My annual NBA Draft Preview is here. Complete analysis for the first round for all 30 picks. Here we go with the preview!
1. Minnesota-Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C-Kentucky
For the first time in team history, the T-Wolves have the top spot and the opportunity to draft a big man to play alongside Nekola Pekovic. This pick could come down to either Towns or Jahlil Okafor, but I think Towns will be the guy they select. He developed quite nicely during the season for Kentucky and his versatility is what gets him to Minnesota over Okafor. Plus,he’ll get to play alongside reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins. Towns is basically the consensus first overall pick at press time and I’d be shocked if someone else was selected here.
2. L.A. Lakers-Jahlil Okafor, C-Duke
Okafor is a great low post scorer and was the catalyst behind Duke winning another national championship this year. He would be a great addition to a Lakers squad who needs some frontcourt help and some juice to get things going in what is and has been a rebuilding mode.
3. Philadelphia- D’Angelo Russell, G-Ohio State
The Sixers have added talent in the frontcourt in recent drafts past,now it’s time to upgrade the backcourt following the trade of Michael Carter-Williams. That’s where D’Angelo Russell comes in. He’s a great pure scorer who has a great shooting stroke. He can also distribute the ball while playing the point. I think he’s definitely what the Sixers need to maybe come out of the cellar a little bit better. You play to win the games,kids!
4. New York-Kristaps Porzingis,PF/C-Latvia
The Knicks needs a guy who can stretch the floor and has a great shooting touch. Porzingis may very well provide that for a Knicks team that could use some depth and some offensive firepower for a frontcourt that needs major improvement and a lot of help.
5.Orlando- Willie Cauley-Stein,C-Kentucky
The Magic could use a young gun and a more dominate presense in the frontcourt. Cauley-Stein has great agility and anticipation skills needed to be a great defensive presence. He is a bit raw offensively as he only averaged nearly nine points per game at Kentucky. He will,however,be a great addition to this Orlando squad.
6. Sacramento-Justise Winslow,SF-Duke
Winslow leaves Duke with an NBA-ready build and outstanding toughness. He is proven to be effective on both ends of the floor which is great for a Sacramento team who may end up needing a presence such as his on their roster. Don’t be surprised if the team trades this pick,though.
7. Denver- Emmanuel Mudiay, PG-USA
The Nuggets could use a point guard. Mudiay has ideal size for an NBA point guard and can score,averaging 18 points per game in China. He does,however, need to work on his shooting,though.
8.Detroit- Mario Hezonja,SG/SF-Croatia
A crafty all-around scorer, Hezonja can help the Pistons with their perimeter play since Greg Monroe is a free agent at press time. Some other mocks have the Pistons selecting either Justise Winslow or Stanley Johnson, but I think they need more of a guy who can shoot on the floor more than anything,and Hezonja can do that.
9. Charlotte-Stanley Johnson,SF-Arizona
Last year,the Hornets struggled shooting it from long range and will need a presence at small forward. Johnson has a great shooting presence and hit the three ball well at Arizona,shooting 37-percent. He is also a versatile defender that Charlotte can definitely use in its lineup.
10. Miami-Devin Booker, SG-Kentucky
The Heat could use a sharpshooting guard, and that’s where Booker comes in. Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng are in the final years of their contracts so Booker may be a great fit for Miami should the two guards depart from South Beach.
11. Indiana- Myles Turner,C-Texas
Turner is a developing big man with great offensive rebounding skills and we may be seeing the best of him in years to come. I think he would be a great addition to the Pacers’ frountcourt with Roy HIbbert. With Hibbert being more of a defensive presence, Turner can be the big guy that can knock down shots and any big man with an offensive side to them is a plus and for Indiana,they’ll take it.
12. Utah-Frank Kaminsky,PF/C-Wisconsin
Kaminsky shined in the NCAA tournament and his versatility in the frontcourt might just be what the Jazz need in this draft. They have a young frontcourt in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert and could use a guy like Kaminsky who can stretch defenses and who is a great inside/outside threat. He’s also a four-year player in college so he has a lot of experience and should be well seasoned to play in the league by now.
Sam Dekker had a magnificent NCAA tournament and his draft stock rose as a result. Phoenix needs a guy on the wing who has versatility,size,and athleticism that’s magnetic to NBA teams. Some people have kelly Oubre here,but I think Dekker makes more sense for the Suns.
14. Oklahoma City- Cameron Payne, SG-Murray State
Despite being under the radar at a mid-major, Payne made some noise his sophomore season,averaging 20.3 points per game. The Thunder might need a guy like Payne who can score and could be a great back-up to Russell Westbrook with Reggie Jackson gone at the trade deadline last season. He is a solid value at this pick and it wouldn’t surprise me if he went earlier than this pick.
15. Atlanta- Trey Lyles,PF-Kentucky
Paul Millsap becomes a free agent and the Hawks may need an insurance player to possibly supplant him should he leave Atlanta. Lyles is a very versatile forward who could play at either forward spot and could even be a part-time center with his 7-3 wingspan. He’s not the most prolific scorer,but the Hawks have plenty of those already on their roster. They more or less need an inside presence and Lyles could be that guy.
