) will likely opt for someone that won’t take forever to produce on the court. Hezonja and his connection with new front office person Arn Tellum is the dream scenario, however Hezonja is not expected to get to them.
NBA Comparison: Ron Artest
||Trey Lyles 6-9 240 PF/SF Kentucky Fr.||Lyles is a very smooth bigman with excellent mid-range shooting and great length (7-foot-2 wingspan). He came into Lexington in tremendous condition and had a very solid season, in limited minutes. It’s possible that he was hidden to some degree within Kentucky’s talented roster. He struggled for minutes and at times got lost in the shuffle with the hype surrounding teammates Karl Anthony-Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, granted, that’s what he signed up for. We are in the minority with this opinion, but we feel his upside is greater than Cauley-Stein’s and he’ll ultimately surpass him by the time the draft rolls around. Lyles needs to get tougher and learn to handle contact better, but was considered one of the premiere recruits in his class. His versatility (foot speed) to defend wings on the perimeter, create off the dribble and play some SF in the league only adds to his intrigue. He may take some time to become an NBA contributor, but with his shooting touch and length, his upside is considerable.
Why Charlotte takes Lyles: A trade up to grab a player such as Mudiay makes sense for Charlotte. While their PG has been solid, one has to wonder if their ceiling has been reached with him as their starting point. Would the Knicks take Zeller and the Lyles in exchange for the 4th pick? Lyles would also offer a nice compliment to Al Jefferson and Zeller with his ability to stretch the floor and developing range.
NBA Comparison: Juwan Howard
||Myles Turner 7-0 243 PF/C Texas Fr.||Turner had an up and down freshman season, though his final statistics were solid. The real enigma with Turner is just how his legs will turn out. He’s got some real issues limiting his fluidity, whether it is shin splints related to growth, tendonitis or more permanent issues. Roy Hibbert had horrendous mobility until his junior year in college, and some bigs take time to grow into their bodies. Turner is excellent in the half court with the ability to knock down mid range jumpshots, make plays at the rim, and also be a force as a shot blocker. He’s considered a possible late lottery to mid first round pick.
Why Miami takes Turner: Miami has made some changes to get younger. With a reborn Hassan Whiteside looking like their future center, a player with higher skill, better shooting and the ability to play both frontcourt positions, makes Turner more appealing than Cauley Stein for them. Stanley Johnson is another real option if here. Devin Booker is another player who has been mentioned as a possibility with this pick.
NBA Comparison: Raef LaFrentz
Cameron Payne 6-2 185 PG Murray St. So.
Payne is a late bloomer who after such a tremendous season, entered the draft. He may lack the same exposure as most of the other prospects in the first round as he entered the 2015 draft picture very late and it’s likely that less scouts and only a handful of GMs actually caught his games, live. Regardless, he became one of the hottest names by season’s end having led Murray State to a perfect 16-0 regular season Conference Record. They lost in their Conference Tournament and therefore played in the NIT where Payne was able to display his excellent open court speed, scoring, point guard skills and decision making. He’s a kid that had a late growth spurt and now appears in the neighborhood of 6-3 to 6-4 and with good length. He’s projected as a possible late lottery to early 20s pick.
Why Indiana takes Payne: The Pacers have been linked to Payne for some time now. He would give the team a young PG to build around and get back on track. There’s a chance a team looks to move up to 9 or 10 to grab Payne, but if he’s here he’s considered a good possibility for Indiana.
NBA Comparison: George Hill
||Willie Cauley-Stein 7-0 242 C Kentucky Jr.||WCS elevated his play as a junior and is now widely considered a probable lottery pick. His ability to be a difference maker on the defensive end, specifically defending the pick and roll, is what makes him so intriguing. He legitimately shows the foot speed to hang with guards on the perimeter. His feel for the game remains a work in progress, and detractors will point to the fact that many of his deficiencies, even defensively, were hidden within the Kentucky system. He’s not afraid of contact having played wide receiver high school football. Lacking touch, his offensive ability will likely always be limited. Despite his limitations, he’s in elite athletic company for a 7-footer and should find a role as a shot blocking, rebounding, ally oop finishing, energy guy, even if his offensive game never fully develops.
