2015 NBA Mock Draft: Analyzing Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor And So Much More
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For at least one night, Brooklyn, New York, will become the epicenter of the basketball universe. This year's NBA Draft class is one of the most anticipated of the past decade. Perhaps not since the famed LeBron-Wade-Bosh draft have we seen such top-shelf talent and depth. Big men and point guards seems to be the theme this year, and while it's widely assumed that Karl-Anthony Towns (read my Q&A with him here) and Jahlil Okafor will be the first two picks, we can't forget about Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja, two highly decorated European players.

Drafting, like "mocking," is an imperfect science -- so without further ado, here is my 2015 NBA Mock Draft.

1
Minneosta: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
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Minnesota is stockpiling young talent and it's only a matter of time before it translates to actual success. Towns, who gushed to The Huffington Post about playing in Minnesota, is unselfish -- almost to a fault -- but also showed tremendous growth during his one collegiate season. He will play very well off of Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and should provide a quality running mate for Ricky Rubio. This was clearly a two-horse race between Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor, but Towns wins out because of his sheer defensive presence and agility on both ends of the court.
2
LA Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
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From an offensive standpoint, Okafor is a prodigious talent who can instantly average in the high teens. He has a fantastic feel in the the low block and knows how to use his body. Comfortable with either hand and in pick-and-roll, the biggest question mark (maybe the only question mark) is whether or not he can become a defensive force. If the Lakers team him up with 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle, they'll suddenly have a formidable frontcourt to aid Kobe Bryant's playoff return.
3
Philadelphia: D'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio St
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Russell is 6-foot-5, left-handed, smooth, athletic -- and fills a gaping need. He is the ideal fit for a 76ers team desperately looking to turn Sam Hinkie's "master plan" into wins, especially after Hinkie was dealt 2013 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. Remember, both Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid are the bigs of the future. Russell is a playmaking maestro who averaged 19 points, six rebounds and five assists as a freshman in Columbus. He will adjust naturally to the speed of the NBA game because of his remarkable open floor and pick-and-roll ability and size.
4
New York: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China (Congo)
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Mudiay won't be the draft's great unknown for long. A natural playmaking point guard, he draws comparisons to Russell and may even be better. At 6-foot-5, he is an aggressive, fearless attacker who thrives in the open floor. Mudiay -- who I see as a bigger John Wall type -- will have to improve both the consistency and range on his jump shot, but could easily become a delight in New York. His selection with the fourth overall pick is the first step to turning one of the league's most moribund franchises.
5
Orlando: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Fear not, Magic fans: The 7-foot-1 Porzingis is nothing like his Latvian countryman Andris Biedrins -- a former lottery pick himself. Instead, he runs the floor with ease and finishes everything around the rim. Orlando is slowly putting pieces together, and it needs an athletic big. Seven-footer Nikola Vucevic is a terrific player, but hardly a rim protector or an intimidating post presence. One similarity between the two, though: a deft shooting touch. Porzingis -- who will be 20 during his rookie year -- has shot it well from deep amid the highest levels of pro ball in Europe.
6
Sacramento: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
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I love Cauley-Stein's highlight reel dunks, but the Kings are drafting him to shut down the paint and allow DeMarcus Cousins, an emerging star at power forward, more of a reprieve on the defensive end. I view Cauley-Stein as Tyson Chandler 2.0: He's a legit 7-footer who can make the occasional 15-footer, he runs the floor well and he blocks a ton of shots, particularly as a help defender. Plus, he has learned how to win. Let's just hope his foot, which he injured last year, is not a problem moving forward.
7
Denver: Mario Hezonja, SF, Croatia
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This is not the deepest European draft class we've seen, but with Porzingis and Hezonja, it features two wonderfully talented players. Hezonja, at 6-foot-7, is a natural small forward with major scoring ability who can become a 40 percent 3-point shooter in the NBA. Playing in Spain's ACB League -- arguably the second best in the world -- Hezonja also displayed bona fide lock-down defensive ability. He's a special two-way talent who is only 20 years old and should be able to start immediately in Denver.
8
Detroit: Justise Winslow, F, Duke
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Winslow's two-way ability fits nicely into what the NBA clearly values most these days. That is, athletic and versatile wings -- a la Andre Iguodala, who can win games in different ways. Detroit needs just that, and Winslow's high character and winning nature provide insurance. This may be the best value pick in the whole lottery.
9
Charlotte: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
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This may be a tad high for 20-year-old Payne, who suffered a ring finger fracture recently, but he is a big-time talent who can play both guard spots as a pro. A rangy 6-foot-1 with deceptive quickness, the lefty gives Charlotte needed playmaking ability (20 points, six assists) in the backcourt alongside Kemba Walker.
10
Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, G/F, Arizona
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Johnson is tricky to evaluate. He is a tremendous athlete and a naturally gifted lockdown defender, but during his lone freshman year in Tucson, also had the odd tendency to disappear in games. He was awful in the NCAA Tournament, averaging just seven points per game on 7-26 shooting in Arizona's final three contests. Also, is he a shooting guard or small forward? We don't know. Regardless, Miami needs to add both scoring and athleticism on the perimeter alongside Dwyane Wade -- Johnson, ever the question mark, could be an ideal fit.
11
Indiana Pacers: Trey Lyles, F, Kentucky
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Lyles' best strength is a near-prodigious feel for the game. He is unselfish, but knows how to score. He can block shots, but can guard the perimeter as well. With most of the press going to the marquee names on UK, Lyles -- playing out of position much of the year -- was the unsung hero. Indiana needs an influx of versatility, and Lyles, who may ultimately replace David West, is just that.
12
Utah: Myles Turner, C, Texas
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The super long and gifted 6-foot-11 Turner isn't that dissimilar from fellow freshman entry Stanley Johnson: He's immensely talented, and because of it, he leaves you wanting more. Turner, who was a mega-recruit, averaged 10 points and nearly three blocks during his only season in Austin, but his ceiling remains very high.
13
Phoenix: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
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Kaminsky, the Wooden Award winner, is the rare 7-footer who can shoot it from deep, put the ball on the floor and defend, which he doesn't get enough credit for doing. He will instantly provide a scoring burst and his passing -- from both the block and high post -- is a welcomed sign. For his quickness limitations, Kaminsky is a winner who will figure out how to have a highly successful, if not spectacular, career. Just check this out.
14
Oklahoma City: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
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A natural sharpshooter (41 percent from 3), Booker's playmaking ability came along as well, but remain in their infancy stages. Over 6-foot-5, Booker has ideal size for a 2 guard, but will need to improve his creativity skills as a pro. He only got to the line 1.7 times per game last season.
15
Atlanta: Jerian Grant, G Notre Dame
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Grant earned First Team All-American honors at Notre Dame as a senior, the first member of the Irish to do so since 2001. His versatility on both ends sneaks him into the top 20 despite a lack of a definitive NBA position. Atlanta will find a role for him immediately.
16
Boston: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
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Hunter, a March Madness hero, isn't an elite athlete, nor was he a big recruit entering college. Translation: He's perfect for Brad Stevens and the Celtics. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10.5 wingspan, he is a willing passer and talented scorer who also fits in, character-wise, with Stevens' rebuilding plan.
17
Milwaukee: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
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Portis can score in the block and he can pick-and-pop, a nice plus for a 6-foot-11 big in the middle of the first round. The Bucks need an infusion of scoring, specifically in the post, and Portis -- who averaged 18 points as a sophomore -- can be that guy. It's hard not to draw Al Jefferson comparisons here.
18
Houston: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
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The only question mark with Jones is his lack of size at 6-feet. Get over it. Jones is a natural winner with phenomenal basketball instincts, made that much more special by the fact he just turned 19. As a leader for Duke's national title team, Jones averaged 5.6 assists and fewer than 2 turnovers per game. The Rockets really need a lead guard of the future and get their man at 18.
19
Washington: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
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Oubre has a long way to go but in time, he could become a defensive ace. Washington is building from the perimeter in and adding Oubre alongside Bradley Beal, John Wall and the emerging Otto Porter is very enticing. At 6-foot-7, he can shoot it as well, but that 7-foot-2 wingspan is the real kicker here.
