Rules: Each of us takes turns acting as the GM of a team, beginning with Jack, then Swit, then Miggy, repeat. We make selections based not upon what we think will occur, but rather what we would personally do in that situation. No trades allowed. Let’s run.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C, Kentucky
Jack: KAT and Wolves, sounds like a finish to a trilogy of Cats and Dogs movies. Perfect fit.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
Swit: I chuckle every time I see ESPN’s NBA Draft TV spot featuring the drafting of Stephen Curry in which the narrator dramatically states, “An MVP will be chosen.” However, if I had to predict a future MVP from this bunch, Russell would be me guy in a landslide. Guards are king now, and I see too much of James Harden in Russell to say he won’t succeed. The Lakers, like many lottery teams, must view Kobe Bryant as irrelevant (because he is) and go best player available, which is D’Angelo.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Congo
Miggy: Samuel Hinkie. Born December 1977. Analytics disciple. Evil genius. Unprecedented dumbass. Well, it’s at least one of the last two and nobody’s really sure which one it is. Asset is his favorite word. He owns 10% of this draft for god’s sake. So what does he do here? There is no conventional wisdom when it comes to HINKIE. Nerlens Noel. Dario Saric. Joel Embiid. The frontcourt seems set, right? Or at the very least there are enough ostensibly talented bodies there. I’m not sure how they’re intended to fit together, but they have ASSETS. Size, rim protection, European mystery, Twitter game. Everything. So I suppose conventional wisdom would necessitate that the backcourt be filled with some talent. For fuck’s sake, they ran JaKarr freaking Sampson at point guard at the end of last season. But as I said, HINKIE plays by his own rules. So why wouldn’t he maximize the intrigue and the mystery? How about KRISTAPS? If you ask Chad Ford, Porzingis is a never before seen, infallible combination of KD, Dirk, and Magic Johnson. And that might even be an understatement. And it definitely seems like the pick if HINKIE wants to delay relevant basketball in Philadelphia until 2026. But instead I went with the second best lead guard in the draft, Emmanuel Mudiay. Surely there are questions. He can’t really shoot yet. He doesn’t consistently take care of the ball. How much can we glean from his season in China? But undoubtedly, the physical tools are there. Like Russell, he excels in pick and roll situations and creates offense better than almost anyone in the draft. He looks the part of a lead guard in today’s league and could very well be a quintessential floor general in an up tempo offense. For a man obsessed with assets, Mudiay could very well be an indispensable one. In HINKIE we trust.
4. New York Knicks – Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Jack: The Knicks suck, Jahlil’s good. Possibly better than this pick. Book it.
5. Orlando Magic – Justise Winslow, G/F, Duke
Swit: You will probably notice as this mock draft progresses that I am a big proponent of the “best player available” mantra, especially in this positionless era of NBA basketball. The Magic are knocking on the door of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Kristaps is getting a lot of top 5 love, and he could be a potential fit here as a complement to Rob Hennigan’s defense-first draft of 2014. Justise Winslow, though, was a man among boys from February on in his freshman season at Duke. With how complete he is, and proving to be a much better jump shooter than we had anticipated heading into his lone collegiate campaign (41% from 3), he can easily become a Jimmy Butler-type at the next level. Incredibly safe pick. Best player available.
