It’s June, otherwise known as NBA Draft month. To hardcore basketball fans, like myself, this means that a day better than Christmas is just around the corner and celebrations are in order.
The coming of June also gives me an excuse to try and play psychic in terms of figuring out when each prospect will be selected, and to what team.
This year’s draft class is incredibly deep, so that has proven to be a tough task since the end of the NCAA Tournament in April.
With big names like Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor set to hear their names called on the 25th, not to mention potential sleepers like Bobby Portis, Cameron Payne and Tyus Jones, this year’s draft is sure to be a Grade A barnburner. Simply put, fans should be excited.
That said, let’s dive right in and immerse ourselves in the first Campus Sports Mock Draft of 2015!
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky
In a move that will surprise practically nobody, save for maybe a small pocket of fans that prefer Jahlil Okafor, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ selection of Towns is becoming less an idea and more a certainty with each passing day. The team needs a solution at center now that Nikola Pekovic has become an injury prone mess, and Towns provides a strong low post presence at 7’0″, 250 pounds.
Yes, I understand that Minnesota also has a talented third-year big man in Gorgui Dieng, but his contract is not guaranteed past this season and he just isn’t looking like the long term solution in the paint compared to Towns. The first rule of drafting is to take the best player available, and Towns is just that. Barring a shift in team philosophy, or a red flag that comes up, expect Minnesota to pick Towns to kick off the draft.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
The Lakers are likely going to be a very different-looking team next season, and having the second pick in the draft puts them in a position to revamp the roster for the better. In this case, there are plenty of things to consider, from the number of contracts the team could clear off the books in free agency to the returns of star veteran Kobe Bryant and last year’s first-round pick Julius Randle.
Thus, if the Lakers want to move forward and become a perennial championship contender once again, GM Mitch Kupchak will draft Okafor. This could be a hard pill to swallow for some fans as well as team management, as Jordan Hill did a solid job at the position last year to the tune of 12 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. However, a team option of $9 million makes his price tag a bit much considering how he was primarily a rotational player before starting to get significant minutes two seasons ago.
Enter Okafor, who has excellent size at 6’11” and is said to have gotten himself into fine shape in the weeks leading up to the draft. Oh, and let’s not forget that he averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game at Duke last year while shooting an eye-popping 66.4 percent from the field. So long as he improves his low post game and doesn’t rely so much on driving forward to score, he can help the Lakers make the transition out of the Kobe era and back into prominence.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
The Sixers have two talented big men in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, so now what the team needs to continue its rebuild so that it may move forward is a point guard. In this case, one that can score as well as get teammates involved would be ideal.
Though GM Sam Hinkie and his team could be tempted to roll the dice on highly touted international prospect Emmanuel Mudiay, they’d be wiser to go with more of a sure thing in Russell, who starred in one year at Ohio State and established himself as one of the potential guards of the future. He is long and athletic at 6’5″, 180 pounds and averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Once he bulks up a bit, we could be talking about a player with a Russell Westbrook or James Harden-like ceiling.
So long as he learns to drive the basket more and only use his jumper on an as-needed basis, Russell definitely has the makings of an NBA star player.
4. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Guangdong Southern Tigers, China
My beloved New York Knicks hold the fourth pick, and just what they’ll do with it is anybody’s guess. If team president and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson is smart, he’ll add another scorer that can take some of the pressure off of team star Carmelo Anthony. In this case, that player is Mudiay.
He’s only 19 and chose to play in China rather than attend SMU on a scholarship, but it appears that Mudiay made the right choice. He only appeared in 12 games for Guangdong, but averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds, five assists and 1.6 steals per contest while making 48 percent of his shots and 34 percent of his threes. With great size at 6’5″, 200 pounds, the Knicks could definitely use a playmaker like him.
Drafting Mudiay would definitely crowd the backcourt, as point guard Jose Calderon is under contract for next season and team management decided to keep Langston Galloway on board as well, at least for the time being. Moreover, if Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher still plan on using the triangle offense, Mudiay isn’t exactly an ideal fit. But the fact remains that he is the best player available when the fourth pick comes around in this case, and the Knicks need someone besides Anthony who can score points consistently. If Mudiay is passed on by them, the Knicks are really cheating themselves.
5. Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain
Orlando has a great core of starters in Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. Just one piece is needed to complete the lineup, and Porzingis could very well be it.
A Latvian who has made a name for himself playing in Spain, Porzingis has great height at 7’1″, but is way too skinny at 231 pounds. However, he moves up and down the court with finesse and speed, something that Orlando could use at the 4.
