2015 SpreeGoogs NBA Mock Draft Part 2
To catch up on how things shook out in the lottery, go read Part 1.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Bobby Portis, PF/C (Arkansas)
There seems to be a break after the first 14 players in most mocks. As in, no matter what mock you look at, the first 14 players are the same, in some order. I followed suit, because I get a lot of my information from the same places those other mocks do. Anyway, the Hawks are in a great spot: they don’t need anything (assuming Paul Millsap DeMarre Carroll re-sign) and can sort of just take the best player who falls. In my mock, I don’t really think anyone is “falling” because I’m assuming the presumed-best players go early. If any of those previous 14 players are left, no matter what position, they’re in play here.
Since no one fell to the Hawks, they’ll take Bobby Portis, a rebounding and midrange-shooting specialist from Arkansas. Portis can run enough to keep allow the Hawks to keep up the tempo when their starters sit and Shroder takes over. Paul Millsap is an ideal veteran for him to learn under. We’re into a new tier of draftees now, so teams are probably looking for players with one elite skill. Portis might be an elite rebounder, but he’s definitely got an elite motor and his game fits with the way the Hawks play.
16. Boston Celtics: R.J. Hunter, SG (Georgia State)
There are two wild cards at play here: Boston, a team with multiple first-round picks and very even positional talent distribution (they can draft any position that isn’t point guard) and Hunter, a player who has been rocketing up draft boards to land near the end of the lottery. He can shoot and he’s pretty athletic, should be able to fit in with Brad Stevens’ system, which either works well with versatile players or is designed that way now to make up for the lack of stars. Either way, I think Hunter works for them.
The Celtics are also one of the hotter teams in trade talks. They have a late first (28) and early second round pick (33) to combine with this one and might move up if they feel like there’s a post player that they can get for good value. That’s really too many picks to be able to give meaningful playing time to everyone, so look for one of those picks to get packaged with this one to move up in front of Utah or maybe Indiana and grab someone. The Heat are probably ideal trade partners.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Oubre, SF (kansas)
I’d love to give the Bucks a big guy here. I hate to burden any team and fanbase with the idea of suffering through a jayhawk, but the only other player I considered here was Looney, and he also attended one of my rival universities. The Bucks are set for the short-term future at the 1 (MCW) and have super talented forwards (Parker and Giannis), so all they really need is some depth on the wing and a big who can rebound.
Oubre has been falling a little bit lately because he’s an embarrassment off the court and in interviews, but he does have some valuable basketball skills. Jason Kidd proved last season that he can actually coach, so it’s likely that Oubre can fit in instantly as the first wing off the bench. A little outside shooting would be a good complement for the Freak’s penetrating style. Fun side note: the Bucks starting 1-3 right now of MCW, Giannis and Khris Middleton adds up to ~39 feet of arms.
18. Houston Rockets: Delon Wright, PG (Utah)
I don’t think this is a pick a lot of other mocks will make. The next tier of point guards involves Wright, Tyus Jones, Terry Rozier and Jerian Grant; any one of them could end up here, but to me, the best one for the Rockets is Wright. He’s got the best size of the three of them and can defend the best. Plus, he doesn’t turn the ball over, his assist:turnover ratio in college was over 5.0! He’s a willing passer, which you need with James Harden on the team.
The goal of this pick is to grab a player who will minimize the dropoff when Patrick Beverly has to come out, and Wright seems like he’s the most similar to Bev. Grant has more experience, but that doesn’t matter for a team that will see the ball in Harden’s hands so much. Jones is fast and scores pretty well, but do they really need more of that? I’m pretty confident in the way Wright fits in Houston. Take that, other mocks.
19. Washington Wizards: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF (Arizona)
For me, this pick came down to RHJ and Looney. I didn’t consider Sam Dekker, because he’s exactly the kind of NCAA Tournament rising star who ends up getting taken too early every year and isn’t actually very good. The Wizards are looking at losing Paul Pierce to the player option, so they have minutes at the wing to go around and I don’t think Otto Porter is quite ready to take them all yet.
RHJ moves extremely well for someone of his size, and while he doesn’t shoot that well, he can defend 3s and 4s at a high level. I think every playoff team has to be watching the NBA Finals this year wondering how they can build a team that plays good small ball. Imagine the Wiz with Wall and Beal in the backcourt, Porter and Hollis-Jefferson on the wings and Nene (or even Gortat) as the big. That team can run. They might not be great at outside shooting, but they could defend well and they’re a nightmare in transition. The overall move to speedier lineups will boost RHJ’s draft stock, just you wait and see.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kevon Looney, PF (UCLA)
Looney is an interesting player this year. He and Montrezl Harrell are probably on a tier of their own as the last bigs who have first-round talent. Looney doesn’t have the kind of athleticism you’d want in a run-and-gun backup 4, but he hits the offensive boards hard and, unlike Harrell, can spread the floor with a reliable outside shot. The Raptors have an Amir-Johnson-sized hole to fill in their roster, and while the best option might be to just re-sign Johnson, the more realistic option might be to sign the poor man’s version (Looney) for cheaper.