16. Boston-Kelly Oubre,Jr., SF-Kansas
Despite being not as polished of a player, Oubre has a lot of upside and the Celtics could use some talent on the wing. He’s loaded with potential on both ends of the floor and might be an asset down the road. Some mocks have Oubre going as high as 13, but since he is a bit of a project, I have him going to Boston and I think he would fit in well there with the good young team they currently have.
17. Milwaukee-Bobby Portis,PF-Arkansas
The Bucks are in need of some frontcourt help and Portis looks like the guy this team needs. The reigning SEC Player of the Year is versatile, he can score,and can rebound. Though not the most explosive guy on the floor,he does have a lot of energy and I think he would mesh well with the young squad that Milwaukee currently has.
18. Houston-Tyus Jones, PG-Duke
Patrick Beverley is a free agent and if he leaves Houston, someone else has to come in. Enter Tyus Jones. The Duke star is a guy who despite coming into the draft a freshman is beyond his years. He’s been noted for his poise and his leadership and clutch moments. A great uptempo player that with or without Beverley will be a great addition to the Rockets.
19. Washington-Montrezl Harrell,PF-Louisville
The Wizards could use some added frontcourt help and Harrell could be their guy. He is undersized for a power forward,but he is aggressive on the glass and is able to score on the inside. It really comes down to Harrell or Kevon Looney from UCLA or even a guard if they don’t select Harrell,but I think D.C. is where he lands.
20. Toronto-Kevon Looney, PF-UCLA
So many Raptors in the frontcourt are becoming free agents and UCLA’s Kevon Looney would definitely fill a need. Looney is a great rebounder and has a great NBA frame. He’s not the most explosive player but he can crash the offensive glass as good as anyone and I think he would be a great addition to Toronto’s line-up.
21. Dallas-Rondae Hollis-Jefferson,SF Arizona
Throughout the roster the Mavericks have many needs so they will more than likely draft the best player available and Hollis-Jefferson is that guy. He is an extremely versatile player who can play multiple positions and I think for Dallas will be an effective player on a very good team.
22. Chicago-R.J. Hunter,SG-Georgia State
The Bulls could use some depth at shooting guard,especially if Jimmy Butler leaves. Hunter has great ability to score virtually anywhere on the floor. He averaged 19.5 points per game at Georgia State and was a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. I think that Hunter would be an excellent addition to Chicago and is a great value this late in the draft.
23. Portland- Rashad Vaughn,SG-UNLV
Portland has many free agents on their roster,so it’s likely they will go with the best player available. Vaughn has a nice all-around ability to score anywhere on the floor, averaging 18.3 points per game at UNLV. Though not an explosive player,he is a serviceable shooting guard who should be able to help the Blazers.
24. Cleveland-Anthony Brown,SF-Stanford
Many mocks have Brown going anywhere from 26th to the mid-second round. If you ask me, I think he’s a steal for the Cavs at #24. He can shoot the ball from deep but can also rebound and defend very well for a guy his size. At Stanford he had 14.7 points per game and could be a grear asset off the bench for Cleveland.
25. Memphis-Justin Anderson,SF-Virginia
Anderson is a very quick forward who has developed a very good jumper during his junior season at Virginia. He has a great upper body strength and is a great defender that I’m sure the Grizzilies will value.
26. San Antonio-Delon Wright,PG-Utah
A lot of the Spurs backcourt is set to hit the free agent waters and Tony Parker can’t play forever. So why not take the best player available? In my view, that’s Delon Wright of Utah. He has great size and overall ability. He’s also a sharp passer which I think is key for a great point guard. This is a very underrated player and San Antonio usually covets guys like Wright.
27. L.A. Lakers-Jerian Grant, PG-Notre Dame
The Lakers definitely need more options at point guard. I can’t think of a better one for them than Jerian Grant. He was a four-year player at Notre Dame and a very good impact guard. He creates offense and has great passing ability at 6-5. He will be a very valuable role player for a young Lakers team trying to find their way back.
28. Boston-Rakeem Christmas,PF/C-Syracuse
Christmas really helped his chances of getting drafted even at this point at the combine. He’s big,very athletic and could be a great shot blocking/physical presence for the Celtics. Plus,what a cool last name,yo!
29. Brooklyn-Jonathan Holmes,SF/PF-Texas
Holmes has a lot of versatility and is an inside/outside threat.He has a great NBA body and can make the open three if needed. He would be a great and serviceable addition to a Brooklyn roster who needs some frontcourt help.
30. Golden State-Chris McCullough,PF-Syracuse
The world champions are pretty much loaded at every position, so why not take a kid who’s a project? McCullough has a great motor and was having a great season at Syracuse before succumbing to injury. He won’t be able to contribute right away,but that’s okay,when he does, I think he’ll be a great player for the Warriors.