Why Utah takes Cauley-Stein: After Moving Kanter mid-season last year, the team is said to be looking for depth in the front court. Myles Turner is a better pairing along with Rudy Gobert as he’s less similar, however Cauley Stein is well liked and it would be a surprise if he were available here. Utah has been said to be a team willing to move out of this pick if the right offer was presented to them.
NBA Comparison: Chris Anderson
||Bobby Portis 6-11 245 PF Arkansas So.||
Portis might be projected a little high, but after the top 4-5 prospects, there isn’t a great deal of talent in this year’s draft. Portis appears to be working hard on conditioning as his body continues to make progress. He showed very good hustle and court speed at LeBron Skills Academy, getting out on the break and beating opponents down the floor. He lacks great lateral quickness and start/stop speed and takes a little while to get his feet moving, but he has great size and a developing mid range jump shot.
Why Phoenix takes Portis: Suns coach Jeff Hornacek raved about Portis following his workout. He would give the Suns another versatile frontcourt option, and he’s also more NBA ready than a number of other prospects. This is another pick that could be dealt and further complicate accurately projecting the draft.
NBA Comparison: Greg Monroe
||Devin Booker 6-6 205 SG Kentucky Fr.||How impressed were scouts with Booker this year? Some felt he was their best long term prospect. He had a solid freshman season and flashed a lot of upside with his outside shooting and feel for the game. He hit the freshman wall, and he’s considered a prospect with better long term then immediate potential. He has some defensive and foot speed concerns, but he’s an underrated leaper. Booker had excellent measurement, proving ideal size for the 2 guard position. He projects as a prototype shooting guard, and while comparing him to a player like Klay Thompson is probably being overly optimistic, there are some parallels between their games. If he performs well shooting in front of teams in workouts, he could solidify a spot here in the late lottery range.
Why Oklahoma City takes Booker: Booker offers another shooter for the Thunder to play alongside Durant and Westbrook. He’s the youngest player in the draft but shows a lot of maturity for his age. OKC has been listening to offers for this pick so there’s a chance a team moves up to grab Booker.
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
||Frank Kaminsky 7-1 230 C Wisconsin Sr.||
The National Player of the Year may not have stand out athleticism, but his size, skill level and determination should make him a solid pro. He’s an excellent outside shooter and has become an extremely crafty and effective post player as well. His ability to run the floor has even received praise by scouts. He also shows the ability to beat bigs off the dribble, despite an explosive first step, and his ball handling has been a real bright spot. In the tournament he did a very solid job defensively against the Kentucky front-line and also Jahlil Okafor, raising his stock some. He’s a high character kid with a lot of personality, which should endear himself to teams in interviews. Leading Wisconsin all the way to the National Championship game makes him a potential lottery pick with a likely 10-20 range for this year’s draft.
Why Atlanta takes Kaminsky: Frank the Tank may not have huge upside, but for a team looking to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals, a senior who can come in and contribute makes sense. Kaminsky shot very well in the Santa Barbara group workout and though he could slide some with the depth at the center position, he doesn’t figure to fall far.
NBA Comparison: Kelly Olynyk
||Sam Dekker 6-9 220 SF Wisconsin Jr.||Nobody’s stock took a more dramatic jump in the NCAA Tournament than Dekker’s. He’d had a disappointing regular season statistically, in relation to expectations. But through it all he remained a tremendous Robin to Frank Kaminsky’s Batman, showing what an unselfish team player and teammate he is. In the NCAA tournament, Dekker jumped to the forefront with numerous late game heroics to put away opponents, including both Wildcat teams, Arizona and Kentucky. He is a dynamic athlete with the ability to finish at the rim as well as create outside shots. His "big boy" play in the tournament certainly made a lot of believers out of NBA scouts, and his stock couldn’t be higher after an impressive tournament run.