6. Sacramento Kings – Kristaps Porzingis, F, Latvia
Miggy: So what do you give an organization that probably ranks as the most dysfunctional in all of professional sports? A savior, hopefully? Maybe that’s not even necessary. How about just basketball in Sacramento that the city and the fans can get excited about? Basketball they can be proud of? The days of Bibby and Christie and Peja and C-Webb and Vlade are fifteen years in the past. Well, Vlade is still there. And now he’s in charge. How about that? But now George is trying to run the closest thing Sacramento has had to a bonafide superstar, well, ever. BOOGIEGATE. Snakes in the grass. George, you trying to win now, bro? You do realize the “bright spots” on your team are the consistently inconsistent Rudy Gay, a guy named Sauce Castillo whose one “elite” NBA skill resulted in 32% from deep. And Benjamin McLemore. He is probably the brightest spot. Benjamin. McLemore. But I’m making this pick under the assumption that DeMarcus will still be in Sacramento come October. And I’ll provide him with a potentially elite stretch four to complement his bruising, indefensible play in the paint. For all the mystery and all the mythology that follows KRISTAPS, he has a skill set and a physical makeup that make GMs drool. He is 7’1” without shoes and has the longest wingspan in the draft. He can shoot from the outside. Maybe he’s Andrea Bargnani. But maybe he’s transcendent.
7. Denver Nuggets – Mario Hezonja, G, Croatia
Jack: The Nuggets, Kings and Knicks need to start over. Croatian Kobe’s best available.
8. Detroit Pistons – Stanley Johnson, G/F, Arizona
Swit: Ronald Artest/The Panda’s Friend/Metta World Peace/Metta World Dad. Stanimal compares favorably to the artist formerly known as Ron and comes without all the extra peculiarities. Stan Van Gundy just obtained the stretch 4 he had been yearning for in Ersan Ilyasova. The next step for Detroit would be to boost a roster thirsty for playable wings, and there’s plenty where that came from picking at #8 this year. While Stanimal is not spectacular in one particular area, his physical profile is freakish and he is a true winner (4-time state champion in high school).
9. Charlotte Hornets – Devin Booker, G, Kentucky
Miggy: So what do you give a team that was the worst shooting team in the league last year? SHOOTING! YAY! That one was easy. Although Devin Booker struggles to create his own offense and I’m not really sure how he projects defensively against other NBA two guards, the one thing Devin Booker can irrefutably do, is shoot the basketball. His stroke his sweet and his feel for the game is impressive. And while the comparison to Klay Thompson is convenient and I’m not sure is entirely accurate, the addition of Booker to a backcourt that includes Kemba and Gerald Henderson would surely be a welcomed sight. And if anyone can help him reach whatever defensive potential he has, Steve Clifford is a great candidate. Yet, his most pressing task still might be beating his owner in a game of one on one. The Hornets cannot shoot. Pussy can.
10. Miami Heat – Frank Kaminsky, F/C, Wisconsin
Jack: Kaminsky-Harrison faceoffs all year
11. Indiana Pacers – Willie Trill Cauley-Stein, F/C, Kentucky
Swit: Larrold Bird should be ecstatic if Trill is available. Evidently he is falling to this area due to concerns with the health of his foot. In spite of that, he is still my no. 5 overall prospect. His invaluable defensive versatility is well-documented and is the reason he is considered the draft class’ top defender. I guess he can consistently bury corner pocket threes as well? (Excuse me???):
12. Utah Jazz – Cameron Payne, G, Murray State
Miggy: Here is the end of the #CamPayneCampaign trail. Slogan: Best Player Available. But seriously, there is a lot to be excited about in Salt Lake City. Gordon Hayward. The Stifle Tower. D-Favors. Dante Exum. Well, the book is out on Dante. He is toolsy. He can get to the rim. And fortunately, Quin Snyder gave him the opportunity to go through his growing pains last year. He tried to facilitate at least. And at 6’6”, he’s already a matchup nightmare at point guard. But the other guard spot provokes even more questions. Trey Burke? Rodney Hood? I’m not sure about Trey. He’s small and doesn’t excel at anything enough to be truly successful. He was moved to the bench last year and maybe that’s where he fits best. As an offensively minded second unit guard. So what Cam provides is another option. A left handed, equally offensive minded guard whose pick and roll prowess is second to none. Even if he projects as a kind of Mike Conley-lite, a Payne-Exum backcourt could coexist, and be potentially very successful. Quin Snyder has something remarkable developing in Utah, and Payne will only expedite the process.