20
Toronto: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
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At 6-foot-9 with guard skills, Looney is an intriguing talent who averaged 12 points and nine rebounds as a freshman in Westwood. Toronto needs to dramatically upgrade its frontcourt and while he's a bit of a project, the UCLA product has legitimate top-five talent. His 7-foot-3.5 wingspan suggests he will only improve as a shot-blocker, and his soft hands and deft touch around the rim will allow Looney to earn minutes early in his career.
21
Dallas: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
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Wright may slip into the 20s, but don't hold it against him. A silky smooth 6-foot-5 point guard, he can run an offense and do just about anything you need. A very good defender as well, Wright -- whose brother Dorrell plays for Portland -- presents terrific value for a Dallas team searching for its point guard of the future.
22
Chicago: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
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Dekker showed all facets of his game during the NCAA Tournament, and that included a disappearing act in the national title against Duke. At 6-foot-9, he is a very good athlete who can guard multiple spots. Chicago has struggled to find reliable wing play, especially after the disappointing rookie year of Doug McDermott. Dekker (14 points per game) isn't the perfect fit, but he fills a need.
23
Portland: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
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Harrell shot the ball well early as a junior, and then his jumper went awry. He's undersized at 6-foot-8, but Harrell -- with a 7-foot-4 wingspan -- is an energy bunny who plays extremely hard and embraces physical play. LaMarcus Aldridge is the marquee free agent this summer, but Harrell could spell his minutes should he return.
24
Cleveland: Terry Rozier, G, Louisville
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If the Cavs keep this pick, Rozier makes sense because he can really score in the half-court and he's a naturally attacker in transition. Rozier is undersized and lacks a true position, but LeBron has a tendency to fix such problems. Rozier has a definitive NBA skillset that could blend nicely.
25
Memphis: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, Arizona
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Tony Allen is 33 years old and Hollis-Jefferson -- a sophomore entry -- is a potential All-NBA defender himself. The 6-foot-7 wing has an absurd 8-foot-8 standing reach. When he really learns how to play offensively, he could become one of the steals of the draft.
26
San Antonio: Rakeem Christmas, PF, Syracuse
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Christmas, throughout the pre-draft process, showed tangible improvement on his jump shot. If he can make a 16-footer, that's a big plus for the pick-and-roll heavy Spurs. More importantly, San Antonio just needs young, athletic bodies in the paint. Christmas doesn't have the ceiling you generally covet, but he's going to play in this league a long time as a spot-starter and quality reserve.
27
LA Lakers: Rashad Vaughn, SG ,UNLV
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Having already address the gaping need for a big with Okafor, the Lakers turn their sights to the 6-foot-5 Vaughn. A predatory scorer who can help alleviate some of Kobe's minutes right away, he can fill it up in a hurry. During his lone collegiate season, the former blue-chipper averaged 18 points per game on 38 percent shooting from 3.
28
Boston: Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia
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Anderson's offensive limitations were made worse by a broken wrist in the tournament, but don't forget he was a 45 percent 3-point shooter. Healthy during the pre-draft process, Anderson displayed elite athleticism (43-inch max vertical) and the distinct ability to guard three or possibly even four spots. Think Brad Stevens will like that?
29
Brooklyn: Chris McCulough, PF, Syracuse
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Brooklyn takes a shot this late in the first with McCulough, who was having a productive freshman year before tearing his ACL in January. With range on his jumper, McCullough -- with his 7-foot-3 wingspan -- projects as a power forward. He will need to add strength to a lean frame, but the Nets get a really talented prospect from the Bronx.
30
Golden State: Arturas Gudaitis, C, Zalgiris, (Lithuania)
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I'm not convinced that the Warriors keep this big. If they do, though, Gudaitis has developed quite a reputation as one of the premier young bigs in Europe. At 6-foot-10 with a nasty streak, he can put the ball on the ground a little bit and really run the floor. While he is likely to remain overseas another year or two (draft-and-stash), Gudaitis' combination of physicality, rebounding and upside (he's only been playing since the age of 14), should help him become a productive NBA player.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report.

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