The NBA Lottery will be held on Tuesday night and the Atlanta Hawks will be unaffected by the results. Instead, Atlanta prepares for the Eastern Conference Finals (see our preview) hile locked into selecting 15th in the 2015 NBA Draft. These rankings are not a mock draft, but reflect personal evaluations of overall talent. As the draft nears, a deeper look will be taken on those players most likely to be targeted by Atlanta.
The rankings are placed into tiered groups of similarly rated prospects. In the great debate between selecting "best player available" or upon team need, the tiers reflect an effort at meeting both needs. It is not a reach to choose a lower player from the same tier, but it is a reach to pick a player from a lower tier when higher rated players are available. Karl-Anthony Towns is a solid number 1 selection at this point, but all 4 players in the top tier have reasonable arguments to go first overall (some would add Emmanuel Mudiay to that mix).
Rank (Previous Rank), Preferred Position posted in ALL CAPS
1(2) Karl-Anthony Towns, Freshman, PF/c, Kentucky (7'0, 248)
Let's get that up to 7-0 people who can shoot 3's and protect the rim. Hey wait, that's Karl-Anthony Towns. https://t.co/bbjaWp4C9R— RealGM (@RealGM) May 14, 2015
2a(3) Justise Winslow, Freshman, SF, Duke (6'5, 222)
2b(2) Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, C, Duke (6'11, 272)
In a league where the top four three-point shooting teams are still playing, Winslow has surpassed the value of his Duke teammate. His ability to be a two-way player on the wing surpasses Okafor's questionable skills in rim protection and free throw liabilities. Winslow was the best player on Duke's team during the championship run and looks more like the players who are still winning in May than Okafor. Given Okafor's rare length and offensive skill, it is hard to imagine him dropping to third in the draft. However, Winslow is an elite athlete with a proven record of impacting games on both ends of the floor. As a result, he should be the second player off the board in July.
4(4) D'Angelo Russell, Freshman, SG/PG, Ohio State (6'5, 193)
Russell measured at 6'5 and 193 pounds with a 6'9.75" wingspan. Those numbers reflect a player that is stronger and longer than previously known. Teams will now likely view Russell as having more defensive potential than previously believed and a player who can legitimately play both guard positions. As a result, he remains steady in the rankings but has jumped up into the first tier of players.
5(5) Emmanuel Mudiay, 19, PG, China (6'5, 200)
Mudiay elected to skip the combine and it is unknown how it will affect his draft status. With Justise Winslow and D'Angelo Russell solidifying themselves as elite athletes on already solid NCAA rsumes, Mudiay has too many unknowns to move ahead. With questions about his shooting ability and few teams in need of point guards, Mudiay misses the cut of being in the top tier of prospects.
6(9) Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky (7'0, 242) [PROFILE]
Cauley-Stein gives every indication to be a defensive stalwart. He has the defensive skill of Marcus Camby in a larger body. He should be an elite defender in pick-and-roll and may be able to impact games sooner than any other player in the draft. He does not have any great skill on the offensive end but has improved as a facilitator and scorer from the low post. While the NBA trend is toward perimeter skill, Cauley-Stein should be able to protect the rim and help on closing out on the wings.
7(10) Kristaps Porzingis, 19, PF, Latvia (7'0, 220)[PROFILE]
Potential top-10 pick Kristaps Porzingis drives right, evades a defender and baptizes Walter Tavares. https://t.co/cHrb4VrtYA— LosCrossovers (@LosCrossovers) May 10, 2015
8(11) Myles Turner, Freshman, C/pf, Texas (6'11, 239) [PROFILE]
Scouts are concerned about the awkwardness of Turner's gait but his agent has done excellent work at dispelling some perceptions in advance. This excellent piece on movement science from DraftExpress reveals quite a bit about the massive freshman. His measurements at the combine mixed with the report have lessened my concerns about his long-term prospects. However, Turner remains a project who needs to land with a team prepared to practice patience.