13. Phoenix Suns – Myles Turner, F/C, Texas
Jack: Phoenix is in purgatory, might as well take the guy with highest potential.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin
Swit: Dekker has been a darling of the NBA analytics community for quite some time now. We all know the prominence of analytics in the front office of Sam Presti, which mutualizes a Dekker-Thunder relationship. Dekker, as primarily a 3, converted a crazy 64% of his two-point attempts in 2014-15, which is second in the draft class to only Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Much uncertainty lies ahead for the Oklahoma City organization beyond the 2015-16 season. Yet, they can find solace in the Sheboygan product, who can not only contribute immediately to an attempt at one last hoorah this upcoming season, but will undoubtedly be a significant piece for many years to come. I apologize Big Blue Nation, but I am not sorry one bit for this (yes, this Jim Nantz/Billiam Raftery call is my ringtone):
“Eat opponents up like fried chicken, no Kentucky boy.”
15. Atlanta Hawks – Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas
Miggy: The refrain is Best Player Available once again. You know, it’s not everyday that a conference one seed receives a pick just outside the lottery, so in some respects, the rich just get richer. It just so happens that Portis also fulfills a need on this Hawks team. Especially with both DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap on the cusp of free agency, the Hawks’ frontcourt depth could be at an all time low. Even though Mike Scott is forever has place the Out of Write Field All Star team, there’s no way in hell he should be playing significant minutes in a conference finals. I mean, Michael Muscala? PERO “I often confuse myself for Kyle Korver” ANTIC? Elton. Brand. Like excuse me? Portis can immediately serve as a uber versatile 4-5 hybrid and will become a fan favorite with his blue collar, non stop motor. If he can continue to extend range, it’s possible he could act as a taller, poor man’s Millsap. And maybe even not that poor. It’s Bobby bitch.
16. Boston Celtics – Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia
Jack: Stevens uses guys with specific skill sets phenomenally, he’ll find a way to use Justin.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame
Swit: I was victorious in the three-way rock-paper-scissors duel to earn the honors of owning the Bucks’ first round selection. As a fan, I have zeroed in on four prospects, the only of which remaining here is Grant. I promise in 5 years lottery teams will be kicking themselves that they passed on the Notre Dame guard. Grant, who is also a disgustingly efficient offensive player (122.3 offensive rating in 2014-15 according to KenPom), has the best vision in this draft next to D’Angelo Russell, whipping cross-court passes and patiently finding the open man with the best of them. There may be more pressing needs for a Bucks team on the brink of contention, but Grant is simply too good to pass up.
18. Houston Rockets – Tyus Jones, G, Duke
Miggy: Again I get to take the reins of a team that was on the cusp of a Finals appearance. And apart from the Finals incarnation of the Cavaliers, the Rockets proved to be the most intriguing, utterly perplexing case study in this year’s playoffs. James Harden did a lot of inexplicable James Harden things. Josh Smith did a lot of well, un Josh Smith things. Like pull up threes. That went in. Dwight looked like he thought Hedo and Rashard were still on his team. And you know what, they all played for a team that was two wins away from beating one of the greatest teams of all time. You know who was starting at point guard? Pablo motherfucking Prigioni. Jason Terry. Of course this was only because the uber antagonist Patrick Beverley was injured. But still. Enter Tyus Jones. The diminutive, always coming up in the clutch Tyus Jones. For what he lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for in basketball IQ and huge ass balls. And while he doesn’t completely appear to adhere to the Moreyball standard, he did seem to make every dagger from behind the three point line or through contact at the rim. And he wins games. This Rockets team might not be that far away. And Tyus can help.
19. Washington Wizards – Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
Jack: Playoff team grabbing a guy who can come and help them not be such a bad playoff team.