Why Boston takes Dekker: Dekker has been mentioned as a possible lottery pick and could easily end up going before teammate Frank Kaminsky. It’s no secret the Celtics are pushing hard to move up, using Marcus Smart and both of their picks (16 and 28) to get into the top 10. This pick becomes difficult to project considering that the odds are strong that Boston won’t be selecting here.
NBA Comparison: Chandler Parsons
||Rashad Vaughn 6-5 200 SG UNLV Fr.||
Vaughn is one of the top shooters this year and has a good body and size for the position. He is just a freshman but is probably more NBA ready than his age and statistics would suggest. He’s not an elite athlete, just a solid one, but was considered one of the best shooters coming out of his class in high school last year. He can put up points in a hurry with a solid array of offensive skills. His upside is not tremendous, but he has a pretty polished overall game for a freshman.
Why Milwaukee takes Vaughn: The team has a strong connection with Vaughn’s agent Mark Schwartz, who happens to also be Jason Kidd’s agent. Word has come out that Vaughn has been red flagged by teams for his knees, but there’s a real chance the Bucks take him anyway. Vaughn is considered one of the draft’s top shooters and as a freshman possesses a lot of upside left to develop.
NBA Comparison: Arron Afflalo
||Tyus Jones 6-1 185 PG Duke Fr.||
Quite possibly Duke’s most valuable member of the "Fab 3". Jones was the catalyst to Duke’s National title. He was awarded MOP of the Final Four, making number of big plays down the stretch, and all tourney for that matter, to help Duke capture the championship. And he’s likely to be rewarded by being a high draft pick. He lacks great physical measurements and isn’t a standout athlete, but he’s got tremendous intangibles and leadership at the point guard position. He shows maturity and composure beyond his years. Scouts complain about his ability to beat opponents off the dribble, but he is very crafty and it just means he will have to work harder to get open looks and make it as a starter in the league. His jump shot showed better range and consistency as the year progressed. Worst case scenario he probably ends up a high level backup. Jones is now considered by scouts as a possible late lottery to mid first round pick.
Why Houston takes Jones: There is a lot of speculation that the Rockets may have a promise in place to select Jones. Jones shut down workouts after visiting Houston and the team has an obvious need for a stabilizing PG. The team has a heavy analytics approach to the draft and Jones scores very high with his efficiency and shooting ability. Whether he has the talent to merit a mid first round pick is debatable, but he certainly would fit in well with athletic and defensive Patrick Beverly.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Farmar
||Montrezl Harrell 6-8 255 PF Louisville Jr.||
Harrell surprised many by returning for his junior year at Louisville. He showed improvement this season and has a shot to be a late lottery selection. His offensive game has steadily improved, showing more touch on the perimeter, while he continues to be an absolute beast on the boards. Harrell had a solid showing in the tournament and while he is a bit undersized at 6’8, he’s got excellent length to make up for it.
Why Washington takes Harrell: Washington could look to go in a number of directions here with players such as Kelly Oubre or Jerian Grant, if available. Harrell would give them a young banger inside along with the flexibility to let some of their higher priced frontcourt pieces explore free agency and not overspend.
NBA Comparison: JJ Hickson
||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 6-7 210 SF Arizona So.||
Hollis-Jefferson is well liked by scouts for his defensive intensity and potential. He is an elite level athlete who brings a high level of intensity. Music to defensive minded coaches ears. He killed it in the measurements with a 7’2 wingspan and 8’8 standing reach, giving him power forward length. He also proved that he’s not solely length with excellent athleticism testing numbers (38 inch vertical). His jumpshot is a major weakness, and may always be so, although he shot a surprising 70% from the line.
Why Toronto takes Hollis-Jefferson: Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has proven that he’s willing to think outside the box and take a player off the radar, as he did last year drafting Bruno Cobaclo. He loves athletes and Hollis-Jefferson is a tremendous athlete with length and good strength as well. He has had impressive workouts and with a green room invite, may be gone before this pick.
NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace
||Jerian Grant 6-5 205 PG Notre Dame Sr.||Grant spearheaded Notre Dame’s surprising season with his fearless, and inspirational play. They came extremely close to knocking off Kentucky and reaching the Final Four in the Irish best season in years. He gained a lot more notoriety for his heroics, but the interesting thing is that his numbers actually dipped from his junior year. There is some debate whether he is a true point guard, but his toughness, determination and go to ability make him a highly regarded prospect, with mid-first round potential.
Why Dallas takes Grant: The Mavs have Euro and trade tendencies but could use a PG here and with an aging Dirk a player with some readiness seems prudent. The Rondo experiment was predictably a flop. Grant would offer a leader with potential immediate rewards, although a set up guy with size like Delon Wright might work better.
NBA Comparison: Jason Terry
||Kevon Looney 6-9 222 PF/SF UCLA Fr.||
Looney was one of the top freshmen in the country and while he has a long ways to go, he is considered a potential lottery pick. If effort is a skill, then it is Looney’s top attribute. He has one of the most unorthodox games you will find. While he’s got some great versatility to handle the ball and even pass it, he projects as a four for the NBA level. He has one of the best motors, giving consistent energy and effort in every game. While he doesn’t have much of a post game, and needs to get a lot stronger, he is a tremendous rebounder.
Why Chicago takes Looney: With his tenuous health, the Bulls could look for a back up PG for Rose and opt for one of the group potentially available (Grant, Jones, Wright, Rozier). they also have some decisions to make with their frontcourt members coming up on free agency. Looney is a solid kid with a lot of potential, but some concerns related to position and health (sports asthma), seem to have his stock slipping.
NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
||Kelly Oubre 6-7 200 SG/SF Kansas Fr.||
Oubre struggled coming out of the gates this year, but recovered nicely as the season progressed. He has an excellent frame (7-foot-2 wingspan) for a wing and shows above average athleticism and outside shooting ability. He still must become a more disciplined decision maker and defender. He also should work on his ability to create shots and developing a midrange game. His attitude gets criticized, and it remains to be seen if he really is a team player at heart. He does show some solid potential as a defender, but generally gets knocked for his lack of intensity and effort on the defensive end by scouts.
Why Portland takes Oubre: Oubre falling this far would be a minor shocker but there is a lot of concern that his workouts have left him in a vulnerable position to slip. He has lottery talent but really struggled for much of the season, and he has not received great reports for his workouts.
NBA Comparison: James Young
||Terry Rozier 6-2 190 PG Louisville So.||Rozier is a dynamic athlete and scorer off the dribble who struggled some to display point guard skills, but some of that can be attributed to Louisville’s frenetic system. Rozier possesses excellent size at the lead guard position. He also has terrific leadership ability. He is intriguing defensively and thrives in making decisions in the the open floor. These are attributes that should all assist him at the NBA level.
Why Cleveland takes Rozier: With Kyrie Irving’s fragility, having a strong, reliable back up PG is imperative for the Cavs. Matthew Dellavadova is an inspirational player, but it’s become obvious he cannot be relied upon as the team’s primary PG if Uncle Drew gets injured. Rozier has starter potential and would be the perfect fit alongside LeBron.
NBA Comparison: Mookie Blaylock
||Jarell Martin 6-9 240 PF LSU So.||Martin had a very solid sophomore season playing alongside Jordan Mickey in Baton Rouge. He’s a long, talented forward with strong scoring ability. He has drawn comparisons to Charlie Villanueva for his ability to make plays on the break and length. He was a highly rated player in high school and played very well in their late season match up with Kentucky.
Why Memphis takes Thomas: A number of NBA sources have indicated that they believe there is a promise in place between Martin and the Grizzlies. While we give him an early second round value, he could end up being an excellent fit for a team that has arguably the best frontcourt in the league.
