Tag Archives: 2014-15 NBA

Bulls Draft Talk

Hey there Bulls fans!

We’re all very excited for the draft on Thursday, one that many experts are predicting to be very deep with talent. Despite having the 22nd pick in the draft, there will probably be several options available to Chicago to add a piece to an already deep rotation.

If you haven’t already, check out SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell and his two part preview looking at seven guys the Bulls should consider: Part one and part two.

Our own Jeff Berest has penned his final mock draft for you all to digest heading into the big night.

Over at Bulls Confidential, Kevin States profiles some guys who will hopefully be available at 22. In addition to this list, check out the more detailed player profiles he posted on the site.

Here’s Chad Ford looking at the specific needs of each team and who best fills them.

Update: Here’s Jason Patt at About Sports on some of the Bulls’ options at #22. And some good analysis from Kevin Ferrigan over at BlogABull.

Please let us know what you all hope the Bulls do when they’re on the clock! Comment on this post, hit us up on Facebook, and send us Tweets!

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2015 Final Mock Draft

The draft is tomorrow! Let’s dive in for one final mock of how it may play out. Long live Hinkie!

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky

The Wolves are rumored to have already notified Towns they are selecting him Thursday night. He’s the best player in the draft, I have zero reason to doubt this. Although draft rumors are usually false…

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

Even though Russell may be tempting, it’s so rare to find big men as skilled as Okafor. The Lakers are willing to overlook his lack of a defensive presence and questionable rebounding and free throw shooting skill.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Guangdong

There’s so much noise about Russell and Porzinigis I find it hard to believe the Sixers are really that strongly interested given that Hinkie plays it so close to the cuff. I’ve flipped on this pick so much in the past few weeks, but I just feel like Mudiay is ultimately the type of talent Hinkie prefers even if Russell’s offensive game is more advanced.

  1. New York Knicks/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

The Knicks definitely luck out that Russell drops to #4. He fits extremely well in the triangle offense. If the Sixers take Russell, I’m really clueless at what the Knicks would do.

  1. Orlando Magic/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Sevilla

Perfect stretch 4 to match with Vucevic. His ceiling as a Dirk/Pau mix with more athleticsim is scary for opponents to think about. But he obviously has a larger bust potential if he is unable to add to his lean frame and battle underneath with NBA bigs.

  1. Sacramento Kings/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

Willie Cauley-Stein is in play but Winslow’s upside I feel is too good to pass up. Of course getting a rim protector would be nice, but WCS offers nothing on offense and Winslow has a skill set very similar to that of Kawhi Leonard’s. Kings front office wants an impact player, I don’t think they care about drafting for need either (an example would be Stauskas over Payton last year).

  1. Denver Nuggets/Mario Hezonja/SG/Barcelona

Best player left on the board and Hezonja has the skill to become a star. Lights out shooter and ultra-competitive. If he played college ball in the U.S., he would definitely be considered for a top 3 pick. Size for his position is another huge asset.

  1. Detroit Pistons/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

Probably would’ve liked Winslow to slip to this spot. I also wouldn’t rule out them taking a power forward to replace Greg Monroe like Turner, Kaminsky, or Lyles. Stanely is arguably as good as Winslow and his draft value was likely suppressed by the system he played in at Arizona.

  1. Charlotte Hornets/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky

If this scenario happened it’s likely the Celtics would move up in a hurry and mortgage some picks to grab WCS. He’s still the best player available at this spot and with Al Jefferson on the last year of his deal as well as Biyombo likely leaving in free agency, the Hornets could use a rim protector to launch them into the postseason.

  1. Miami Heat/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

I’m not a huge fan of Booker and I think he’s being overrated right now because of his shooting stroke. But this pick gives the Heat some options if in fact Wade doesn’t return. They’d potentially have an interesting and offensively gifted backcourt of Dragic and Booker.

  1. Indiana Pacers/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

Pacers could use another young big man like a Myles Turner, but getting an impact PG to lead them back to the postseason is key. The window might be closing for the Pacers with this current squad until they can re-tool again with new players around Paul George. If Cam Payne is as good as advertised a lineup still featuring George, West, and Hibbert could still possibly get back to conference finals.

  1. Utah Jazz/Myles Turner/C/Texas

Even after trading away Enes Kanter this pick still makes sense for the Jazz. They need depth now and Turner is versatile enough to play both the 4 and 5. Turner can stretch the floor which is something Favors nor Gobert can do at the moment.

