Oka-Forget About Him: The 2015 Redraft Turns the First Round Upside Down
It’s shocking how different the 2015 NBA Draft looks not even three full seasons later. Not that long before the draft, there was a legitimate dialogue being held about whether Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony towns should be picked first. Now Okafor has been traded for pennies on the dollar and Towns is a franchise building block.
A lot else has changed from one through 30.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves select Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns has been a major disappointment this season. With new running mate Jimmy Butler, this was supposed to be a year where the Kentucky big man took a big step forward. But his offensive production has largely stagnated and his defense has been downright awful. You may even want to make a case that Kristaps Porzingis should be the number one pick here. Until you remember that Towns’ numbers “stagnating” means he is scoring 20 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent from three. He’s still on top.
2. Los Angeles Lakers select Kristaps Porzingis
Original Pick: D’Angelo Russell
Original Spot for Porzingis: 4th
D’Angelo Russell looked to be a brilliant pick at the time, considering the main alternative was Jahlil Okafor. But now Russell and Okafor are teammates on the Nets, and the Lakers are killing themselves for not drafting Porzingis. And they probably will be for the rest of his career. Porzingis is a generational talent and may end up as the best player in this draft, eventually.
3. Philadelphia 76ers select Myles Turner
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor
Original Spot for Turner: 11th
Eventually, when a book called “Trust the Process: The Thrilling Story of How Sam Hinkie Disrupted NBA Team Building” or something like that is published, we will find out why the Sixers selected Okafor here. Whatever reason it was, they definitely wouldn’t do it again, and this time they’ll be lucky to get Turner. Turner is already really good, and should evolve into an elite big on both ends of the floor.
4. New York Knicks select Devin Booker
Original Pick: Kristaps Porzingis
Original Spot for Booker: 13th
In an absolutely brutal turn of events, the Knicks lose Porzingis. But Devin Booker is a hell of a consolation prize! It remains baffling that Booker wasn’t a top ten pick, especially with some of the guys who got picked after the top four. Booker’s game has warts, but he can score with the best.
5. Orlando Magic select Willie Cauley-Stein
Original Pick: Mario Hezonja
Original Spot for Cauley-Stein: 6th
About a third of the way into his third NBA season, Mario Hezonja just had his first good game. Meanwhile, Willie Cauley-Stein is really good. His defense is a work in progress, but he has potential. On offense, he’s shown much more than anyone could have expected.
6. Sacramento Kings select D’Angelo Russell
Original Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein
Original Spot for Russell: 3rd
Russell is one of the toughest cases to relitigate here. He was the number two pick in the draft for a reason, but he hasn’t shown much as far as being a legitimately impactful NBA player goes. He was off to a nice start this season, but injuries have derailed him. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Kings would pass up on a player with his potential — who’s still only 21 — to take more proven, less exciting talents like Josh Richardson or Kelly Oubre Jr.
7. Denver Nuggets select Josh Richardson
Original Pick: Emmanuel Mudiay
Original Spot for Richardson: 40th
The first major jump of the draft comes for Richardson, who leaps from the mid-second round to the lottery. The Miami Heat shooting guard has had a rough year offensively and is still a work in progress, but he’s good. The Nuggets will be happy to get almost anyone from this class who isn’t Mudiay.
8. Detroit Pistons select Kelly Oubre Jr.
Original Pick: Stanley Johnson
Original Spot for Oubre Jr.: 15th
Oubre isn’t necessarily superb in any one area, as of yet. He’s just sort of an all-around good player who does little things that help the Washington Wizards. He’s proficient at both small forward and power forward, and is making major progress in his outside shooting this year. He’s a clear top ten pick in this draft.
9. Charlotte Hornets select Larry Nance Jr.
Original Pick: Frank Kaminsky
Original Spot for Nance Jr.: 27th
Both the guy who Charlotte actually selected — Kaminsky - and the guy everyone killed them for not selecting — Winslow — have been pretty underwhelming through two-plus years. Meanwhile, Nance Jr. is already a useful NBA player, and not just for the highlight dunks. He’s an all-around good big who helps out on both ends.
10. Miami Heat select Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Original Pick: Justise Winslow
Original Spot for Hollis-Jefferson: 23rd
Winslow’s defensive upside is still promising, but man is his offense terrible. Hollis-Jefferson has ended up being a steal for the Brooklyn Nets and is a much safer pick than Winslow at this point.
11. Indiana Pacers select Montrezl Harrell
Original Pick: Myles Turner
Original Spot for Harrell: 32nd
Injuries have forced the Los Angeles Clippers to give Harrell some run, and it is paying dividends. He’s a super efficient scorer and a good, versatile big
12. Utah Jazz select Norman Powell
Original Pick: Trey Lyles
Original Spot for Powell: 46th
Powell had an opportunity to seize a much bigger role on the Toronto Raptors this year, and he hasn’t quite delivered. He is still a guy who most teams would take, but he realistically may need to become a three-point shooter to ever maximize his potential.