NBA Comparison: Kenny Thomas
||Guillermo Hernangomez 6-11 245 C/PF Spain 1996||
Willy is an intriguing center prospect who has been very productive in the ACB, generally considered much stronger than the NCAA. He’s a tough hombre who loves contact, has a polished skill set and showed this past season that he’s going to be a big factor on the highest European level for many years to come. He’s neither fast or explosive, and doesn’t have the length of a Marc Gasol, so there are some questions about just what type of role he can play in the NBA. But those in Spain feel he still has upside left to develop. He’s a great kid, hard worker and could thrive in a Spiltter type of role for a team such as San Antonio.
Why San Antonio takes Hernangomez: The Spurs are known for drafting system players, and in particular Europeans. They would like to have as much cap space as possible to make a big splash in free agency with player such as LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, so moving this pick or taking a draft and stash guy makes a lot of sense. Willy would like to stay in Spain another two years and prove himself for Real Madrid, giving the Spurs the luxury of time to evaluate his progress.
NBA Comparison: Felipe Reyes
|27.||Justin Anderson 6-6 230 SG/SF Virginia Jr.||
Anderson proved to be one of the big winners of the draft combine athleticism testing with the highest no step vert and max vert. He also stood out for teams in the interview process. He was having a break out shooting season until a broken finger took him out of action He’s a very focused and mature individual, and despite lacking a great ability to create shots for himself, his shooting, defense and coachability all should give him looks in the teens and early 20s, ultimately landing somewhere in the first round.
Why LA Lakers take Anderson: After taking Okafor at 2, the Lakers grab an possible eventual replacement for Kobe. Anderson is a lot closer to Xavier Henry than Kobe, but he has a lot of intrigue with his maturity and improved shot. At 27, it’s rare to find an NBA starter, but don’t count out Anderson, one of the draft’s elite athletes.
NBA Comparison PJ Tucker
||Jordan Mickey 6-8 240 PF LSU So.||
Mickey is a high character guy with tremendous length (7-3 wingspan) to make up for his lack of height. He lacks great offensive skills, but plays with high energy and is a top notch defender. He led the nation in shot blocks. Unusual for a player at just 6-8 playing in the SEC.
Why Boston takes Wright: As with their 16th pick, it’s difficult to know if the Celtics will really be picking here. Boston has a real interest in Mickey, so if they keep the pick there’s a real chance he gets taken here. They also have the 33rd pick so it’s possible that Mickey ends up going there as well.
NBA Comparison: Andre Roberson
||Delon Wright 6-5 180 PG Utah Sr.||
Wright had a very solid junior season in which he led Utah to the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to eventual Champion, Duke. He’s a solid athlete with great size at the point guard position. While he struggles shooting the ball, he has shown improvement and his all around skill set and athleticism makes him an intriguing option at this area of the draft. There are a lot of quality point guards potentially available in this range, so he will need to perform well in workouts. But his size and experience play into his hands.
Why Brooklyn takes Wright: To us, Wright has mid first round value and may be long gone by this pick. But just like Clarkson our player comparison for him, who fell to 46 last year, it seems that we are a lot higher on him than the scouts we speak with. Wright could develop into a long term replacement for Deron Williams, who has entered the twilight of his career. Brooklyn appears to be close to rebuilding mode.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Clarkson
||RJ Hunter 6-6 185 SG Georgia St. Jr.||
Hunter struggled for much of the season with his 3 point shot. He was billed by many scouts as the top shooter in college after such an impressive sophomore year and his shooting displays in practices. The issue holding him back appears to be getting quality looks, which may be attributed to a lack of strength and foot speed. While he also struggled in the tournament with his shot, he hit the shot that counted, knocking out Baylor and advancing Georgia State. His heroics have elevated his stock to being a likely late first rounder. Playing alongside a quality point guard at the NBA level will make Hunter infinitely more effective.
Why Golden State takes Hunter: Hunter may be a little bit overrated considering his body is extremely frail and he shot it poorly all season. He’s been built up by some as a lottery level prospect, but a number of scouts question whether he’s actually a first round talent. On the positive side, he measured and interviewed well and hit a big shot in the tourney and has hype around him. Would adding arguably the draft’s top shooter to a backcourt of Steph and Klay really be fair?
NBA Comparison: Evan Fournier