So, you may have heard about the writer from Elite Daily who pretended to have been picked for the 2015 NBA Draft so that he could go out and party like a star athlete. It’s an interesting story, although the moral implications are a little bit shaky. But forget about that guy for a second, because we’re not here to talk about outrageous lies. Instead, we’d like to break down the results of the 2015 NBA Draft and see how each team might fare with their new recruits.
We’ll also talk a bit about some of the major players who were picked, and how some of them didn’t wind up quite where we thought they would. The first round of the 2015 NBA Draft will be covered in a bit more depth than the second round, but we’ll make sure you walk away knowing about everyone who was picked. And, believe it or not, even the second round held a couple of interesting surprises that we probably wouldn’t have seen coming. And with that, let’s go ahead and dive right in.
First Round (1-10)
The very first pick of the 2015 NBA Draft was PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns. After last season, the thought of really anybody from the Kentucky Wildcats getting drafted first was not exactly new. Many thought that C Jahlil Okafor from Duke University would be the first pick of the draft, but the Minnesota Timberwolves went with Towns instead. In fact, Okafor wasn’t even drafted second. That designation went to Ohio State’s PG/SG D’Angelo Russell. He’s got some mild versatility, and clearly the Los Angeles Lakers felt that his immense speed and admirable natural instincts as a player would make him a valuable addition to the team.
Okafor did make it as the third pick, chosen by the Philadelphia 76ers. No one’s sure why one of the best players of last season was picked third, although it should be said that he isn’t the best defensive player. Even so, it’s interesting to note that all three of the first three picks in the 2015 NBA Draft were freshmen. The New York Knicks went young with the fourth pick as well, 19-year-old Latvian PF Kristaps Porzingis. They probably could have picked someone a bit better, but he isn’t a terrible defensive player and he’s made some respectable three-pointers in his career.
The Orlando Magic went for an international player as well, selecting SG/SF Mario Hezonja from Barcelona. He’s pretty strong on offense, and should be even harder to defend against than Porzingis. The same could be said of Kentucky C Willie Cauley-Stein, who became the sixth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft when he was selected by the Sacramento Kings. Some think that he’s been taken on as a possible replacement for DeMarcus Cousins, although it’s hard to say that at the moment. He certainly could be, though. He’s got a lot of length, and even more versatility. Whether or not the rumors about Cousins are true, Cauley-Stein should add something to the team.
The seventh and eighth picks of the 2015 NBA Draft went to the Denver Nuggets and the Detroit Pistons, respectively. Denver drafted PG Emmanuel Mudiay from Guangdong. Mudiay almost wasn’t an international pick, having originally agreed to play ball with SMU. But on China’s professional circuit (where we’re hoping he got to meet Gilbert Arenas), he established himself as a talented and unpredictable point guard. The only downside is that his talent itself can be rather unpredictable. Detroit got Arizona freshman SF Stanley Johnson, whose height and weight was excellent in college but might pack less punch in the NBA.
The ninth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft was someone who, much like Okafor, we may have expected to get drafted sooner. It’s true, we published a previous article in which we said that senior PF Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin was overvalued due to some blatant floppery. And while some of his more notable flops were still ridiculous, he’s still a seven-footer who played a big role in his team making the Final Four this past year. We can only imagine that the Charlotte Hornets are going to be pleased as punch that he was available. The Miami Heat probably feel the same about Duke’s SF Justise Winslow. He didn’t contribute to his team’s Division I championship win as much as Okafor, but he held his own against several taller players and established himself as a respectable shooter on nearly all sides.
First Round (11-20)
The 2015 NBA Draft continued with the Indiana Pacers selecting freshmen Texas C Myles Turner. Similar to Stanley Johnson, his amazing collegiate performance hasn’t quite done away with doubts as to whether or not he’s NBA-ready. He makes less than a third of his free-throws, but his defense is about as good as it’ll ever be. The Utah Jazz then selected SF Trey Lyles from Kentucky, who it is expected will likely switch positions to PF now that he isn’t being required to fill gaps in the Wildcats’ roster.
The thirteenth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft went to another Kentucky player, SG Devin Booker, who was selected by the Phoenix Suns. He’s got some work to do on both offense and defense, but he could ultimately constitute a valuable addition to the team. The same might be said of new Oklahoma City Thunder acquisition, PG Cameron Payne. When he was playing for Murray State, he showed that he knew how to handle the ball but also knew when to let his teammates have the shot. That’s a truly valuable quality in a player, so hopefully he’ll keep it up.
