2015 NBA Common Sense Mock Draft: Projecting first round on need and fit

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Monday April 27th, 2015

The lottery won’t take place until the middle of May, but that won’t stop us from analyzing the draft based on the projected selection order. Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor are heavy favorites to be the first two players off the board, but which prospect will be taken next?

SI.com's Common Sense Mock Draft seeks to answer that question—as well as which players will be selected with the ensuing 27 picks in the first round—using a formula similar to other standard mocks. The biggest difference is that the CSMD places a heavy emphasis on two principles: team need and fit. Without further ado, here's our projections for the first round of the 2015 NBA draft.

• MORE NBA: Mannix's Mock Draft | Playoff coverage | Finals predictions

1
1Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C
Kentucky, Freshman | 6'11'', 250

The Towns-Okafor debate can easily go either way, but for the Wolves, the Kentucky center makes a little more sense. His face-up ability and athleticism makes him a better fit next to Nikola Pekovic, whose interior skill set more closely mirrors Okafor’s. With Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine still figuring things out, Minnesota can take Towns and afford to be patient with all three.

2
2New York Knicks
Jahlil Okafor, center
Duke, freshman | 6'11'', 270

The Knicks need a big man who can serve as a fulcrum to their Triangle offense. Okafor’s combination of advanced low post scoring and ability to pass out of double teams should benefit Carmelo Anthony and whomever else New York elects to sign in free agency this summer.

3
3Philadelphia 76ers
Emmanuel Mudiay, Guard
China, Age: 19 | 6'5'', 190

The Sixers replace the departed Michael-Carter Williams with a shinier new prospect who boasts the upside to be the best player in this draft. The developmental timeline makes sense as Philly throws Joel Embiid into the fray, waits on Dario Saric, and continues to lose for another year or two (at least).

4
4Los Angeles Lakers
Justise Winslow, FORWARD
Duke, freshman | 6'6'', 225

The Lakers could address several needs with this pick. Winslow and power forward Julius Randle, who missed almost all of last season because of a broken leg, would give Los Angeles a strong core to build around. In the short-term, the Duke product’s ability to guard multiple positions would instantly boost the Lakers’ porous defense.

5
5Orlando Magic
Kristaps Porzingis, FORWARD
Latvia, Age: 19 | 6'11'', 209

Porzingis fits the bill as a floor-spacing four-man alongside a talented but shooting-challenged young core. He’ll open up room for Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucevic to operate and have some time to learn the NBA ropes alongside one of the league’s most promising groups.

6
6Sacramento Kings
D'Angelo Russell, Guard
Ohio State, freshman, 6'5'', 180

Assuming new coach George Karl isn’t pushing for a trade at point guard, he should be comfortable handing over the keys of his uptempo offense to Russell. The 6’5’’ lefty will need help around him, but there should be little hesitation to move forward with an accurate shooter and creative passer pulling the strings.

7
7Denver Nuggets
Willie Cauley-Stein, center
Kentucky, junior | 7'0'', 240

For an in-limbo team that could go so many different directions this off-season, Cauley-Stein is a safe pick and should be immediately useful on the defensive end. He’s athletic enough, in theory, to play next to Jusuf Nurkic, and gives Denver another piece to play with as the franchise determines its course.

8
8Detroit Pistons
Stanley Johnson, Forward
Arizona, Freshman | 6'7'', 245

The Pistons’ future at center is set with Andre Drummond, and they acquired Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline to go with Brandon Jennings at point guard. The 6’8’’ Johnson would bolster Detroit’s perimeter corps by providing scoring and defense from the wing and crashing the boards.

9
9Charlotte Hornets
Mario Hezonja, guard
Croatia, Age: 20 | 6'8'', 201

Charlotte goes with the best player left on the board, in this case a gifted scorer who can play both wing positions and make plays for himself and others. The Hornets take a chance on upside and hope the Croatian star makes an effective, speedy transition to the NBA game.

10
10Miami Heat
Frank Kaminsky, center
Wisconsin, senior | 7'0'', 234
11
11Indiana Pacers
Trey Lyles, Forward
Kentucky, Freshman | 6'10'', 235

With David West and Luis Scola getting up there in years and Roy Hibbert potentially on the way out, Indiana adds interior depth with Lyles, whose offensive skill set is more diverse than he had the chance to show at Kentucky. The former Indiana Mr. Basketball isn’t an elite athlete, but can be a smooth, productive player in time.

12
12Utah Jazz
Kelly Oubre, G/F
Kansas, freshman | 6'7'', 200

The Jazz made strides after this season's All-Star, but they probably need at least another season before they can be taken seriously as contenders in the Western Conference. Though Oubre needs time to develop, the 6’7’’ wing would represent an intriguing addition to Utah’s young nucleus.

13
13Phoenix suns
Devin Booker, guard
Kentucky, freshman | 6'6'', 206

Booker gives Phoenix a potential high-level perimeter scorer to play alongside fellow Kentucky products Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight (if they keep him). You could do a lot worse than being known as Lexington West (did we mention Archie Goodwin is on the roster, too?).

14
14Oklahoma City Thunder
Jerian Grant, guard
Notre Dame, senior | 6'5'', 202

The Thunder could use another capable scorer and distributor to bolster their second unit and, on occasion, spell do-it-all point guard Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti won't pass up the opportunity to take a proven playmaker who can aid a playoff push next season.

15
15Atlanta Hawks (via Nets)
Sam Dekker, Forward
Wisconsin, junior | 6'9'', 220

The Hawks should be in win-now mode (assuming Paul Millsap sticks around), and Dekker is the most NBA-ready wing left on the board. They’ll take a chance on him as a streaky scorer with size, and a guy who should fit into Mike Budenholzer’s system quickly.

16
16Boston Celtics
Myles Turner, Center
Texas, Freshman | 6'11'', 240

The Celtics should not resist using their first-round pick on an unfinished project, seeing as they almost certainly won’t be ready to make a deep playoff run next season. Enter Turner, a 6’11’’ big man who can block shots and space the floor by stepping away from the paint and knocking down jumpers.

17
17Milwaukee Bucks
Kevon Looney, Forward
UCLA, Freshman | 6'9'', 220

Milwaukee takes a long-armed, versatile forward with great rebounding potential. Sound familiar? Looney, a Milwaukee native, becomes another intriguing piece in Jason Kidd’s fast-moving rebuild and fits nicely alongside the Bucks’ young stars.

18
18Houston Rockets
Tyus Jones, Guard
Duke, Freshman | 6'1'', 190

Even if Houston re-signs Patrick Beverley when he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, it should jump at the chance to add a skilled point guard who can complement James Harden and buoy reserve units. Jones’ advanced skill set and composure should make for a smooth transition from Duke to the NBA.

19
19Washington Wizards
Bobby Portis, Forward
Arkansas, junior | 6'8'', 240

Portis is a well-built, productive post who can move around the floor and has some catch-and-shoot ability. He’s not very developed, but profiles as a useful player and fairly safe selection that could log some rotation minutes as a rookie if needed.

20
20Toronto Raptors
Delon Wright, Guard
Utah, Senior | 6'5'', 190

Wright would be an excellent addition regardless of whether the Raptors elect to make radical personnel moves this summer after being swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Wizards. The 6’5’’ point guard is a savvy distributor and strong defender capable of logging quality minutes off the bench.

21
21Dallas Mavericks
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Forward
Arizona, Sophomore | 6'6'', 220

The Mavs’ roster has gotten up there in age, and what Hollis-Jefferson lacks in polish he provides in the form of defensive energy and elite athleticism. He’ll be a project that could pay off nicely as Dallas gradually transitions to the post-Dirk era.

22
22Chicago Bulls
Cameron Payne, guard
Murray State, Sophomore | 6'2'', 180

NBA fans—and Bulls partisans in particular—will hope Derrick Rose can maintain the form he has flashed during this year’s playoffs. Payne doesn’t project as Rose’s eventual replacement, but he can provide stability to a backcourt that’s featured a rotating cast of backup point guards in recent years.

23
23Portland Trail Blazers
Justin ANDERSON, G/F
Virginia, Junior | 6'6'', 227

A well-rounded wing who shot the ball at an impressive 45% clip from three as a junior, Anderson can guard on the perimeter and gives the Blazers some depth. He may never be more than a role player, but that’s all Portland needs from him—assuming it can keep LaMarcus Aldridge around.

24
24Cleveland Cavaliers
R.J. Hunter, GUARD
Georgia State, Junior | 6'6'', 190

When LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love are locked in, the Cavaliers are the most terrifying offensive team in the league. That shouldn’t stop them from adding more perimeter firepower. Hunter, a 6’5’’ shooting guard who showed serious range and shot-making ability at Georgia State, fits the bill.

25
25Memphis Grizzlies
CLiff Alexander, Forward
Kansas, Freshman | 6'8'', 240

It was a rough one-and-done career for Alexander at Kansas, but all the physical tools that made him a coveted prospect are still there. He might require some time in the D-League, and he needs an environment that will keep him focused. Memphis, already with some depth up front, can offer that.

26
26San Antonio Spurs
Christian Wood, FORWARD
UNLV, Sophomore | 6'11'', 220

San Antonio probably wouldn’t use Wood much next season—particularly if 39-year-old Tim Duncan decides to return—but Wood could spend that time rounding out his game, with a D-League stint possibly in store. The 6’11’’ power forward offers an intriguing combination of size and athleticism.

27
27L.A. Lakers (via Rockets)
George Lucas, Guard
Brazil, Age: 18 | 6'6'', 202

It might be wishful thinking, but come on—with a name like that, George Lucas, of all people, deserves to be in Hollywood. The Brazilian star possesses immense physical tools and a developing feel for the game. He’s far from ready, but with Jordan Clarkson looking like a keeper and Kobe riding off into the sunset, the Lakers can wait on him as the franchise transitions.

28
28Boston Celtics
Montrezl Harrell, Forward
Louisville, junior | 6'8'', 240

The Celtics may endure another transition season as general manager Danny Ainge continues to stockpile assets for a long-term rebuild. In any case, Harrell can immediately help Boston with his rebounding and energy, even if his upside is limited, in part, because of his size (6’8’’) as a frontcourt player.

29
29Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks)
Terry Rozier, guard
Louisville, Sophomore | 6'1'', 190

A tough scorer with good physical attributes, Rozier gives Brooklyn a player that could contribute immediately. With no first-rounder until 2017 and a veteran roster mostly locked in for a couple more years, Brooklyn can hope Rozier figures it out quickly, and that he can eventually succeed Deron Williams.

30
30Golden State Warriors
J.P. Tokoto, Guard
North Carolina, Junior | 6'5'', 200

 

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