2015 NBA draft: SI's Top 60 prospects
With the 2015 NBA draft just days away, SI.com unveils its prospect rankings for the top 60 players in the 2015 class. Below you'll find in-depth profiles of each player, along with their strengths and weaknesses and an NBA player comparison.
* Profiles compiled by SI.com's David Gardner, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Woo, Peter Bukowski, Jake Fischer and Alex Putterman.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns — 6'11" 250 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Kentucky
Bio: Towns was a known commodity coming out of high school, having been named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American. Still, it seemed in November that Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor would remain atop his class (where he’d been since eighth grade) and be selected first in the NBA draft. Okafor may still go No. 1, but Towns is regarded as the superior prospect in most draft rankings. Upside is key with Towns, as his spot-shooting and three-point stroke weren’t on display at Kentucky but could emerge in the right NBA system. His defensive effort and ability—instilled in him by his father, a former player at Monmouth University—have made him the most complete big man in this year’s draft.
Strengths: Towns has ideal size, strength and athleticism to be a star NBA center. He plays with passion on both ends and moves up and down the court well for a player his size. He has the natural feel of an elite shot-blocker and is an above-average rebounder. His offensive game is still developing, but his footwork in the low post is advanced for his age and his free-throw shooting (81.3%) helps support the idea that he may be the second-best shooting big man (behind Frank Kaminsky) in this year’s draft. He plays with his head up and excels at passing out of double teams. He has tremendous potential for growth offensively in the NBA, and the work ethic to become the most valuable long-term pick in this draft.
Weaknesses: Fouling and physicality were his biggest problems in his one season at Kentucky. He was called for 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes, which negates some of the praise for his ability to block shots. Like many big men, he struggles when stuck near the perimeter, particularly on pick-and-rolls. He flashed an increased assertiveness during the NCAA tournament, but he will be asked to do more right away as a rookie. Is he ready to take on the added responsibility? Physically, another 10-15 pounds on his frame would help prevent him from being pushed around by NBA bigs.
NBA comparison: Marc Gasol
2. Jahlil Okafor — 6'11" 270 pounds
Forward/Center | Freshman | Duke
Bio: In his one season at Duke, the Chicago native commanded the spotlight from start to finish, all the way to a title in Indianapolis. Okafor is as proven a commodity as there is in this draft and the safest bet to have a long, productive career. He’s proven himself under pressure and now has won titles in high school, college, and internationally, at USA Basketball’s developmental levels. His conditioning has been a question in the past, but as Okafor rounds into pro-quality playing shape, he has the talent to be the type of player a team can build its offense around for the next decade.
Strengths: If the modern back-to-the-basket player is a myth, then Okafor is Bigfoot, armed with preternatural instincts within 10 feet of the rim. He enters the NBA with a post game more developed than the majority of big men around the league and is a sure-fire bet to command touches and defensive attention immediately. He’s unselfish, an advanced passer out of double-teams and his midrange game has started to come along. Okafor has the strength to compete inside, the size to guard his position and his 7’5” wingspan will help him as he develops defensively. It’s more a matter of when, not if, he becomes an offensive anchor.
Weaknesses: Though his offensive game is rightfully heralded, Okafor’s free-throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired (51% from the line at Duke). If the NBA changes its hacking rules, the concerns die down, but continued struggles would place a cap on his productivity. Okafor’s defensive performance in college stands as a greater issue, as he was often slow on help rotations and isn’t a leaper, which limits his presence when contesting shots. His defensive rebounding could be much better considering his size and length. His offense should keep him on the floor, but he could be a liability in a pick-and-roll heavy league. Improved positioning and communication is teachable, but Okafor could struggle against NBA athletes. He’s been coachable his entire career, which should serve him well.
NBA comparison: Al Jefferson
3. D'Angelo Russell — 6'5" 180 pounds
Guard | Freshman | Ohio State
Bio: Before college, no one saw D’Angelo Russell coming. In the NBA, no one will miss him. D’Angelo Russell was never really the man on his teams until arriving at Ohio State. He played high school ball at Montverde (Fla.) Prep with Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson and Florida’s Kasey Hill and played AAU with Duke’s Grayson Allen. But in Columbus, he was finally given a chance to be in the spotlight—and he took advantage. Although he was a fringe top-25 recruit in high school, he’ll go no later than No. 5 in the NBA draft. That’s thanks to his prenatural maturity, court awareness and ability to produce points for his teammates and himself.
Strengths: Russell displayed tremendous poise at point guard, despite not having played the position in high school. He has tremendous court vision and perhaps has the best touch on his passes of any prospect in this draft. Some of his turnovers last year, in fact, were due to his teammates’ inability to wield his surprise assists. He has a filthy crossover and handles the ball against top-flight defenders with ease. His 6’9” wingspan makes him an asset defensively, and his court awareness makes him an underrated pickpocket defensively. Developmentally, he is way ahead of the curve for players his age yet still has tremendous upside. He can shoot from midrange, beyond the three-point line and finish at the rim on drives.
Weaknesses: He didn’t play point guard for the full year at Ohio State; instead, he slowly took more minutes from Shannon Scott in a hybrid role. He still needs to prove he can be a full-time point guard, but he is too valuable to play exclusively off the ball. He is not an explosive athlete, instead relying on his vision and basketball IQ to get a step on his defenders. On defense, he needs to play with more consistent intensity.
NBA comparison: James Harden
4. Emmanuel Mudiay — 6'5" 200 pounds
Guard | Age: 19 | DR Congo
Bio: A native of the Congo, Mudiay moved to the United States when he was 5 years old. In high school in Dallas, he starred alongside former Baylor center Isaiah Austin and won a Class 4A title. Despite offers from Kansas, Kentucky and other top programs, he chose to stay home and go to college at SMU. But the cloud of a possible NCAA investigation instead sent Mudiay to China, where he played professionally for Guandong on a one-year, $1.2 million deal. Where he is selected in the 2015 draft could have an impact on future players choosing to play professionally in Asia over American colleges. Brandon Jennings, who followed a similar path as a teenager and played in Italy in 2008, was drafted No. 10 overall in 2009.
Strengths: Mudiay fits the prototype of the modern NBA point guard with his ability to create shots for his teammates as well as himself. He excels off the dribble and has a killer crossover. When he gets into the lane, he finishes at the rim. In the paint, he can back down smaller guards and exploit mismatches. His size and length are ideal for a lead guard, with his 6’8” wingspan complementing his lean frame. That wingspan can make him a menace on defense, where he has yet to show his full potential. He has good vision and feel on the defensive end, and he could quickly improve on that end of the floor in the NBA. His 6.5 rebounds per game in China showed his vision and awareness in grabbing long boards. He is very comfortable operating in the pick-and-roll, which is the heart of most NBA offenses.
Weaknesses: Jump shooting will be his biggest concern in the NBA. According to DraftExpress, he shot 30% from three-point range overseas. He has a tendency to take off-balance shots from bad angles, and that is the cause of some of his struggles, but it doesn’t explain his poor free-throw shooting (58.1%). His mechanics can be suspect, particularly his release. Although he creates lots of good looks for teammates, he is also prone to errant passes and turnovers. He suffered an ankle injury in China, and his health and physical shape are still minor concerns heading into the draft.
NBA comparison: John Wall
5. Mario Hezonja — 6'7" 200 pounds
Guard | Age: 20 | Croatia
Bio: There’s a reason why Hezonja’s top stats come with the caveat “per 36 minutes.” Playing on one of the top teams in Europe, Hezonja only averaged 16.1 minutes per game for FC Barcelona in Euroleague play. There have been multiple reported reasons for his lack of playing time, ranging from his attitude to his tendencies to operate outside to the playbook. But when he has been on the court, Hezonja has shined. He possesses a rare combination of athleticism and shooting ability. Hezonja’s dossier is prototypical for an elite NBA wing player and could excel in a free-flowing system that allows for the 20-year-old to learn on the fly.
Strengths: Hezonja might very well be the best shooter in this draft class. He has picture-perfect form, rising with great elevation and firing shots with an extremely fluid release. He has great size and tremendous athleticism for a wing player in today’s NBA as well. Hezonja is explosive off the dribble, using a quick first step to blow past defenders. And once he gets into the paint, he has the leaping ability and power to finish strong at the rim and challenge bigger defenders. An aggressive offensive player, he isn’t shy about putting his head down in pursuit to the rim. Very few players possess this combination of fundamental skill with sheer elite athleticism.
Weaknesses: While Hezonja can get to the rim off the bounce, his ball-handling still needs to be tightened. Working towards the top of the key, Hezonja has the tendency to waste movement going east to west and often over-dribbles himself into hoisting poor shots towards the end of the shot clock. Hezonja plays with incredible confidence and swagger, but that has often translated into poor body language on the court when he’s not intricately involved. His behavior has raised serious concerns back to the junior level.
NBA comparison: Klay Thompson
6. Stanley Johnson — 6'7 " 245 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Arizona
Bio: An intense competitor, Johnson starred for an Arizona team that went to the Elite Eight. Although he may not become a No. 1 option, his two-way ability should make him a valuable piece at the NBA level. He’s a load in transition with tremendous defensive potential and enters the league with a pro-ready body—Johnson is a bit undersized for a small forward, but his athletic gifts help make up for that. He just turned 19 and presents an extremely malleable set of skills.
Strengths: Johnson doesn’t have an elite skill on offense, but does a lot of things very well. He came up in high school relying heavily on bully-ball tactics, as he was bigger, stronger and faster than his peers. At present, he’s a power wing who could eventually be a real threat in half-court situations. His wide lower half could help him develop a back-to-the-basket game and make him an ideal small-ball power forward. He can guard multiple positions and is a great fit for the modern league, with a nearly seven-foot wingspan, quick feet and solid awareness. You can see him playing a valuable jack-of-all-trades defensive role pretty quickly. Extremely confident and good-natured, Johnson should transition just fine.
Weaknesses: Entering college, people were worried about Johnson’s shooting, but his freshman season at Arizona showcased surprising perimeter ability. He came in as a much better three-point threat (37%) than most envisioned. Johnson didn’t play with many quality shooters at Arizona and a team with better spacing could also mitigate some of his woes. Somewhat surprisingly, he struggled to finish in the paint at times, an area he’ll have to improve upon to become a dynamic threat in the NBA. He might need time to grow into a consistent scorer. Johnson also did little in the way of creating opportunities for others at Arizona, though he’s done that in the past, and it would serve him well at the next level.
NBA comparison: Jimmy Butler
7. Justise Winslow — 6'6" 225 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Duke
Bio: Often overshadowed by Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, Winslow was nevertheless critical to Duke’s national championship run last season. The son of former second-round pick Rickie Winslow—who only played in seven NBA games—Justise came to Durham with an NBA-ready body and a skill set that would complement his blue-chip teammates. He quickly became known for his end-to-end speed and was a highlight-reel-in-the-making anytime he touched the ball in transition. He isn’t the most polished player in the draft, but he’ll be able to help teams from Day One and could develop into an All-Star.
Strengths: Winslow’s biggest strength is his prowess in transition. Although he at times appears out of control, he has terrific vision, feel and control. According to Synergy Sports, he averaged 1.156 points per possession on transition plays, the highest of any offensive category. His athleticism is also on display defensively, where he can meet the challenge of defending NBA wings—perhaps the biggest hurdle most young players must overcome to play the 3 position professionally. He was forced to defend power forwards often during his time at Duke and can stand up for himself in the paint; but he’s more of a threat on the perimeter, where his lateral quickness is a big asset. He is also a winner—he was on three state championship teams in high school and won a national title at Duke.
Weaknesses: Although he has the potential to transition to a wing role in the NBA, he primarily played power forward for the Blue Devils last season. To improve offensively, he needs to work on ball-handling in half-court sets and build a consistent jumper. Although he shot 41.8% from three-point range, he managed just 64.1% from the stripe. After playing on an elite college basketball team, many will wonder if Winslow can carry a team by himself or if he is better suited as a valuable role player.
NBA comparison: Kawhi Leonard
8. Willie Cauley-Stein — 7'0" 240 pounds
Center | Junior | Kentucky
Bio: Willie Trill Cauley-Stein—he recently legally changed his middle name to Trill—is one of the biggest personalities and best prospects in the NBA draft. After backing up Nerlens Noel as a freshman at Kentucky, Cauley-Stein emerged as a sophomore, swatting 106 shots (second in school history). After breaking his leg during the NCAA tournament, Cauley-Stein elected to return for his junior year and blossomed as the Wildcats’ elder statesman. He was one of college basketball’s best defenders on one of the sport’s all-time best defensive teams.
Strengths: Defense, defense, defense. Cauley-Stein is hands-down the best defender in this draft, and that includes guards and wings as well. He is an elite shot-blocker thanks to his awareness, vision and wingspan. He also shines on pick-and-roll defense and can handle guarding ball-handlers on the perimeter. He is comfortable playing from the low block to beyond the three-point arc defensively. His effort and intensity level were second to none on a star-studded Kentucky team last season and he has no problem diving for loose balls, setting screens or generally doing the necessary dirty work. Don’t sleep on his mid-range jump shot, either. His main offensive asset is as a rebounder, where he has good vision and length to track down boards.
Weaknesses: Offense, offense, offense. Cauley-Stein’s main offensive move in college was exploiting undersized centers for dunks. He has almost no moves in the low block and hasn’t shown an ability to back down defenders. He at times looks lost on the offensive end of the floor and can struggle with positioning. He has improved dramatically as a free-throw shooter—from 37.2% as a freshman to 61.7% a year ago—but must show more of an ability to consistently hit 15-footers if he wants to play big minutes as a pro. He has often been accused of being too passive, and indeed he had some truly bad games even a year ago at Kentucky. He’ll need to learn to give maximum effort each game during the significantly longer NBA season.
NBA comparison: Tyson Chandler
9. Frank Kaminsky — 6'11" 234 pounds
Forward | Senior | Wisconsin
Bio: The 22-year-old senior went from also-ran to Wooden Award winner during his four years at Wisconsin. In 2014, he was the only D-I player to average 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. He led the Badgers to regular season and Big Ten tournament titles, en route to a deep NCAA tourney run. Kaminsky dominated the highly-touted Wildcats frontline in the national semifinals, posting 20 points and 11 rebounds, followed by a 21 and 12 showing in a loss to Jahlil Okafor’s Duke Blue Devils.
Strengths: Kaminsky is a versatile offensive player with the best inside-outside game in the draft. An ideal stretch big at the four or five, Kaminsky shot 41.6% from three-point range during his senior season. His shot allows him to pump-fake and drive by opponents and he has the adequate foot speed and ball-handling to get to the rim. He boasts an underrated post game with excellent footwork and an array of moves. His shot selection is second to none, as he primarily shoots from just above the right elbow beyond the three-point line or drives in to finish at the rim. He rarely takes a long two or a bad shot in general.
Weaknesses: Simply put, Kaminsky lacks ideal strength and athleticism. He’s not going to be able to run with elite athletes in the NBA and he isn’t a game-changer on defense. He does pose excellent awareness on that end and he was a better rim protector than Okafor, for example, but he could struggle against bigger NBA centers. On offense, double teams give him issues in the post and he will occasionally struggle to find the open man. Kaminsky would benefit from a year or two of NBA physical conditioning so he’s able to guard stronger bigs down low.
NBA comparison: Channing Frye
10. Kristaps Porzingis — 6'11" 220 pounds
Forward | Age: 19 | Latvia
Bio: The most intriguing international player in this year’s draft, Porzingis’s star has been on the rise for the past two years in Europe. He originally entered the 2014 NBA draft, but pulled out as the date drew near. Returning to play in Europe for Sevilla for another season, he was named the Eurocup Rising Star last year. He is also a two-time all-ACB (Spain’s top pro league) selection. Despite his slender frame, his size and perimeter skills have NBA teams intrigued. The popularity of the stretch-four position has created an increased desire for fives who can shoot three-pointers as well, and Porzingis fits that model well.
Strengths: Porzingis is a true 7-footer with the athleticism of a much smaller player. Having played professionally in Europe, his skills are more developed than many American big men. His shot is a thing of beauty, with a high release point and a quick trigger. He is more the mold of a stretch-four in a center’s body, but he makes up for his inability to back down opponents with an excellent shot over either shoulder. He hustles in transition and can often exploit slower big men tasked with guarding him. His best fit would be with a fast-paced team that likes to run the floor. He isn’t an elite jumper, but he finishes at the rim whenever he can. At 19, his upside is tough to calculate, particularly if he can maintain speed while adding weight to his frame. With a slightly more developed low-post game, he could become a matchup nightmare.
Weaknesses: Unlike Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns or even Willie Cauley-Stein, Porzingis is not an NBA-ready big man. But with the right amount of time and development, he could be a matchup problem as a stretch four. Porzingis will likely get pushed around by NBA centers until he can add some weight to his frame. What position he will play, and what position he will defend, could become problems early on for the team that drafts him. On offense, he has made up for his lack of post moves by becoming an excellent jump shooter, but he has no answers on defense when caught in the low post with players his own height. He is not an excellent rebounder and gets boxed out far too often for a player of his size.
NBA comparison: Dirk Nowitzki
11. Myles Turner — 6'11" 240 pounds
Center | Freshman | Texas
Bio: After memorably donning a bucket hat to announce his commitment to Texas, Turner found significantly fewer buckets than expected waiting for him in Austin. Still, he presents one of this draft’s more unique risk-reward propositions. Right now, he’s a face-up player with a power forward’s skills who will have to defend centers given some athletic limitations. He has good instincts as a shot-blocker and the size to be a factor on that end. There have been questions about his unusual gait (contributed to in part by size 21 feet) that had him marked as an injury risk, not to mention a history of ankle and foot problems. But his size and shooting ability are what will get him drafted early.
Strengths: Turner has a nice, high release on his shot that will translate well to the next level. He’s confident in the mid-range and should be able to extend out to the NBA three on a consistent basis in time with his soft touch. That’s where the LaMarcus Aldridge comparisons hail from—bigs that can both shoot and defend the rim will always be in demand. On the defensive end, Turner performed well at Texas despite being slow-footed and should be the type of guy you can park around the rim. He’s slim, but adding muscle is rarely a problem once NBA trainers get their hands on a prospect. He’s also an above-average rebounder, and presents good potential value based on where he’s projected.
Weaknesses: Turner lacks much of a post game beyond his trusty turnaround jumpers and doesn’t push people around inside. He’ll need to expand that area of his game at least enough to keep defenses honest. He’s not a great playmaker with the ball, a dimension that could augment his role on the inside. Turner isn’t a freak athlete and was a non-factor in transition for Texas, which doesn’t help his case in an uptempo league. Though he’s one of the better shot-blockers in this draft, foul trouble was a theme during his freshman year. Given his heavy feet, defending pick and rolls might be the major issue here. Unless his offense grows enough to make those deficiencies playable, Turner could be nothing more than a role player.
NBA comparison: LaMarcus Aldridge
12. Devin Booker — 6"6" 206 pounds
Guard | Freshman | Kentucky
Bio: Booker is one of seven Kentucky players who declared for the draft in April after the Wildcats came within two wins of becoming the first undefeated college team since 1976. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., who played high school basketball in Mississippi, Booker logged 21.5 minutes per game on a deep Kentucky team loaded with NBA talent. Yet he wasn’t overshadowed by frontcourt teammates and projected top-10 picks Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. The true freshman was named the Southeastern Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year and earned second team All-SEC honors even though he endured a shooting slump late in the season.
Strengths: Booker is considered one of the best shooters in this draft class. In his lone season at Kentucky, he connected on 41.1% of his three-point attempts and knocked down 83% of his tries from the free-throw line. He’s also lethal when spotting up, averaging 1.17 points per possession on that play type last season, according to Synergy Sports. But Booker showed there’s more to his game than shooting, as he successfully manufactured space and created shots off the dribble. The threat of Booker beating his man on a cut or darting into space for quick catch-and-shoot opportunity will force defenses to keep tabs on him whenever he’s on the floor. Though he didn’t create many scoring opportunities for his teammates, Booker rarely committed turnovers. His height and weight project favorably for a pro shooting guard, and as the youngest player in this draft class, he’s far from a finished product.
Weaknesses: It’s not clear if Booker has any NBA-level skills other than his shooting. At Kentucky, he was surrounded by so much talent that he functioned more as a role player than go-to scorer. Booker should inherit a similar role in the NBA, but a team looking for big-time shot creator right away may be wary of selecting him too high in this draft. Booker’s lack of defensive disruptiveness may be cause for concern. He posted a lower steal rate than every other Kentucky player who averaged at least 11 minutes per game and blocked only 0.3% of opponents’ two-point attempts, according to kenpom.com.
NBA comparison: Danny Green
13. Sam Dekker — 6'9" 220 pounds
Forward | Junior | Wisconsin
Bio: Dekker is a folk hero in the state of Wisconsin, winning a state championship in high school on a last-second shot and leading the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours. By now, he should have shed the shooter-only label after performing well at the combine, and if you buy his statistical leap during the tourney, Dekker could be a mid-round steal. He has two-way potential and holds additional appeal because he could contribute right away as a role player.
Strengths: Dekker’s ability to score combined with his quality athleticism and ability to guard several positions make him a good fit for the NBA. He’s been a streaky three-point shooter in the past, but if he becomes more consistent beyond the arc, he’ll have a well-rounded offensive game that could lend itself to playing the four in small-ball situations. Given his size and tools on the defensive end (the one knock is that his wingspan is a relatively short 6’11”), it’s easy to see Dekker, a highly intelligent, competitive player, having a long career as a useful role player, if not more.
Weaknesses: A lot of Dekker’s success hinges on the sustainability of his shooting. While there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to improve his stroke, his skill package is far less attractive and versatile if the three-ball doesn’t become a reliable part of his arsenal. He’s good, not great, with the ball in his hands and there’s the aforementioned issue of his short arms. These are all nitpicky criticisms, and Dekker would appear to be a fairly safe choice. He’ll go as far as his jumper can take him.
NBA comparison: Danilo Gallinari
14. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — 6'7" 220 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | Arizona
Bio: Most people know two things about Hollis-Jefferson, the intriguing, athletic Arizona wing not named Stanley Johnson: he’s an incredible athlete and he can’t shoot a lick. His defensive potential is as high as any player in this draft, and with his strength and mobility, he should be able to switch onto guards and bigs alike. Offensively, he’s a slasher and transition threat, which (given his talent on the other end) should be enough to keep him on the court even if he never develops a jump shot. Hollis-Jefferson could go anywhere from the mid-lottery to the mid-20s and brings one of the draft’s more unique talent bundles.
Strengths: You can never undervalue elite perimeter defense as a skill. What’s even better, Hollis-Jefferson loves to defend and seems to understand where his money will come from. With a 7-foot wingspan, strong instincts and explosiveness, he can match up with just about anybody and plays hard all the time. He’s frequently around the ball and rebounds aggressively. As the league-wide trend toward perimeter-heavy lineups continues, guys like Hollis-Jefferson will be increasingly in demand.
