As is he case with most writers, I had to take the opportunity to do a mock draft. While I get asked questions regarding this on a daily basis, I still truly am not sure what is going to happen, just like the rest of you. I'm here to throw my best guesses at the wall, and, to be honest, take all the flack when I'm extremely wrong later tonight.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Anthony-Towns, Center, Kentucky
After helping lead Kentucky to the Final Four, Towns enters the draft as one of four Wildcats poised to go in the top-20. Towns has the potential to be one of those once or twice in a generation big men, and projects to be able to impact the game in big ways on both ends of the floor. With Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins already in place, getting a dominant, defensive big man is a no-brainer for the Timberwolves.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, Center, Duke
Much like Towns, Okafor is a player who's going to have a large impact. Okafor is a much more polished offensive player, and should continue to grow as he works on his mid-post-to-mid-range jumper. He has his shortcomings on the defensive end, but, in the right scheme, with the right coach, can grow on that end and become more than serviceable. He's going to be a force for many years, and makes too much sense for the Lakers with the second pick to pass on.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: DeAngelo Russell, Point Guard, Ohio State
Once the Sixers are on the clock, things begin to get somewhat hazy. While the sharp shooting Russell is clearly the third best player on the board, the Sixers have reportedly been enamored by a handful of players, including Latvian Kristaps Porzingis. Taking Russell, however, would give the Sixers their point guard for the future, and a key cog to build with next to Nerlens Noel, and, if he's able to get healthy at some point, Joel Embiid.
4. New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, Power Forward, Latvia
The Knicks, even moreso than the Sixers, are a complete unkown. They could go in a handful of different directions to try to fill their many voids. With the top two big men gone, and Carmelo Anthony still holding down the small forward spot, taking Porzingis makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. They're in a position where they just need talent, and adding the stretch big man would give them another piece in their attempt to return to NBA relevancy.
5. Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow, Small Forward, Duke
With the potential of Tobias Harris leaving in free agency, grabbing Winslow to fill any potential void at the small forward spot would be important for the Magic. Winslow would continue on the path of high character, strong defensive players that the team has taken over the past two years under Rob Hennigan. While slightly undersized, Winslow plays much bigger than his 6-foot-6 measurement at last months NBA Draft Combine. He has star potential, and would be able to help the Magic right off the bat under new coach Scott Skiles.
6. Sacramento Kings: Emannuel Mudiay, Point Guard, China
After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, the talented Mudiay went to China to try and grow his game even more. However, an ankle injury derailed those plans, with the 6-foot-5 physical specimen playing a mere nine games last season. Mudiay has the tools to be a great player, but lacks polish, most notably with his offensive game, at this stage. He might take a few years to work on, much like Russell Westbrook, but could turn into one of the top point guards in the game with time.
7. Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja, SG, Spain
After a disappointing season, the Nuggets could be moving into a transitional stage. Point guard Ty Lawson could be on the move, as could power forward Kenneth Faried, along with a handful of other veterans. After acquiring Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris last year in a draft night trade with the Chicago Bulls, adding Hezonja would give the Nuggets another scoring option, and one that could play both small forward and shooting guard moving forward.
8. Detroit Pistons: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
The second Wildcat off the board, Booker comes in with a strong shooting stroke and great size for the position. Measuring at nearly 6-foot-6 in shoes with a 6'8" wingspan, Booker could come in and play both shooting guard and small forward, should the Pistons want to go smaller and space the floor around Andre Drummond. With Stan Van Gundy running the show, grabbing yet another shooter makes almost too much sense for the Pistons with this pick.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Following closely on the heels of his Kentucky teammate, Cauley-Stein would be a steal for the Hornets at nine. The most talented defensive player in the draft, Cauley-Stein has shown the ability to not only protect the rim, but also guard all five positions on the court. With Al Jefferson under contract for one more season, grabbing his replacement, and the future anchor of their defense, with the ninth pick would be something the Hornets could not pass on.
10. Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Losing LeBron James in free agency was obviously a huge blow to the Heat's chances in the 2014/15 season, but injuries derailed the team just as much. From losing Josh McRoberts to a knee injury, to Chris Bosh's health scare in the second half, the Heat had a tumultuous year. Grabbing Johnson would give them a building block next to Bosh for the next five years. With uncertainty surrounding Dwyane Wade's return to Miami, adding a solid wing would be the Heat's best option at 10.
11: Indiana Pacers: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Coming off an injury plagued year, the Pacers are looking to change how they play. With Paul George set to be 100 percent following a broken leg last August, the Pacers will likely be back in contention in the Eastern Conference. Adding Portis would give the team another solid building block for the future, and their power forward for the next six-to-ten years.
12. Utah Jazz: Tray Lyles, F, Kentucky
Utah is in a position where they could go multiple routes. Adding Lyles, a talented, versatile forward, gives them yet another piece as they slowly return to the top of the Western Conference. With Rudy Gobert manning the middle and Derrick Favors at the four, Lyles would give the Jazz a slightly more mobile power forward with the second unit.
13: Phoenix Suns: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Payne has shot up draft boards after a string of solid workouts. After running with three point guards for a portion of last season, the Suns could be looking for part ways with another young guard in Eric Bledsoe. Adding Payne would give them a potential replacement for him, or, a third guard to see if they can continue to thrive with a three point guard rotation.
14: Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
Kevin Durant missed virtually all of last season with a foot injury, and the Thunders lack of depth on the wing showed. Adding Oubre, a physical specimen, would give the Thunder a solid shooter, and a player who could, realistically, replace Durant, should he leave in free agency. He's a solid all-around scoring option, and would fill an immediate need for the Thunder.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Myles Turner, C, Texas
With Paul Millsap set to hit free agency, getting a big man who can stretch the floor some would be important to the Hawks. Moreover, Turner would give the team a solid option at center that could possibly allow Al Horford to slide over to power forward. Turner could also move over to backup center, with the Hawks re-signing Millsap, and improving their big depth moving forward.
16. Boston Celtics: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
The Celtics seem like the most likely team to try and trade up into the lottery with their warehouse full of first round picks in the coming years. Should they sit at 16, grabbing a solid shooter and scoring in Hunter would make sense. Sliding Hunter next to last years top-10 pick, Marcus Smart, would give the team good balance in the backcourt, and allow them to either trade, or bench Avery Bradley.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
Hometown kid, coming in an filling a glaring hole at center? It almost makes too much sense for the Bucks to take Kaminsky, or Wisconsin teammate Sam Dekker, in this position. Kaminsky would be able to come in and help with the team's spacing, while allowing Zaza Pachulia to move back to a more customary reserve role after the team cut ties with Larry Sanders last season.
18. Houston Rockets: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
A physical, offensively talented point guard, Grant would be able to slide into a few different roles with the Rockets. The team desperately needs a backup point guard, and getting Grant at 18 would be great value for a player of his talent levels. His playmaking ability and scoring would be highly impactful from the start of his time with the team.
19: Washington Wizards: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
A strong rebounder, Looney put together a solid year as a Bruin. He has good size for a power forward, and a high motor that allows him to score a lot of his points on the offensive glass and via loose balls. He'd have some time to continue to mature playing behind both Marcin Gortat and Nene, but would be able to have a large impact in a few years for the continually improving Wizards.
20. Toronto Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
A defensive savant, Hollis-Jefferson would give the Raptors a nice compliment to their two scoring wings, Terrance Ross and DeMar DeRozan. He has great physical tools, and could morph into a fantastic role player, especially if he's able to find a more consistent shot. Hollis-Jefferson would add great versatility, and allow the Raptors to focus on finding front court depth in free agency.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
After the Rajon Rondo experiment flamed out, the Mavericks will undoubtedly be looking for a point guard with this selection. Jones helped lead the Blue Devils to a National Championship, and showed strong leadership, along with a lot of clutch shot making. His size is a slight worry, but, his craftiness with the ball should help him become a solid NBA point guard.
22. Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
A lock down defender, Anderson would seemingly fit right in with the Bulls. He has a solid three-point shot, and could become a great "3-and-D" type player down the road. Anderson has strong physical tools, and, much like Hollis-Jefferson, projects as a solid role player moving forward.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
A gifted scorer, Vaughn saw his lone year at UNLV come to an end in February when a torn meniscus sidelined him indefinitely. In his time on the floor, however, Vaughn scored the ball at an extremely high rate, something the Blazers could be in the running for. With Wesley Matthews likely out most of, if not all of next season, and Arron Afflalo opting out of his deal, the 6-foot-5 Vaughn would be a good option to play shooting guard for the team next season.
24: Cleveland Cavaliers: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
After a strong NCAA Tournament, Dekker shot up many draft boards. A solid shooter with the ability to play both forward positions, Dekker would give the Cavaliers the versatility they so desperately missed off the bench this past season. He'd be able to spell LeBron James for stretches, while also allowing the team to potentially play smaller and space the floor better when need be.
25: Memphis Grizzlies: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
While he is slightly undersized, Harrell is an extremely physical player, and would fit in with the Grizzlies right away. He's a strong rim runner, and a great rebounder for his size. He plays the game with great intensity, and would give the Grizzlies yet another formidable player to march out in their front court next to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
One of the oldest players in the draft, Wright is a ball of tantalizing talent. He has great size for a point guard, standing at 6-foot-6, which allows him to see over defenders heads, which leads to his great feel for the game. He's an improving shooter, and someone who's crafty as a scorer. He would likely be able to play some off guard as well, and could be a potential replacement for Manu Ginobili as he nears the end of his career.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Jarell Martin, PF, LSU
Much like Harrell, Martin is a bit undersized at the four, but makes up for it with his motor. He runs the floor extremely well, and has a growing, versatile offensive game. Martin has a strong face up game, and has shown an ability to knock down shots off the dribble. He has some work to do on the defensive end, but would be a solid option for the Lakers, who are in desperate need of talent.
28. Boston Celtics: Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
Being ruled ineligible early in the year hurt Alexander's stock a lot, but he has a ton of upside for a player available at this point in the draft. Alexander showed off a strong rebounding ability when he was on the court, and, while raw on the offensive end, could improve. He moves well, and even though he's undersized, his large frame help him be better suited as a power forward moving forward. He may never be a star, but he could be a solid addition to a team late in the first round.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Chris McCollough, PF, Syracuse
Bouncing around from high school to high school, McCollough went from a highly recruited prospect to one that struggled to get many offers. after recommitting to the game, McCollugh put together some solid performances at 'Cuse. He has phenomenal size, which helps make up for his rather frail body at this time. McCollugh has exceptional upside on the defensive end, and if he can continue to improve his range as a shooter, could prove to be a solid stretch-four option moving forward.
30. Golden State Warriors: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
After an up-and-down freshman year, Rozier put together a solid second year under Rick Pitino. Rozier has great size for a point guard, and showed an ability to thrive in the open court. He improved as a spotup shooter, and projects as a decent backup point guard moving forward. Golden State could also choose to go with a draft-and-stash player, especially coming off a championship year.