  1. Phoenix Suns/Frank Kaminsky/PF/Wisconsin

Alex Len and Markieff Morris is a solid frontcourt but like the previous Jazz pick they lack depth. Kaminsky can play the 4 or 5 and stretch the floor creating even more interesting lineup possibilities for Hornacek and the Suns.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

The Thunder aren’t likely to make it back to the lottery for a few years and they have to make this pick count. Oubre is extremely raw but has the most upside at this point in the draft. He has some time to mature under Durant and could possibly be needed to step in in 2016 if KD leaves OKC.

  1. Atlanta Hawks/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

It’s unclear whether the Hawks will re-sign Paul Millsap, but if they don’t Lyles should be ready to fill that role for the Hawks. He’s a very gifted offensive talent who already has an NBA body.

  1. Boston Celtics/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Tyler Zeller aren’t really inspiring the Celtics to not draft replacements. Portis is best big left on the board and is very coachable player who has a solid offensive game and motor that will run for 48 minutes.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

Bucks could really use another big man to play minutes for them, but instead settle for one of the best shooters in the draft. They need more shooters to surround guys like MCW and Giannis who don’t have a jump shot. RJ will be a role player to start and is insurance if they don’t resign Middleton.

  1. Houston Rockets/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

The Rockets started Jason Terry during the entire playoffs this year. I rest my case for Jerian Grant.

  1. Washington Wizards/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Paul Pierce might not return to the Wizards and I personally believe Otto Porter is overrated. Even if the Wiz believe in Porter, at least bring in some competition and bring out the best in of these guys to become your full time starting SF.

  1. Toronto Raptors/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

So they got nothing out of Bruno Caboclo last season and now after getting trounced out of the first round of the playoffs this year they need to get some impact players. RHJ is going to immediately become one of the best perimeter defenders from day one and the Raptors will just have to hope his offensive game develops.

  1. Dallas Mavericks/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

The Rajon Rondo experiment failed in dramatic fashion, and now there is a glaring hole at PG. Makes sense for Mark Cuban to bring in the reigning NCAA tournament MOP.

  1. Chicago Bulls/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

It’s unclear how Hoiberg and the front office is going to approach this draft, being that it’s their first together. But Hoiberg doesn’t have an allegiance to Derrick Rose and Delon Wright is an interesting PG talent standing at 6’5″. Even if Rose is healthy, the Bulls still need depth at that position.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers/Christain Wood/PF/UNLV

Wood is undeniably a boom or bust talent. He showed up out of shape at the combine and many execs doubt his commitment to the game. But his ceiling is high as a stretch 4 who can be a rim protector on the other end. Wood is a project, but if Aldridge leaves town he is a project worth taking on.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers/Terry Rozier/PG/Louisville

Kyrie is constantly hurt and if the Cavs are still relying on Delly to play backup PG next season they should be ashamed of themselves because he is awful. Rozier is one of the best pure scorers in the draft and could become one of the better sixth men in the league. He is great insurance policy if Kyrie gets hurts again (he will).

  1. Memphis Grizzlies/Justin Anderson/SG/Virginia

The Grizz could use some more frontcourt talent off the bench but Anderson is great value at #25 and could become a solid “3 and D” type player. He is a willing defender which suits the Memphis culture. He is also a decent shooter, and solid 3 point shooting is another Grizzlies weakness.

  1. San Antonio Spurs/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

Harrell isn’t going to replace Tim Duncan but he can eat up minutes while Duncan takes games off during the regular season. He has arguably the best motor in the draft and is relentless on the boards. His offensive game is developing but he has a lot of room for growth under Popovich.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Rashad Vaughn/SG/UNLV

If you didn’t hear, Kobe Bryant is retiring after this season. Vaughn is a talented scorer who has some upside at this point in the draft. Although I wouldn’t envy him for having to replace Kobe in LA.

  1. Boston Celtics/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

If Upshaw is healthy and stays out of trouble off the court he is arguably worthy of a lottery pick and is just as effective a rim protector as others in this draft like WCS or Myles Turner. At pick #28 he’s worth the risk for the Celtics.

  1. Brooklyn Nets/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU

Thaddeus Young opted out and the Nets are looking to deal Mason Plumlee, so they could be in desperate need of another big man soon. Martin is talented offensively and could provide some solid minutes for the Nets right away.

