2015 NBA draft class yearbook: Class clown, most likely to suceed and more
Sixty players had their names called at the 2015 NBA draft and many more were invited to participate on Summer League teams as they vie for spots in preseason camps. Based on that wide net, it makes sense for such a vast group to feature players with different skillsets, athletic abilities, and personality quirks.
To celebrate the diversity in the 2015 draft, SI.com created a class yearbook to present time-honored awards like most likely to succeed and class clown, along with a few other basketball-centric titles. We aimed to highlight the outstanding traits of this year's rookie class, which represents one of the better collections of young talent in recent years. Without further ado, let's get to the awards.
Most likely to succeed: Karl-Anthony Towns
As the best player and No. 1 overall pick in the draft, it’s no wonder that Karl-Anthony Town possesses the most promise. Not only does Towns have a wealth of skills at his disposal, he also has tons of potential on both ends of the floor. Aside from that, he appears to be an engaging player with the capacity to take in NBA concepts and deal with the rigors of the professional game. Yes, the No. 1 pick of the Timberwolves will be just fine, and it will surprise no one if he turns out to have the best career of this bunch.
Most likely to win Rookie of the Year: Jahlil Okafor
While Towns is viewed by many as a better player than Okafor, he will play with a talented cast of up-and-comers that is looking to make strides this season. The concept of progress is absent from Philadelphia these days, which means Okafor is primed to receive a boatload of minutes, shot attempts and accolades.
Best shooter: Devin Booker
Booker, the youngest player to enter the 2015 NBA draft, has the most mature shooting stroke of anyone taken. This much became evident over his lone season at Kentucky and extended into his first NBA Summer League performance. The son of a coach, Booker learned the game from his dad, Melvin, showing up early to practice and leaving late to develop a shot that would help propel him to the NBA stage.
Late bloomer: Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis, the Knicks' first lottery selection since Jordan Hill in 2008, has size and skill. What he lacks is strength and experience, and those two traits can only be added with time. If he is to play in the post, Porzingis will need more lower body strength. Luckily for him, the Knicks should be bad enough for him to work out the kinks without fans spewing too much venom.
Class clown: Frank Kaminsky
The antics never stop with this guy. Whether he’s taking over SI.com's Twitter account or exposing tanks on the lining of his suit jacket, Kaminsky is always out to have fun and lighten the mood. Kaminsky helped Wisconsin become one of the most intriguing teams to follow during the NCAA tournament, and while it’ll be harder to convince folks to watch the Hornets, one can bet that Kaminsky will have more tricks up his sleeve.
Biggest overachiever: Cameron Payne
Oklahoma City’s latest backup point guard started his college career with fewer expectations than perhaps any player selected in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft. In fact, before an ACL injury forced Murray State teammate Zay Jackson to sit out, Payne wasn’t even slated to start his freshman year and was rated as the No. 41 point guard in the country as a high school senior. Two short years have made quite the difference for Payne, who overachieved to reach this point and stands to surprise scores more on the next level.
Most athletic: Keifer Sykes
The most athletic player in the 2015 rookie class wasn’t even selected on draft night. Sykes stands at 5’11”, but he can jump out of the gym. He showcased his speed and leaping ability for the Cavaliers at NBA Summer League, and could land with the team if he performs well at training camp. Although Sykes is sure to face challenges in the coming months, it’s safe to assume they won’t be physical.
Best nickname: Justise Winslow
Perhaps it’s more about the manner in which the newest member of the Heat received his nickname. Engaged in an interview with Papi LeBatard of ESPN’s “Highly Questionable,” Winslow decided to embrace the flavor of his new home and asked for a Spanish nickname. Papi then went on the hunt for names, and they eventually landed on three: El Jefe, El Caballo, and Nacho. Any of those three will do.
Best dressed: Stanley Johnson
Johnson has all the familiar NBA tropes, including tailored suits, Balmain Jeans, and retro Jordan’s. Check out Johnson’s Instagram account and you’ll notice that it’s equal parts basketball and fashion, complete with snaps from a GQ photo shoot and candid group shots.
Most likely to become a coach: Tyus Jones
A rare floor general on the collegiate level, Jones helped lead Duke to an NCAA title—along with fellow freshmen Winslow and Okafor—by exercising a keen awareness and deadly feel for late-game situations. Jones’s basketball smarts can only improve as he embarks on an NBA career with the Timberwolves.
Most free-spirited: Willie Cauley-Stein
If this were a typical list, the final category would likely be reserved for the student with the most school spirit. Instead it will stand as an award for Cauley-Stein, a 7-footer who dyed his hair blonde and rode around campus on a comically small scooter during his three-year career at Kentucky.