The big winner from this year's NBA draft lottery? The Minnesota Timberwolves, who will add a third No. 1 overall pick to their roster. A close second were the Los Angeles Lakers, who will have a chance to add a franchise player to succeed Kobe Bryant.
The big loser? The New York Knicks, who after mailing in the second half of the season and finishing with the NBA’s second-worst record will pick fourth overall. That’s what the franchise gets for sending GM Steve Mills, not Phil Jackson, to the lottery.
Without further ado, let's get to my Mock Draft 2.0. Here are my first-round projections now that the lottery is set.
• MORE NBA: Analysis: Wolves win lottery | Draft rumors | Combine chatter
Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C
Kentucky, Freshman | 6-11, 250
Minnesota—which secured the first pick for the first time in franchise history, and became the first team since 2004 to win the lottery with the worst record—will have its pick of top big men. Towns, a polished post player who also thrives at the free-throw line, has the early edge. The chance to send Towns to Kevin Garnett College for a year has to be appealing to the Timberwolves, too.
Jahlil Okafor, c
Duke, freshman | 6-11, 270
Somewhere, Kobe Bryant is smiling
. In Okafor, the Lakers get an NBA-ready center who can score in the post and should be a strong complement to returning power forward Julius Randle
. Okafor won’t transform the Lakers intotitle contenders, but Randle coupled with a free agent signing—hello, Rajon Rondo
—could help the Lakers compete for a playoff spot next year.
Emmanuel Mudiay, G
China, Age: 19 | 6-5, 190
Here’s where the draft gets a little murky. The Sixers need a playmaker; two potential elite ones are on the board. Mudiay is unknown—he spent an injury riddled season in China—but he is an explosive point guard cut out of the mold of Russell Westbrook
. Expect Philadelphia to go back and forth on Mudiay and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell.
D'Angelo Russell, G
Ohio State, freshman | 6-5, 180
Steve Mills's face said it all. Fourth? The Knicks GM certainly expected better after his team effectively tanked the second half of the season. Still, grabbing Russell, a gifted playmaker, is far from a consolation prize. Russell reads defenses like a five-year veteran and thrives in transition. Can he learn—and excel—in the triangle? That’s a more difficult question.
Kristaps Porzingis, F
Latvia, Age: 19 | 6-11, 209
Comparisons coming out of Porzingis’s camp are lofty: Kevin Garnett. Porzingis isn’t as skilled of a post player as KG, but he is a legitimate stretch four, athletic with a fluid shooting stroke. Porzingis will need a year to bulk up but he has enormous potential.
Frank Kaminsky, F/C
Wisconsin, senior | 7-0, 234
Too high for Kaminsky? First you have to identify what his major flaws are. Kaminsky is a smooth shooting big who can score off the dribble and from beyond the three-point line. The Kings
have a gaping hole at power forward, and Kaminsky could complement DeMarcus Cousins
nicely. There are issues defensively, but few better scoring options for George Karl’s offense.
Justise Winslow, F
Duke, freshman | 6-6, 225
Here’s what we know about the Nuggets
: They want to play fast again. Here is what we know about Winslow: He is excellent in transition. Winslow’s size could be an issue, but a strong NCAA tournament run with Duke opened eyes and revealed a more complete game. That will help Denver, which needs a few more complete players.
Stanley Johnson, F
Arizona, Freshman | 6-7, 245
Detroit has a sizeable hole at small forward and Johnson, a defensive-minded swingman who has evoked comparisons—at least physically—to Metta World Peace, looks like a nice fit. Johnson needs polish offensively but he made 37.1% of his three’s last season, far better than many scouts predicted. Myles Turner is a candidate here, too.
Devin Booker, G
Kentucky, freshman | 6-6, 206
One of the bigger surprises of the combine was Booker; not because of how he played (he didn’t) but executives' opinion of him. Several execs identified Booker as the best shooting prospect in the draft. The Hornets
—last in three-point shooting last season—need a perimeter threat to take pressure off of Al Jefferson
Myles Turner, C
Texas, freshman | 6-11, 240
Turner is a tantalizing talent. He’s long, blocks shots and has three-point potential. He’s a stretch-five prospect. He’s also a superior defender with excellent timing, scouts say. His agent attempted to quell fears about his awkward gait at the combine by putting Turner through a battery of tests beforehand. If sold, teams might jump at the chance to grab a player with such high potential.
Mario Hezonja, G
Croatia, Age: 20 | 6-8, 201
Trey Lyles, F
Kentucky, freshman | 6-10, 235
After years of having a surplus of bigs, Utah needs help there. Lyles isn’t as advanced offensively as his UK teammate, Towns, but he is a solid face-up power forward who has shown flashes of a decent perimeter game. If the Jazz
prefer a more NBA-ready forward, another Lyles teammate, Willie Cauley-Stein, is a candidate here, too.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Kentucky, Junior | 7-0, 240
The Suns would love an offensive-oriented big to fall to them here. Cauley-Stein is limited offensively, but he is a versatile defender who can help solve the Suns' rebounding problems. And he is the most NBA-ready big man in the draft.
Cameron Payne, G
Murray State, Sophomore | 6-2, 180
There was a measurable buzz around Payne at the draft combine in Chicago, with executives seeing a natural playmaker who blends scoring and distributing well. Payne is a little undersized, but the Thunder can patiently develop what could be a quality backup to Russell Westbrook.
Bobby Portis, F
Arkansas, Sophomore | 6-11, 240
Portis’s greatest strength: He competes like crazy. Executives love his relentless motor, which complements a diverse skill set. Portis is terrific in transition and is a strong floor-spacing big man prospect. The Hawks
also love perimeter shooting big men.
Sam Dekker, F
Wisconsin, junior | 6-9, 220
Some intriguing freshmen are on the board here—Kevon Looney, Kelly Oubre—that could appeal to Celtics GM Danny Ainge. For now, pencil in Dekker, who tested extremely well athletically at the combine and, more importantly, shot well from three-point range. Dekker has an NBA body that executives love.
R.J. Hunter, G
Georgia State, Junior | 6-6, 190
A postseason appearance accelerated Milwaukee’s youth movement, but there are still holes. The Bucks need a pivot, though drafting a five here would be a stretch. Expect Milwaukee to grab a swingman like Hunter, one of the draft’s best shooters, a nice fit to develop behind Khris Middleton
Kelly Oubre, G/F
Kansas, Freshman| 6-7, 200
Oubre is raw and struggled last season in the role of Andrew Wiggins
' replacement. But he has tremendous physical tools and a shooting stroke scouts like a lot. In time, Oubre could develop into an elite defender. Oubre is likely destined for the D-League next season, but the Rockets have enough depth to wait for him to develop.
Kevon Looney, F
UCLA, Freshman | 6-9, 220
Nene is 32 years old and entering the final year of his contract. Looney isn’t ready to play yet—the word “project” was attached to him by several executives at the combine—but he has tremendous physical tools and is a rugged rebounding prospect. Looney could be a nice long-term investment in D.C.
Tyus Jones, G
Duke, Freshman | 6-1, 190
Jones was among the most impressive players in interviews at the combine, showing uncanny polish, a demeanor that mirrors Jones’s play on the floor. The Raptors
targeted a point guard in the first round last season—Phoenix grabbed Tyler Ennis
before they could—and will do the same this year.
Montrezl Harrell, F
Louisville, Junior | 6-8, 240
The Mavs need a point guard, and Utah’s Delon Wright is a candidate here. But Harrell—a high motor scorer/rebounder with an NBA body—could be tough to pass up for a team that will eventually need to start thinking of life after Dirk Nowtizki.
Christian Wood, F
UNLV, Sophomore | 6-11, 220
The rapidly developing Wood is a bit of a risk here—Justin Anderson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, two defensive-minded players, are safer picks—but the Bulls need frontcourt offense and Wood has terrific inside-out potential. He won’t play much in his first year, maybe two, but he has an enormous upside.
Rashad Vaughn, G
UNLV, Freshman | 6-6, 210
With Wesley Matthews' future uncertain and Aaron Afflalo headed for free agency, Vaughn, a solid scorer for the Rebels last season with a diverse offensive skill set, is a solid choice.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F
Arizona, Sophomore | 6-6, 220
The Cavs add a defensive-minded wing as insurance in case Iman Shumpert
becomes too pricey to bring back next season.
Jerian Grant, G
Notre Dame, Senior | 6-5, 202
It’s tough to get a read on Grant’s stock. He’s polished and isn’t short on confidence. But he’s older (22) and teams don’t know if he’s a true point guard. He could go anywhere between 15-25. If he’s on the low end, Memphis will happily scoop him up and plug Grant into its backcourt rotation.
Justin Anderson, G/F
Virginia, Junior | 6-6, 227
The Spurs are always on the lookout for value and Anderson—an NBA-ready defender with a powerful physique—could develop into a steal if his offensive game comes along.
27L.A. Lakers (via Rockets)
Delon Wright, G
Utah, Senior | 6-5, 190
If the Lakers draft Okafor, the next biggest hole is at point guard. Enter Wright, a big, savvy playmaker who plays unselfishly and could provide L.A. with minutes next season. He’s an excellent defender, which the Lakers could badly use in the backcourt.
Aleksandar Vezenkov, F
Bulgaria, Age: 19 | 6-9, 225
Keep an eye on Vezenkov. International scouts like him, often citing his jumper and skills in transition as strengths. This is a luxury pick for Boston; the Celtics could stash a quality European prospect with a nice upside for a year or two. Syracuse's Chris McCullough is a strong candidate here, too.
29Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks)
Chris McCullough, F
Syracuse, Freshman | 6-10, 220
An ACL injury in January crippled McCullough’s stock. Pre-injury, McCullough was an athletic, shot-blocking forward with a sound shooting stroke. If he lives up to his potential, he could be a steal here.
Jarell Martin, F
LSU, Sophomore | 6-10, 236
An athletic combo forward who can face up and attack the basket? For a Warriors team that could have decisions to make on Draymond Green and David Lee this summer, Martin could provide needed depth.
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