  1. Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse

Purely a speculative pick for the NBA Champs. If McCullough stayed healthy he could’ve been a lottery pick in 2016. Now David Lee and Andrew Bogut can play out their contracts and the Warriors can sit McCullough for the year and let him heal up and then join the nucleus of Steph, Klay, and Draymond the following year.

With Thibodeau Axed, Who Will Be The Second Domino?

After weeks of waiting for the inevitable, the Bulls have parted ways with coach Tom Thibodeau, releasing an official statement like some jackass from high school posting on Facebook about a summer internship.

In Thibodeau’s five years in Chicago, the team made the playoffs each season, often outperforming expectations as the team was constantly plagued with cruel and unusual injury luck. But success in the NBA is not defined by just making the playoffs, a feat more than half the league achieves each season. Rather, the true marker of success is rising to the challenge of the postseason and emerging with a new banner to hang, something that the Bulls under Thibs never came that close to achieving.

Thibodeau, perhaps the greatest defensive mind in the NBA, had a myriad of shortcomings that have been well documented on this fine website and others across the interwebs. I am not going to delve into some of the maddening habits and decisions of Tom Thibodeau because by now I’m sure you’re well aware of them.

What I am curious about is, with Thibs now out the door, what other moves will the Bulls make this summer to improve upon a roster that  will able to compete for the Eastern Conference crown immediately. This is not a situation that calls for complete detonation and a multi-year rebuild. But at the same time, swapping out the coach and bringing the whole gang back together is not the answer either. A second domino is going to fall, and is likely going to fall soon.

Jimmy Butler, the man who wisely scoffed at the extension offer he received last summer, is unlikely to leave town. The Bulls, hopefully, will learn from their mistake during the Omer Asik RFA fiasco and aggressively look to sign Butler before he has a chance to sign an offer sheet that could put the Bulls in an uncomfortable cap situation. Butler, who took massive strides on the offensive end this season after struggling to find any rhythm in 2014, is worth every bit of a maximum contract extension and not even the penny pinching Bulls will be dumb enough to question it.

Mike Dunleavy, the other starter set to hit the market, is an interesting wild card. He reportedly took a smaller contract to come play for a winner in Chicago after spending his entire career on teams that failed to crack .500. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dunleavy, a Midwest native, looks to come back to a situation where he clearly feels comfortable.

So what exactly is the next domino to fall in this summer of change? In my opinion, it will be a member of the extremely talented and slightly overcrowded frontcourt who will leave town before the season begins.

That frontcourt, comprised of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, and Nikola Mirotic, should have been a matchup nightmare for the other 29 teams in the NBA. The ability to always pair players who can cover each others weaknesses should have been a resource no other NBA team could match. And Mirotic, who I was cautiously optimistic about coming into the 2015 campaign, blew away everyone’s expectations on his way to a second place finish in the Rookie of the Year race.

But Tom Thibodeau was never able to fully harness the power that he had at his fingertips. His determination to make a two center lineup work the entire season was maddening, and relegated Gibson and Mirotic to roles that were both too small and improper.

Gar Forman and John Paxson will now need to decide whether the shortcomings of the Bulls big men was due to poor decision-making from the coach, or if there simply is not enough court time to go around to get the best out of these four players. Like all difficult questions, the answer falls somewhere in the middle, which is why I believe a trade will be made in addition to the release of Thibs.

Lets quickly throw aside the possibility of Mirotic getting traded. Niko signed a three year deal before the start of last season that averages $5 million a year. In the industry, they call this a bargain.

I would also like to place Gasol in the “very unlikely to be moved” category. Pau, who had a renaissance last year that caught the attention of the ghost of Michelangelo, is the post-oriented big man the Bulls have desperately been after since the Jordan years. While it’s unlikely Gasol will repeat the success he had this season going forward, he too is on a very team-friendly contract over the next two seasons and Forman and Paxson are probably still high-fiving each other over the move.

thibs and gar

That leaves Noah and Gibson as second domino candidates heading into NBA hot stove season. Both defense first players, Taj and Jo have enough overlap in skill set that the front office, looking to bring in an offensive minded head coach, will likely feel comfortable making a trade.

Noah, the 2013-14 Defensive Player of the Year, had a pretty miserable 2014-15. After undergoing a mysterious knee operation last offseason, Noah never seemed to find his form on offense. He posted career lows in field goal percentage and free throw percentage. His scoring dipped to its lowest since the Vinny Del Negro era, and his defense was nowhere near as good as the previous year. Noah has one more year left on his contract and is owed about $13 million.