The Washington Wizards traded for the fifteenth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, and they used it to acquire freshman SF Kelly Oubre of Kansas. He’s got a lot of swagger, which might be a bad thing. As we’ve written before, ego isn’t always the best quality in a player. He wasn’t the strongest player when he first started off with Kansas, so Washington better hope he starts off better with them. The Boston Celtics made a possibly ill-advised decision as well, drafting sophomore Louisville PG Terry Rozier. He’s alright on defense, but he won’t be NBA-ready without a lot of work on raising some of his stats.
Milwaukee drafted UNLV’s SG Rashad Vaughan as the seventeenth overall. His scoring average isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t bad for a freshman. His talents are a little questionable, however, since (due to injury) he hasn’t been able to show his skills in an official game since before the postseason. He’ll be practicing with the big boys now, and it might be hard to keep up. The eighteenth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft went to the New Orleans Pelicans, but they traded it to the Houston Rockets, who used it to pick up Wisconsin SF Sam Dekker. Some of his stats are less than stellar, but he’s up there close to Kaminsky in terms of his contributions to the Badgers last season. He has a chance for some real growth while playing with the Rockets.
The nineteenth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft was traded for as well, eventually winding up in the hands of the New York Knicks. They used it to take Notre Dame PG Jerian Grant. He’s certainly a good enough player, although New York’s playing style is quite a bit different from that of Notre Dame, especially in terms of offense. There might be something of a learning curve. Utah PG Delon Wright (a very solid defensive player) then went to the Toronto Raptors. Much like Grant, Wright is pretty talented when it comes to running screens. Unlike Grant, he might actually be able to show off these skills in Toronto.
First Round (21-30)
The last stretch of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft began with the Dallas Mavericks drafting Virginia SF Justin Anderson. He sunk close to half of his three-pointers during his junior year, which certainly makes him appear to be quite a catch. There will be a bit more pressure on him going into the NBA, but he’ll be an amazing addition to Dallas if he can keep making those sorts of improvements. His defense shows a lot of potential as well. The next pick went to the Chicago Bulls, who drafted sophomore Arkansas PF Bobby Portis. We actually mentioned Portis as an undervalued player in a link posted above (here it is again, in case you missed it). Hopefully, he’ll prove his true worth at Chicago.
The Brooklyn Nets acquired the twenty-third pick of the 2015 NBA Draft in a trade with Portland, and they used it to recruit Arizona SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He’s a solid defensive player, and was one of Arizona’s leading contributors during the most recent postseason. His offense, however, could use some work. Especially his jump shot. The next pick was Duke’s PG Tyus Jones, who was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves after they acquired the twenty-fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jones is originally from Minnesota, making him a decent fit for the team. His stats could use some work, but at least he’ll be developing them in a place where he feels comfortable.
Memphis drafted LSU’s sophomore SF/PF Jarrell Martin. The Grizzlies might have to work pretty hard to whip him into shape, and he’s something of a surprising pick since he doesn’t quite seem up to their standards. It might be good for Martin, but the real question is whether or not it will be good for Memphis. The San Antonio Spurs then drafted an international pick. He won’t be ready for them this year, but Partizan C Nikola Milutinov has some relatively respectable skills. And since they’re letting him simmer a bit in the European league, they can leave room in their salary cap while he hones his skills. He’s not the best pick, but there’s likely some financial strategy involved here.
The next two picks were both traded for. The Los Angeles Lakers, having traded picks with Houston, picked up Wyoming’s senior PF Larry Nance, Jr. He’s got a range of skills, although none of them are as developed as they could be. He’s not what you would call NBA-ready, but he’s certainly got some skillsets that could make him a valuable addition on the court. However, you might expect him to warm the bench a lot this first year, mostly subbing in for other players who get injured or need a break. The Boston Celtics, having acquired this pick from the Los Angeles Clippers, drafted Georgia State’s junior SG R.J. Hunter, a potentially skilled shooter who might add some flavor to the team with a little practice.
Brooklyn, having traded with the Atlanta Hawks, scooped up the next pick. They drafted freshman Syracuse PF Chris McCullough. He has a pretty low scoring average, and didn’t get to hone his skills very much this year due to an injury which limited his availability. He doesn’t seem like the best prospect for the first round, so hopefully the Nets are able to see something in him that will pay off. The final first round pick of the 2015 NBA Draft went to the Golden State Warriors, who drafted freshman UCLA PF Kevon Looney. He’s similar to McCullough in the sense that he suffered a pretty nasty injury last year, but different in the sense that he won’t need to be molded quite as much. He’s a decent jumper, a fairly strong defender, and he’s joining one of the best teams in the NBA. Whatever he needs to improve, he should find it with Golden State.
