• Joe Keller

NBA Mock Draft 2.0

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*Photo via USA Today

1.Minnesota Timberwolves 16-66 - Karl Anthony-Towns, Freshman, Kentucky

  • The Wolves’ need front court depth, Nikola Pekovic is hurt often and they can’t rely on Kevin Garnett to be their starting power forward and play meaningful minutes at his age. Karl Anthony-Towns out of Kentucky fits their need at power forward and can also play center. He is the best player with the most upside in the draft, so at number one with his size and athleticism he should be a lock for the Wolves’.They can piece him around an already young nucleus of lottery picks in Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

2.Los Angeles Lakers 21-61 - Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, Duke

  • After another miserable season for this once proud franchise. This year they saw their franchise player, Kobe Bryant and first-round draft pick Julius Randle, both have their seasons’ ended by injury there wasn’t much to cheer for in Hollywood. The Lakers have their biggest need at the wing, but they can’t pass up on their future big in Okafor. Jordan Hill performed well, but isn’t the answer, with this pick the Lakers are hoping their young front court can be a force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later, at least for Kobe’s sake. If the Laker’s decide to keep this pick they will have great young talent on the floor with Okafor, Randle and Jordan Clarkson, which will set them up for the future, something I don’t see Kobe being too fond of.

3.Philadelphia 76er’s 18-64 - D’Angelo Russell, Freshman, Ohio State

  • There’s a lot of questions on whether Philadelphia’s front office knows what they’re doing with this tanking strategy, especially when they traded away last year’s Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams at the deadline. Well, they are now in a position to fill the gaping hole Carter-Williams left with a better prospect. Russell gives the Sixers something they’ve desperately needed for years, the ability to score. Russell seems to have that “It” factor and will give the fans something to be excited about, and that hasn’t happened for a while. Russell is a better scorer than Carter-Williams was and will be able to go get a bucket when needed, and his competitive attitude might change the losing mentality in Philadelphia.

4.New York Knicks 17-65 - Emmanuel Mudiay, 19, China

  • The Knicks need a point guard that can run Phil Jackson’s triangle offense while Mudiay does not possess the outside shot that would succeed in the triangle. He has great upside with the ability to drive and get to the hoop while taking contact, and also the vision to kick it out to open shooters.

5.Orlando Magic 25-57 - Justise Winslow, Freshman, Duke

  • The Magic need an athletic player who can spread the floor to add on to their young skilled backcourt of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. Winslow would be a nice fit and could play multiple positions.

6.Sacramento Kings 29-53 - Mario Hezonja, 20, Spain

  • The Kings could use a stretch four to pair with Boogie Cousins, but they could go small with Hezonja at small forward and play Rudy Gay at the four. That would make for a potent offensive lineup in Sacramento.

7.Denver Nuggets 30-52 - Willy Cauley-Stein, Junior, Kentucky

  • After trading Timothy Mozgov to the Cavaliers the Nuggets are in need of a new big man to anchor their defense, and Cauley-Stein is the best available big man at number seven.

8.Detroit Pistons 32-50 - Kristaps Porzingis, 19, Latvia

  • With Greg Monroe being an unrestricted free agent, the Pistons know he can walk this summer. They may not put up a big fight to keep him if they draft Porzingis, who can create some space on the floor that Detroit has desperately needed with the twin towers of Monroe and Andre Drummond clogging the lane offensively.

9.Charlotte Hornets 33-49 - Myles Turner, Freshman, Texas

  • The Hornets desperately need offense, they could go guard as there is a need at that position, possibly taking Cameron Payne or Devin Booker, but Turner seems to be the better prospect and the Hornets also need another big man who can score to pair with Al Jefferson.

10. Miami Heat 37-45 - Stanley Johnson, Freshman, Arizona

  • The Heat are one lottery team that doesn’t have glaring weaknesses in their starting lineup. The injury bug and age were their biggest problem. So assuming that the organization made an impact on pending free agent guard Goran Dragic, who they traded for at the deadline.And if he signs long term, with the addition of Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Luol Deng’ s health, and the surprise emergence of Hassan Whiteside the Heat will likely select the best available player, which is Stanley Johnson. If they select Cameron Payne it is likely Dragic will not be signing long term

11.Indiana Pacers 38-44 - Cameron Payne, Sophomore, Murray State

  • Indiana has been looking for another guard and Cameron Payne would be a good fit to play along George Hill, who isn’t a prototypical point guard, and allows the Pacers to bring Rodney Stuckey off the bench, where he found success in that role last year. The Pacers are built to win now, and this move would help them for the present and future. They could also look to draft Frank Kaminsky or Trey Lyles to replace David West in the future, but Payne seems like the best choice.

12.Utah Jazz 38-44 - Devin Booker, Freshman, Kentucky

  • The Jazz have a talented front court and their best player, Gordon Hayward plays on the wing. They have a young backcourt and could use some more in that area, because both of their guards, Dante Exum and Trey Burke are not great shooters, and shooting the ball is exactly what Booker specializes in. He will add balance to Utah’s backcourt and help the offense space the floor.

13.Phoenix Suns 39-43 - Frank Kaminsky, Senior, Wisconsin

  • Last year’s Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year will add front court depth to a Phoenix team that needs some depth and production from their bigs. Kaminsky should be able to have an instant impact for the Suns.

14.Oklahoma City Thunder 45-37 – Sam Dekker, Junior, Wisconsin

  • The Thunder were derailed by injuries this season which resulted in landing this lottery pick and head coach Scott Brooks being fired. However, with the deals they made at the trade deadline, they addressed their need for a center and have a pretty solid starting five when Kevin Durant returns from injury. They are likely to take Same Dekker to add a wing player to come off the bench and space the floor for them.

15.Atlanta Hawks 60-22 (From Brooklyn) – Trey Lyles, Freshman, Kentucky

  • The Hawks finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference despite ranking towards the bottom of the league in rebounding. They will look to get bigger with Lyles and he also fits their spacing and ball movement system, with his ability to pass, score from the perimeter and off the dribble as a big man.

16.Boston Celtics 40-42 – Bobby Portis, Sophomore, Arkansas

  • The Celtics need a center, but it would be a reach to take one this early, taking Portis is taking the best available big man which the Celtics can use in the low post game.

17.Milwaukee Bucks 41-41 – Kelly Oubre, Freshman, Kansas

  • Like the Celtics, the Bucks could use an upgrade at the center position, but instead they will take the best available player on the board in Oubre. The Bucks are in need of someone who can get their own shot and score. They will ask Oubre to do so and space the floor coming off the bench.

18.Houston Rockets 56-26 (From New Orleans) – Jerian Grant, Senior, Notre Dame

  • Houston was in the mix for guard help at the deadline and couldn’t make a big deal. The loss of Patrick Beverley at point guard during the season really hurt them in the playoffs. Beverly is more of a defensive guard, Grant will help the Rockets offensively in the backcourt, taking some of the ball-handling pressure off of James Harden and reducing the minutes of veteran guard Jason Terry.

19.Washington Wizards 46-36 – Kevin Looney, Freshman, UCLA

  • The Wizards could use some more front court depth which Looney will help them with, backing up Nene. The Wizards could possibly take a wing with Paul Pierce getting to the end of his career, but Otto Porter Jr. showed promise in the playoffs and could be the starting small forward in the future if he progresses.

20.Toronto Raptors 49-33 – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sophomore, Arizona

  • The Raptors have a deep backcourt with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. They need frontcourt depth and while Hollis-Jefferson isn’t a big man he will help at a wing position that also needs some depth.

21.Dallas Mavericks 50-32 – Tyus Jones, Freshman, Duke

  • With the experiment of Rajo/n Rondo at point guard gone horribly wrong, the Mavs are in the market for a guard. Tyus Jones will give them a young, talented player to try to groom into their starting point guard.

22.Chicago Bulls 50-32 – Justin Anderson, Junior, Virginia

  • Anderson plays solid defense, which fits into the Bulls’ personality and improved his shooting drastically in his last year at Virginia. The Bulls need shooters who can space the floor and players who can make a shot when their offense goes into a rut, Anderson should be able to come off the bench and fill this role.

23.Portland Trail Blazers 51-31 – Montrezl Harrell, Junior, Louisville

  • It would be Portland’s worst nightmare if they drafted Harrell to be LaMarcus Aldridge’s replacement. If all goes well for the Blazers, and Aldridge stays Portland still needs frontcourt depth, which Harrell gives them.

24.Cleveland Cavaliers 53-29 – R.J. Hunter, Junior, Georgia State

  • The Eastern Conference champs can always use a floor spacer that LeBron can kick out to shoot. Hunter is also the best available and with the versatility of LeBron to play all five positions and the three big man rotation of Kevin Love, Timothy Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, the pick of Hunter makes sense.

25.Memphis Grizzlies 55-27 – Rashad Vaughn, Freshman, UNLV

  • The Grizzlies need scoring and while Vaughn had a rough year scoring with efficiency, he is not afraid to get shots up. He didn’t play well last season, but has talent and needs to be developed. If the Grizzlies can get him to improve he could be the scoring guard they need.

26.San Antonio Spurs 55-27 – Christian Wood, Sophomore, UNLV

  • Spurs are always looking for players that can fit in their system. Wood is a big man that can help off the bench and fit in perfectly.

27.Los Angeles Lakers 21-61 (From Houston) – Delon Wright, Senior, Utah

  • Lakers get to fill another void in this draft with this pick from Houston. They will use it to draft Wright to take over at point guard for Jeremy Lin and compete with Jordan Clarkson for the starting job.

28.Boston Celtics 40-42 ( From Clippers) – Robert Upshaw, Sophomore, Washington

  • The Celtics address their biggest issue of the draft with their second pick of the first round. Their centers have done a good job, and the front court has overachieved, but they need more size, and getting a prototypical center like Upshaw is just what the C’s need.

29.Brooklyn Nets 38-44 (From Atlanta) – Chris McCullough, Freshman, Syracuse

  • The Nets are in desperate need of young talent, and picking this late in the first round they will take the best available player, which is McCullough.

30.Golden State Warriors 67- 15 – Terry Rozier, Sophomore, Louisville

  • The Warriors could use more depth at guard behind Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and Rozier will give them that.

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