Gibson dealt with an onslaught of injuries throughout the season that robbed him of his incredible above the rim athleticism. His back to the basket game became a black hole of turnovers and missed passing opportunities. In Zach Lowe’s excellent piece on the state of the post game, he touched on certain guys who defenses attack in the post because they know they won’t make the right pass. Taj Gibson is the poster child of this type of player.  Taj has two more years on his deal, averaging about $8.5 million a season.

taj and jo

Of the two, Taj is certainly more likely to fetch a larger return on the trade market. Coming off the bench his entire career, Gibson has largely been spared the grueling workload of  guys like Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler. Teams across the league have for many years wondered what type of impact Gibson could have in a starting lineup where he could see more minutes alongside more talented players. And with the salary cap set to explode and Gibson under contract for an additional season, his current price tag is extremely team friendly, no matter which team you look at.

But if it were up to me, it would be Noah who I send packing this summer. While Noah’s value on the trade market is potentially at an all-time low, there are definitely still teams who will be willing to take a one year flyer on a guy who was forced to play out of position the entire season. Noah’s ability to be the eyes and ears of an entire defense is wasted when he’s being asked to chase stretch forwards along the perimeter, which is exactly what happened this past season with Gasol at center. A smarter team that does not have an entrenched starting center could and should be able to understand that Noah’s ability to change the game on defense did not suddenly disappear over the course of a year.

Another reason to trade Noah is that I find it very unlikely that the Bulls sign him to his next contract. Much like they did with Luol Deng, the Bulls know exactly what the state of Noah’s body is and are probably smart enough to know that he will not hold up well into his mid-thirties. Better to get something for him now, even if it’s not much, than let him walk away for nothing next summer.

Finally, this is a team that is looking to shake up the culture. It doesn’t take a college English professor to read between the lines of Jerry Reinsdorf’s statement on the firing of Tom Thibodeau. Noah has always been a staunch supporter of Thibs, buying in 100% to his message and his philosophy. Forman and Paxson may not want to roll the dice with an unhappy Joakim next season and could look to ditch him before he makes any stink about a new coach.

The Eastern Conference today is in complete disarray. The Cavaliers are going to the Finals despite losing their third best player to injury and having their second best player limping through the playoffs. The Bulls are flush with talent, and with the right tweaks this offseason, this team should be able to compete for a championship in 2016.

2015 Mock Draft 3.0

Welcome to my Mock Draft 3.0! Now that we’re post-lottery we know the order of the draft and there are some interesting changes. We still have a ways to go before June 25th and a lot will surely change before then. Here’s my take on how the first round might shake out if the NBA drafted today.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky

As much as we keep hearing that Flip Saunders and the T’Wolves may prefer Jahlil Okafor over Towns, I just can’t fathom them actually going that route. Minnesota was absolutely horrendous on defense last season, and by drafting Okafor that would only perpetuate this awfulness. Towns is a stud on both sides of the ball and has superstar potential to pair with Andrew Wiggins; hopefully Flip will do the right thing.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

It’s not crazy to think the Lakers would take D’Angelo Russell in this spot if they fall in love with him in workouts. But Okafor is as much of a sure thing as you will get in this draft; and as terrible a defensive frontcourt as Okafor and Julius Randle will be together, they will assuredly be a very potent scoring frontcourt and one that will wreak havoc on opponents.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

Taking Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, or Mario Hezonja sure seems like the Sam Hinkie thing to do here. But maybe for once the Sixers front office won’t think too hard and just take the best offensive prospect on the board who also fits a glaring need. The potential of the Russell/Embiid pick and roll is a tempting proposition.

  1. New York Knicks/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Congo

I would like to say I feel bad for the Knicks getting bounced out of the top two picks after enduring a very horrid season, but I don’t because I hate the Knicks so let’s just leave it at that. Phil Jackson would probably like to play this draft as conservative as possible, and Mudiay is the best player left on the board and also fits a need. He is a freak athlete and has a very high ceiling, although the John Wall comparisons are bit farfetched at this point.

  1. Orlando Magic/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Latvia

This pick wouldn’t necessarily be an indictment on Aaron Gordon, but maybe his inevitable role is energy guy off the bench; although the Magic probably weren’t thinking that last year taking him fourth overall. Porzingis is another huge unknown, but his ability to stretch the floor and pair with Nik Vucevic is what makes him the pick instead of taking a wing like Justise Winslow or Hezonja. If Porzingis is able to put on weight and develop an NBA body he could become a unique frontcourt talent.

  1. Sacramento Kings/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky

When you consider Vivek Ranadive’s complete incompetence as an owner, you can’t really rule out any guys for this spot. We also have no clue how new decision-maker Vlade Divac plans to attack this. The Kings are desperate to pair DeMarcus Cousins with another elite front court player and Cauley-Stein is the best rim protector in this draft class. Vivek could certainly outthink himself and force Sacramento to take someone we’re not expecting, but right now Cauley-Stein makes the most sense for the Kings.

  1. Denver Nuggets/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

The Nuggets are searching for another wing to pair with Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Justise has an offensive game that will continue to blossom at the next level, but he is also the best wing defender in this draft; that’s something the Nuggets sorely need.

  1. Detroit Pistons/Mario Hezonja/SG/Croatia

I think Stan Van Gundy needs to swing for the fences with this pick, and taking Hezonja does just that. Mario Hezonja is a really exciting wing player who can shoot from anywhere, get to the rim, and is an explosive athlete. He has incredible upside and is matchup nightmare as a 6’8″ shooting guard.

  1. Charlotte Hornets/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

The Hornets desperately need shooters, and although Stanley isn’t exactly lights out from deep he’s clearly the best player left on my board. Charlotte still isn’t in any position to draft for need over best player available. They should take Johnson and figure the rest out later.

  1. Miami Heat/Myles Turner/C/Texas

Turner is still very raw and in Miami he’ll have time to grow and mature as a player behind Bosh and Whiteside. But having these three in a rotation has a lot of potential. Turner is a great shot blocker and can shoot from outside; he also plays the 4 and 5 spots. The Heat could use another guard or wing player, but Turner at 10 is great value.

  1. Indiana Pacers/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

The Pacers need to add to the frontcourt due to David West becoming a free agent next offseason. I think I’m a bit higher on Lyles than other power forwards but Trey has a legit face up game that is comparable to West and could easily step into the starter’s role once he leaves Indiana. I also like his overall potential compared to guys like Kaminsky, Portis, and Looney.

  1. Utah Jazz/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

Oubre was a bit of a disappointment at Kansas, only showing flashes and never becoming a consistent scorer. But his potential is what still makes him a lottery talent. Jazz need to add more shooters and talent in general and Kelly can play the 2 and 3 spots behind Burks and/or Hayward while he develops.

  1. Phoenix Suns/Frank Kaminsky/C/Wisconsin

The Suns already have a decent young frontcourt with Markieff Morris and Alex Len, but there isn’t really any depth behind these guys. Phoenix wants to spread the floor and some GM’s believe Frank is the best shooter in the entire draft, a huge asset at the center position. The Suns could go developmental wing player here, but I think Kaminsky could excel from the start in Phoenix.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

This pick may be a slight reach, but the Thunder need to win now and Hollis-Jefferson may be the best wing defender in the draft next to Justise Winslow. OKC was horrendous defensively last year and RHJ will help immediately. He is able to defend the both wing positions as well as point guards and he will give the Thunder a lot of versatility, and certainly isn’t averse to sitting back and letting Westbrook and Durant take shots.

  1. Atlanta Hawks/Kevon Looney/PF/UCLA

Atlanta will have to make a couple big decisions regarding impending free agents DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap, and as crazy as it sounds I think they should prioritize Carroll over Millsap. It’s so hard to find talented wing players in the NBA, especially ones who defend as prolifically as Carroll does. If Looney is on the board, he is a high upside pick whose game resembles Millsaps’ and could step in from day one and contribute.

  1. Boston Celtics/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

This would definitely be a huge surprise and cause a stir if this happened on draft night, because Upshaw has a ton of negatives and is a risk considering his history off the court. But all of his past transgressions aside he has all the measurable to be an elite rim protector, and if he can stay out of trouble he could become a flat out steal for Boston. To me it’s worth the risk at pick #16, especially for the Celtics who are clamoring for a true rim protector and have been rumored to be interested in trading up for Cauley-Stein.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

The Bucks could really use another versatile big man, but Booker is too good to pass up at this point. He may be the best shooter in this draft and has good size for his position. If they don’t want to overspend on keeping Khris Middleton this off-season, Booker would make a fine alternative and far cheaper.

  1. Houston Rockets/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

Patrick Beverley’s future with the Rockets is up in the air, and regardless they need depth at that position. Grant gives them a versatile guard with great size for the position, who can play both spots, and is a great scorer. Outside of James Harden, the Rockets don’t have guard who can get their own shot and contribute offensively.

  1. Washington Wizards/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Dekker is a borderline lottery talent who slipped a little bit in this mock. The Wizards need some youth up front, but Dekker is really good value here. He also fits the new floor-spacing identity they appear to be embracing.

  1. Toronto Raptors/Christian Wood/PF/UNLV

The Raptors are always trying to swing for the fences (ex. Bruno Caboclo). Christian Wood has a ton of upside as an extremely athletic stretch four who also has the tools to be disruptive force on defense. He’s unpolished, but if he can put all that raw talent together, the Raptors will have something special.

  1. Dallas Mavericks/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Dallas will surely be hunting for a point guard to replace Rajon Rondo this off-season, and maybe they do draft one here. But Portis presents great value at 21. Dirk is on the cusp of retirement and the Mavs experimenting with Amare Stoudemire last season after losing Brandan Wright proves they need an infusion of young talent in the frontcourt. Portis has a great face-up game and is a decent rebounder; he could be a nice fit with the Mavs.

  1. Chicago Bulls/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

Regardless of Derrick Rose’s injury history the Bulls need to upgrade the backup point guard spot. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich aren’t world beaters and they need another player to run the second unit and possibly take over if Rose goes down once again. Payne is a good distributor and decent offensive talent. Some scouts think he may be the best point guard prospect in this draft behind Russell and Mudiay.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

The Blazers aren’t going to replace a player like LaMarcus Aldridge by adding a big man late in the first round, and they still have to draft assuming they’ll be able to keep him long term. Still, the rest of the Blazers frontcourt is lacking athleticism and has older players like Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman. Harrell is relentless on the boards and provides non-stop energy on both sides of the ball. He’s still developing his offensive game, but he’s good value at this point in the draft.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers/Justin Anderson/SF/Virginia

The Cavs could use another center here but Anderson is a really good value pick, considering he was a borderline lottery pick before his injuries this season. He is a great shooter and holds his own defensively. He can play the small forward spot and knock down jumpers when LeBron plays the four late in games.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

The Grizzlies are desperate for outside shooting and this really inhibited them from making a deeper run in the playoffs this season. R.J. is a purely shooter. He has a slight frame and may be a liability on defense, but could become a spark off the bench for this team, before becoming a starter down the road if he develops.

  1. San Antonio Spurs/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU

I don’t think Tim Duncan is going to retire, and Martin isn’t necessarily a pick to try and replace him down the road (Editor’s note: I mean, who is??). But the Spurs lack a scoring presence from their other guys in their frontcourt. Martin is a very skilled big man and scorer, and could possibly contribute right away before eventually stepping in as a starter.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones could pair up again, this time in a Lakers gold and purple. Jordan Clarkson perhaps isn’t enough of a talent that the Lakers should forego drafting another floor general. Jones probably won’t slip this far, but wouldebe great value here. We already know he and Okafor have a ton of chemistry.

  1. Boston Celtics/Rashad Vaughn/SG/UNLV

Outside of Isaiah Thomas the Celtics don’t have any guards that really strike fear into an opponent offensively. Vaughn is a prolific scorer who is still developing other aspects of his game, and the Celtics could use as many shotmakers as they can get their hands on.

  1. Brooklyn Nets/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

Wright would certainly go a lot higher if he wasn’t already 23 years old. He is mighty talented and has elite size at the point guard position. The good thing is that he’s still younger than any PG the Nets have, and is a good replacement for Deron Williams once he exits Brooklyn.

  1. Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse

McCullough tore his ACL this season and before that was projected to possibly be a top ten pick in 2016. His talent still warrants him to be a first round pick. Golden State can afford to wait on him and get great value out of this pick. And by drafting him in the first round instead of the second, they lock him up for a few years.

 

 

2015 Mock Draft 2.0

I’ll hopefully be updating these occasionally leading up to the draft. Here’s the first one, from March 18th. Feel free to ask me any draft questions, or just tell me how wrong I am on Twitter @jeff_berest.

*Draft order is based on final standings/lottery odds

**Opinions on players are my own, and based on what I’ve observed thus far.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky

Towns will make the T’Wolves young roster even younger and give them a dominant low-post threat and rim protector on the other end. Wiggins and Towns could become a lethal force to be reckoned with in the West for years to come.

2. New York Knicks/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke

Mudiay and Russell are also in play, but the Knicks can’t afford to miss on this pick considering they don’t have a first rounder next year and Okafor has by far the highest floor. His defense is a concern but isn’t poor enough for another player to supplant him at this spot.

3. Philadelphia 76ers/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Congo

At this point it’s a battle between the “known” in Russell and the “unknown” in Mudiay. Mudiay exhibits elite athleticism and can get to the rim at will—an ability Russell has not shown in his game. Although Mudiay has an average to below-average jumpshot, the Sixers and Sam Hinkie will likely gamble on a two-way player and elite athlete with superstar potential over the possibly higher floor of Russell any day.

4. Los Angeles Lakers/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State

Jordan Clarkson did an admirable job in his rookie campaign but by no means does that shore up the point guard position for the Lakers’ future. They really need a rim protector as well, but this may be too rich of a spot for Willie Cauley-Stein. Russell is best player available at this point, and he creates a very formidable backcourt next year with Kobe Bryant returning. Assuming they don’t splurge on Rajon Rondo.

5. Orlando Magic/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke

Justise is probably the best wing defender in the draft and he improved his offensive game throughout his freshman season at Duke. He also provides the Magic some insurance if they do not retain Tobias Harris.

6. Sacramento Kings/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Latvia

Kings have been searching for another talented big man to play alongside Boogie Cousins for a while now. Porzingis can stretch the floor and has great athleticism for his size; although he needs to build upon his slight frame.

7. Denver Nuggets/Mario Hezonja/SG/Croatia

Nuggets need another wing player, and Hezonja is a good athlete and talented offensively. He can shoot from anywhere, can get to rim, and has good court vision. Like Porzingis, if Hezonja played college ball he might be considered one of the top 3 or 4 prospects in this draft.

8. Detroit Pistons/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona

I don’t know why people are down on Stanley since the tournament ended. He struggled offensively this season but that might have been because of Arizona’s system. He still has great size for an NBA forward and huge defensive potential. Down the road, Stanley Johnson going eighth might end up as one of the steals of this draft class. Detroit having a huge need at SF also helps his case for being taken at this spot.

9. Charlotte Hornets/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky

It wouldn’t shock me to see WCS go a few slots higher than this, and even though the Hornets are desperate for shooters, this is too good of a value to pass up. The Hornets would benefit from taking him here and at least entertaining offers. Al Jefferson isn’t getting any younger and their current rim protector Bismack Biyombo is a free agent and also doesn’t know how to play basketball.

10. Miami Heat/Myles Turner/C/Texas

Turner is still very raw and in Miami he’ll have time to grow and mature as a player behind Bosh and Whiteside. But having these three in a rotation has a lot of potential. Turner is a great shot blocker and can shoot from outside; he also plays the 4 and 5 spots. The Heat could use another guard or wing player, but Turner at 10 is great value.

11. Indiana Pacers/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky

The Pacers need to add to the frontcourt due to David West’s approaching free agency. There isn’t much that separates guys like Lyles, Looney, Portis, and Harrell except team preference, really. Lyles has a legit face up game that is comparable to West and could easily step into the starter’s role once he leaves Indiana.

12. Utah Jazz/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas

Oubre was a bit of a disappointment at Kansas and could never become a consistent scorer. But his potential is what still makes him a lottery talent. Jazz need to add more shooters and Kelly can play the 2 and 3 spot behind Burks and/or Hayward.

13. Phoenix Suns/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame

Who would’ve guessed another point guard for the Suns? This is a point in the draft where Grant is probably the best value and his ability to player either guard spot suits Phoenix too well to pass up. Also, who knows what happens with Brandon Knight this offseason.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky

OKC has struggled to fill the 2 spot since the James Harden departure. Booker underwhelmed in his freshman year, but like many of his teammates at Kentucky, there is plenty of untapped potential. He at least gives the Thunder a perimeter shooting threat right away.

15. Atlanta Hawks/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin

Dekker shot up draft boards during the tournament and I don’t think the Hawks are content with matching any huge offers a team will throw at DeMarre Carroll. So this leaves a gap at the SF position in Atlanta. Dekker is a decent enough athlete but has a good jumper and can get to the rim, as well as being a great rebounder for his size.

16. Boston Celtics/Kevon Looney/PF/UCLA

I’m not sure how Looney would fit in with the Celtics, but he is by far best player available at this spot, and was once thought of as a top 6 or 7 pick in this draft class. He has the ability to play both forward spots and is good offensive talent; also has good ball-handling skills for a player his size.

