2015 NBA Mock Draft 2016 NBA Mock Draft Posted: Feb. 17, 2015.
It is an annual tradition here during the NBA All-Star break to re-do the NBA Draft lottery from the previous year. Walterfootball.com's NBA Draft Nerd, David Kay, and Peter Christian will alternate re-drafting the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft taking into account what we know about the rookies based on their performances so far this season. The new grades will factor in how each team's roster looked at the time of the draft while David and Peter give their reasons as to why the selection would be made.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas Actual Pick: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
(Peter Christian) This is going to be the most difficult re-do pick of all time because the Cavaliers traded this pick after the draft, which NEVER happens. However, Wiggins has really come into his own in the last 45 days and has demonstrated only a glimpse of what he can eventually be in the league. He's good.
(David Kay) The real question here isn't whether the Cavaliers draft Wiggins ... it's whether or not they still trade Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love knowing how that scenario has played out thus far. What say you?
(Peter Christian) I mean, I think so. I think the real question is whether Cleveland still hires that goon of a coach.
Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke. Actual Pick: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
(DK) Even though his rookie campaign ended shortly due to a torn ACL, Parker still showed enough in 25 games to be worthy of the second-overall pick. What is crazy is how the Bucks are still in the playoff picture without him. Jabari Parker, Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo actually make up an under-the-radar nice young core ... assuming Parker can bounce back from the injury. Luckily, his game isn't based off athleticism but more so pure skill.
(PC) The Bucks are not just in the playoff picture ... they're pretty much a lock to be in the playoffs at this point. And you are right, that is crazy. Parker was playing very well and it was really disappointing to see him go down. I think everyone wanted to see his rise continue.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Croatia. Actual Pick: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
(PC) I've been super impressed by Nurkic's play since Denver traded Mozgov. I know it's a small sample size, but guess what, it's still a bigger sample size than we've seen of Joel Embiid in the NBA. I said it before the 2014 NBA Draft and I'll say it again: Embiid will never be healthy. He's got Greg Oden-itis written all over him. Embiid should have been a pick to stay away from for all teams.
(DK) WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?! No way the Sixers actually pick a guy who is going to play for them this year. I would hate Jimmy Fallon far before the Sixers take Nurkic over Embiid. I love Jimmy Fallon by the way. Like, we should hang out with him ....
(DK) I can admit when I was wrong so here it goes; I hated LaVine coming into the 2014 NBA Draft. Here's what I wrote during my live grades on draft night.
The Timberwolves just drafted a D-League All-Star over a guy who could have been an immediate role player like Gary Harris or James Young? I think LaVine is going to be a bust. I don't like this pick at all. He should have gone back to school. In a few years, he might be a good player, but I doubt it. The end.
My bad ... LaVine's been forced into action due to Ricky Rubio's injury and the potential is certainly there, even though his defense is non-existent. Orlando ended up taking Elfrid Payton later in the first round, so the team needed a point guard and from what I've seen so far this season, I like LaVine's upside more than Payton's.
(PC) (HEAVY SIGH) I see your logic and I agree, LaVine has surprised those who thought he was a bad pick. Hell, I thought the Timberwolves took the wrong player from UCLA with that pick. However, putting LaVine's rookie performance in perspective, he is playing for the most injured roster in the NBA who just so happens to also be the worst team in the NBA. I'm still not convinced he's a top-five rookie.
Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona. Actual Pick: Dante Exum, G, Australia
(PC) I know Aaron Gordon hasn't been on the NBA floor much due a foot injury that required surgery. I still have faith he can succeed at this level especially with a fun, young Utah Jazz squad that doesn't NEED him but could sure USE him to help with some roster flexibility and depth. And hey, having a competent coach would sure help. Plus, it would make a ton more sense than drafting yet another combo guard.
(DK) Man, so many rookies this year have been bothered by injury. Gordon's never going to be a go-to offensive option but has all the intangibles to be a solid role player at the next level. He Gordon Hayward would give the Jazz a ton of flexibility in their frontcourt.
Boston Celtics: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette. Actual Pick: Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
(DK) It was evident that Rajon Rondo wasn't going to be in Beantown for the long haul so the Celtics needed to find a potential point guard of the future. Payton has shown me more than Smart. Payton is a better facilitator on the offensive end, plus he has that sweet Buckwheat 'fro working for him.
(PC) I like Payton just fine, but I like Smart just a bit more. I agree, Payton is more of a true point guard, but Smart is already one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA. Plus, the offense that Brad Stevens runs doesn't really need a true point guard (read: Evan Turner starting at point guard). At the end of the day, splitting hairs about Elfrid Payton and Marcus Smart for the sixth-overall pick shows how quickly things are going south for this draft.
Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State. Actual Pick: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
(PC) I stated previously that I like Marcus Smart, and well, I think he's the best available. The Lakers are such a mess; they just need talent and people who care. Smart has an edge; he would earn Kobe's respect and be a great pupil of The Black Mamba.
(DK) I understand where you are coming from, but since the Lakers are such a mess, why not roll the dice on Joel Embiid? He's boom or bust, but the allure of taking a franchise center is too much for a bleeding franchise to pass up here.
Sacramento Kings: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas. Actual Pick: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
(DK) It's cute how the Kings are trying to be good but still suck. Sacramento has yet to find a frontcourt mate for Boogie, and if Embiid lives to up to his potential, that would be a pretty scary twin-tower tandem of the future. By the way, the Nik Stauskas pick made little sense on draft night, and it looks even uglier now that he's barely contributing.