He’ll need to work on his rebounding and overall defense, as the NBA is far different from the fast paced run-and-gun style of Europe and Porzingis will need time to adjust. But he’s also just 19 years old and will have plenty of time to adjust. So long as the Magic are patient with him, he can help get the team back to the playoffs and contend for a title.
6. Sacramento Kings: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Lyles is definitely one of the more interesting players of this year’s draft class, as he has been projected anywhere from a lottery pick to a late first-rounder. In this case, I’m inclined to go with the former simply because Sacramento needs a power forward that badly.
Look at it this way. The Kings are set at guard with Darren Collison, Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas, and have a fine center in DeMarcus Cousins. Plus, Rudy Gay is more of a wing forward than a natural 4. That leaves the slow-footed Jason Thompson at power forward, and Sac-town needing an upgrade.
The best power forward on the board at this position is indeed Lyles, who has excellent size at a long and lean 6’10”, 241 pounds, as he has the ability to play both in the low post and use a decent mid-range jump shot. He only averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game at Kentucky last season, but would probably put up better numbers on a team where he was one of the focal points of the offense.
Whether or not he would be that with the Kings remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. If Sacramento was to draft Lyles, the team’s frontcourt would instantly become a viable force.
7. Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, FC Barcelona Bàsquet, Spain
The Nuggets are an incredibly hard team to predict regarding this year’s draft, as each position in the lineup is basically covered. Jusuf Nurkic is sure to get more minutes at center this year, whileTy Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried have their spots locked down. That would leave shooting guard and journeyman Randy Foye, but it seems a bit early to give up on second-year man Gary Harris after he barely got any playing time last year.
Thus, while the team’s front office continues to decide who will be its next head coach, I’m going to go with Denver drafting for organizational depth and thus selecting Croatian swingman Mario Hezonja. This young man is only 20 and can do anything from rebounding to making shots from anywhere on the offensive end, but has been little more than a rotational player in his career. In three seasons with Barcelona, he has averaged just 12.8 minutes per game.
But the Nuggets need depth and athleticism beyond their starters, and Hezonja can provide plenty of that. How well he does will be a crapshoot, as is the case with any international prospect, but the overall upside is too hard to ignore.
8. Detroit Pistons: Justise Winslow, SG/SF, Duke
Justise Winslow is one of the most dynamic players in this year’s draft and if he’s available by the time it’s the Pistons’ turn, the team would be crazy not to select him. To be blunt, this kid is the real thing.
Incredibly athletic at 6’6″, 225 pounds, Winslow averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his lone season at Duke, shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from downtown. He can play both shooting guard and small forward and has a beautiful jump shot on top of an uncanny ability to drive the lane and score in the paint. Oh, and then there’s the explosive dunking ability.
He’d likely play the 3 in Detroit, and would have some solid talent around him in big man Andre Drummond and third-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. If the Pistons choose to retain restricted free agent to-be Reggie Jackson, there’s another solid piece to the puzzle. Oh, and let’s not forget Brandon Jennings. Long story short, Winslow is a great fit for Detroit and if he’s drafted by them, fans should be VERY excited.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Charlotte needs a lot of help, particularly in its scoring department, but every player who could make an immediate impact in that area is too much of a reach at No. 9. Thus, GM Rich Cho would be wise to shore up the frontcourt and take a defensive machine in Cauley-Stein.
Cauley-Stein isn’t ever going to be a scoring threat, nor is he going to be a low post center who just uses his size to make baskets on an as-needed basis. Instead, he’ll be a big body in the middle that just pulls down rebounds and blocks everything in sight. Playing behind Al Jefferson and his expiring contract, he’d be in a prime position to become the Hornets’ starting center in the 2016-17 season.
For any Hornets fan reading this who has reservations about Cauley-Stein, consider this. The seven-footer averaged 2.2 blocks per game in three years at Kentucky, not to mention 6.2 rebounds. Once he adjusts to the NBA, he could very well become a player who doesn’t put up the best numbers, but still is a defensive monster who shuts opposing teams down in the paint. If Charlotte can get that and then fill holes on its offense, then the Hornets can finally get back to the playoffs.
10. Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Miami failed to make the playoffs in its first season after LeBron James decided to go home to Cleveland, and that was with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh still on the roster. Now that rumors are swirling about Wade potentially leaving South Beach if he doesn’t get a new contract, the Heat could use an electrifying player to revitalize both the team and the fans.
