A 2015 NBA Mock draft a year ahead of the draft? Yup. We do this every year. This was the 2013 version (two players ended up going in the lottery); this was the 2014 version (five went in the lottery). So we’re on the upswing! Let’s aim for eight this time around. Yes, I’ve got Dallas missing the playoffs next year, as well as Kobe’s Lakers. I’m assuming Kevin Love is dealt, and so is Carmelo, and Minnesota and New York stink. At the bottom are players who “just missed.”
14. Denver – Kelly Oubre, F, Kansas. Smooth lefty slides into the spot vacated by Andrew Wiggins. The offense will run through Cliff Alexander, but expect Oubre to be a 14-6-3 guy as a freshman.
13. Phoenix – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky. Three Kentucky players in the lottery? There were two in 2012, and one each of the last two years. Cauley-Stein is all defense now, but he’ll need offense to hold off Towns/Johnson/Lee in practice.
12. Dallas – Brandon Ashley, PF, Arizona. Looked like a 1st round pick before getting hurt (broken foot) last year. The Wildcats didn’t lose a game with him. Averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds. Nice inside-outside game, should make a solid NBA stretch 4.
11. Cleveland – Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky. Perhaps a little ambitious on my end (5.2 ppg in 14 minutes per game), since he could be fighting for playing time with bouncy Marcus Lee.
10. Sacramento – Chris Walker, F/C, Florida. Another risky gamble here, given Walker’s checkered recent history at Florida. Only played 87 minutes last season due to a suspension. Yes, Walker/Cousins would be a major headache for any coach.
8. Boston – Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville. Stayed in school despite 14 ppg, 8.4 rpg sophomore season, and will probably be picked apart by everyone, but he’s a very athletic for 6-foot-8, 230 pounds.
7. Orlando – Mario Hezonja, G/F, Croatia. Seven international players went in the 2014 1st round. He’s already known as “Super Mario.”
LA Lakers Phoenix *- Myles Turner, C, Texas. Not only a beast inside, but he’s 6-foot-11 and has nice range, as this video shows. Considered the best recruit for Rick Barnes since Kevin Durant. Texas, which returns everybody, is a Final Four sleeper.
5. New York – Karl Towns, C, Kentucky. Long New Jersey star who has been on our radar since dominating as a freshman. The Wildcats are loaded again, and Towns (6-foot-11) might be their most talented player.
4. Milwaukee – Cliff Alexander, F, Kansas. The 6-foot-8 bruiser out of Chicago should quickly make Jayhawk fans forget about Joel Embiid. Is Alexander the next Julius Randle? Elton Brand?
3. Minnesota – Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona. The 6-foot-7 wing scoring machine will star on a loaded Arizona team that should make the Final 4. Johnson is talented enough to end up as the No. 1 pick.
2. Philadelphia – Jahil Okafor, C, Duke. In a perfect world, the Knicks will get the No. 1 pick and Okafor will be their Patrick Ewing. I have the 76ers here just because they’ll miss on the guard they need and have to take another big man. But in 2015-2016, look out East!
1. Utah – Emmanuel Mudiay, G, SMU. High school star who Larry Brown has gushed about. I threw around Russell Westbrook earlier this year and you can watch this video and decide. Six-foot-five, smooth, fast, does it all.
Just missed: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin; Marcus Paige, North Carolina; Caris Levert, Michigan; Dwayne Polee, San Diego State; Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona; Branden Dawson, Michigan State.
* As a reader notes, the Lakers will only keep their pick if it is in the Top 5. If the Lakers can trot out Kyle Lowry, Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry, Julius Randle and Pau Gasol, that’s not a bottom-five team in the NBA.