9(7) Kelly Oubre, Freshman, SF/sg, Kansas (6'7, 203)
Oubre has the widest range of possibility in this draft. He has the athleticism and shooting stroke to be the best player in the draft...and the raw skill and immaturity to end up as a D-League All-Star. Expect him to be somewhere between Paul George and Harold Miner. Which team will take that chance first?
10(6) Stanley Johnson, Freshman, SF, Arizona (6'7, 242)
Johnson has been falling in the eyes of scouts due to some uneven efforts on the defensive end during periods of his freshman season. He measured over a full inch shorter at the combine than previous measurements. The shorter length is not a huge deal, but it contributes to Johnson's fall outside the top 10 of the rankings. He was as high as number 3 in this space earlier in the season before settling into uneven play against tougher competition.
11(6) Jerian Grant, Senior, PG/SG, Notre Dame (6'4, 198)
Grant continues to be underrated in this draft class despite measuring to be a little smaller and less athletic than expected at the combine. A legitimate combo guard who can defend, Grant has some Steve Nash in his game that makes him of greater value than some of the more traditional point guards in the draft.
12(15) Frank Kaminsky, Senior, PF/c, Wisconsin (7'0, 231) [PROFILE]
Kaminsky wins the "T-Rex" award of the combine for his short-armed wingspan of 6'11. Additionally, he weighed 11 pounds less than previous measurements. It will be interesting to see how scouts view these numbers as they could be viewed as a greater limitation on his ability to hold up in the post or as a sign that Kaminsky is preparing to find more success away from the basket. He was able to show more mobility as the season progressed and that may be reflected in his lower weight.
13(21) Justin Anderson, Junior, SG/SF, Virginia (6'6, 231)
Anderson's athletic display at the combine should reverse any momentum lost from his hand injury. Perceived as a good-to-great college athlete, the Virginia guard put up elite numbers in drills. His 43-inch vertical leap at 231 pounds was the biggest surprise of the athletic testing. With a wingspan a shade under 7-feet and 47/45/78 shooting stroke on the season, teams should be looking hard at Anderson around the back of the lottery.
14(17) Sam Dekker, Junior, SF, Wisconsin (6'9, 219) [PROFILE]
Dekker has parlayed a successful tournament run into posting a solid physical profile at the combine. Dekker has excellent size for a small forward and tested well in agility drills. If a team believes his late-season shooting surge can hold up, he looks like a two-way NBA wing with an ability to slide to the 4 in smaller lineups.
15(14) Mario Hezonja, 20, SF/SG, Croatia (6'8, 200)
16(13) Devin Booker, Freshman, SG, Kentucky (6'6, 186)
Coach Calipari was surprised at how well Booker defended as a freshman. Perceived to be little more than a shooter with a solid handle when entering Kentucky, Devin showed both in his play and at the combine that he has some upside on the defensive end. He is by no means a great athlete but he is highly skilled with fewer physical limitations than once believed.
17(20) Bobby Portis, Sophomore, PF, Arkansas (6'10, 235)
18(16) George de Paula (formerly Lucas), 19, PG/sf, Brazil (6'6, 197)
19(18) Tyus Jones, Freshman, PG, Duke (6'1, 185)
20(19) Delon Wright, Senior, PG, Utah (6'5, 181)
Wright measured at just over a 6'7 wingspan and posted below 30 inches on the vertical leap. He remains a solid point guard prospect but his physical profile is weaker than previous projections. He may have more difficulty defending wing players off of screens which harms his strong defensive tools.
21(23) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sophomore, SF, Arizona (6'6, 211)
22(27) Montrezl Harrell, Junior, C/pf, Louisville (6'8, 253)
Harrell is undersized by height, but his 7'4 wingspan and 253-pound frame make him far from being small. With his shooting limitations, Harrell needs to display an ability to play the center position. His physical skill and chiseled frame suggests he should find a role as a third big at the next level.
23(31) Jordan Mickey, Sophomore, PF, LSU (6'8, 234)
Mickey used his 7'3 wingspan and excellent instincts to block 12 shots in his 2 games of play at the combine. While the sample size is small, the tally is impressive versus other NBA prospects. Mickey has been ranked near the first round in our rankings all season and it now looks like those early impressions may have been on target. He continues to have offensive limitations but he has an elite skill that should translate to the next level.
24(22) Josh Richardson, Senior, SG, Tennessee (6'6, 200) [PROFILE]
Richardson made a poor decision in not attending the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in hopes of a combine invite. He has likely put himself outside of the NBA draft as a result. Richardson can shoot, defend each wing position, and handle the basketball. Until evidence is shown to the contrary that keeps him in the top 25 of our rankings.
25(34) R.J. Hunter, Junior, SG/pg, Georgia State (6'6, 185)
Hunter's shooting numbers declined this season and he remains a long, slender player. If his stroke and length come together with age, Hunter could develop into an NBA star. However, he still remains a prospect with little experience against highly rated competition. His 6'10.5" wingspan mixed with good hands on the defensive end give him a strong enough profile to be labeled as more than simply a shooter. As a result, he has found his way up the PTH rankings.
26(40) Mouhammadou Jaiteh, 20, C, France (6'11, 249)
Jaiteh still has not translated his size and athleticism to being a skilled rim protector but his overall game continues to develop. He remains a project but has shown enough in the last year to look like a future NBA player. As a result, he could go late in the first round to a contending team hoping to stash him overseas for one more season.
27(51) Rakeem Christmas, Senior, PF/c, Syracuse (6'10, 243)
Christmas may have had a more important combine than Robert Upshaw due to an improvement of previous measurements and outstanding play in 5-on-5. A late bloomer at Syracuse whose outstanding senior season was lost amid the school's NCAA controversy, Christmas has an elite 7'5 wingspan and has shot over 70% from the free throw line for consecutive seasons. He is one of the older prospect in this draft class but still has room to improve. In the limited play offered at the combine, Christmas looked like the best player on the floor in game action.
28(28) Trey Lyles, Freshman, PF, Kentucky (6'10, 241)
29(29) Kevon Looney, Freshman, PF, UCLA (6'9, 220)
30(30) Jarell Martin, Sophomore, PF, LSU (6'8, 242)
31(58) Robert Upshaw, Sophomore, C, Washington [Removed from team] (7'0, 264)
Upshaw was probably the biggest winner of the combine as he impressed with elite measurements and said all the right things. After transferring from Fresno State, the Washington center was suspended 19 games into the 2014-15 college season. His 4.5 blocks in less than 25 minutes a game were staggering in a limited season. I would not trust giving him guaranteed money in the first round due to his history, but he is a relatively easy risk at the top of the second round. Upshaw is a legitimate 7-footer at only 21 years of age with a 7'5.5" wingspan and 9'5" standing reach. Scouts report that he has made progress with his shooting touch (43% from free throw line this season) since his suspension, but he remains a liability on the offensive end.
32(32) Cameron Payne, Sophomore, PG, Murray State (6'2, 183)
33(NR) J.P. Tokoto, Junior, SG, North Carolina (6'6, 196)
Tokoto has been an enigma at North Carolina while also being the most consistent defender for the Tar Heels. He remains a work in progress but profiles as a legitimate 3-and-D guy with an above average handle. He looked like he belonged in his 5-on-5 play at the combine. Primarily unrated previously due to expectation that he would not declare in 2015, Tokoto is a volatile prospect right now who could end up as a surprise first-round choice or fall out of the draft entirely.
34(35) Brandon Ashley, Junior, PF, Arizona (6'8, 223)
35(46) Christian Wood, Sophomore, PF/sf, UNLV (6'11, 216)
36(42) Cedi Osman, 20, SF, Macedonia (6'8, 190)
37(43) Guillermo Hernangomez, 20, C, Spain (6'11, 255)
38(NR) Daniel Diez, 22, SF, Spain (6'9, 216)
Diez is a small forward with some "stretch 4" potential. He was voted best young player in the Spanish league over Hernangomez and Porzingis. Diez is a little older than those prospects and possesses less potential on the defensive end, but he can shoot (48/43/77 slash) and has the offensive skill to find his way into an NBA rotation.
39(38) Dez Wells, Senior, SG, Maryland (6'4, 221)
40(36) Chris McCullogh, Freshman, PF, Syracuse (6'8, 195)
41(37) Cliff Alexander, Freshman, C/pf, Kansas (6'9, 254)
42(39) Anthony Brown, Senior, SF/sg, Stanford (6'7, 207)
43(41) Aleksandar Vezenkov, 19, SF, Bulgaria (6'8, 200)
44(44) Terry Rozier, Sophomore, pg/sg, Louisville (6'2, 189)
45(45) Rashad Vaughn, Freshman, SG, UNLY (6'5, 200)
46(50) Alan Williams, Senior, C/pf, UC-Santa Barbara (6'8, 261)
Williams is a throwback post player whose game makes him a bit of a dinosaur today--and a slow one at that. However, he has a rare skill inside 15 feet and knocks down free throws when given an opportunity. He reminds me of Paul Millsap when the current Hawk played at Louisiana Tech. Williams has played well against good competition and showed himself well in combine play.
47(53) Joseph Young, Senior, PG, Oregon (6'2, 178)
48(55) LeBryan Nash, Senior, sf/pf, Oklahoma State (6'7, 235)
49(56) Quinn Cook, Senior, pg/sg, Duke (6'2, 179)
Cook simply lacks the size and athleticism to be given a lot of value in a league stacked with talented, young point guards. However, he is highly skilled and plays with great intensity. He could be destined for a highly successful career in Europe but his potential as a cool presence as a backup guard (see: Mack, Shelvin) could find him playing meaningful NBA minutes if he lands in the right spot.
50(47) Aaron Harrison, Sophomore, SG, Kentucky (6'5, 210)
51(57) Andrew Harrison, Sophomore, pg/sg, Kentucky (6'5, 207)
52(59) Moussa Diagne, 21, C, Senegal (6'10, 218)
53(60) Tyler Harvey, Junior, SG, Eastern Washington (6'4, 185)
54(NR) Richaun Holmes, Senior, PF, Bowling Green (6'10, 243)
55(NR) Jonathan Holmes, Senior, SF, Texas (6'9, 242)
Holmes has underachieved at the college level but he is not the first Longhorn player to disappoint under Rick Barnes. A skilled athlete who simply disappeared during games too often, the small forward looked good in Chicago and could come off the board early in the second round if a team believes they can revive his stagnant development.
56(NR) Brandon Dawson, Senior, PF, Michigan State (6'7, 230)
Dawson was a top-20 player coming out of high school and showed flashes of that potential prior to an injury during his junior season. He had some good moments as a senior but has not shown an ability to knock down many shots from outside. Dawson is a strong, undersized power forward with explosion that is hard to find. He finishes well above the rim and still has a chance to develop into a meaningful rotational player. Unfortunately, his size and skill have limited his potential to capitalize on the hopes of his promise when entering college.
57(52) Derrick Marks, Senior, SG, Boise State (6'3, 210)
58(NR) Nikola Milutinov, 20, PF, Serbia (7'0, 220)
59(NR) Norman Powell, Senior, SG, UCLA (6'4, 215)
60(NR) Darion Atkins, Senior, PF, Virginia (6'8, 240)
Atkins is a solid on-ball defender capable of defending beyond his position. He was outstanding at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and was snubbed by the NBA Draft Combine. His college numbers do not standout but his impact on games on both ends of the floor was noticeable in every Virginia game I watched this season. His play in Portsmouth revealed a player ready to step out of the confines of Virginia's slow play.