For reasons I don’t really understand, Looney was seen as a lottery talent for most of the year and has only recently started to fall further back in the draft projections. He doesn’t have a traditional post game, which is a huge problem for a guy his size, but he definitely can make shots off putbacks and he has a good shooting stroke. He might be the right player to try in a 4-out type of set with the Raptors backups. If his shot were attached to a faster body, he’d be a lottery pick for a team trying to build around the small ball strategy. But that isn’t the case, so he’ll fall around here.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Jerian Grant, PG (Notre Dame)
I had to double-check who was still available because in the real draft, Grant almost has to be gone by 21. But that’s how mock drafts work, I guess. I have a good friend who is very attached to Mavs basketball and he always likes to remind me that Dallas doesn’t draft players. They pick guys when they are on the clock, but they put the team together exclusively via free agency and trades. But the rules of the mock are that there are no trades, so they actually have to draft someone.
This year, they’re kind of recovering from the Rondo experiment, so they’ll be looking to add a point guard. Or put a point guard on the summer league team until another team trades them a real point guard. Grant has the most experience of any ballhandler in this year’s class, which is certainly valuable to a veteran team like Dallas. They need another wing too, but there’s not a lot left, particularly at the 2. Jones and Rozier are options in play, but I think Dallas goes for the proven pure point guard. They don’t have one and just lost Monta Ellis to free agency, so they’re going to need to put the ball in someone’s hands an awful lot.
22. Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson, SF (Virginia)
This one’s hard to predict. Thibs is out and Fred Hoiberg is in, so we don’t really know what this team is trying to look like. Jimmy Butler hasn’t officially signed with the Lakers yet, but he still isn’t a Bull. Taj Gibson just had surgery and won’t be available to practice with the team over the summer, maybe not even star the season. They still have Rose, but no valuable backup. Noah, Mirotic, Gasol and a healthy Gibson are solid group of bigs, but Snell and McDermott are not really wings you want to start a season with, hence Anderson.
Anderson defends well, which will fit into any system Hoiberg wants to run and just had a monster year shooting the three. Playoff teams can always add 3/D players, and playoff teams who lost their best wing scorer/defender can certainly benefit from the depth. Sam Dekker might be an option for a team looking for a worse version of Anderson who plays well in the NCAA tournament, but the hard part might be turning down Jones and Rozier behind Rose. Wing needs win out for Chicago in my mock though.
23. Portland Trailblazers: Sam Dekker, SF (Wisconsin)
This just in: Portland is either a major threat to win the West or in major trouble depending on how a couple of free agents go. Aldridge is the big one, literally and figuratively, but Wes Matthews is also hunting for a near-max deal, which Portland probably isn’t giving him. That’s ok, remember they traded to get Aaron Afflalo, right? Oh yeah, he’s a free agent too. So is Robin Lopez. Actually, the Trailblazers only have one player (McCollum) under contract beyond the upcoming season, and that’s a team option, so if they wanted to, they could have absolutely no one under contract by next summer.
It all adds up to a pretty classic BPA scenario. Actually, Lillard is still there (and Steve Blake opted in) so maybe BPEPGA (best player excluding point guards available). That leaves Jones and Rozier out, but makes room for either Sam Dekker or Montrezl Harrell. They’re losing a hell of a lot of three-point attempts from Matthews, so I’ll give the edge to Dekker, who isn’t afraid to shoot the deep ball.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Brown, SF (Stanford)
The Cavs are in a situation similar to the Blazers: the offseason is about figuring out what to do with their free agents, not the draft. LeBron and Love are the big tickets, but it would be a miracle if they didn’t both end up back in Cleveland. Tristan Thompson is an RFA, so they’ll get him back, but JR Smith has a player option for next year. Assuming everyone ends up back on the Cavs, it seems like wing depth is the biggest need. Even with LeBron and JR back, there’s no one else on the roster except Mike Miller and Joe Harris (garbage), so the Cavs need to draft someone before they get into a sticky cap spot.
Brown is a four-year college player, so he’s as experienced as it gets in the draft pool. That might not be great when you’re talking about upside, but the Cavs window is open now, so they need players they can count on next summer. The stars and shooters approach got them far enough last year that adding a 44% three-point threat seems obvious. We all saw what happened to the Cavs without enough point guard depth, but a healthy Kyrie Irving will hopefully make fans forget about all those Delly games. Jones/Rozier continue to fall.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarell Martin, PF (LSU)
There is a rumor floating around that Jarell Martin has a promise from a team in the first round. There is an accompanying rumor that the Grizz are the team that has made it. Again, this is a draft about what I think will happen, so I’ll go ahead and take a gimme where I think I’m getting a gimme. Of course, they’ll probably just pick Rakeem Christmas or someone else totally out of nowhere, but that’s the way drafts go.
Looking at the depth chart, the Grizzlies should be going BPA here, but there’s a definite need for some backup bigs and there aren’t a lot of first-round quality players there. The obvious solution is to pull the classic Larry Bird move and just pick second-round talent in the first round. If we’re picking bigs, I LOVE Harrell at this spot, he’s definitely the best big left, but hey, a promise is a promise.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF (France)
More stereotyping, the Spurs take a foreign player. I’ll explain it though, so hang with me. San Antonio, like the Cavs and Blazers, needs to bring all their free agents back before they worry about who they’re drafting. That includes Tim Duncan (who is never a threat to leave) Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. After that, they’ll draft for depth and they can take BPEPGA. For next year’s team, Luwawu is only 19, but is already a strong wing defender who is built an awful lot like Leonard and should be able to learn from him.
The Parker/Manu/Timmy era in San Antonio will be remembered as one of the most successful team/player combos in basketball history, but those guys are all getting old and the new guard will have to take over. Leonard is certainly a part of that, but I’m not sure who else is. The answer probably isn’t available at the 26th pick. Luwawu’s offensive game will need to adapt a little before it’s NBA-ready. He can drive and draw contact, but his outside shooting is average. He looks like a defensive specialist who can slash.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Terry Rozier, PG (Louisville)
There’s a lot of chatter regarding the Lakers thinking hard about D’Angelo Russell with the second pick, and I think it’s mostly just gamesmanship. They’re picking Okafor at 2. But that doesn’t mean guard depth isn’t still a problem. Rozier is a little bit more of a combo guard than a point guard, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Long-term, this is still a free agency team, and players who can fit in at more than one position give L.A. versatility.
Rozier would give the Lakers two young, cheap combo guards, who would both play a sort of off-ball 1 for a year with Kobe coming back. Depending on which free agencts the Lakers attract next offseason, Rozier and Clarkson can both play either the 1 or the 2, so they should still be able to get minutes. It’s like that exercise where you fill a jar with different-sized rocks by putting the big ones in first and the filling in the small ones around them. Rozier is a small rock, but he’s tough and he can fit with a lot of other players.
28. Boston Celtics: Montrezl Harrell, PF (Louisville)
Seems odd that he’s still available, especially with the lack of bigs in this year’s class. Boston is a pretty decent team that can still afford to make BPA draft picks, and in this case, Harrell and the 16th pick Oubre would be a promising collection of players/skills from the first round. Harrell rebounds well and has an active motor that reminds me of the Boston bigs in recent years. He can get minutes as a rebounder right away, but he’ll have to add some offense to his game if he wants to get any more run.
The more I read about the draft, the more I think this pick will be made by a team that isn’t Boston. The team right now is all depth and no real stars, so a team with the 16th, 28th and 33rd picks is crazy to just add three more depth players. The C’s should be packaging 16 and 28 to move up to the mid-lottery, or maybe even all three picks to move up to 4 or 5.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Tyus Jones, PG (Duke)
Jones is probably the biggest loser in my mock. He’s a small point guard with a lot of skills and pretty good shot-making ability, but we’ve seen this guy before in other drafts. It’s just hard to play in the NBA without an NBA body. I like what he can add as a backup ballhandler, but he probably can’t defend for long periods, no matter how good he is on offense. He’s definitely the best player available here, and Brooklyn needs cheap talent because they already have a lot of players under some heavy contracts.
Overall, this team is a huge question mark. The Nets have one more season under the failed Williams/Lopez/Johnson regime and then will probably spend a ton of money building something else. The Nets won’t draft someone to be a part of that something else, but point guard depth isn’t ever going to be a wasted pick and Jones is too good to be available here.
30. Golden State Warriors: Rashad Vaughn, SG (UNLV)
The Warriors just won everything and aren’t really even losing anyone, so their roster looks pretty set as it is. The only player from their pared-down playoff roster that won’t be back is Barbosa, so I’ll take a little bit of extra guard depth with Vaughn. We’re only looking at a grand total of 10-12 minutes a game here, since the Steph/Klay/Livingston combination has earned plenty of minutes, but that’s still plenty of time to grow as more than just a scorer.
Vaughn doesn’t shoot much better than average, but he can’t be less reliable than Barbosa was, and he brings a lot of the slashing that will need to be replaced. Vaughn won’t have the ball in his hands a lot with Golden State, so he’ll have to rely on speed around screens and some interior banging to get himself good looks, but those are strengths for him, so it’ll be a nice fit. People will love to point out that smaller-school alpha scorers can’t possibly learn from a better player than Steph, but Vaughn’s ceiling isn’t nearly as high as Curry’s, he’s a complementary second-string slasher, which is exactly what the Warriors need.
Good luck to your teams in tomorrow night’s draft.