(PC) Look, Joel Embiid could be a good pro basketball player. He really could be. I just don't think he'll ever be healthy and/or durable enough to to prove it. Embiid couldn't even last a single college season without multiple injuries forcing him to miss games. An NBA grind isn't going to mesh with his brittleness. I'm not giving that guy ANY guaranteed money. But, if you're planning ahead for an expiring contract to trade in 2.5 years, by all means, draft Joel Embiid.
Charlotte Hornets: Dante Exum, G, Australia. Actual Pick: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
(PC) We're well into the "Meh" portion of the 2014 NBA Draft, and Dante Exum has proven himself to be the most serviceable versus everyone that is left. Vonleh on the other hand doesn't have a role on the Hornets, and the only thing he's mastered in the NBA is the "DNP - Coach's Decision." Exum would at least find the floor. That's an improvement, right?
(DK) Exum's actually been kind of terrible this year (has a 6.67 PER), but he's only 19 years old. Every phrase describing a guy who isn't NBA ready right now but could be in a few years applies to Exum (has a lot of upside potential; is just scratching the surface as to how good he can be; plenty of developing to do). In all seriousness, Exum will probably be a solid player down the road. If not, at least you have a dude with a really cool Australian accent on your roster. I'd guess there aren't enough people with Australian accents in Charlotte, so that seems like a win all around.
Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia. Actual Pick: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
(DK) No way the Sixers actually take a player who can help them right now, so they stick with their draft-and-stash guy in Saric. By the way, I respect what Philadelphia's general manager, Sam Hinkie is doing. It's the ultimate boom-or-bust approach to rebuilding a franchise and at least the dude has some balls.
(PC) Yeah, Saric pretty much has to be the next guy because he's actually playing legitimate minutes for a team and playing well. Albeit, it's not in the NBA or even North America, but still he's playing basketball at a high level and is among the best in that league. The Sixers are playing with fire with their strategy, but at least they have a strategy, which is more than you can say for at least half of the other lottery teams.
Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA. Actual Pick: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
(PC) The Nuggets actually traded this pick to the Bulls prior to drafting McDermott, so for the sake of argument, I'll say they do it again. This time around the Bulls though make the move for Kyle Anderson. Anderson hasn't gotten much of a run with the Spurs, but he has been versatile and not all that terrible. Anderson has been able to guard four positions, plus has run sets on the wing and as the point. I think the Bulls would like that flexibility rather than the statuesque McDermott, who hasn't found even the slightest groove.
(DK) Of the 11 "Actual Picks", six of them have suffered injuries that have caused them to miss a significant amount of time. At the time of the 2014 NBA Draft, I thought McDermott would be a great fit on a Bulls team needing a perimeter threat. I'd still lean towards him over Kyle Anderson, or you know who seems like he'd be an ideal fit for Thibs? My next pick ...
(PC) I'm actually surprised McDaniels didn't go higher than No. 12, but since Orlando grabbed a point guard with its earlier pick, the team added a versatile, defensive wing who does a little bit of everything on the floor. So pretty much what the organization drafted in Aaron Gordon. McDaniels has been a second-round steal, albeit on a terrible team, but he should be a solid role player for the next decade or so.
(DK) Good pick. K.J. McDaniels has been a very nice surprise for the Sixers. Or maybe they expected he'd be worse and that's why they've already won more games than two other teams. Two whole teams! Tanking shouldn't be that hard.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky. Actual Pick: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
(PC) Devastating injury notwithstanding, the Timberwolves would really like the athleticism and power of Randle in the frontcourt to use as protection when Kevin Love (who hadn't been traded yet) inevitably left Minnesota.
(DK) Great pick. You know, assuming his broken leg heels. This is definitely worth the gamble at this point as Thad Young is a short-term fix and Anthony Bennett still appears to be a bigger bust than anything under Sofia Vergara's shirt. I actually really like some of the Timberwolves young pieces. It will interesting to see if Minnesota can move Kevin Martin or Young before the 2015 NBA Draft, or even shop Pekovic to continue the rebuild.
Phoenix Suns: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton. Actual Pick: T.J Warren, SF, N.C. State
(DK) The Suns like to score and don't really play defense, so this seems like a natural fit. McBuckets is going to be a solid role player in the NBA. He's too good of a scorer and has too high of a basketball IQ not to find his niche.
(PC) Ok, sure. I mean you could tell me the Phoenix Suns want to take some undrafted dude I've barely heard of (cough, Tarik Black, cough) and I'd be OK with it. Well, not OK, but I mean just, like, complacent, I guess?
Atlanta Hawks: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia. Actual Pick: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
(PC) The Hawks are super legitimate. They play amazing team basketball and have a phenomenal rotation. I still think Adreian Payne could be a good pro, but Atlanta has meshed so well in its top 10, the team doesn't even need Payne. Because the Hawks don't NEED anyone that the 2014 NBA Draft can offer, why not take a guy who isn't going to play in the NBA this season and won't affect the super-great, fantastic chemistry the Hawks have going right now. Have I gushed enough about how much I love Atlanta right now?
(DK) You know why the Hawks are good this year? Because they embraced their old logo. And because I got an old-school Dominique Wilkins throwback t-shirt jersey for Christmas. That's why! I agree that nobody Atlanta could pick here is going to contribute this year, but if that's the case I'm taking a higher-upside guy like Noah Vonleh. He looks the part and has the size, but just needs time to get stronger and further develop his skill.