Top 5 Centers in the 2015 NBA Draft
*Photo via Getty Images
The prototypical center position has been somewhat of a dying bread, with the emphasis on athletic shooters who can space the floor. However big men are still very much in demand. Teams need that rim protector to anchor their defense, and the top two overall prospects in this year’s draft can do just that.
1. Karl Anthony-Towns (19, Freshman, Kentucky)
Towns seems to have the most talent and upside in the draft which is why most draft boards have him going first overall. Executives and scouts are evaluating him on the limited time they saw him play for Kentucky. He only played 20 minutes per game in John Calipari’s platoon system, where Towns averaged 10 points, over six rebounds and over two blocks per game.
With his size he is an elite shot-blocker and rebounder who can also step out of the post and knock down mid-range jumpers. Like most centers he prefers the ball in the post, where he received most of his touches at Kentucky. His long arms and ability to hit the jump hook, and turnaround jumper will help him at the next level as he may run into some trouble. Due to the fact he will be dealing with players who are much bigger and more physical than the ones he was used to facing in college.
2. Jahill Okafor (19, Freshman, Duke)
Okafor comes into the NBA with some hardware, winning the National Championship at Duke this past season. The standout freshman averaged 17 point and over eight rebound for the Blue Devils, he is the best post scorer in this draft. He has the ability to move players around down low and finish at the rim, while also being a better passer than people give him credit for. His ability to find the open man in the low post while being double teamed shows his high basketball IQ. He is also very efficient scoring the ball off of the pick and roll, which has become invaluable asset in today’s NBA.
He is the most polished scoring big man but he needs work on his free throws, shooting only 50 percent. His defense could also see improvements . With the size and talent he has he needs to be more consistent on the defensive end at the next level.
3.Willie Cauley-Stein (21, Junior, Kentucky)
Cauley-Stein is a versatile defender who can lock down either a wing or a big, With his size he is an elite shot blocker. He is ranked around sixth or seventh according to most mock drafts. This Kentucky big man will be an asset defensively at the next level with his ability to protect the rim, while also having the quickness to step out of the paint to defend a wing.
His lack of an offensive game is what holds him back from being a top five or higher lottery pick. His freakish athleticism will help him out in the beginning, he can run the floor like few big men that have come out of college but he lacks any low post moves or offensive consistency in the half-court game.
4.Myles Turner (19, Freshman, 6’11, 242lbs, Texas)
The Texas freshman is projected as a mid-lottery pick around 10th or 11th. He is not nearly as athletic as the other big men in this group but does possess the physical attributes to be a solid big man in the NBA. He is a good post defender, an excellent shot blocker and has the ability to stretch the floor and knock down mid-range jumpers.
Scouts are worried about his athleticism to run the floor and his strength scoring in the low post. He should be a project for a mid-lottery team but a good prospect that some team will be able to develop.
5. Frank Kaminsky (22, Senior, 7’0 231lbs, Wisconsin)
The most decorated and established college player of the group, this year’s Naismith Player of the Year has some questions entering the next level. Kaminsky was a versatile player in college able to defend the post and block shots, while also having a great offensive post game and the ability to stretch the floor with his jumper. He does have the ability to be a mismatch at the next level on the offensive side pulling big men away from the hoop. But he will have to be able to continue to hit jumpers and improve his three point shooting to be productive at the next level.
His lack of athleticism to run the floor or guard away from the hoop along with his lack of size as a low post defender is a problem. However Kaminsky was the most improved player in college basketball over his four years at Wisconsin, so teams will be getting a hard worker who has improved each year.