Weaknesses: Well, he really can’t shoot. In two years at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson totaled eight made three-pointers on 39 attempts, so while he’s bad, at least he’s not forcing it. His mechanics need major work, and if he can just establish a presence from mid-range, it should be enough to keep him in most rotations. While he’s terrific with a clear path to the basket, he’s not a creative dribbler and doesn’t present that much of a half-court threat. He should at least be a contributor of some type on the offensive end, but this could conceivably be a disaster area that relegates him to specialist duty.
NBA comparison: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
15. Bobby Portis — 6'11" 242 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | Arkansas
Bio: A two-year standout at Arkansas, Portis finished a second-team All-America selection in 2015. The former McDonald’s All-American was named the SEC Player of the Year after putting up 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Razorbacks last season. He was also a top-20 finalist for the John R. Wooden Award. Portis was mentored by former Arkansas great Corliss Williamson, who was coincidently the last Razorback named the SEC Player of the Year.
Strengths: Portis is a relentless rebounder, especially on the offensive glass (4.5 offensive rebounds per game). He plays with a motor that doesn’t stop, attacking the boards with a fervor NBA teams will love. The mechanics of his jumper aren’t great, but they get the job done, even out to the three-point line, where he hit 46.7% of his shots last season. Although Portis isn’t an elite athlete, he has the foot speed to guard bigs on the perimeters as well as get by them off the bounce.
Weaknesses: Lack of athleticism and strength make him an oddly sub-standard defensive rebounder for a player his size. Additionally, despite good length, Portis isn’t an elite rim protector or shot blocker. Most of Portis’s points come off energy plays, hustle, and open jump shots, as he’s not going to create a ton of offense on his own. You can’t just give him the ball on the block and ask him to go to work. Portis’s post game isn’t refined, but given his soft touch as a jump-shooter, it’s an area he could develop down the line.
NBA comparison: Tristan Thompson
16. Jerian Grant — 6'5" 202 pounds
Guard | Senior | Notre Dame
Bio: Grant blossomed into one of the top point guards in college basketball during his senior season at Notre Dame. An SI.com first-team All-America, Grant helped the Fighting Irish win 32 games, finish third in the ACC, clinch a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and reach the Elite Eight, where they fell to No. 1 seed Kentucky. He missed the majority of his junior season after withdrawing from school in December due to what he called an “academic matter.” A native of Bowie, Md., Grant is the brother of current Philadelphia 76ers forward and 2014 second-round pick Jerami Grant, the son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant and the nephew of Horace Grant, a four-time NBA champion.
Strengths: Grant helped Notre Dame morph into one of the most efficient offenses in the country last season. Though he led the Irish in scoring, Grant was also the team’s best facilitator, posting an assist rate that ranked among the nation’s top 40. As capable as Grant is at setting up teammates, he is also as capable of creating his own looks. In 2014-15, he averaged more than 18 points per 40 minutes, adjusted for pace, and made better than 57% of his two-point attempts. Grant particularly excelled in transition last season, as he averaged more than 1.2 points per possession on those situations, according to Synergy Sports. In addition, his size projects well for an NBA point guard.
Weaknesses: While he established himself as a capable scorer and playmaker at Notre Dame, Grant doesn’t project as a top-flight long-range shooter. He connected on 34.5% of his three-point attempts during his time at Notre Dame, and only 31.6% during his senior season. Grant recorded one of the highest steal rates among ACC players during conference play in 2015 and has the potential to become a solid perimeter defender because of his size and athleticism, but he didn’t distinguish himself favorably on that end of the floor during his time at Notre Dame. Though Grant had more time to hone his game in college, he is 22 entering the draft—significantly older than many top prospects.
NBA comparison: Brandon Knight
17. Kevon Looney — 6'9" 220 pounds
Forward | Freshman | UCLA
Bio: Hyped out of high school, Looney had a solid freshman year at UCLA, but it didn’t quite live up to the billing. Looney remains intriguing physically with a 7’3” wingspan, but showed up with a somewhat alarming 11.9% body fat at the draft combine. He’s a strong rebounder but NBA teams are interested because of his perimeter skills and stretch-four potential. During his prep career, Looney operated as a scorer all over the floor, whereas at UCLA he flashed his jump shot but didn’t receive the same freedom to operate. He could go anywhere in the back half of the first round.
Strengths: The most translatable skill for Looney is clearly his rebounding on both ends of the floor. His stretch-four upside is the key here, and if he becomes a consistent three-point threat, there should be a place for him in the NBA. On the defensive side, his long arms allow him to be disruptive and he should be able to guard his position and switch onto wings situationally. If Looney’s shot develops to the point where his team can deploy him as a small-ball five a la Golden State’s Draymond Green, he’ll be an especially useful cog in someone’s machine.
Weaknesses: Looney needs to do more than just rebound to earn minutes, and it’s not clear yet how his offensive skills will diversify. In the pros, he’ll face athletes that can outleap him and negate his length advantage. Lacking any semblance of a post game, Looney needs his shots to be created for him in order to be a factor until he expands his arsenal. There are also some questions about his conditioning, and he’s a project who will especially require the right team and development plan to succeed. Right now the D-League isn’t out of the question, and working in Looney’s favor is the fact he’s 19 years old.
NBA comparison: Antawn Jamison
18. Tyus Jones — 6'1" 190 pounds
Point Guard | Freshman | Duke
Bio: Here we have the rare case of a player who is still being undervalued despite a March Madness breakout. We’ve seen players of Jones’s ilk before, point guards who bring cliché strengths to the table: he’s a gamer, a guy who makes his teammates better, who simply understands how to play the game and almost always impacts the game in a positive way. Mudiay and Russell are the headliners, but Jones should be the third point guard off the board. At worst, the Final Four MVP looks like a steady backup. At best, he’s somebody’s point guard of the future.
Strengths: A natural leader and distributor, Jones is a cerebral player who gets the job done. He was regarded as the top point guard in his class for much of high school, and his teams have almost always won. He checks all the intangible boxes, including a notable competitive streak. Don’t expect him to be a big-time scorer, but he won’t need to be in order to have success. Jones looks suited to step into a backup role immediately, and it’s tough to bet against his track record. Considering the number of special NBA guards who’ve had plenty of success without sexy athletic attributes, Jones could be a steal in the middle of the first round.
Weaknesses: Jones doesn’t fit the current chic mold of a big explosive ball-handler and will have a shorter leash as a result. Trey Burke could be a recent detrimental point of comparison, though Jones has better size and is a more instinctive playmaker at the same stage. As a freshman he quieted the talk about his inconsistent perimeter shooting (37% from deep). The next thing he’ll have to show is whether he can cut it defensively as a pro. The million-dollar question is if Jones’s lack of athleticism will overshadow his considerable strengths. It’s a critique we’ve seen successful point guards dismiss plenty of times before.
NBA comparison: Mike Conley
19. Trey Lyles — 6'10" 235 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Kentucky
Bio: It’s possible that Lyles’s stock could have been higher had he not been part of Kentucky’s star-studded rotation. The worst part about the Wildcats’ rotation for Lyles is that he was often playing out of position at small forward. After Alex Poythress went down, Lyles’s star rose accordingly, proving he’s one of the more skilled power forwards in this draft. He’s a true four-man both size- and skill-wise who fits both in half-court and transition play. While he doesn’t have one elite talent, Lyles is one of the draft’s most well-rounded offensive big men.
Strengths: Lyles is able to do a little bit of everything and is comfortable attacking off the dribble, finishing at the basket and has the makings of a solid post game. He’s a good passer and face-up player with a decent mid-range game, and the development of his three-point shot will be key to his value. While the prospect of Lyles as a stretch-four is enticing, he has enough talent and versatility to become a very solid offensive cog, though he may never be a true star. He’s just 19 and has plenty of time to polish his game, and there’s plenty for teams to work with.
Weaknesses: The main strike against Lyles is that he lacks top-level leaping and quickness. His offensive skills, especially with added shooting range could certainly make up for that. Though he wasn’t that productive statistically, you have to remember how things work at Kentucky. Plus, his per-minute stats are more forgiving. It’s Lyles’s defense that begs the most questions—he won’t be able to guard small forwards like he did at Kentucky. While Lyles can match most four-men from a physical standpoint, he’s not a shot-blocker. If he doesn't improve the jumper or prove to be passable defensively, his prospects are far less exciting.
NBA comparison: David West
20. Justin Anderson — 6'6" 227 pounds
Forward | Junior | Virginia
Bio: After growing up in Virginia, Anderson stayed in-state for college, committing to Virginia over Maryland, Texas and Virginia Tech. He assumed secondary roles his first two seasons in Charlottesville, averaging under eight points per game. His junior season marked an emergence into the spotlight, but also two setbacks. He was arguably the best player on a Virginia team that spent most of the season ranked in the top 5, averaging 12.2 points a game on 46.6% shooting and hitting 45.2% of his threes. But Anderson also battled injuries, missing eight games late in the season to a broken finger and then an appendectomy. He didn’t fully recover in time to save Virginia from a season-ending loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament Round of 32.
Strengths: Anderson anchored Virginia’s stellar defense, using his long arms and quickness to guard perimeter players and his strength to match up with bigger players in the post. He has also developed an offensive game to match his defense, shooting 46.6% from the field and 45.2% from three-point range last season, up dramatically from 40.7% and 29.4%, respectively, in 2013-14. His improvement from behind the three-point line—which follows dramatic changes in his shooting form—is especially encouraging. He could fit easily on any NBA roster as a prototypical “three and D” wing. He’s also an athletic leaper who wouldn’t be out of place in a dunk contest.
Weakness: Anderson’s offensive game still could use work. He can’t do much in isolation situations, and he made fewer than half of his two-point attempts each of his three years at Virginia. Sub-par ball-handling skills prevent him from being a go-to option on offense. He’ll need to improve his handle to contribute as an NBA guard. As it is, he’s a bit of a ‘tweener on offense, with a skill set more befitting of a small forward at the professional level. He also needs to show that his sudden shooting improvement was no fluke. If the shooting ability he showed as a junior can’t be sustained, opponents will ignore him on offense.
NBA comparison: Arron Afflalo
21. Montrezl Harrell — 6'8" 240 pounds
Forward | Junior | Louisville
Bio: Some of Harrell’s early buzz has worn off, but there’s plenty to like about him as a value pick toward the back of the first round. And though he might have gone higher in last year’s draft—after so many teams had tangible success playing small this season—Harrell’s future role in the league actually looks much clearer now. He’s obviously an undersized big, but his ridiculous wingspan, measured at over 7’4” at the combine, does wonders for his cause. A unique body type, strong rebounding résumé and active motor cast Harrell potentially as sort of a poor man’s Tristan Thompson.
Strengths: Harrell is tough, runs the floor and finishes extremely well. He’ll play above the rim and has improved his shooting touch on free throws and mid-range attempts. Cleaning the glass has been his constant calling card as a prospect, and he’s got the necessary nasty streak and high-energy style to succeed given his build. Defensively, he held his own in college and plays extremely tough, which has to continue in the NBA. If that happens, he should be able to play both power forward and even some small-ball center, causing problems on the interior and covering up for some of his teammates’ mistakes.