The second round of the 2015 NBA Draft began with the Minnesota Timberwolves selecting Macedonia PG Cedi Osman, a decent player with a skillset that could allow him to play SF if he really wanted. Then, the Houston Rockets made a great acquisition with Louisville PF Montrezl Harrell. He’s one of the guys we mentioned in the intro who easily could have been picked in the first round. Honestly, it’s surprising that he wasn’t. Then the Boston Celtics drafted PF Jordan Mickey from LSU, and the Los Angeles Lakers drafted SF Anthony Brown from Stanford. As far as forwards are concerned, these are both reasonable selections for the second round. The same can’t quite be said of Spanish C Guillermo Hernangomez, drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Maybe that’s why Philly has already traded him to the Knicks.
Syracuse PF/C Rakeem Christmas is one of the best acquisitions of the second round, going to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Or he would be, if he and Cedi Osman (the first pick of the round) hadn’t been traded to Cleveland on the same night they were acquired. Philadelphia then acquired Bowling Green SF/PF Richaun Holmes, who we suspect won’t be playing a whole lot of minutes (if any) this season. The Detroit Pistons then drafted SF Darrun Hilliard II. To be frank, as one of the better offensive players from Villanova, we’re surprised he wasn’t drafted earlier. The same can’t be said of Argentina SG Juan Vaulet, drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and immediately traded to the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are going to have to work a bit to make him worth the trade.
The fortieth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft was Tennessee G Josh Richardson. He’s a respectable shooter, who could be of some value to his new team, the Miami Heat. He just needs a bit of work. The exact same could be said of Notre Dame SG Pat Connaughton, who was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets but ultimately traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Interestingly enough, he almost had a career as a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, but his basketball skills aren’t too shabby.
The next three picks of the second round were all decent moves by the teams in question. The Utah Jazz took Boston College PG Olivier Hanlan, the Indiana Pacers chose Oregon SG Joseph Young, and the Phoenix Suns selected Kentucky PG Andrew Harrison before trading him to the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis might be happy with him, since he’s enough of a solid shooter to have gone in the first round. The Boston Celtics won’t be as happy as Memphis, having drafted less-than-stellar SG Marcus Thornton from William & Mary. The Milwaukee Bucks might be a bit happier than Boston, having acquired so-so SG Norman Powell from UCLA. The 76ers, however, might have made a huge mistake with Lithuanian C Arturas Gudaitis. Of all the international pick on this list, Gudaitis may have been the least sensible selection.
Oklahoma City landed themselves a decent recruit, and Kentucky C Dakari Johnson is now going to be playing for the Thunder. He’s not the best pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but he’s arguably better than a lot of the guys drafted before him. The same can’t be said of Iowa PF Aaron White, a guy with decent defense who just isn’t skilled enough overall to contribute much to the Washington Wizards next year. The fiftieth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft was iffy as well, with recently injured Swedish SG Marcus Eriksson going to the Atlanta Hawks. The next two picks were both severely underdeveloped players; Eastern Washington SG Tyler Harvey went to the Orlando Magic, and Indian C Satnam Singh Bhamara went to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were up next, drafting St. John’s SF Sir’Dominic Pointer. He’s not known for his offense, but his defense isn’t terrible for a second round prospect. The Utah Jazz then drafted Spanish SF Daniel Diez, who might not see too many minutes this season without some improvement. The San Antonio Spurs did far worse, with Massachusetts C Cady Lalanne, a player whose skills are unfortunately disproportionate to his size. The New Orleans Pelicans didn’t do quite as badly with Michigan State SF Branden Dawson, but Dawson at least has a shot at playing this year. The same probably can’t be said for Serbian PG Nikola Radicevic, who was drafted by the Denver Nuggets.
The last three picks of the 2015 NBA Draft weren’t too great. North Carolina SF J.P. Tokoto might do alright with the Philadelphia 76ers if he can improve his shooting skills and bolster his somewhat decent defense. But PF Dimitrios Agravanis from Greece might not do much for the Atlanta Hawks. And Serbian PF Luka Mitrovic isn’t much better. Ultimately, the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft was pretty underwhelming. But that’s unfortunately nothing too startling.