13. Phoenix Suns select Richaun Holmes
Original Pick: Devin Booker
Original Spot for Holmes: 37th
Holmes is super athletic and does a bunch of things pretty well. His defense is a problem and there is really no need to take as many hideous threes as he does, but he is definitely a good rotation big man. He even played small forward for the Sixers the other night, which was weird.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder select Delon Wright
Original Pick: Cameron Payne
Original Spot for Wright: 20th
The Thunder needed a backup point guard in this spot, and they get a good one in Delon Wright. Wright is having an outstanding season backing up Kyle Lowry in Toronto and the Thunder would kill to have picked him instead of Payne, whose injuries may stop him from ever having a chance to play.
15. Washington Wizards select T.J. McConnell
Original Pick: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Original Spot for McConnell: Undrafted
The Sixers backup guard is the only undrafted player to force his way into the redraft. McConnell is in the midst of a phenomenal season for Philly and is the backup to John Wall that the Wizards have been craving.
16. Boston Celtics select Justise Winslow
Original Pick: Terry Rozier
Original Spot for Winslow: 10th
Winslow may be the only guy Danny Ainge irrationally loves more than Terry Rozier. Even after the underwhelming start to his career, you would have to think Ainge would draft the guy he once wanted to trade four first-round picks for.
17. Milwaukee Bucks select Terry Rozier
Original Pick: Rashad Vaughn
Original Spot for Rozier: 16th
Rozier is a good combo guard to fill out your bench. If he can ever shoot higher than 40 percent from the field, he might even be really good. His improved three-point shooting this year adds promise.
18. Houston Rockets select Willy Hernangomez
Original Pick: Sam Dekker
Original Spot for Hernangomez: 35th
Hernangomez had an awesome year last season and would be a downright killer weapon for the Rockets. If he wasn’t being inexplicably frozen out of the Knicks’ rotation this year, he could be a lot higher.
19. New York Knicks select Bobby Portis
Original Pick: Jerian Grant
Original Spot for Portis: 22nd
If getting someone besides Grant here would in any way prevent the Derrick Rose trade which saw Grant shipped off to Chicago, it would be a win for New York. Portis has been up and down through his first two years, but he is a versatile big with upside who could be a fun fit next to Kristaps Porzingis.
20. Toronto Raptors select Tyus Jones
Original Pick: Delon Wright
Original Spot for Jones: 24th
This is a brutal redraft for the Raptors whose two steals, Wright and Powell, get stolen away. They would rather keep Wright, but Jones has proven a solid bench guard for Minnesota.
21. Dallas Mavericks select Jerian Grant
Original Pick: Justin Anderson
Original Spot for Grant: 20th
The last thing Dallas needs is another tiny guard, but, knowing them, that wouldn’t stop them. Grant has been given a bigger opportunity in Chicago than a player of his caliber would normally get, and he has taken advantage and put up some nice numbers.
22. Chicago Bulls select Trey Lyles
Original Pick: Bobby Portis
Original Spot for Lyles: 12th
Lyles has already had an up-and-down career and been traded once. He’s shooting the lights out in Denver right now, and if that continues, he’ll move up this list.
23. Brooklyn Nets select Frank Kaminsky
Original Pick: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Original Spot for Kaminsky: 9th
Kaminsky suffers the biggest drop of anyone so far, for pretty good reason. With Kaminsky, it’s relatively simple: he got drafted to make shots, and he hasn’t.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves select Stanley Johnson
Original Pick: Tyus Jones
Original Spot for Johnson: 8th
The Pistons are still trying to find ways to use Johnson, but he is an absolute zero offensively. His defense saves him from falling out of the first round completely, but he’s far from a lottery pick.
25. Memphis Grizzlies select Pat Connaughton
Original Pick: Jarell Martin
Original Spot for Connaughton: 41st
The Grizzlies have always needed shooting, and Connaughton can shoot. At this point in the draft, getting a guy with one surefire skill is enough.
26. San Antonio Spurs select Jahlil Okafor
Original Pick: Nikola Milutinov
Original Spot for Okafor: 3rd
This is probably the best-case scenario for Okafor, as it would be for any player. A lot of people are still holding on to the idea that Okafor has high upside, but it’s not the case. His ceiling is probably Greg Monroe, and no team is going nuts over drafting Greg Monroe. But if the Spurs can turn Pau Gasol into a passable defender, who knows what they could do with Okafor.
27. Los Angeles Lakers select Kevon Looney
Original Pick: Larry Nance Jr.
Original Spot for Looney: 30th
Even though he is a product of the Warriors factory, Looney just started being decent this year. Regardless, he’s playing quality minutes in an NBA rotation, which is more than can be said about the last few guys in this round.
28. Boston Celtics select Justin Anderson
Original Pick: R.J. Hunter
Original Spot for Anderson: 21st
Anderson shot really well during his last year at Virginia. Maybe the Celtics can drag that back out of him. Otherwise, it’s not really clear what the upside is.
29. Brooklyn Nets select Emmanuel Mudiay
Original Pick: Chris McCullough
Original Spot for Mudiay: 7th
Mudiay is maybe the worst player getting rotation minutes in the NBA right now. But he went seventh once upon a time, so teams saw something in him. Maybe a different staff would have developed a different result.
30. Golden State Warriors select Mario Hezonja
Original Pick: Kevon Looney
Original Spot for Hezonja: 5th
This guy on the Warriors is a borderline dangerous amount of arrogance. It was pretty crazy for him to ever be a top five pick, but he may work out as a 30th pick for the best team on earth.