17. Milwaukee Bucks/Frank Kaminsky/C/Wisconsin

Frank the Tank proved himself against elite competition in the tournament this year and it wouldn’t be surprising if he goes much higher than this. He is solid in the post and creates mismatches with his ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line. The Bucks need to add more bigs, and it will only be a short move for Kaminksy going from Madison to Milwaukee.

18. Houston Rockets/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State

The Rockets don’t really have any depth behind Beverley at PG, and his injury history will force the Rockets to add another ball handler in this draft. Payne is more of distributor than most guys in this draft and he will certainly mesh in the backcourt with Harden.

19. Washington Wizards/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville

Both Gortat and Nene are getting up there in age and the Wizards frontcourt is lacking athleticism. Harrell isn’t gifted on the offensive side of the ball yet, but he plays with a ton of energy and attacks the basket on offense and defense. He will provide an instant spark to the Wizards’ bench right away and eventually edge his way into the starting lineup, probably sooner rather than later.

20. Toronto Raptors/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas

Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough are free agents this summer and Bobby Portis is a solid 4 with a good face-up game. He isn’t just a back-to-the-basket type of big, and is also a great value pick at 20 for the Raptors. Portis was SEC player of the year for a reason and seems like he could be a contributor in year one.

21. Dallas Mavericks/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke

Tyus Jones draft stock is soaring after the NCAA tournament and, needless to say, the Mavs are looking for a replacement for Rajon Rondo. Tyus Jones isn’t an elite athlete but is a good scorer and a decent distributor. There may be better point guards who are taken after him in this draft, but teams will want his clutch gene that he displayed in the NCAA Championship and throughout the tournament.

22. Chicago Bulls/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona

Rondae is another player that could go much higher if a team is comfortable just taking a defensive specialist. The Bulls could be looking for a point guard, but Hollis-Jefferson is too good to pass up here. Having Rondae and Jimmy Butler lock down opposing wing players every night is scary for other Eastern Conference teams. Rondae and McDermott combining their offense and defense at the SF spot is a good potential replacement for free agent Mike Dunleavy.

23. Portland Trail Blazers/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State

Regardless of whether LaMarcus Aldridge leaves Portland, the Blazers aren’t going to find his replacement at #23 in the draft. R.J. has a ton of upside and he and Damian Lilllard have the potential to be a poor man’s version of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Wes Matthews is obviously a question mark coming off of surgery and entering free agency. Portland is hoping for a steal here in grabbing R.J.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers/Justin Anderson/SG/Virginia

The Cavs could use a center here but Anderson is a really good value pick, considering he was borderline lottery before his injuries this season. He is a great shooter and holds his own defensively.

25. Memphis Grizzlies/Christian Wood/PF/UNLV

Memphis needs another rim protector and to add some athletes to its frontcourt. Wood could be an instant upgrade in both those departments to Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer. Wood is raw but he’s a good project for the Grizzlies.

26. San Antonio Spurs/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU

I don’t think Tim Duncan is going to retire, and Martin isn’t necessarily a pick to try and replace him down the road. But the Spurs lack a scoring presence from their other guys in their frontcourt. Martin is a very skilled big man and scorer, and could possibly contribute right away.

27. Los Angeles Lakers/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington

Lakers are desperate for a rim protector and Upshaw provides just that. They were toasted night in and night out in the paint by opponents and Upshaw, who is still a bit raw, could find some minutes in this rotation from the start.

28. Boston Celtics/Cedi Osman/SF/Macedonia

This is purely a draft a stash pick for the Celtics, because I don’t think there is anyone at this point who could contribute to an NBA team right away. Typically these types of picks are at the beginning of the second round but Osman has a ton of potential as a point forward who is very gifted offensively. He may not come over for a few years but it may be worth it down the road; the Celts have a plethora of picks over the next few years and they can afford this type of move.

29. Brooklyn Nets/Delon Wright/PG/Utah

Wright would certainly go a lot higher if he wasn’t already 24 years old. He is mighty talented and has elite size at the point guard position. Good thing is he’s still younger than any PG the Nets have, and is a good replacement for Deron Williams once he exits Brooklyn.

30. Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse

McCullough tore his ACL this season and before that was projected to possibly be a top ten pick in 2016. His talent still warrants him to be a first round pick. Golden State can afford to wait on him and get great value out of this pick. And by drafting him in the first round instead of the second they lock him up for a few years.