The NBA Finals are officially over and basketball fans attention now turns to the NBA Draft. Thursday night is fast approaching and after months of the Minnesota Timberwolves being on the clock, we will soon find out who they select with the first pick. Will it be Towns or Okafor? How high will Porzingis go? Who is looking to trade their pick? We will find out Thursday night starting at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time as we all watch live from the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York. In the meantime, rumors are firing from all over the league. We explore all the latest news, analysis and rumors in our updated Mock Draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: C Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
As the draft gets closer, it seems to be clear that the Timberwolves will select Towns with the #1 overall pick. According to CBS Sports, Towns has worked out with one NBA team: the Minnesota Timberwolves. What separates him from Jahlil Okafor? While his defensive ability is far superior to Okafor, it is his ability to knock down jumpers that have teams salivating. There is some thought that Towns can not only hit 18-foot jumpers but three-point shots as well.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: C/PF Jahlil Okafor, Duke
As the Karl-Anthony Towns hype train has grown, many have wondered if Okafor’s stock has fallen. Are there questions about his conditioning? Sure. Is he a great defender? No. The NBA is changing with many teams looking for big men that stretch the floor. Okafor is more of a traditional big but he does one thing that will continue to matter in this league no matter how much things change. He scores the rock and is the best offensive big man to enter the draft in a long, long time. ESPN’s Jay Bilas has Okafor as the best player in the draft. The Lakers may be considering D’Angelo Russell and Kristaps Porzingis, but in the end they will select Okafor because the talent is too much to pass up. With Julius Randle coming back, the Lakers’ frontcourt is about to drastically improve.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: G D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
This is where the draft gets interesting. The Sixers pick serves as the tipping point of this year’s draft with the top 2 picks already seemingly decided. While there is so much speculation on who will be picked here, no one really knows. Since the Las Vegas workout, the Sixers have been linked to Porzingis. ESPN’s Chad Ford speculates that this is all an effort to get Orlando to swap picks with them. I am sticking with what many speculated early on: D’Angelo Russell is the Sixers guy.
4. New York Knicks: PF/SF Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
The latest rumors suggest that the Knicks will most likely trade the #4 pick. Expect to see a team trade up to #3 or #4 to select Porzingis. While it would be somewhat surprising to see the Knicks go with the the Latvian phenom, I think you will see whoever selects here grab Porzingis if he is available. Ever since the Las Vegas workout, teams have been buzzing about his shooting ability, athleticism and potential.
5. Orlando Magic: SF Justise Winslow, Duke
The buzz has grown saying that Kristaps Porzingis is the Magic’s guy. I don’t see him lasting until the 5th pick. The last time there was so much intel saying the Magic liked a particular player? The 2013 draft with Victor Oladipo. Expect the Magic to do everything in their power to swap picks with either the Sixers or the Knicks. If they stay at #5 and Porzingis is gone what will they do? Mudiay does not make a lot of sense with Elfrid Payton emerging as the Magic’s point guard of the future. Winslow still has the make-up of GM Rob Hennigan’s type, a long and athletic lock-down defender. Mario Hezonja is another player that is in consideration here.
6. Sacramento Kings: G Emmanuel Mudiay, China
The Kings reportedly prefer to trade out of this pick.
However, you would think the Kings would be thrilled to see Mudiay drop to #6. We will see if they stay put or end up trading down. Mudiay is a large, athletic combo guard who opted to play professionally last year in China over playing college ball at SMU.
7. Denver Nuggets: SF Mario Hezonja, Croatia
I still like this pick for the Nuggets. If the team can get Hezonja to fit in with their team, they will get instant scoring and shooting. Unlike Porzingis, Hezonja is physically ready to play in the NBA and apparently, has the ego to match.
8. Detroit Pistons: C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Cauley-Stein still seems like a good fit here. Don’t be shocked if teams try to trade up to grab Cauley-Stein earlier. Many scouts rave about his ability to guard the pick-and-roll. He is a rim protector that many teams would love to have.
9. Charlotte Hornets: SF Stanley Johnson, Arizona
While they could opt for more of a pure shooter here, such as Devin Booker, Johnson seems like a great fit for the Hornets. They gain an athleticism, defense and a good all-around shooter.
10. Miami Heat: PF Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
How will Frank the Tank do in the NBA? There is quite a range in thoughts. Can he defend NBA power forwards? There are certainly questions, but these questions are unlikely to prevent a lottery team from selecting Kaminsky.
11. Indiana Pacers: PF/C Myles Turner, Texas
Many expect Pacers’ President Larry Bird to select a big man in this year’s draft. If he cannot move up for Cauley-Stein, Turner makes sense for the Pacers.
12. Utah Jazz: SG Devin Booker, Kentucky
There are several potential players that could go here that the Jazz did not even bring in to work out. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune offers us this reminder:
Booker gives the Jazz some shooting to go with an already sneaky good squad.
13. Phoenix Suns: SF Kelly Oubre, Kansas
Who takes a gamble on Kelly Oubre? I still think it could be the Phoenix Suns.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: G Cameron Payne, Murray State
The Thunder get a great player here. Many believed Payne to be a top-10 pick just a week ago (and he still could be). Payne should be able to play both guard positions and offers some depth behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Cameron suffered an injury to his finger during a workout in Denver. Though the injury is not thought to be serious, this time of year teams overanazlyze everything. It could be enough to drop him down a few spots.