That player is Johnson, who is easily the best ATHLETE in this year’s draft class. He’s got a tough build at 6’7″, 245 pounds, and averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals at Arizona last season while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Just what kind of player Johnson will be in the NBA remains to be seen. Will he be a purely defensive wing, or will he have those skills along with a strong scoring game? Or will he just focus on scoring? Regardless of what happens, he’ll need to learn how to adjust to the slower pace of most NBA teams, compared to the fast paced offense he played in at Arizona. But one thing is certain: he’s going to be incredibly fun to watch.
11. Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner, C, Texas
The Pacers are definitely having a major case of buyer’s remorse after signing center Roy Hibbert to a four-year, $58 million deal back in 2012, and the former Hoya has only averaged 11.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks while shooting 44.5 percent from the field ever since. That’s unacceptable for someone 7’2″, 278 pounds.
Thus, with one year remaining on the deal, Indy management would be wise to draft Hibbert’s successor in Turner, a 6’11”, 240 pound center who can work the low post as well as use an occasional jump shot. Turner has a lot to learn about playing center in the NBA, as he was used more like a power forward playing for Rick Barnes in Austin and averaged 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while shooting only 45.5 percent from the field.
In Indiana, his role would be to play in the paint and become a defensive force there while team star Paul George handles the majority of the scoring duties. He’s only 19 and will need a year or two to fully adjust, particularly to the point where he is scoring by means other than free throws and threes, but his ceiling is high enough that this move by Indy could pay off tremendously.
12. Utah Jazz: Kelly Oubre, SG, Kansas
Like Denver, Utah is a team with a lineup that is basically set for at least the next year. Thus, in the event that second-year guard Dante Exum doesn’t improve and Trey Burke continues to be streaky, and I haven’t even gotten into the possibility of Rodney Hood getting more minutes, the Jazz will draft for organizational depth and roll with Oubre.
He only averaged 9.3 points in 21 minutes per game for the Jayhawks last year, but Oubre has a great shooting touch and can provide a spark off the bench when called upon. Just how much playing time he’d get in Utah is unclear, but he would definitely be a key piece to a squad that needs all the help it can get in the depth department. If he can learn to be more than just a shooter, then his minutes count is sure to rise.
13. Phoenix Suns: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
If Phoenix is going to continue to be a team defined by a high scoring offense that can put up points in a short amount of time, it will need to draft a player who can do just that. Dekker was a key member of the Wisconsin Badgers team that handed Kentucky its first loss last season and went on to the national championship game against Duke, averaging 13.9 points per game while shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 33 percent from long range.
But even more notable was how much Dekker turned on the afterburners once the tournament started. Over Wisconsin’s six games, he averaged 19.1 points and made an incredible 58.2 percent of his field goal attempts and 43 percent of his threes. If he’s available at Phoenix’s turn and they pass on him, then team management needs an overhaul.
The fact of the matter is that Dekker is an incredible talent who can score in many ways, and scoring-needy teams should definitely give him a second look.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Here we have another team that is better off drafting organizational depth, as the Thunder greatly underachieved this past season due to team star Kevin Durant only playing in 27 games due to a foot injury. But OKC also needs some help at shooting guard, as Dion Waiters is not the long term solution and Jeremy Lamb has done little to earn significant minutes.
Now that former Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan is the team’s head coach, a top 2-guard will be needed for his offense, and that man is Booker. This young man averaged 10 points per game at Kentucky last year and shot 47 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from downtown. He has a great shooting touch and will be a deadly three-point threat no matter where he’s picked in the draft. In time, he will also become an excellent scorer.
Put this kid in Oklahoma City alongside Durant and Russell Westbrook next season, and the possibilities are endless.
15. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn): Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Bobby Portis is probably the best player in the draft you’ve never heard of. He is also, quite possibly, THE sleeper of this year’s class. Blessed with great size at 6’11”, 242 pounds, he averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the Razorbacks last year and shot 53.6 percent from the field.
Given how Atlanta isn’t likely going to be able to hang onto Paul Millsap once he hits free agency, the team will have a hole to fill at the 4 and Portis can fill it easily. He can score well both in the low post and off the pick and roll, and has a fine jump shot too. So long as he bulks up and works on his rebounding, we could very well be looking at a potentially regular 20-10 per game threat.
16. Boston Celtics: Kevon Looney, F, UCLA
The Celtics are in a rebuilding phase despite making the playoffs last season, and one thing the team could use is a player who just eats, sleeps, lives and breathes defense. Looney is an explosive player who does just that, standing a strong 6’9″, 220 pounds. Playing at UCLA last year, he averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Looney is never going to be a top scorer in the NBA, nor is he likely to be an off-the-charts rebounder, but one thing is certain. Regardless of where he ends up, he’ll put up modest and respectable numbers and be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. If Boston drafts him, they will NOT regret it.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
Here we have another draft sleeper, as Kaminsky has the size and overall skills to succeed in the NBA, but questionable athleticism. But I think that he’s going to have a great career and if Milwaukee drafts him, Bucks fans should be ECSTATIC.