20. Toronto Raptors – Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky
Swit: Your guess is as good as mine in regard to what direction the Toronto Raptors are going. The safe bet would be to go with the best player available, which in this case is Lyles, conveniently Canadian. We must remember that Lyles played out of position for much of the season due to the Alex Poythress injury. He is, additionally, much more skilled than he was required to show in Lexington and has a legitimate chance to thrive as a faceup 4 in the Association.
21. Dallas Mavericks – Delon Wright, G, Utah
Miggy: Delon Wright is an Out of Write Field darling. He can do a little bit of everything and seemed to be one of the closest things to a walking triple double that college basketball had. First and foremost, the Mavericks need guards. Sure the Rockets point guard situation was laughable. But that’s only because their original starter was injured. The Mavericks point guard situation was and still is legitimately laughable. So much so that they tried to rectify it by giving up a quarter of their roster for the uncoachable, can’t shoot past five feet stylings of Rajon Rondo. So who else do they have to turn to? Raymond “My body fat is higher than my PPG” Felton? Devin Harris? So how about Delon? Especially in light of Monta’s decision to enter free agency, the Dallas backcourt is yearning for someone they can refer to as “dynamic”. And although Delon doesn’t jump out of the gym athletically, his size and skill immediately make him an elite defender at the one. And while he can’t shoot, he is crafty and understands how to play the game. Maybe the offense at Utah held him back. Give him the keys to the Dallas offense and let him run.
22. Chicago Bulls – Kelly Oubre Jr., G/F, Kansas
Jack: Bulls team bringing back a solid if not transcendent squad takes best available
23. Portland Trail Blazers – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, Arizona
Swit: Yet another NBA power of recent years uneasily finds itself in murky waters. With LaMarcus Aldridge looking as good as gone, Portland will have to refuel. An underwhelming year from Nicolas Batum and his sizeable contract impulsed Neil Olshey into a trade for Noah Vonleh that screams “REBUILD.” The deal opens up a spot on the wing for Hollis-Jefferson if available this late. Not a bad gamble at 23 getting a guy who is a jump shot away from being All-Star caliber.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State
Miggy: Ronald Hunter Jr. He’s edge of your seat, make you fall out of it good. He was a tournament darling. And he can surely help the Cavaliers. You can’t surround LeBron with enough shooters and with uncertainty surrounding the statuses of K-Love, Iman, and Earl, there is shooting to be found. But the thing about RJ is that he is much more than that. This past year at Georgia State, he became a much better facilitator, a willing passer who is more than capable of succeeding out of the pick and roll. His shooting percentages dropped sure. But this is not so much an indictment of his skill as it is, a result of him being the focal point of the opposing defense each and every night. Teamed with LeBron, I have a tough time believing that he will face the same kind of defensive attention. He is a creative defender, able to force turnovers and he’s a coach’s son; he knows the game. For a Cavaliers team that desperately needs other sources of consistent offense, RJ can offer exactly that. He can spread the floor for LeBron. And maybe even make Coach Blatt fall out of his chair.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Kevon Looney, F, UCLA
Jack: Memphis can fuck up, not Milwaukee
26. San Antonio Spurs – Anthony Brown, G/F, Stanford
Swit: With seemingly every possible international prospect San Antonio could have taken here withdrawing last week, I was left with no choice. One constant is that the Spurs are going to get their type of player. Anthony Brown certainly fits the mold. Although the 42% two-point percentage as a 6-7 wing is a tad concerning, Brown is a high IQ player with serious 3 and D potential.
27. Los Angeles Lakers – Rashad Vaughn, G, UNLV
Miggy: As I type this, rumors swirl that Rashad has a promise from our beloved Milwaukee Bucks at 17. Let’s hope that isn’t true. He slots much better here. With Russell already in the fold, ostensibly joining a core already including an ever improving Jordan Clarkson and a still mysterious Julius Randle, Vaughn provides similar levels of upside and a jump shot to accompany it. His natural scoring ability is as strong as almost anyone in the draft and he favorably compares to a new teammate of his – Swaggington P. Standing 6’5”, Vaughn boasts prototypical size for the position and something tells me that concerns surrounding his on court maturity (shot selection and basketball IQ) can be somewhat rectified under the tutelage of Kobe Bean Bryant. Vaughn if nothing else, is a bucket getter and can develop into a valuable third or fourth option on this young, developing Laker team.
28. Boston Celtics – Christian Wood, F/C, UNLV
Jack: Should pair well with their solid wood court. 2nd round analysis done? YUP. (He’s also one of the best players available)
29. Brooklyn Nets – Jarell Martin, F, LSU
Swit: Billy King needs everything, but Billy King generally makes poor decisions. A roster comprised of mostly cap-guzzling dinosaurs needs an overhaul. Going upside at 29 is a logical move. I am higher on Martin than most. Many look down upon his tweener status and occasionally questionable shot selection. The reality is that he could roll out of bed and post a double-double this past season and consistently did things that made your jaw drop, like say, performing a between-the-legs dunk… in a game. With this, coupled with the fact that he has only played competitive basketball since his junior year of high school, I rest my case.
30. Golden State Warriors – Terry Rozier, G, Louisville
Miggy: What do you give to one of the greatest teams of all time? A team that already boasts a roster that is somewhat revolutionary in its construction? They don’t seem to need a whole lot. In all honesty, they look like they could very easily repeat. But I’ll give them some backcourt depth and the best player available. Terry Roziay is a frustrating player. His shot selection was baffling at times during his two years at Louisville, but if you can find me a better player at getting to the rim, please let me know. I see a lot of Kyle Lowry in him. He’s tough as nails and a pest on defense. If he can develop a consistent shot, much as Lowry has done, Rozier can become a valuable piece on any team and a potential starter down the road. Maybe a steal at 30, he’s a guy that I’m sure Steve Kerr would love to have. First round over. YUP.
31. Minnesota Timberwolves – Cliff Alexander, F, Kansas
32. Houston Rockets – Chris McCullough, F, Syracuse
33. Boston Celtics – Guillermo Hernangomez, C, Spain
34. Los Angeles Lakers – Mouhammadou Jaiteh, F/C, France
35. Philadelphia 76ers – Cedi Osman, F, Turkey
36. Minnesota Timberwolves – Michael Frazier II, G, Florida
37. Philadelphia 76ers – Rakeem Christmas, F/C, Syracuse
38. Detroit Pistons – Pat Connaughton, G/F, Notre Dame
39. Charlotte Hornets – Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
40. Miami Heat – Andrew Harrison, G, Kentucky
41. Brooklyn Nets – Daniel Diez, G/F, Spain
42. Utah Jazz – Jordan Mickey, F, LSU
43. Indiana Pacers – J.P. Tokoto, G/F, North Carolina
44. Phoenix Suns – Joseph Young, G, Oregon
45. Boston Celtics – Nikola Milutinov, C, Serbia
46. Milwaukee Bucks – Arturas Gudaitis, F/C, Lithuania
47. Philadelphia 76ers – Richaun Holmes, F, Bowling Green
48. Oklahoma City Thunder – Olivier Hanlan, G, Boston College
49. Washington Wizards – Shawn Dawson, G/F, Israel
50. Atlanta Hawks – Tyler Harvey, G, Eastern Washington
51. Orlando Magic – Norman Powell, G, UCLA
52. Dallas Mavericks – Julian Washburn, G/F, UTEP
53. Cleveland Cavaliers – Aaron White, F, Iowa
54. Utah Jazz – Josh Richardson, G, Tennessee
55. San Antonio Spurs – Keifer Sykes, G, UW-Green Bay
56. New Orleans Pelicans – Satnam Singh, C, India
57. Denver Nuggets – Jonathan Holmes, F, Texas
58. Philadelphia 76ers – Nikola Radicevic, G, Serbia
59. Atlanta Hawks – Josh Gasser, G, Wisconsin
60. Philadelphia 76ers – Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern