Draft day is upon us and while we can safely gauge what a lot of NBA teams will do, it's still hard to guess who the Miami Heat will select at No. 10, with some projecting a wing, a big, or even a trade down to dump salary.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns, C
Unless Flip Saunders' impulses overwhelm the better judgment of the organization, Big KAT will be the new franchise cornerstone in Minnesota, forming an outstanding core with Rookie-of-the-Year Andrew Wiggins & passing savant Ricky Rubio along with nice young role players in Zach Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad, & Gorgui Dieng.
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Jahlil Okafor, C
Well well well, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Kings and Lakers are framing a deal around DeMarcus Cousins. It would surely involve this draft pick in return and Okafor would be a reasonable replacement for the talented big man. Still, Okafor doesn't quite seem a fit in George Karl's fast paced offense either. What seemed like a sure bet at number two is now full of intrigue.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG
Scouts continue to gush about his playmaking and shooting and he helps Philadelphia in shoring up so many of their deficiencies from day one, not to mention the fact that he's 19 and bound to improve as his career progresses. It would shock me if Russell doesn't become an All-Star in this league.
4. New York Knicks - Kristaps Porzingis, PF
Another spot where the Knicks can go a lot of different directions. As I mentioned prior, if someone from the 1st tier (Towns, Okafor, Russell) drop here, they will be a New York Knick, but the 2nd tier (Porzingis, Henzonja, Mudiay, Winslow) is full of guys who are just as talented, but with a few more question marks. I think they go Porzingis due to his versatility and upside being as enormous (if not more so) as the top three. Mudiay doesn't fit the triangle with his lack of shooting ability and I don't think the Knicks will welcome a player who's often been compared to JR Smith in Henzonja.
5. Orlando Magic - Justice Winslow, SG/SF
I keep flip-flopping between Henzonja and Winslow at the 5th and 7th pick. It's a razor thin margin even though both players are quite different from one another. They need Henzonja's shooting as badly as they need Winslow's defense as they were bottom 10 in the NBA in both categories. I'm going back to Winslow here as I think he'll be a better fit within the nucleus of a talented, young, but inexperienced Orlando Magic core, but Orlando can't go wrong with either.
6. Sacramento Kings - Emmanual Mudiay, PG/SG
Now that we're hearing DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl have an irreparable relationship, the Kings look to be the biggest wildcard in the draft. If they move up and lose Cousins, they'll probably take Okafor and likely use their 6th pick on the perimeter. Henzonja would be nice here if Rudy Gay is also sent packing, but Mudiay is the nicest foundational piece to choose from. A Kings team that could use some elite penetration and fewer midrange isolations would benefit from Mudiay's strengths and the pace George Karl wishes to install.
7. Denver Nuggets - Mario Henzonja, SG/SF
Heavily depends on what trades the Nuggets make. Their entire rotation seems up for grabs right now. Still, they ranked 28th in three point percentage and Henzonja would both fill a need and be the best talent available at this spot.
8. Detroit Pistons - Stanley Johnson, SF
Scouts are torn on Johnson. Some question his offensive game translating to the next level with his finishing ability being woeful in college relative to his build and his lack of explosion also not being what you'd expect, while others see a two way talent who can defend and score inside and out. For someone described as the safest pick in the draft by many, there isn't much consensus on what Johnson can become.
9. Charlotte Hornets - Frank Kaminsky, C/PF
Well now. Charlotte has acquired Nicolas Batum in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh and in addition, have acquired Jeremy Lamb for Matt Barnes, who was a Hornet for around a week (and will be on the Thunder for less than that). Lamb has been a disappointment so far in his brief NBA career, but he can shoot the rock as can Batum (though he had a down year offensively this season). So why Kaminsky now? While Booker is the best shooter in the draft, Frank isn't that far behind and his sort of shooting is rare among 7-footers. And I'll admit, I didn't consider Frank's off the dribble and post up game the way I should have and he would be a nice pairing with Al Jefferson. These new-look Hornets could be a great deal more dynamic offensively this season. ESPN's Chad Ford and Andy Katz both believe he will land here.
10. Miami Heat - Devin Booker, SG
Gonna hedge my hedge on Oubre. He's too similar to James Ennis, and scouts don't believe he'll be NBA-ready for a year or two, which would cause an awkward overlap with Ennis. The team needs as asset who can help now AND have upside in the future. My HHH colleagues don't seem as high on Booker as I am, but I think the rough edges of his game can be smoothed in time the way they were for Klay Thompson, whose handle and feel for the game improved every season. Even looking at the worst case scenario, Booker will be a guy who comes off the bench and nails threes. His floor is not as crushingly low as a lot of other guys in this range and his ceiling is tantalizing on both ends if he works hard. He's cerebral enough (he uses Synergy to track his own shooting!) and young enough that I love his upside and hope he's an option here.
11. Indiana Pacers - Willie Cauley-Stein C
Trill Stein's had a few red flags pop up with his foot and has fallen in many draft boards. He is a legitimate option at 10 for Miami if he falls there, but it depends on if Miami opts to dump salary in the form of Chris Andersen or Josh McRoberts. He makes sense for an Indiana team that's likely gonna do away with the remnants of a core that admirably battled Miami for three straight seasons in the Eastern Conference. David West has opted out of his deal, and indications are that he will sign elsewhere. Big Willie Style (he should totally use that nickname instead) would be nice insurance for Roy Hibbert and remains the best defensive force of this draft. If his foot problems are a serious thing however, we can throw all that out of the window because he has little offensive potential to fall back on.
12. Utah Jazz - Cameron Payne, PG
Payne will either fall here or head to OKC. He isn't getting the attention of the other guards in this draft, but could wind up a solid, Jameer Nelson-esque starter for a long time (not comparing their skill sets, just their pedigree and potential). His 6'7.5 wingspan also means he should project as a solid defender in the backcourt. I still have no idea what the Jazz want to do with last year's 5th overall pick Dante Exum. I don't think he's a point guard, which is why I've stuck with Payne in this spot.
13. Phoenix Suns - Myles Turner, PF/C
There are rumblings that they want to move point guard Eric Bledsoe, which seems asinine, but who knows? I still have no gauge on Phoenix, so I imagine they'll go with the best talent in this range in Turner. The talent level after Turner falls rather precipitously in my opinion.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kelly Oubre, SF
Moving Oubre back down here, as developing behind Kevin Durant seems ideal for a player who many think needs a year or two of seasoning. The Thunder will also be happy to land Payne to back up Westbrook if Utah doesn't take him.
Thats it for me and mock drafts. Sorry I never got around to doing one with all 30 teams, but I'd be typing up lies and cliches if I told you I knew about the 26th best player in the draft and his fit on the Spurs. Tell me what you think in the comments below.