Kaminksy was instrumental in getting his Badgers to the championship game in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 22 points and 9.3 rebounds over Wisconsin’s six games. For his senior season, Kaminsky posted 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from long range, though he did not make shooting threes a regular habit.
He has the size at 7’1″, 234 pounds and if he could just put on some weight this summer and improve his low post game, he will have set himself up for a fine NBA career. If he can enjoy success playing in his home state, all the better.
18. Houston Rockets (from New Orleans): Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Like the aforementioned Portis, Payne is probably one of the best players you never heard of. The scoring point guard was an absolute beast at Murray State his sophomore year, averaging 20.2 points, six assists and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from long range.
Given how Houston could use a more consistent and durable point guard than soon-to-be restricted free agent Patrick Beverley as well as another scoring threat besides James Harden and Dwight Howard, Payne is definitely worth a flyer as a value pick after falling this far in the first round. He’ll need to learn how to drive the lane more and not rely so heavily on his jump shot, but he has a good head on his shoulders and is great fit in a run-and-gun system like Houston coach Kevin McHale’s.
19. Washington Wizards: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Washington needs a strong power forward that isn’t named Nene Hilario, and having a young, explosive type in Harrell will only push this team further in the right direction. Harrell is a little small for the 4 at just 6’8″, 240 pounds, but has so much heart and athleticism that he refuses to let his size stand in his way of succeeding.
He posted 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game his junior season, and has all of the tools needed to be a strong presence under the basket, be it as a rebounder or interior scorer. He wouldn’t necessarily be the star on the John Wall-led Wizards, but he’d surely have no problem establishing himself as a household name.
20. Toronto Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Like the Wizards, Toronto needs a forward who can play great defense and be explosive above the rim on both sides of the floor. Hollis-Jefferson may not seem like that guy at 6’7″, 220 pounds, but he proved to be an excellent piece on an Arizona team that came so close to a Final Four this past season.
He won’t be a particularly strong scorer, and may need some time to learn how to run with bigger and stronger players, but one thing is certain. Hollis-Jefferson is a great defensive player and so long as whichever team drafts him is patient with his development, they will get a great return on their investment.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame
With Rajon Rondo out of the picture and Monta Ellis better suited to the 2, Dallas is going to need a point guard that can both create plays as well as score in head coach Rick Carlisle’s offense. If Jerian Grant is available when the Mavs take their turn in Round 1, GM Donnie Nelson would be wise to pull the trigger and select him.
Grant has excellent size for a point guard at 6’5″, 202 pounds and averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 assists per game for the Fighting Irish last season. He can get a bit streaky in that he often tried to do too much for his team as the clock was winding down, but he won’t have to worry about that if he’s sharing the court with Ellis, Chandler Parsons and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. Once he learns when to pass and when to shoot, plus when to drive the lane and when to attempt a jumper, he’ll definitely have the potential to be a fine scoring point guard.
22. Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson, G/F, Virginia
The Bulls are about to begin a new era under former player and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, so the former college coach should have a fine college player on his roster. Given how Chicago’s rotation is a bit crowded, it’d be best for GM Gar Forman to draft for depth and athleticism, and his man in that department is Anderson.
Standing 6’6″, 227 pounds, Anderson averaged 12.2 points per game for the Cavaliers last season. On top of being a great shooter, he is an excellent defender both on the ball and in the paint. He probably won’t play many minutes his rookie year, but definitely will have the opportunity to show just what he can do when given significant playing time.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Jarell Martin, PF, LSU
Combine Portland’s hole at center with the possibility that star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge could very well leave via free agency this summer, and the Blazers could be a team hurting for some size if they don’t draft accordingly. Martin may seem like a bit of a reach at this pick but at 6’10”, 236 pounds, his explosive nature is just what the team needs in its frontcourt whether or not Aldridge walks.
Martin is a phenomenal dunker who averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Tigers last season and helped bring LSU basketball back into the spotlight. Once he learns to do more than just rise up for dunks and develop a more consistent low post game, he could end up being his new team’s saving grace in the middle.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Delon Wright, G, Utah
In terms of the myriad number of guards that work their way through the college ranks, Wright is an extremely rare type. He has great length at 6’5″, 190 pounds and posted 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from long range his senior season. To me, that means a guard who is going to get his teammates involved, make intelligent decisions when looking to score and play tough lockdown defense.
Just how much he’ll play as a rookie remains to be seen, and he’d be entering a crowded situation in Cleveland as the team has Kyrie Irving at the point and the shooting guard situation is up in the air depending on what J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert decide to do re free agency. Even if he’s just there as rotational depth in the beginning, Wright is going to be a very special player once he gets a regular role.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
In his lone season with Duke, Jones proved to be an incredibly scrappy and dynamic guard who made opposing players pay for underestimating him based on size. He’s only 6’1″, 190 pounds, but plays with the heart and tenacity of someone bigger. However, just how far his talent can take him in the NBA remains to be seen.
He averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game for the Blue Devils, but shot just 42 percent from the field in the team’s signature fast paced offense. To succeed in the pros, he’ll need to learn to be patient and that he doesn’t have to be a scoring point guard. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Jones has a great head on his shoulders and is a leader in the making, regardless of how many points he may average for his career. If his team is patient with him and develops him properly, management will not regret drafting him.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Guillermo Hernangomez, C, Baloncesto Sevilla, Spain
The Spurs have a long and successful track record with international prospects, which is why I’m predicting that GM R.C. Buford will go across the pond and select Hernangomez, a 6’11”, 250 pound center from Spain.
This 21-year-old isn’t overly athletic, but has a high basketball IQ and plays his position with a blue collar attitude and a chip on his shoulder. Considering how longtime Spurs leader and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan is now 39 years old and will become a free agent in July, it’s important that the team have a potential successor waiting in the wings. Hernangomez isn’t as dominant as Duncan, but still has enough skills to make a difference in a rotational role and at least add some depth to coach Gregg Popovich’s bench.
This team needs to get younger, and Hernangomez allows for that to happen.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston): RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State
Were it not for some NCAA Tournament magic, RJ Hunter probably wouldn’t even be in the draft conversation. However, since he helped No. 14 Georgia State upset No. 3 Baylor in the Round of 64, here we are.
Thus, if he’s available when the Lakers make their second pick of the first round, the team would be wise to draft him as a potential heir to Kobe Bryant, who may retire at the end of the upcoming season. Hunter is a streaky shooter who only shot 39.5 percent from the field last year and 42.6 percent for his college career, and he shot 35.5 percent from long range.
But even though Hunter has his flaws and relies too much on his jump shot, one thing is for sure: the kid can score points. He averaged 18.3 points per game in college and if he can be taught how to drive to the basket for scoring opportunities and not just chuck up shot after shot, the 6’6″, 190 pounder can turn into a reliable 2-guard.
28. Boston Celtics (from Clippers): Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
With the team set at guard and defense up front a priority, the Celtics will look to continue building the frontcourt and would be smart to add length in the form of the 6’11”, 220 pound Wood. This young man won’t contribute much on offense despite averaging 15.7 points per game his sophomore season, but will be a fine rebounder and his long arms will help him become a dominant shot blocker. All he really needs to do is bulk up in the weight room, and he’ll become a stronger competitor and have an easier time adjusting.
29. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta): Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
The Nets are one giant mess right now, and a rebuild is definitely on the horizon. Thus, with point guard Deron Williams expected to opt out of his contract following next season, I predict that GM Billy King will draft a point guard whose style of play better suits head coach Lionel Hollins’ system. That guard is Rozier, who proved to be a fine scoring guard and pesky defender playing for Hall of Famer Rick Pitino at Louisville.
Rozier is a slashing guard who needs to develop his mid-to-long range game, and is on the smaller side at just 6’1″, 190 pounds. As a result, he got overpowered in the paint fairly easily and shot just 41.1 percent from the field. But it’s hard to ignore that he averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, three assists and two steals per contest despite his disadvantages against larger players. That gives him heart, and that’s not something you teach a player. It may take time, but Rozier definitely has the skillset to succeed in Brooklyn.
30. Golden State Warriors: Norman Powell, SG, UCLA
Golden State finished with the best record in the NBA this past season and is about to play in the NBA Finals, so the team obviously does not have any glaring holes that need to be filled entering draft season. However, a little extra depth and explosiveness never hurt anybody, which is why I have them going after UCLA’s Norman Powell to wrap up Round 1.
Powell isn’t a three-point threat like most shooting guards, nor is he one to absolutely light up the scoreboard night after night despite leading the Bruins with 16.4 points per game his senior season. But there are two things that he does incredibly well: play tight on-ball defense and throw down thunderous, explosive dunks.
Yes, the Dubs are set at guard with Klay Thompson and Steph Curry locked up with long term deals, but Powell will at least provide some solid defense off the bench and give head coach Steve Kerr someone he can use in case someone gets injured.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports