All of the significant dates prior to the 2015 NBA Draft have passed. Most teams should now have their boards and reports mostly set in anticipation of the selections to be made on Thursday, June 25. While the anticipation of trades usually disappoints on draft day, this year could live up to more excitement due to a high volume of talent at the top and dwindling depth as the first round progresses. With several teams--most notably Boston and Philadelphia--having multiple picks now and in the future, draft night could be very busy.
If you want to know what the scouts are thinking collectively, I recommend keeping up with reports from DraftExpress. They do the best job of blending their assessment of players with scouting reports and had the most accurate mock draft last year among the major sites. My goal in this space is to give insight into what I think teams should do. If each team called and asked me who to take given their circumstances, this is what I would do:
1 Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Freshman, PF/c, Kentucky (7'0, 248)
There should not be any suspense at the top. Towns is a rim-protector who can shoot. Here is hoping he is able to help soon enough to get the Wolves into the playoffs so Atlanta can get a return on the Adreian Payne trade.
2 Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, C, Duke (6'11, 272)
Okafor has issues athletically and from the free throw line, but the Lakers have no one close to him up front. He is a mature player who fits an immediate need. There are good arguments for several players here, but Okafor makes sense. If the Lakers get an offer to move down but stay in top 5, they should take it.
3 Philadelphia 76ers: Justise Winslow, Freshman, SF, Duke (6'5, 222)
Winslow is the perfect fit for the Sixers. They love defense and desperately need shooting. You can make a good argument for D'Angelo Russell--and he is the favorite to go off the board here--but Winslow's skills are harder to find. The Sixers have plenty of assets to go after a veteran point guard.
4 New York Knicks: D'Angelo Russell, Freshman, SG/PG, Ohio State (6'5, 193)
The Knicks have to get this pick right if Carmelo is going to see another relevant playoff run in New York. Russell can play both guard positions and impressed as a floor leader in his lone season at Ohio State.
The Magic have too many guards who cannot shoot and too many bigs who cannot defend. Porzingis projects to give a little of both. Porzingis is an ideal partner for both Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. His workouts have been outstanding and are backed up by solid production in Europe at age 19.
6 Sacramento Kings: Emmanuel Mudiay, 19, PG, China (6'5, 200)
Mudiay was once considered the best player in his class--and still has that potential. The Kings will be the luckiest team in the draft if he falls to #6. Mudiay is a potential franchise stud if his shot develops and showed a lot of professionalism while playing in China.
Cauley-Stein may not fall this far as teams are impressed with the development of his shooting stroke. He should be a defensive stalwart at the NBA level who has an elite ability to be a stopper both vertically and horizontally. If he makes free throws, he will be an All-Star.
With the pending loss of Greg Monroe, Turner can serve as a backup to Andre Drummond while developing his overall game. Detroit is a little more talented in the back court than perceived and will need some help up front.
9 Charlotte Hornets: Kelly Oubre, Freshman, SF/sg, Kansas (6'7, 203)
The Hornets have a lot of athleticism and defensive skill on the wings. With the Lance Stephenson deal this week, they are more poised to add a scoring wing. Oubre is a potential boom-or-bust franchise player who remains raw. He lacks much skill with the ball in his hand but he can shoot and defend.
10 Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, Freshman, SF, Arizona (6'7, 242)
The Heat may go big but the upper tier could be gone by this point. Johnson has remarkable potential on both ends of the floor but regressed during his freshman season at Arizona. If the Heat are sold on Hassan Whiteside, Frank Kaminsky could be a good pairing here as well.
Kaminsky should go off the board to the Pacers or Heat as he is an ideal partner to a rim-protecting center with offensive limitations. Indiana will likely be elated if Kaminsky is sitting here as he would immediately provide scoring for a woeful bench as Paul George returns to the starting lineup.
12 Utah Jazz: Mario Hezonja, 20, SF/SG, Croatia (6'8, 200)
Most projections have Hezonja gone by this point but the Jazz will be glad to take him if he is still on the board. Utah would prefer to see Johnson or Oubre fall here to add a wing stopper but would be overjoyed to land Hezonja (even if I find him to have an unhealthy taste for stardom).
The Suns have successfully managed to make a young, exciting team untalented and boring in less than a year. They sorely need a two-way player at the small forward position and Dekker is the best available. They will probably pick a point guard because...well I have no idea what their plan is at this point.
14 Oklahoma City Thunder: Jerian Grant, Senior, PG/SG, Notre Dame (6'4, 198)
Grant is ready to help a team sooner than later. He can backup Westbrook at the point and still play off the ball. It is still to be determined how Billy Donovan will change things in Oklahoma City but Grant appears to fit the roster now and into the future.
15 Atlanta Hawks: Justin Anderson, Junior, SG/SF, Virginia (6'6, 231)
A bit of a reach according to most projections, Anderson has been undervalued as a prospect all season. Atlanta needs shooting and defense and loves upperclassmen. With no long-term international prospects viable in this range, Anderson fits the most needs and has more potential than advertised.
16 Boston Celtics: Devin Booker, Freshman, SG, Kentucky (6'6, 186)
The Celtics could move up to get Booker as few projections have him dropping this low. He showed a mature overall game to complement his elite shooting. Booker was surprisingly effective on the defensive end at Kentucky and could end up in the top 10 with Charlotte a team to watch at #9.
17 Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, Sophomore, PF, Arkansas (6'10, 235)
The Bucks are loaded with players similar to Portis and need shooters but this seems too high to take RJ Hunter off the board. The Bucks can go a lot of directions due to their roster flexibility and may try to move up or down to add some scoring off the wing even as Jabari Parker returns.
18 Houston Rockets: Tyus Jones, Freshman, PG, Duke (6'1, 185)
Jones is not the ideal point guard due to limitations with length but he is a mature player who projects as a strong backup and a strong leader. The Rockets are limited in leadership when Harden is off the floor and Jones could become a leader for the bench.
19 Washington Wizards: Delon Wright, Senior, PG, Utah (6'5, 181)
Wright has some limitations as a scorer and his physical profile does not match his film but he is a veteran of the college game who plays a lot of minutes with relentless effort. He could be a defensive stopper at the point guard position and could take some defensive pressure off John Wall and Bradley Beal.
20 Toronto Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sophomore, SF, Arizona (6'6, 211)
The Raptors hope to build on nearly 2 seasons of success prior to their collapse late in 2015. Hollis-Jefferson would bring some defensive energy to the wing where Toronto does not have a real stopper. He will crash the boards which has been a priority when the Raptors have found success.
21 Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Mickey, Sophomore, PF, LSU (6'8, 234)
Mickey is an elite shot blocker who has significant tools to be developed on the offensive end. He is a reach by most boards this high but the Mavericks sorely need some help defensively and on the boards. Mickey could provide both.
22 Chicago Bulls: R.J. Hunter, Junior, SG/pg, Georgia State (6'6, 185)
Fred Hoiberg will want more shooting in Chicago immediately and Hunter should be able to do that as he is released from the burden of carrying a team. As the best shooter left on the board, Hunter will not fall too far in the twenties. Questions abound on his defensive capabilities at the next level.
23 Portland Trail Blazers: Montrezl Harrell, Junior, C/pf, Louisville (6'8, 253)
Harrell is a talented athlete who is difficult to project at the next level. He does not have much of a game away from the rim on either end of the court but is a strong rebounder with good defensive potential. He should give Portland some energy and toughness in the post.
24 Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevon Looney, Freshman, PF, UCLA (6'9, 220)
Looney is an energetic player who reportedly has had difficulties with consistency due to asthma. He loves to rebound and has some potential as a perimeter shooter. Cleveland could be a great place for him to develop a skill set that complements the pace-and-space era.
Richardson has been the most underrated player in the draft all season. He can handle the basketball and shoot while defending three positions. A grinder throughout all four seasons at Tennessee, he is a perfect fit for the Grizzlies both in character and need.
26 San Antonio Spurs Guillermo Hernangomez, 21, C, Spain (6'11, 255)
Hernangomez is an athletically limited, but highly skilled big who was highly productive in the Spanish ACB league. He does not necessarily fit a need for the Spurs but his offensive game has some similarities to Duncan.
27 Los Angeles Lakers: Rakeem Christmas, Senior, PF/c, Syracuse (6'10, 243)
Christmas has risen quickly in the rankings throughout his senior season due to an improved shot and anchoring Syracuse's defense. If the Lakers want to keep building around Kobe, Christmas is one of the few players on the board still able to help an NBA rotation as a rookie.
28 Boston Celtics: Trey Lyles, Freshman, PF, Kentucky (6'10, 241)
The Celtics need to keep adding talent and Lyles is both raw and talented. It is difficult to project his skill set for the next level, but he could thrive into a dominant two-way power forward in time. Boston needs to take advantage of any opportunity to develop a potential star even if the odds are long.
29 Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Payne, Sophomore, PG, Murray State (6'2, 183)
Payne has been a hot prospect in recent months and could be a lottery pick. The Nets would be elated to find a potential successor to Deron Williams this late in the draft. With few teams in need of a point guard, Payne could end up being selected anywhere between 10-30.
30 Golden State Warriors: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, 20, C, France (6'11, 249)
The Warriors need more athletic size and someone who will not take up any cap space. Jaiteh can be stashed for a year of development and provide a large presence in 2 or 3 seasons. His production has not yet matched his physical ability but he has a lot of upside due to his combination of size and agility.