Weaknesses: Beyond the offensive glass, it’s unclear where Harrell’s scoring will come from at the next level. He’s not really a back-to-the-basket type and his jumper remains a work in progress. The combined number that hurts him is 11.9% body fat, which is somewhat mysterious. In the event his intangibles aren’t enough and his relentless style of play doesn’t translate, Harrell’s NBA stay could be briefer than expected.
NBA comparison: Kenneth Faried
22. Kelly Oubre Jr. — 6'7" 203 pounds
Freshman | Forward | Kansas
Bio: A few months after losing Andrew Wiggins to the NBA draft, Kansas added another highly regarded wing in its incoming recruiting class. Oubre played limited minutes early in the season as he got acclimated to the college game but eventually became a bigger part of the rotation. His best game came near the end of the regular season, a 25-point performance on 5-of-10 shooting in a win over TCU. In all, Oubre played a considerable role for a Jayhawks team that won 27 games, clinched a share of their 11th straight Big 12 regular-season title and earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tourney.
Strengths: Oubre possesses the potential to develop into a versatile perimeter defender. His combination of length (7’2 ½” wingspan), athleticism and awareness should allow him to guard multiple positions in the NBA. Oubre also can create turnovers—he posted the fifth-highest steal percentage among Big 12 players during conference play last season, according to kenpom.com—and holds his own on the defensive glass. On the other end of the floor. Oubre is primarily a spot-up shooter. He hit 35.8% of his three-point attempts last season and averaged more than a point per possession on spot-up opportunities, according to Synergy Sports.
Weaknesses: Oubre could develop into a solid floor-spacer in the NBA, but his jump shot was inconsistent at Kansas. Over his final eight regular season games, Oubre connected on only 18.8% of his treys. Oubre also didn’t display a consistent ability to create good shot opportunities inside the arc. He sank 38% of his mid-range shots and converted fewer than 50% of his two-point attempts. Oubre didn’t distinguish himself as a playmaker, either, as he recorded 1.4 assists per 40 minutes (adjusted for pace), fewer than frontcourt teammates Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor. Though Oubre presents upside as a two-way wing, he will likely need some time to develop before making a significant impact.
NBA comparison: James Young
23. Cameron Payne — 6'2" 183 pounds
Guard | Sophomore | Murray State
Bio: Payne was lowly recruited out of high school after coming off the bench on the AAU circuit. He wasn’t supposed to be Isaiah Canaan’s replacement at Murray State but had to assume the starting point guard role immediately as a freshman due to injuries. Payne never looked back, emerging as one of the elite point guards in the country. Leading the Racers’ offense, Payne guided Murray State to the 13th-most efficient offense in the nation this season, per kenpom.com. He ranked 15th in the nation in assists per game. He recently suffered a fractured ring finger on his non-shooting hand. The injury does not require surgery, but Payne will not workout for anymore teams before the draft.
Strengths: Payne has the one true necessary skill of a point guard in today’s NBA: A mastery of the pick-and-roll. He’s crafty working in various pick-and-roll sets, using his next-level decision-making ability, pull-up jumper and fluid floater to keep defenses off balance. He possesses the vision and ball-handling abilities of an NBA point guard, and he really shines in the open court. What makes Payne an especially intriguing prospect to scouts is his length and defensive versatility. At just under 6’2”, Payne measured an exceptional 6’7 ¼” wingspan. Combine that with his quickness and Payne could potentially guard the majority of all NBA wings.
Weaknesses: Like many 20-year-old prospects, Payne needs to add muscle in order to survive at the next level. His floater is truly a weapon, but he struggles getting all the way to the rim and has difficulties finishing. Payne’s struggle to reach the tin against mid-major opponents is definitely concerning. His funky shooting form is also a cause for some pause.
NBA comparison: George Hill
24. Jonathan Holmes — 6'8" 240 pounds
Forward | Senior | Texas
Bio: A decorated four-year player at Texas, Holmes played in 127 games for the Longhorns stacking up 1,166 points. He was a top-100 recruit out of San Antonio who stepped right into a key role for UT. He finished his 2014-15 season with All-Conference Honorable Mention honors in the Big 12.
Strengths: Holmes has solid mechanics on his jumper and has displayed range out to the three-point line (33%). He’s also an excellent rebounder for a wing player. He competes hard and shows good floor awareness. Holmes has the frame and skill to back down smaller defenders to score, while also possessing the ability to take bigger defenders off the dribble. He’s a versatile forward who may be best utilized as a stretch-four for a team looking for a plug-and-play offensive player.
Weaknesses: What position does he play in the NBA? Holmes would be miscast as a creator or scorer off the dribble. He’s a good shooter, but not a consistent one, with his jumper ranging from white-hot to ice-cold. He has the defensive ability and foot quickness to guard wing players on switches, but whether or not he can handle NBA bigs consistently is certainly a concern. Although he flashed the ability to take advantage of smaller players on the offensive end, it wasn’t something he did with enough assertiveness at Texas.
NBA comparison: Wilson Chandler
25. R.J. Hunter — 6'6" 185 pounds
Guard | Junior | Georgia State
Bio: Hunter garnered national attention in March when he drained a long three-point shot to upset No. 3 seed Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. R.J.’s father, Georgia State head coach Ron, memorably fell out of his chair while celebrating the shot. The win ensured the No. 14 seed Panthers posted at least 25 victories for the second consecutive season, with Hunter serving as the leading scorer and winning the Sun Belt Player of the year award in both 2013-14 and ‘14-15. A three-star recruit from Indianapolis, Ind., Hunter rejected reported scholarship offers from high-major programs to play for his dad.
Strengths: The main reason Hunter is a coveted NBA prospect is his shooting ability. Though his three-point percentage declined from 39.7 to 29.9 between his sophomore and junior seasons, he finished No. 15 in the country in long-range attempts in ‘14-15, which accounted for 51% of his total field goal attempts. Hunter drew nearly six fouls per 40 minutes during conference play, according to kenpom.com, and made good on his trips to the line, converting at an 88.7% clip. He profiles as a complementary scorer in the NBA, but Hunter flashed the ability to facilitate offensive opportunities for his teammates, as he recorded just over four assists per 40 minutes in ‘14-15, adjusted for pace.
Weaknesses: Hunter did not offset his dip in three-point accuracy with improved shooting inside the arc. Playing the majority of his games against subpar competition in a weaker conference, Hunter connected on only 36.6% of his two-point jump shots last season. Though Hunter possesses favorable length (6’10 ½’’ wingspan) and recorded a 3.4 steal percentage and 4.6 block percentage during Sun Belt play last season, it’s tough to say whether he’ll be able to hold his own defensively in the NBA after spending so much of his time at GSU in a zone defense.
NBA comparison: J.J. Redick
26. Christian Wood — 6'11" 215 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | UNLV
Bio: Wood grew up in Palmdale, Calif., but transferred to powerhouse Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., before his senior year of high school. A Top 100 recruit, he didn’t go far for college, enrolling at UNLV. He contributed sparingly as a freshman, scoring 4.5 points in 13 minutes per game off the bench while shooting only 41%, but he improved in 2014-15 as dramatically as any player in the country. He finished second on his team in scoring and fifth in the Mountain West while ranking second in the conference in rebounds and blocks per game.
Strengths: Wood has all the physical gifts you can ask for. He’s 6’11” with a 7’3” wingspan and great athleticism. He moves extremely well for a player of his size, which will allow him to guard more agile big men in the NBA. He’s a good finisher at the rim, particularly off lobs, which makes him an ideal pick-and-roll candidate. He has impressive ball-handling abilities, allowing him to run fast breaks by himself, and while he’s no sharp-shooter, he and can hit mid-range jumpers and even the occasional three. With some development, he could help stretch the floor in the NBA. He rebounded well at UNLV, thanks in large part to his length, and blocked loads of shots as well. And given his raw skills, he has room to improve in all these areas going forward.
Weaknesses: He’ll need to fill out in order to match up with bulkier big men in the NBA. For now, he needs to improve his fundamentals both on defense and on the boards. Long arms were enough to accumulate blocks and rebounds in the Mountain West, but he’ll need to be smarter in the pros. All around, Wood lacks polish, with his effort and decision-making sometimes raising questions. His shot-selection a significant problem. On offense, he shows promise but needs to refine his game and develop a reliable weapon outside of lobs and transition dunks.
NBA comparison: Hassan Whiteside
27. Delon Wright — 6'6" 181 pounds
Guard | Senior | Utah
Bio: Academic problems in high school prevented Wright from joining a D-I program right away. Instead, he starred at City College of San Francisco for two years before moving to Utah as a junior college transfer. He was twice named first team All-Pac-12 and to the conference’s All-Defensive team. After leading Utah to a 26-9 record in 2014-15, Wright was named a second team All-America. His older brother, Dorell Wright, plays for the Trail Blazers.
Strengths: A do-it-all point guard with outstanding size for the position. Wright gets by with craft rather than overpowering athleticism. He’s a smart, decisive player who can score, distribute and rebound well for his position. An efficient scorer despite not being a great shooter overall, Wright has a knack for getting to his spots and finding creases. The senior can also defend and has a knack for creating steals and tips due to his length and excellent anticipation into passing lanes.
Weaknesses: Occasionally, he has trouble finishing around the rim, and he doesn’t have the elite athleticism you look for in a starting NBA point guard. Outside shooting will be a question, despite a decent three-point percentage as a senior (35.6%). Teams seeking upside players in the first round will worry about Wright’s age.
NBA comparison: Brandon Knight
28. Rashad Vaughn — 6'6" 210 pounds
Guard | Freshman | UNLV
Bio: Vaughn was a McDonald’s All-American after transferring to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., from his hometown of Golden Valley, Minn. A five-star recruit in the class of 2014, he chose nearby UNLV over Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and others. He made an immediate impact for the Runnin’ Rebels, scoring 26 points in his first college game and averaging 17.8 points during his freshman season, the second-best mark in the Mountain West. Vaughn’s season ended prematurely in February when he tore the meniscus in his left knee in a game against Fresno State.
Strengths: Vaughn is 18 years old, making him one of the draft’s youngest players. And at 6’6”, he has good size for his position. He’s a natural scorer, with the ability to make shots from anywhere on the floor, over any level of defense. As a freshman, he scored in bunches and excelled as a shooter especially in catch-and-shoot scenarios. He also does well in isolation and can create off the dribble. With his size and relative athleticism, he has potential to be a capable defender, if not better.
Weaknesses: Vaughn shot 43.9% from the field last season and will need to be more efficient at the next level. That means improving his shot selection, resisting contested shots and also becoming a more willing passer. His low assist rate in ‘14-15 underlines his resistance to find the open man or create opportunities for others. He’s not particularly long or strong, so he’ll have to work to become a good rebounder and defender. He’s not the most athletic player in the draft, so he’ll need to be crafty at getting to the rim and improve at finishing when he gets there. Otherwise, he risks becoming solely a spot-up shooter.
NBA comparison: O.J. Mayo
29. Robert Upshaw — 6'0" 258 pounds
Center | Sophomore | Washington
Bio: Upshaw is one of the biggest question marks in this draft. With his defensive potential, especially his elite rim protection, the former Washington big man has the talent and physical makeup of a lottery pick. He has a checkered past, having been dismissed from two schools reportedly for substance abuse issues. He also has possible health issues, as he was flagged at the combine with heart issues. He could end up dropping to the end of the first round or out of it entirely due to those concerns. But his fall could end up a blessing in disguise. He would miss out on guaranteed money, but he could begin his NBA career in an established system and culture and with lower expectations.
Strengths: Upshaw’s draft stock is primarily rooted in his reputation as an elite shot-blocker, which is a disservice to the big man’s overall defensive prowess. He’s a solid post defender and also has good awareness on switches, especially when he’s directly involved in pick-and-rolls as well as shadowing pick-and-rolls from the weakside. He uses his exceptional length to the best of his abilities, making the most of his 7’5 ½” wingspan and 9’5” standing reach. Upshaw was an efficient rebounder as well, grabbing 13.1 per 40 minutes this season. The big man even showed competent ball skills on the perimeter, which bode well for his transition to offensive systems heavy on dribble hand-offs from bigs around the high post.
Weaknesses: With Upshaw, character is a major concern, after being booted from Washington and Fresno State in two years. He has since hired a life coach and has worked diligently to put his worst days behind him, but his past is certainly worrisome. Upshaw is also lacking in lower-body strength, which hinders his ability to muscle against other big men in the paint. Upshaw has significant troubles at the foul line as well, converting just 43.4% throughout his college career.
NBA comparison: Rudy Gobert
30. Jarell Martin — 6'10" 236 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | LSU
Bio: Originally considered a potential one-and-done candidate, Martin returned to LSU for his sophomore year and helped lead the Tigers to a 22-10 regular season and a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. Martin continued to impress with his elite athleticism and certainly looks the part of a modern NBA four-man with his perimeter playmaking skills and ability to face-up. The biggest cause for concern is his big dip in three-point shooting, a skill that has become prevalent at the four in today’s NBA. With an improved defensive approach and heightened basketball IQ, Martin could build a long NBA career as a fringe starter.
Strengths: When watching Martin, it’s obvious he possess exceptional athleticism and quickness for a player his size. His leaping ability (34.5" max vertical at the NBA draft combine) allowed him to get up and finish with the best in college basketball last season and also makes him a force on the offensive glass. He runs the floor like a gazelle and truly thrives in transition. In the half-court, he utilizes a polished face-up game that extends to about 15 feet out. He can both roll to the basket in the pick-and-roll or pop out to set up his solid mid-range game. Defensively, he’s shown the ability to body up bigger opponents one-on-one on the block as well.
Weaknesses: Martin regressed shooting-wise from the outside in his second collegiate season, shooting just 26.9% from three-point land after converting 33.3% of his attempts from outside as a freshman. He also struggles scoring in the post, which is a major factor in his preference to face-up when looking to score. His awareness hurts him defensively in terms of rotations and positioning, which impacts defensive rebounding. For a player who attacks the offensive glass in his own right, Martin loses far too many offensive rebounds to his opponents. His average length and wingspan might turn a few teams off as well.
NBA comparison: Brandon Bass
31. Jordan Mickey — 6'8" 238 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | LSU
Bio: Mickey has drawn the attention of scouts with his next-level shot-blocking ability, his physical makeup and his overall potential to be a dynamic defensive weapon in the NBA. Mickey posted an incredible 90.2 defensive rating in the 2014-15 season, according to sports-reference.com. As a sophomore, he elevated his production across the board with increased minutes and touches, helping lead LSU to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. A team bullish on his potential to develop on the offensive end could very reasonably select Mickey in the back end of the first round.
Strengths: A slightly undersized power forward, Mickey makes up for his lack of height with absurd leaping ability (37.5” max vert) and ridiculous length (7’3.25 wingspan) that he utilized to become one of the fiercest rim protectors in all of college basketball. Mickey led the nation in blocks per game and was second in the country in total blocks. He also possess the athleticism to hedge out on pick-and-rolls and recover in time to clog the paint. Mickey showed flashes of an offensive game last season, preferring to face-up rather than play with his back to the basket, similar to his LSU teammate Jarell Martin.
Weaknesses: While Mickey can use his prolonged wingspan to block shots and suffocate opponents, his size has hurt him on the offensive end, where he’s struggled to finish against bigger opponents, especially around the rim. He’s had particular difficulty with finishing through contact and he tends to shy away from physical play on the block. His offensive game needs a large amount of refinement, which will ultimately define how successful of a career he creates for himself. He’ll need to figure out how to consistently score when he gets touches at the next level.
NBA comparison: Ed Davis
32. Richaun Holmes — 6'9" 243 pounds
Forward | Senior | Bowling Green
Bio: A late-bloomer by every definition of the word, Holmes grew to 6’6” by his senior year of high school after entering as a 5’9” freshman. Holmes didn’t make his high school varsity team until his junior year of high school, ultimately leaving him with zero Division I scholarships after graduation. He parlayed a year at Moraine Valley Community College into a scholarship at Bowling Green and never looked back. Holmes graduates from Bowling Green as the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year and the only player in school history to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 200 blocks.
Strengths: With his 36” max vert and 7’1 ¼” wingspan, Holmes is an elite shot blocker, erasing five shot attempts in just 17 minutes during his Day One scrimmage at the NBA draft combine in May. Limiting Holmes as simply a shot blocker would do his overall defense a disservice, however. He’s got quick feed to hedge out on pick-and-rolls and can stay in front of speedy ball handlers as well as any big in this draft. He also has legitimate three-point range, knocking down 41.9% of his attempts this season.
Weaknesses: Holmes has a lot of room to grow as a scorer with the ball in his hands. He does most of his damage on cuts, rolls to the rim and off the offensive glass. His individual offensive game is pretty limited to catch-and-shoots and facing up and trying to power past smaller defenders or quick-step around bigger opponents. Holmes could also improve when it comes to finishing through contact—a skill that will be necessary when going up against larger NBA bigs.
NBA comparison: Taj Gibson
33. Chris McCullough — 6'10" 220 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Syracuse
Bio: McCullough bounced around in his prep days, playing for three different schools (he was dismissed from Brewster Academy) before landing at Syracuse. He was considered an elite prep player at various times during his high school career, but as mentioned, struggled to stay engaged and eligible.
Strengths: Long, athletic and smooth, McCullough has the kind of upside NBA teams covet. His jumper is effortless and his final numbers at Syracuse would have been very impressive if he hadn’t suffered an ACL injury midway through the season. McCullough has excellent defensive potential, flashing excellent anticipation skills for steals and blocks, both important indicators of NBA success.
Weaknesses: There’s a lot of mystery around the 20-year-old at this point. His prep career was marred by attitude issues and academic problems. The Bronx native only got to play 16 collegiate games, and outside of two excellent performances in a pre-conference tournament, McCullough wasn’t a high-impact player for the Orange. His on-ball defense will be a question coming out of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, which may have also led to his poor defensive rebounding rate. It looks like McCullough can do it all, but can he do it consistently?
NBA comparison: Perry Jones
34. Michael Frazier — 6'4" 199 pounds
Guard | Junior | Florida
Bio: Frazier played a key role on Florida’s 2014 run to the Final Four and finished his career a 43.2% shooter from three-point range. Frazier missed seven games in conference play last season due to an ankle injury, which plagued him throughout much of the season and impacted his performance. The question will be whether the drop in his shooting (44.5% to 38.0% from sophomore to junior) was more due to his injuries or losing three All-SEC teammates. The answer to that question will likely determine how high he’s drafted. Finding a niche in the NBA will also require proving he can guard NBA wings.
Strengths: Shooting, shooting, shooting. Frazier is a career 43.2% three-point shooter, who stretched the floor for Florida over his three seasons. His 6’8” wingspan will help him transition to guarding longer perimeter players in the NBA. He has the athleticism and explosiveness to become a scorer, not just a shooter, recording a 35” max vertical at the NBA draft combine and showing an impressive quickness throughout his collegiate career. Frazier moves well without the ball and can shoot on the move. He’s an above-average rebounder for his size.
Weaknesses: His drop in shooting this season came as opponents started to game-plan for his marksmanship, leading to an inability to carry the majority of the offensive scoring load. Frazier is a mostly a one-dimensional player and will need to strengthen his ball-handling abilities. At 6’4”, he’s slightly undersized for an NBA shooting guard.
NBA comparison: Gary Neal
35. Cliff Alexander — 6'9" 239 pounds
Forward | Freshman | Kansas
Bio: Alexander’s fall from grace has been well-documented, after getting into trouble with the NCAA at Kansas, receiving a suspension for the end of the season and generally underperforming when he was on the floor. But despite a year largely wasted, this is still the same player who would have been a lottery pick out of high school. At his best, the Chicago native plays with eye-opening physicality and can dominate on the glass and as a finisher. In the right situation, he could still blossom into a productive, starting-caliber player.
Strengths: On a per-minute basis, Alexander’s Kansas stats look a lot better. He’s undersized, but he’s so strong and explosive that he can bully bigger players and hold his own. With a wingspan of over 7’3” and 5.8% body fat, the tools are all there. He will be an excellent rebounder out of the gate and could be used as a pick-and-roll weapon down the line. Though slowly, Alexander is developing a mid-range game, and any and all growth in that area helps him immensely. The emergence of Tristan Thompson in these playoffs showcases the type of role he could thrive in. When Alexander’s locked in, he can be a force; and if he accepts being cast as a role player, there’s still a chance at a long NBA career.
Weaknesses: Alexander has struggled to improve with his back to the basket and may never be that type of player. He didn’t play organized basketball until his freshman year of high school and remains very unpolished. His awareness on both ends has never been a strong point, and Bill Self was unwilling to hand him heavy minutes despite his undeniable impact potential, which stands out as a bit of a red flag. With the elementary strengths he presents on the interior, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have dominated at the college level. In the NBA, his task will be exceptionally harder, and Alexander will have to win back some of his old luster and prove himself again.
NBA comparison: Amir Johnson
36. Terry Rozier — 6'1" 190 pounds
Guard | Sophomore | Louisville
Bio: Rozier assumed the point guard duties for Louisville in late February when Chris Jones was dismissed from the program. How did Rozier respond? By leading the Cardinals to the Elite Eight as the No. 4 seed in a very competitive NCAA tournament region in March. Throughout his collegiate coaching career and especially since taking over Louisville’s program in 2001, Rick Pitino’s has entrusted his point guards with a lot of on-court responsibilities, especially in the postseason. As a result, Rozier is certainly prepared for the NBA mentally.
Strengths: At 6’2” and complemented by a 6’8 ¼” wingspan, Rozier has great size for an NBA point guard. He possess great athleticism as well, as evidenced by his 38" max vert at the NBA combine. His quickness allows him to be a tenacious on-ball defender, hounding ball-handlers with his length and speed. Rozier is an exceptional rebounder for his size and position. He is sound with ball management, too, coughing up very few turnovers.
Weaknesses: Rozier struggled with shooting consistency in college on a nightly basis and year-to-year. Most notably, his three-point percentage dropped from 37.1% to 30.6% his sophomore year. He doesn’t create too much for others, only averaging 3 assists per game in Louisville’s pick-and-roll heavy offense. He often looks a step behind defenses with his decision-making in pick-and-rolls sets, which might limit his NBA peak as a third point guard playing spot minutes.
NBA comparison: Ray McCallum Jr.
37. Nikola Milutinov — 7'0" 220 pounds
Center | Age: 20 | Serbia
Bio: Milutinov made his professional debut in 2011-12 with Hemofarm in Serbia, then signed a four-year deal with powerhouse Partizan Belgrade the following season. Partizan won Serbian League championships in each of Milutinov’s first two years with the team and grabbed an Adriatic League title as well, with a teenage Milutinov contributing off the bench. In 2014-15, Milutinov played a career-high 28 minutes per game during Adriatic League play, averaging 9.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. He also has international experience, having competed for the Serbian national team at the 2013 U-19 World Championships, where he averaged 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Strengths: Milutinov is a 7-footer with a 7’3” wingspan, which is a good place to start for an NBA center. He’s incredibly mobile for his size and possesses impressive footwork. He has a smooth release and decent range on his jumper. He also has good vision and the ability to find open teammates. He rebounded well in the Adriatic league, especially on the offensive glass. With his size and athleticism, he has potential on defense. He has been playing professionally since 2011, so he doesn’t lack for experience, and he’s still only 20 years old.
Weaknesses: Milutinov needs to add weight and muscle to match up with NBA centers. He can be backed down in the post by bulkier big men. He needs to improve in the post offensively to broaden his scoring beyond open dunks and jumpers. Though he has potential as a jump-shooter, that part of his game still needs refining. He could be a better rebounder and shot-blocker. He’s not a very good free-throw shooter, making only 58.7% of his shots in 2014-15. He’s probably a long-term project rather than an immediate contributor. Some have questioned his attitude and motor.
NBA comparison: John Henson
38. Norman Powell — 6'4" 215 pounds
Guard | Senior | UCLA
Bio: Powell was an all-state high school player in San Diego and a four-star recruit. He committed to UCLA over Arizona, Arizona State, San Diego State and others but disappointed early in his Bruins career. He scored only 4.6 points in 17.8 minutes a game as a freshman but improved steadily from there. Powell considered transferring after his sophomore season and declaring for the draft after his junior season, but ended up staying at UCLA for four years. During his final season, he led the Bruins in scoring and was named first-team All-Pac-12. He played well during UCLA’s run to the Sweet 16, scoring 19 points against SMU, 15 against UAB and 16 against Gonzaga.
Strengths: Powell is extremely athletic, with long arms and huge hops. He has a 6’11” wingspan and a highlight reel full of impressive dunks. He came into his own as a scorer at UCLA, progressing from 4.6 points per game as a freshman to 16.4 as a senior. He shot a respectable 45.6% from the field as a senior after hitting 53.3% of his shots as a junior. He has a strong first step that allows him to get to the basket, where he’s good at absorbing contact. He’s a good rebounder for his size, averaging 4.7 per game last year. He’s also a solid defender with the physical attributes and awareness to stick with most players at either guard position.
Weaknesses: Powell needs to improve his jump shot. His three-point shooting is not consistent enough to serve as a real threat. Most of his baskets in college came around the rim, which might become a problem against taller defenders at the next level. He is a bit short for his position, raising questions about whether the finishing ability he flashed in college will translate to the pros. Penetrating will be easier for him if he develops his jump shot into a viable threat. Defense could also be a concern against bigger guards. He doesn’t have the floor vision you look for in an NBA guard and needs to work to improve as a facilitator.
NBA comparison: Elliot Williams
39. Mouhammadou Jaiteh — 6'11" 247 pounds
Forward | Age: 20 | France
Bio: Jaiteh first appeared on NBA radars at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit, but fluctuating interest led him to enter and withdraw from the last two NBA drafts. He came to the States to work out for teams both years, proving his commitment and desire to playing in the NBA. After two years of playing professionally and excelling in France for JSF Nanterre, Jaiteh now looks prepared to make the leap from France to the NBA.
Strengths: Jaiteh is long, with a 7’3 ¼” wingspan, and uses his length to crash the offensive glass consistently. He also possess a rare combination for a big man: strength paired with soft hands. He’s able to use those attributes to score in the paint and establish good position against one-on-one defenders. Jaiteh’s professional experience will also benefit him when making the transition to the NBA. He’s been playing professionally since he was 17 years old.
Weaknesses: While Jaiteh is big and strong, he struggles defending opposing players his size in the post, as evidenced by his battle with Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas at the draft combine in Chicago. He lacks eye-popping athleticism and quickness, which could plague him in pick-and-roll defense at the next level. Jaiteh’s offensive game is very limited outside of the paint and he struggled to shoot over 60% at the foul line in France.
NBA comparison: Desagana Diop
40. Dakari Johnson — 7'0" 265 pounds
Center | Sophomore | Kentucky
Bio: The lesser known of the seven Kentucky players that entered this year’s draft, Johnson is a rare sophomore Wildcat in this John Calipari era at UK. Still, Johnson is young and won’t turn 20 until Sept. 22. Johnson has been highly touted since middle school, and he was considered by many services to be the top 14-year-old in the country when he began high school. Johnson was a McDonald’s All-American and a top-15 recruit out of high school. He played limited minutes at Kentucky, coming off the bench for most of his sophomore season after starting plenty as a freshman. Johnson projects as a solid backup center, playing anywhere from 10-20 minutes nightly.
Strengths: Johnson has had the large frame and strength to compete against NBA big men since his senior year of high school. For someone his size, lacking much explosiveness, he’s an exceptional offensive rebounder, which is a credit to his knack for finding good post positioning both in rebounding situations and when trying to establish a scoring position offensively. When in the post, Johnson can finish over both shoulders with right and left hand hooks, preferring to work on the left block and finish in the paint with his right.
Weaknesses: Many scouts are concerned about his conditioning. John’s 14.9% body fat was the highest recorded of any player at the NBA draft combine. He also struggled to play more than 17 minutes per game in either collegiate season. He’s limited athletically and doesn’t explode off of the floor. He’s an average post defender and shooter, making 62.5% of his free throws this season.
NBA comparison: Kendrick Perkins
41. Guillermo Hernangomez — 6'1" 255 pounds
Forward | Age: 21 | Spain
Bio: Although he is unlikely to join his Sevilla teammate Kristaps Porzingis in the lottery this year, Hernangomez was the perfect match for Porzingis in Spain. Where Porzingis is more of a finesse player with a fine shooting touch, Hernangomez is an old-school center with a high basketball IQ. Before Sevilla, he was considered a top prospect for Real Madrid (the basketball team, not the soccer team). Internationally, he won gold in the 2011 FIBA Europe U-18 tournament (in 2011) and silver in the 2014 U-20 tournament, where he was selected to the All-Tournament team. Although he doesn’t have the upside of his Porzingis, Hernangomez has the potential to give valuable minutes as a rookie and to develop into a quality starter at center in the NBA. As a free agent, he is eligible to play in the NBA right away.
Strengths: Hernangomez understands his strengths really well and plays to them. He does great work to establish position before receiving the ball in the low block and is rarely out of position for an offensive board. Pace adjusted, he averaged 10.7 boards per-36 minutes for Sevilla. He can score on post ups and pick-and-rolls as well as on cuts and putbacks, which he did in almost equal measure, according to Synergy Sports. Unlike his teammate Porzingis, Hernangomez thrives through contact in the low post. He was a 72% free-throw shooter a year ago, but he only shot 33% on a limited number of jump shots a year ago. He has a nice shooting touch, which he’ll need to use more to open up space in the post in the NBA.
Weaknesses: Offensively, he struggles with turnovers when he puts the ball on the floor in the perimeter, and he isn’t adept at passing out of double teams. His major concerns are defensively, though, as his relatively short wingspan leaves him lacking as a rim protector. He has good-not-great foot speed and could struggle to defend faster bigs or switch onto guards on pick-and-rolls. He isn’t an exceptional athlete and has trouble recovering once out of position defensively. Despite a good feel for offensive rebounds, he isn’t as effective on the defensive end.
NBA comparison: Steven Adams
42. J.P. Tokoto — 6'6" 196 pounds
Forward | Junior | North Carolina
Bio: Tokoto surprised many by electing to leave North Carolina after three seasons. Though he wasn’t a prolific scorer during his time with the Tar Heels, Tokoto garnered attention with his highlight dunks and defense. When he announced his decision to declare for the draft, Tokoto indicated he had yet to flash other dimensions of his game. “I feel like there can be a lot more to me as a player, more than just the defensive player who can occasionally dunk the ball,” he told Yahoo! Sports. Last season Tokoto helped North Carolina win 26 games, finish in fifth place in the ACC and earn a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Strengths: Tokoto is one of the best athletes in this draft class. He’s quick and recorded a maximum vertical leap of 40” at the combine in May. His combination of length (6’10’’ wingspan) and athleticism could potentially allow him to match up with a range of opponents in the NBA. Tokoto also displayed the ability to create turnovers during his time with the Tar Heels; last season he recorded the fifth highest steal rate among ACC players during conference play, according to kenpom.com. Tokoto’s defensive versatility is one of his most appealing traits, but he also excels as a playmaker on the other end of the floor. In 2014-15, he recorded an average of 5.5 assists per 40 minutes.
Weaknesses: Though he showed the ability to facilitate scoring opportunities for his teammates, Tokoto remains limited on the offensive end of the floor. He connected on only 61.5% of his free-throw attempts and took only 32 three-point shots his final season at UNC. Tokoto struggled to create clean looks for himself in halfcourt situations and made only 31% of his two-point jump shots. If Tokoto does not improve his shooting, his presence potentially could pose spacing issues even though he’s a capable distributor and adept at finishing around the rim.
NBA comparison: Garrett Temple
43. Rakeem Christmas — 6'10" 243 pounds
Forward | Senior | Syracuse
Bio: After waiting in the wings behind players like C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, Christmas flourished as the focal point of Syracuse’s offense last season, doubling his offensive production per 40 minutes. While Christmas’s age (23) may lead some to believe he lacks room for growth, it’s important to note Christmas first started playing basketball as a freshman in high school and played baseball as a youth while growing up in St. Croix. Fast forward to last season and Christmas was one of the top scoring big men in the nation and was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
Strengths: Christmas showed off a refined post game as a senior, using various post moves and scoring in several ways. He uses his impressive 7’5 ¼” wingspan for offensive rebounding and rim protection (No. 27 in the nation) and finishes at the rim with authority. Christmas is a competent mid-range jump shooter, which will allow him to be dual threat of pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll partner and will help him play both power forward and center spots at the next level. His shot blocking will likely be the skill that translates best.
Weaknesses: Some teams may shy away from Christmas because of his advanced age. His lack of lower body strength hinders him in one-on-one post defense and playing within Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense has not prepared him for the pick-and-roll heavy defensive assignments at the NBA level. That transition will also be as struggle as he has below-average awareness when it comes to defensive rebounding.
NBA comparison: J.J. Hickson
44. Olivier Hanlan — 6'4" 186 pounds
Guard | Junior | Boston College
Bio: After struggling to find a Division I scholarship following his senior year of high school in Canada, Hanlan played one year of prep ball at New Hampton School in New Hampshire where he drew the attention of Boston College. Hanlan starred from day one with the Eagles, playing more than 30 minutes per game each season. Hanlan’s production increased as his role grew each year. His collegiate career culminated with his best season, leading to a first-team All-ACC selection and being named an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention.
Strengths: Hanlan made a name for himself as one of the leading scorers in the ACC. He can score from anywhere on the court. He’s a knockdown three-point shooter, confident pulling up off the dribble in the the mid-range and drives hard to the rim. He has a very effective step-back jumper and can finish with either hand around the basket while also utilizing a nice floater. He can score off the ball, moving well without the rock in his hands, especially when curling off of pin-down screens. He has solid command of the pick-and-roll and can run an offense when he chooses to. Hanlan also rebounds well for his size.
Weaknesses: At the next level, Hanlan may be hindered by his length. At 6’4” with only a slightly larger wingspan, he may struggle mightily when guarding two guards if he plays in two-point guard lineups. Overall, he is not a defensive playmaker and has struggled with one-on-one perimeter defense. Offensively, he has the tendency to be a little too selfish which can lead to turnovers.
NBA comparison: Cory Joseph
45. Alan Williams — 6'8" 261 pounds
Forward | Senior | UC Santa Barbara
Bio: An undersized big man playing at a mid-major school, Williams attracted attention from NBA scouts with his elite rebounding. He plays with an extremely high motor and will interview exceptionally well, coming from a household with two high-ranking law enforcement officials as parents. Williams is fluent in Spanish having grown up in Arizona. He will likely be drafted in the second round at face value for his rebounding talent with low expectations to develop outside of an efficient role player.
Strengths: Perhaps the best rebounder in the draft, Williams makes up for his lack of height and athleticism with tremendous positioning and lower body strength to gobble up rebounds. He uses excellent footwork on the block to score with easy drop-steps on either side of the court and is an expert at using a defender’s momentum against him when calling for entry passes. He dives to the rim hard in pick-and-rolls and initiates contact on the majority of screens he sets, creating lanes for his teammates on or off the ball. He has a high motor on both ends of the floor and boasts solid shooting mechanics, evidenced by his 75% rate at the free-throw line.
Weaknesses: Williams has next-level skill, but lacks next-level athleticism or size. He’s extremely undersized as a 6’8” center and plays most of his minutes below the rim. He will struggle against far taller NBA centers and much quicker, lighter NBA power forwards.
NBA comparison: DeJuan Blair
46. Andrew Harrison — 6'6" 213 pounds
Guard | Sophomore | Kentucky
Bio: Harrison entered Kentucky as a top-10 recruit, part of a class touted as one the greatest ever (Harrison, his brother Aaron, Julius Randle, James Young, Dakari Johnson). Harrison got off to a wobbly start as a freshman but finished the season averaging 10.9 points and 4 assists a game, despite 2.7 turnovers per contest. With Harrison at the wheel, the eighth-seeded Wildcats advanced all the way to the NCAA tournament final, where they lost to UConn. Harrison stuck around for his sophomore year to help pilot another absurdly talented Kentucky team. His minutes dropped amid the Wildcats’ extreme depth, but he continued to start for a team that entered the tournament undefeated. Kentucky ended up losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four, with Harrison scoring 13 points but missing several key shots down the stretch.
Strengths: Physically, Harrison represents several ideals of the point guard position, with a firm 6-foot-6 build and a 6-foot-9 wingspan. Harrison’s size and strength help him see over defenders on offense and muscle smaller defenders inside. Those physical attributes also made him a key cog in Kentucky’s historically great defense. Despite his size, he possesses solid speed and can handle himself in pick-and-rolls. He flashed scoring ability in college but also demonstrated the ability to pick his spots and find open teammates. After reaching two Final Fours at Kentucky, he has experience sharing the ball with talented teammates and quarterbacking great teams.
Weaknesses: Inconsistency plagued Harrison throughout his college career. Take one two-game stretch in February, when he scored a season-high 23 points against Georgia, then only 1 point four days later at Florida. He shot worse than 38% from the field in both of his college seasons, thanks largely to poor decision-making and shot-selection. He sometimes tried to do too much on offense, relying heavily on isolation drives and an inefficient floater. He’s not particularly quick off the dribble and hoists a lot of threes for a player who is respectable but unspectacular from long-range. He committed far fewer turnovers during his sophomore season than his freshman one but still needs to take better care of the ball. His body language on the court has raised questions about his attitude.
NBA comparison: Shaun Livingston
47. Joseph Young — 6'2" 182 pounds
Guard | Senior | Oregon
Bio: Young, whose father Michael played briefly in the NBA, was a mid-tier recruit out of Houston when he committed to play for his hometown Cougars. After averaging 11.3 points per game as a freshman and 18 as a sophomore, Young transferred to Oregon, where he continued to be one of the nation’s best scorers. As a junior in 2013-14, Young poured in 18.9 points per game for the 24-10 Ducks. The following year he fully came into his own, improving his numbers across the board and earning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors for his 20.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He saved his best for the NCAA tournament, scoring 27 points in a win over Oklahoma State and 30 in a close loss to top-seeded Wisconsin.
Strengths: Young is one of the best scorers in the draft. He led the Pac-12 in scoring last season and did so on a relatively efficient 44.8% shooting clip. Last season was the third straight in which he averaged at least 18 points per game with a respectable shooting percentage. Despite a career low three-point percentage this past season, he has proven he can hit open threes throughout his career in Eugene. He also ranked second in the nation in free-throw shooting in 2014-15. He excels off the dribble, whether pulling up or driving to the basket. His assist numbers improved during his final college season, suggesting an improvement in the point guard skills he’ll need to last at the next level.
Weaknesses: At 6’2”, Young is likely too small to be an NBA shooting guard. His lack of height, wingspan and strength will make it difficult for him to defend NBA two-guards and might limit his ability to create shots in the NBA. Playing him off the ball alongside another small guard will create major mismatches on defense. To have a shot at sticking in the NBA, Young will have to continue to develop his floor vision enough that teams trust him to bring the ball down the court and initiate the offense.
NBA comparison: Isaiah Canaan
48. Aaron White — 6'9" 220 pounds
Forward | Senior | Iowa
Bio: White arrived at Iowa as a three-star recruit and immediately overperformed. He averaged 11.1 points a game as a freshman and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. His playing time increased in his sophomore and junior seasons, and he averaged 12.8 points (on an impressive 58.4% shooting), 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 2013-14. White broke out as a senior, averaging more than 30 minutes per game for the first time and assuming a larger scoring load. He led Iowa in scoring with 16.4 points per contest and led the Hawkeyes to two NCAA tournament wins.
Strengths: White is a proven scorer at the college level, having averaged in double figures in all four of his seasons at Iowa. He’s athletic for a power forward, capable of running the floor and leading fast breaks. He’s an efficient scorer with good ability to finish at the rim. He’s capable of creating scoring opportunities with or without the ball, whether via drives to the basket or off-ball action. His three-point shooting improved dramatically his senior year of college. He’s a good passing big man, which allowed Iowa to place him in the high post and run offenses through him. He shot better than 80% from the free-throw line in each of his last two college seasons.
Weaknesses: White is relatively frail, with an unimpressive wingspan, meaning he’ll likely struggle defensively in the NBA. He will be vulnerable to being backed down by bigger NBA forwards and beaten off the dribble by more athletic ones. He’s not much of a rim protector at all. On offense, he needs to continue to improve his jump shot and prove that the spike in three-point percentage from his junior to senior year (25.8% to 35.6%) was no fluke. He’ll need to be an outside threat in order to carve out a spot in the NBA.
NBA comparison: Marcus Morris
49. Arturas Gudaitis — 6'10" 253 pounds
Center | Age: 21 | Lithuania
Bio: Born in Klaipeda, Lithuania, Gudaitis began playing basketball late in his childhood, but progressed quickly when he did. He signed with Klaipedos Nafta-Universitetas, after attending school at LCC Klaipeda and later inked a deal with Lithuanian powerhouse BC Zalgiris, playing for their youth club before reaching the varsity in 2013. As the youngest player on Zalgiris, Gudaitis averaged 15.4 minutes and 6.5 points per game in 2014-15.
Strengths: Gudaitis is fairly versatile on offensive. He’s a good shooter for a big man, possessing the ability to hit from mid-range and beyond the arc. He has a solid body, with the height and muscle to hold his own against NBA big men. He’s also fairly mobile, which makes him a good fit for teams that run a lot of pick and rolls. He plays facing the basket and can put the ball on the floor to reach the rim. His rapid improvement in the Euroleague portends good things for the future. He remains raw with a lot of room to develop further.
Weaknesses: Gudaitis is, like many European players, less known than his American counterparts. It’s difficult to say how his contributing role on Zalgris Kaunas in Lithuania will translate to the American game. He’ll be 22 years old by draft night, so, unlike many raw foreign bigs, he’s not considered young. He must improve his post game, which remains underdeveloped. Though his jump shot is effective, his form could be more fluid. He’s not a great rebounder for his size and position and needs to get better on the defensive end. He’s not a great free-throw shooter, having hit only 61.8% from the line in 2014-15.
NBA comparison: Kelly Olynyk
50. Daniel Diez — 6'8" 216 pounds
Forward | Age: 24 | Spain
Bio: Spain’s David Diez enters the 2015 draft at 22 years old but has been playing professionally in Spain since he was 17 and for the Spanish national team since 2009. He averaged 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds this past year for San Sebastian in Liga ACB, but his best work has been for the Spanish team in FIBA events in Europe. One interesting sidenote, his wingspan is only 6’5’’, while he stands 6’8’’ tall—an oddity for high-level basketball players.
Strengths: Diez grew into his role as a wing player after spending most of his young career on the block. His offensive game flourished in the new role, allowing him to showcase an improving jump shot and overall floor game. Diez’s history as a former big man serves him well in the post, where he is an adept finisher and an excellent rebounder for the position. The 22-year-old has a solid feel for the game and doesn’t seem to press on offense. What’s more, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective and has shown a knack to be efficient as a spot-up shooter.
Weaknesses: Lacking foot speed and athleticism, Diez is a glaring question on the defensive end. He’s not quite big or long enough to guard bigs—even stretch fours—and also lacks the lateral quickness to guard NBA wings consistently. At this point, Diez is a jack-of-all-trades player lacking that one elite skill to make him a valuable NBA asset.
NBA comparison: Luke Babbitt
51. Tyler Harvey — 6'4" 181 pounds
Guard | Junior | Eastern Washington
Bio: Harvey led the nation in scoring at Eastern Washington and, despite playing in the Big Sky Conference, is one of the most decorated scorers and shooters in the last few years. After being lightly recruited out of high school, Harvey became an All-Big Sky selection and also got the nod on several All-Academic teams. He was the most prolific three-point shooter in the country as a junior.
Strengths: Harvey was one of the best pure scorers in college basketball last season. He’s an elite three-point shooter whose range seems to extend to anywhere on the court. Harvey is also crafty with a soft touch on floaters around the rim. Despite average athletic tools, he shows quickness with the ball in his hand and epitomizes playing fast without being in a hurry. He’s a steady, smart guard who isn’t going to kill you with turnovers.
Weaknesses: NBA teams will have to decide if he has the instincts to play point guard; otherwise he’s an undersized combo shooting guard. Either way, his lack of size and top-end athleticism could make it difficult for him to finish around the rim, or break down more explosive defenders off the dribble. On the other end of the floor, questions remain about whether he can guard NBA-level wings.
NBA comparison: Jodie Meeks
52. T.J. McConnell — 6'2" 188 pounds
Guard | Senior | Arizona
Bio: McConnell began his college career at Duquesne, coming off a high school senior year in which he averaged over 34 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. McConnell continued his success in college, being named Atlantic 10 freshman of the year. He transferred to Arizona after his sophomore season and then (after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules) led the Wildcats to back-to-back 30-win season and deep NCAA tournament runs. He’s a two-time All-Pac-12 defensive player.
Strengths: Few point guards in college basketball were as reliable as McConnell, whose smart, steady play helped the Wildcats return to national championship contention. McConnell embodies the traits that can’t be measured by the box score: leadership, intelligence, and a knack for making big shots when his team needs them. McConnell hounds opposing guards into submission and doesn’t turn the ball over on offense, underscored by his 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Weaknesses: The main issue for McConnell is his lack of NBA size and athleticism. He’s small, not particularly athletic, doesn’t shoot the ball at a high level, and is old for a prospect (23). All of these conspire against him to make him a fringe prospect in terms of draftability. McConnell did shoot nearly 50% in his career, but made just 32% of his threes, something he’ll likely have to improve if he wants to be a regular on NBA rosters.
NBA Comp: Ronnie Price
53. Dez Wells — 6'4" 209 pounds
Guard | Senior | Maryland
Bio: Wells teamed with Melo Trimble to form one of the nation’s top backcourts last season. In Wells’s favor, he had an extremely productive career at Maryland after transferring there from Xavier as a sophomore. On the flip side, he’s 23, which doesn’t do him many favors in terms of projection.
Strengths: Wells has a nose for the basket, using his physical strength to overpower college defenders and finish inside. He’s a fairly creative scorer and can defend his position well enough to warrant second-round consideration. He’s physical, tough and highly competitive, and could certainly carve out a niche on someone’s bench. Wells has the talent and know-how to contribute at least to some degree fairly quickly, but it’s a matter of opportunity. Going undrafted and being able to pick a destination could be a possible benefit.
Weaknesses: Besides his advanced age, there are holes in Wells’s game. His size won’t wow you, he doesn’t take many perimeter shots, and he’s been turnover-prone. Beyond scoring and defending on a man-to-man basis, he doesn’t do a whole lot else, and Wells will have to prove he’s worth keeping around wherever he goes. He’s undeniably talented but presently lacks the one high-level skill that helps to keep players of his ilk employed.
NBA comparison: Markel Brown
54. Quinn Cook — 6'2" 179 pounds
Guard | Senior | Duke
Bio: Cook was a four-year player at Duke who wound up being an essential, albeit unheralded, piece in the Blue Devil’s 2015 national title run. Cook is another in a long line of future NBA point guards who played high school ball at the famed Oak Hill (Va.) Academy before heading to Duke. He was named second-team All-ACC in 2015.
Strengths: A much-improved shooter through the course of his career, Cook developed into an excellent three-point marksman as a senior (39.5%). But he’s not just a shooter; he also makes smart decisions with the ball as a lead guard and can create for his teammates. What’s more, he’s not going to beat you with unforced errors or sloppy decision making. Defensively, he has shown the ability to harass opposing guards with intensity on both ends of the floor.
Weaknesses: Size will be an issue for Cook, who will struggle to guard bigger players in the NBA, and finish in the lane. He’s not particularly creative with the ball and struggles with freeing himself to get buckets. At this point he’s a good shooter and not particularly adept at anything else, although he does most things well. Add his age (22) and only adequate athleticism and teams are likely going to question his upside.
NBA comparison: Jerryd Bayless
55. Vince Hunter — 6'8" 208 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | UTEP
Bio: While Hunter certainly has the body and physical tools to succeed in the NBA, his decision to enter the draft after just two college seasons is an intriguing one. He’s not guaranteed to be a first-round pick and doesn’t have a defined position at the next level even though he put together an impressive collegiate career. If Hunter can show teams an improved outside jumper and make his way into the late first round, he’ll prove his decision to come out was smart. Otherwise, he may be a very popular draft-and-stash candidate in the second round.
Strengths: Hunter has good size (6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan) for an NBA power forward coupled with his tremendous athleticism. Hunter registered a 37.5” max vertical at the NBA draft combine, an incredible number for a player at his position. He’s a relentless rebounder, ranking among the top in the nation in offensive boards during his two collegiate seasons. His quickness and explosiveness will allow him to guard most frontcourt players at the next level. He finishes above the rim with ease and does not shy away from contact or physicality. He has tremendous defensive potential if he can transition to the perimeter.
Weaknesses: Hunter’s offensive game is limited to the interior at this point in his career. More than 75% of his shots came inside the paint as a sophomore. His shooting mechanics are very clunky and look somewhat uncomfortable, which may be a leading reason why he did not take or make many jump shots in college. He’ll need to tighten his ball-handling as well, whether trying to transition towards the wing or simply handling the ball on dribble hand-offs as a big man.
NBA comparison: Andre Roberson
56. Cedi Osman — 6'8" 190 pounds
Forward | Age: 20 | Turkey
Bio: Osman has played professionally in Turkey since he was 17, developing enough to attract the attention of and sign with Anadolu Efes, one of the top teams in Europe that features Philadelphia 76ers 2014 draftee Dario Saric. In Turkey, Osman is known equally for his floppy hair as he is for his basketball skills, having recently starred in a Head and Shoulders commercial.
Strengths: Osman is a true perimeter player, who is more of a natural two-guard than a small forward even at his size. He’s a crafty player with the ball in his hands, driving to the rim for his own looks as well as finding open teammates while the defense rotates. He can score in a variety of ways and get to the rim. He can play above the rim as well. Osman has a high basketball IQ anticipating plays on both offense and defense. He’s able to jump passing lanes well and uses his length to be a disruptive force on the defensive end.
Weaknesses: Osman’s weaknesses are typical of a young player: He’s soft and lacks muscle. He struggles to finish at the rim and often shies away from contact. He can convert from downtown but is a very streaky shooter from outside, making about 30% of his threes this season in Turkey. His mechanics might be the reason for that, as he flicks the ball with his strong hand often after dropping his guide hand completely from the ball. He’ll need to improve his on-ball defense as well, despite creating a good amount of steals off the ball.
NBA comparison: Hollis Thompson
57. Chris Walker — 6'10" 208 pounds
Forward | Sophomore | Florida
Bio: Walker’s route to the NBA has not been smooth. A top prep recruit, Walker played just half of his freshman season for the Gators because of an NCAA investigation into his academic eligibility. As a sophomore, Walker never got out of Billy Donovan’s doghouse, averaging fewer than 15 minutes per game over his career. Staying at Florida could have given Walker a chance to prove himself worthy of a first-round pick, but he gambled and declared for the 2015 draft.
Strengths: When Walker shows off the natural talent that made him a top-10 recruit, you can see why NBA scouts would love him. He’s 6’10” with a 7’3” wingspan that he uses to block shots and gobble up rebounds. Even in short bursts, Walker showed at Florida he can protect the rim. The ex-Gator shows fluidity in his movements, with terrific bounce and burst in the open floor, making him lethal in transition, as well as on cuts to the basket.
Weaknesses: You can see the lack of polish when Walker is asked to be anything but an effort big. His low post game remains unrefined and his shooting touch poses an enormous question for teams. Walker didn’t take many jump shots and his dreadful free throw percentage (38%), hints at a player in desperate need of work in that area. Character issues dogged Walker beyond the eligibility questions, including a reported failed drug test. Those questions are compounded by an inconsistent motor, leaving NBA teams to wonder what they’re going to get and how often.
NBA Comp: Larry Sanders
58. Brandon Ashley — 6'9" 228 pounds
Forward | Junior | Arizona
Bio: After growing up in Oakland, Calif., Ashley transferred to Findlay (Nev.) Prep for his senior season. He helped lead Findlay to the ESPN NHSI national championship and was ranked as a five-star recruit in the class of 2012. He chose Arizona and contributed to the Wildcats immediately, playing 20.5 minutes a game as a freshman for a Sweet 16 team. Ashley’s sophomore season—in which he averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds a game—was cut short by a foot injury. The forward failed to progress much as a junior, scoring a bit more, rebounding a bit less and shooting less efficiently, as Arizona lost in the Elite Eight for the second year in a row.
Strengths: Ashley is an efficient and versatile scorer. He can score by the basket, using his strength and athleticism but also some basic post moves. He excels at midrange jumpers and can step back for the occasional three-pointer. He didn’t shoot below 50% in any of his three college seasons, despite extending his range. He also never shot worse than 70% from the free-throw line over the course of a season. He’s a good athlete who can run the floor well and lead fast breaks if the opportunity presents itself. His 7’4” wingspan makes him a good shot-blocker on defense.
Weaknesses: He needs to fill out his body to be able to battle down low. He’s currently not physical enough for the next level. Adding muscle will also help him improve as a rebounder. He needs to greatly improve his post game, which means developing better footwork and several go-to moves. There are questions about his motor and work ethic. He didn’t seem to improve much during his career at Arizona. He’s a bit of a tweener, somewhere between a small forward and a power forward. He’s not yet a good enough jump-shooter for that to be his primary offensive asset.
NBA comparison: Brandon Bass
59. Ryan Boatright — 5'11" 170 pounds
Guard | Senior | UConn
Bio: Boatright arrived at UConn the year after the Huskies’ 2011 national championship. As a freshman, he came off the bench to score in double figures for a semi-disappointing team that featured several future pros but lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. After a strong sophomore year, Boatright appeared to regress slightly as a junior, but he still helped UConn make its memorable run to a national title. (He scored in double figures in all six of the team’s tournament victories.) He saved his best individual season for his senior year, when he scored a career-high 17.4 points per game and shot better than 40% from three-point range.
Strengths: Boatright plays with as much effort and energy as anyone in the country. He’s extremely tough, taking an Iverson-like beating every time on the floor but always getting back up. He has great leaping ability, which allows him to dunk with ease despite being only six feet tall. He also rebounds very well for a player of his size. He’s a terrific ball-handler, which allows him to create space and lift shots over long defenders. His three-point shooting improved throughout his college career, with his long-range efficiency peaking at 41.1% as a senior. He can get into the lane and draws fouls at an impressive rate. He has quick hands on defense, allowing him to pester opponents into turnovers. He has also shown the ability to play as a pure point guard when called upon.
Weaknesses: Boatright is not efficient offensively. He is prone to going one-on-five off the dribble and hoisting bad shots. He can play totally out of control, sometimes appearing to drive without much of a plan. He struggled with turnovers throughout his college career. He needs to work on shot selection and learn to defer to teammates. He sometimes played off the ball in college but will need to be a pure point guard in the NBA. Even if he improves as a facilitator, he’ll always be undersized. That will limit him on offense, where finishing at the rim will be even more difficult, and perhaps even more so on defense, where he’ll have a very hard time matching up with all but the smallest of NBA guards.
NBA comparison: Isaiah Thomas
60. Terran Petteway — 6'1" 215 pounds
Forward | Junior | Nebraska
Bio: Petteway had a tumultuous college career that began when he committed to Texas Tech out of his Galveston, Texas high school. He played 27 games for the Red Raiders, making 11 starts, but averaged only 3.3 points a game. He then transferred to Nebraska and, after sitting out a year, became a high-scoring star. He averaged 18.1 points a game for the Cornhuskers as a sophomore and 18.2 the following year. In 2013-14, Petteway helped lead Nebraska to the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998. That season was highlighted by a five-game winning streak during which Petteway scored at least 16 in every game, including 26 against Penn State and a career-high 29 against Purdue.
Strengths: Petteway gets his points no matter what it takes, as evidenced by the 18 per game he averaged in both of his seasons at Nebraska. He’s unfazed by double teams and hands in his face. He can make contested shots at the rim and hit jumpers from anywhere on the floor. He’s a king of the “no… no… yes!” ill-advised shot that goes in. When he is on, there are few players tougher to contain. He has good size and reach for his position, allowing him to log minutes at either wing position. He’s a good rebounder, pulling down 4.9 per game last season.
Weaknesses: Petteway’s scoring can be painfully inefficient. He shot 39.6% from the field as a junior and 31.3% from three-point range. He’s an extreme volume scorer with substantial issues in shot selection. He was a ball-stopper at Nebraska and became too enamored with isolation plays. He also plays out of control and racks up turnovers as a result, with 3.4 a game in 2014-15. For a guy who spends so much time with the ball, he doesn’t get to the free throw line as much as he could. He needs to make smarter decisions to have a chance at an NBA career. He is not known for his defense.
NBA comparison: C.J. Miles