The Black & Gold Standard is VandyRadio’s own Commodore Men’s Basketball blog, featuring general commentary, advanced statistical analysis, and game breakdowns throughout the year. Robbie Weinstein of The Homefield Advantage (along with, on occasion, Max Herz and Dan Helinek) will be bringing you the best coverage of Vandy basketball throughout the offseason following a 2014-15 campaign that saw the program return to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Check out the Black & Gold Standard for all kinds of content leading up to what should be an exciting 2015-16 season for the ‘Dores. All stats are courtesy of Ken Pomeroy unless other wise noted.
It’s NBA Draft day, and this year has been maybe even more wild than the last few overall. There’s way less drama at number 1 than the last two years, but all kinds of trade rumors are out there and a few particularly unpredictable front offices hold picks in the top 10. Here’s my mock draft which reflects how I think the draft will play out rather than what I would do. I take into account fit, player rankings, as well as reports from informed draft experts and media members alike.
1 Minnesota Karl Towns, C, Kentucky
Number 1 on just about everybody’s draft board, Towns has everything you would want in a young big man. He’s got an ideal physical profile, and while he doesn’t quite jump out of the gym he should be able to defend at least adequately in space. Towns will probably start shooting threes two or three years into his career, and his excellent free throw shooting means he can stay on the floor in any situation. Towns is the clear pick here, and I’d go so far as to say he’s about as good of a prospect as Andrew Wiggins was last year.
2 LA Lakers Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Okafor is the perfect Lakers pick: he’s a big name from a high profile school who plays an old school style and can put the ball in the basket. I’d be surprised if the Lakers had the restraint to pick Russell or Porzingis, as they’re not thought of as a very well-run team right now. Okafor is a poor fit alongside Julius Randle (although Randle might go to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins) but I think the Lakers will look past that. On the other hand, highly regarded Lakers writer Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report believes LA will indeed take Russell. Regardless, whoever they do take might be headed to Sacramento soon.
3 Philadelphia D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
The days leading up to the draft are always filled with copious amount of smokescreens and lies, and I’m betting that new reports of the 76ers wanting Porzingis aren’t true. Russell would add some much needed skill to Philadelphia’s team and would also have plenty of time to grow defensively, so while Porzingis is in play, I think it’ll be Russell.
4 New York Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Rumors are out there that the Knicks will trade the pick if Towns, Okafor, and Russell are gone, and I would guess Boston would be the most likely destination, or maybe Denver. If they keep it, I think Phil Jackson will do something really dumb to go along with all the crazy stuff he’s said this year. Frank Isola has long reported the Knicks like Lyles, and also says Jackson is high on Frank Kaminsky. These would be reasonable picks if the Knicks do trade back, but if New York stays at 4 I’m betting on them going off the board. Porzingis is the likely pick for any team trading up to this spot.
5 Orlando Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia/Sevilla
This is a dream scenario for Orlando, as they need help at the 4 and get great value with Porzingis, who is different from past tall, European big men who can shoot. Porzingis is fluent in English and put up good numbers in the best league outside of the NBA, so there are less risks when it comes to his adjustment to America and the NBA. He can provide the Magic with some needed shot blocking and should fill out physically in time. I’ll go out on a limb and say Porzingis doesn’t fall past 5.
6 Sacramento Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia/FC Barcelona
Sacramento is kind of hard to project here, since they’ve got an unpredictable and poorly run front office and have been mentioned in countless trade rumors over the last couple of days. The Kings have been linked more to Hezonja and Mudiay than any other prospects, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports Vlade Divac (like Hezonja, a native of the Balkans) has pretty much settled on the Croatian. Sacramento needs help long term on the wing, so Hezonja does make sense here.
7 Denver Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Congo/Guangdong
Denver could use help pretty much everywhere, and while Justise Winslow is a strong option it seems that Denver is very interested in Mudiay based in part off of the heavy trade chatter surrounding Ty Lawson. The Nuggets might want to add a stable personality after players supposedly ran coach Brian Shaw out of town, and both Mudiay and Winslow fit that bill. The consensus seems to be that Mudiay is a slightly better prospect than Winslow, so we’ll go BPA here.
8 Detroit Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
The Pistons seem unlikely to get their man since Hezonja will probably be taken before 8, but Winslow is just as good of a fit. Stan Van Gundy doesn’t have much patience and badly needs a small forward, plus nearly everyone would consider Winslow to be the best player available here. This would be a great consolation prize for Detroit, but it relies upon the Knicks being dumb and taking Lyles or Kaminsky at 4.
9 Charlotte Willie Cauley-Stein, C/PF, Kentucky
This situation changed dramatically in the last 24 hours as the Hornets traded away Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh for Portland’s Nic Batum, thereby adding some shooting and opening up a hole in the frontcourt. Charlotte could still use more shooting, so Frank Kaminsky works here. But, that’d potentially result in two poor defenders at the 4 and 5 with Kaminsky and Al Jefferson. I have a hunch that Cauley-Stein might be who Charlotte is after, but rumors have just recently emerged that he needs minor ankle surgery and could be out for a few months. That could cause him to slide, maybe even as far as 14 or 15. This is one of the picks I’m least confident about.
10 Miami Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Miami supposedly wants a player who can step in immediately, and could use some athleticism on the wing. Luol Deng will probably be gone after next year, so it’s a good time to get a replacement. Sam Dekker is another option here, but a majority of connected parties seem to feel the Heat like Johnson more, and I’d agree that Johnson is the better prospect. Miami likes Kaminsky, Dekker, Johnson, and Devin Booker, so this one is pretty up in the air.
11 Indiana Myles Turner, C, Texas
With Roy Hibbert entering free agency, Indiana needs a replacement. Myles Turner is also arguably the best player on the board here, so I think the Pacers will take his combination of shot blocking and perimeter shooting and hope he can step in for Hibbert sooner rather than later as they look to compete in a weak East. David West’s departure makes this decision a bit more complex, however, and a power forward like Kaminsky or Lyles could be in play if available.
12 Utah Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin
To some degree, this pick may depend on what Utah’s plan for Dante Exum is. If the Jazz see him as a 2, Cameron Payne is strongly in play. If they still think Exum is a point guard, then Kaminsky would be a good pick to add depth up front.
13 Phoenix Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
The Suns don’t have great options at shooting guard and have a weak backcourt when it comes to three point shooting. Pretty much everyone had Booker going to the Hornets before the Batum trade, but now the late lottery has been shuffled around a bit.
14 OKC Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
DJ Augustin is OKC’s current backup point guard and he’s a free agent after next season. Payne should be able to run the team and fulfill the Thunder’s basic needs, plus he’s by all accounts an intense, hard worker so he’d fit in with the Thunder’s organizational culture, something that’s very important to them.
15 Atlanta Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Atlanta’s lack of depth up front was brutally exposed in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Portis brings the type of versatility that the Hawks have looked for the last few years. Stanley Johnson could interest them, as well, and the front office may feel the need to line up a replacement for which one of Paul Millsap and Demarre Carroll they think is more likely to leave in free agency.
16 Boston Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
Boston is in asset-accumulation mode so they might lean toward taking the best player available, specifically the player with the most upside. This pick makes positionally too, though. The Celtics have a bunch of nothing at small forward, and this would allow them to get rid of Evan Turner after next season. Sam Dekker is a strong possibility here too.
17 Milwaukee Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
This would be a tough spot for the Bucks, who no doubt are hoping one of the bigger power forwards, like Bobby Portis, falls. Looney is a Milwaukee native and could help fill a need, but he’s another tweener and the Bucks already have two of them in Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. I’m down on Looney and he could easily fall into the mid-20s, so in my eyes this would be a sort of worst case scenario for Milwaukee.
18 Houston Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
Houston is well known for their reliance on analytics, and Tyus Jones grades out as an elite prospect based on statistical projections. The Rockets also need a point guard badly, so this pick makes all too much sense.
19 Washington Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Washington needs more depth up front and Harrell is just about their only option here. The Wizards could opt to take a risk and pick Christian Wood, but it’s doubtful that he can give the team what they need for another couple of years, if at all. Harrell at least brings some physicality and toughness.
20 Toronto Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Dekker will have to slide quite a bit to drop this far, but it has to be someone. He fits the Raptors’ biggest need and would make the underperforming Terrence Ross expendable, and many onlookers feel he’ll thrive now that he’s out of Wisconsin’s super regimented offense.
21 Dallas Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
Monta Ellis opted out and Dallas reportedly doesn’t plan to re-sign him, so the Mavs basically have no one at guard. Jerian Grant can play both backcourt positions and should be ready to get minutes immediately, so this may be the case of a Dallas desperately needing to fill a huge hole. As such, Rashad Vaughn and Delon Wright are additional possibilities.
22 Chicago Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Chicago could go in any number of directions here, and could probably use some shooting in case Mike Dunleavy goes elsewhere in free agency (he’s also just very old). Hollis-Jefferson would be hard to pass up here, however, and he brings additional toughness and attitude to the team that they didn’t always have this past year. His fit in Fred Hoiberg’s offense alongside another poor shooter in Derrick Rose is questionable, although he’s a good passer.
23 Portland RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State
Portland appears to be trending toward rebuild mode with LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly a sure thing to leave in free agency, so it’s best player available for the Blazers. Justin Anderson fits better and Portland may well just have Rashad Vaughn ranked higher, but I’ll bet on Hunter being highest on their board.
24 Cleveland Nikola Milutinov, C, Serbia/Partizan Belgrade
Cleveland could likely package this pick with Brendan Haywood’s contract in a trade, but if they keep the pick they need immediate production on the wing or else they’ll stash a European prospect in order to save on their hefty luxury tax. Hollis-Jefferson would be ideal for them and Terry Rozier, Jerian Grant, Delon Wright, RJ Hunter, and Justin Anderson are all fits, but I just don’t see it. Rashad Vaughn might be fun, but he’s too raw.
25 Memphis Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Memphis needs shooting and perimeter scoring, and Vaughn has both. He’s very young and may take 2-3 years to develop, but he’s good value this late in a draft that doesn’t have much past 25. Vaughn is probably the last good option left, although I do like Rozier.
26 San Antonio Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
The Spurs could use a bit more athleticism and Anderson’s defensive potential is decent insurance here if Danny Green finds a new home in free agency. The Spurs could look for a point guard like Delon Wright, but backup lead guards are readily available in free agency, whereas wing athleticism combined with shooting is harder to come by. Anderson needs to prove his three point shooting this year wasn’t a fluke, however.
27 LA Lakers Joseph Young, SG, Oregon
Draft insiders like Chad Ford think Joseph Young has a promise from a team in the first round since he hasn’t worked out for any teams since the combine. The Lakers make the most sense to me out of the late first round, although Anthony Brown could be in play here too. I’d be pretty surprised if the Lakers don’t go with a guard here, assuming they take a big man (Okafor) at 2.
28 Boston Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Boston should be looking for as much upside as possible, and Wood has a lot of it. Wood has some character concerns that might not mesh well with the Celtics’ culture, but maybe the team believes Brad Stevens could get through to him.
29 Brooklyn Jarrell Martin, PF, LSU
Brooklyn is a mess, and after Thad Young opted out they may not even have a legitimate NBA power forward on their team. Martin offers upside, but he’s not very polished.
30 Golden State Trade
I don’t see the Warriors keeping this pick. They’re going to get rid of David Lee, and will likely need to attach this pick to him in order to get a deal done. If they keep the pick, they could use size and shooting on the wing as additional depth behind Klay Thompson, so Anthony Brown would work. Brown isn’t in my top 30, but his skillset is one that many NBA teams covet and he could therefore very easily go in the first round anyways.
My updated draft rankings:
27 Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
28 Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
30 Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
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