With news of coaching carousels, pre-draft workout surprises, and post-elimination discontent, it is time to update the Bright Side of the Sun mock draft!
#1 - Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Anthony Towns, PF/C, Kentucky
Towns and Okafor are neck and neck in terms of talent, and either could have been the first pick. But Towns seems to fit the current needs of the T-Wolves much better than Okafor.
#2 - Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
Okafor is a great offensive center, probably the best we've seen in past decade, if not longer. He's going to be a very, very good player, and he fits well into the Lakers' long legacy of offensively gifted centers. He also should fit really well next to the returning Julius Randle.
#3 - Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
Is he a better prospect than Michael Carter-Williams? I have my doubts. But he is the best point guard prospect in this draft. And the 76ers now desperately need a point guard. For God's sake, Ish Smith started 14 games...
#4 - New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China (Guangdong)
Mudiay is probably going to have a bigger Day 1 impact than Russell, and potentially any of the Top-5 picks. At the same time, I think the Knicks are very likely to trade this pick. Mudiay is simply not a great distributor, ball handler or spot up shooter at this point in time. 35% chance they trade back.
#5 - Orlando Magic: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Here is the first domino to fall as a result of a coaching change. Scott Skiles likes to have a defensive anchor in the interior. He was responsible for drafting Larry Sanders in Milwaukee. Right now, he doesn't have that in Orlando. If he can pair Cauley-Stein with Nikola Vucevic effectively on the offensive end, it could be a great pairing.
#6 - Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Spain (Sevilla)
The Kings need someone to pair with DeMarcus Cousins. Porzingis, with his still developing ability to stretch the floor and experience playing with a deep post scorer (Guillermo Hernangomez), seems like a perfect fit. The influence of new executive Vlade Divac may be felt in this pick.
#7 - Denver Nuggets: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
The Nuggets have to be ecstatic that Winslow falls this far. The team lacks an athletic wing with attitude. He will immediately push Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler for minutes, and should pair well with Kenneth Faried in uptempo, small ball lineups.
#8 - Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja, SF, Spain (Barcelona)
Hezonja may have the most upside of anyone in the draft after Okafor. The Pistons pretty desperately need a SF after playing the ghost of Tayshaun Prince significantly in the latter half of the season. Hezonja has a relatively small buyout, and would likely be ready to come over and play next season.
#9 - Charlotte Hornets: Stanley Johnson, SG/SF, Arizona
I think Johnson is a perfect fit here. The Hornets need shooting, pretty desperately. They also need someone to play alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of the most important defensive wing players in the game right now. Johnson can do both, and might be the missing piece for this team.
#10 - Miami Heat: Myles Turner, PF/C, Texas
Turner's versatility is what gets him drafted here. He isn't the biggest, or the most developed player available at this position. But he can stand to learn a lot next season from not only Chris Bosh, but also Josh McRoberts. He should fit in well and take over Udonis Haslem's role with this team next year. The hope is that, in the long term, he could be Chris Bosh's replacement.
#11 - Indiana Pacers: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
The Pacers really, REALLY need a wing scorer. I know they need a big for the inevitable David West retirement/Roy Hibbert free agency, but the fact is this team almost made the playoffs last year without their two best players for more than half the season. Adding a solid shooter to replace Lance Stephenson could have this team quickly back to 2013-14 form.
#12 - Utah Jazz: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
Oubre is simply too tantalizing a player to leave here. Utah doesn't have a player with the combination of size and athleticism that Oubre has. The hope would be that Oubre can coexist with Gordan Hayward. It seems likely he can, as Hayward should be able to slide to the SG role fairly easily.
#13 - Phoenix Suns: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
I'm not super sold on Lyles as a player - he didn't play as well at Kentucky as I would have hoped, but he was also only played 23 minutes per game. But he seems to have everything our front office likes in a player - he is very athletic, has displayed good shooting mechanics (if not the best results), played for Kentucky and has Rich Paul as an agent. Wait, why do those last two things sound familiar?
#14 - Oklahoma City Thunder: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
This is the biggest reach, and it is a direct result of Booker going to the Pacers. The Thunder are in a much better spot than nearly every team picking below 25. They are stacked at a number of positions. What they need is a great shooter to pair with Durant, Westbrook and the others. Hunter may be a reach, but the Thunder are in produce now mode, and this pick fits the need.
#15 - Atlanta Hawks: Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin
Kaminsky is almost definitely a better player than where he ends up falling here. That being said, I think he's a perfect fit in Mike Budenholzer's offensive system. If the Hawks lose Paul Millsap in free agency, Kaminsky is likely ready to start right away.
#16 - Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis, PF/C, Arkansas
Boston really needs an athletic shot-blocker to hold down the defense with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk running things at the PF position. Tyler Zeller improved a lot in that position this past year, and Portis likely won't be playing much to begin with. But he has higher potential than Zeller and could supplant him rather quickly if things go well.
#17 - Milwaukee Bucks: Kevon Looney, PF/C, UCLA
With the loss/dismissal of Larry Sanders, this team is in need of a rebounding and defensive presence down low. Looney should provide that, and probably from day 1. His offense is a work in progress, but with what should be a much better season from Jabari Parker, his lack of an offensive game might not matter too much this season. In many ways he represents the opposite of Parker, and hopefully they will complement each other.
#18 - Houston Rockets: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
James Harden asks, and James Harden receives. While many people have Tyus Jones going here, I think the need to compete right away favors Payne, who should come in and fit more naturally with Harden. Payne's passing ability, ball handling and defensive potential make him the better option.
#19 - Washington Wizards: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Dekker is an interesting fit for the Wizards. With Pierce and Porter currently on the roster, it might seem like Dekker doesn't have much of a role. Pierce can't stick around forever, however, and in the meantime Dekker can play some as a stretch-4, which may end up being his long-term position. At this position, however, Dekker is simply the best player available who fits a need.
#20 - Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
The Raptors may lose both Tyler Hansbrough and Amir Johnson. Harrell projects as a good replacement. While Harrell is a little undersized, his tremendous rebounding and energy, along with his relative veterancy, would make him a good complement with the Raptors' two long term projects, Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo.
#21 - Dallas Mavericks: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
The Mavericks need a long term solution at the point guard position. Jones is the best option. In the short term, his ability to play successfully with other point guards (Quinn Cook) should allow him to immediately work well with Monta Ellis. In the long run, his understanding of the game and offensive acumen should allow him to become a cornerstone for the franchise, if not a star.
#22 - Chicago Bulls: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SG/SF, Arizona
The Bulls are both a team on the cusp, and a team teetering on the brink of decline. If we buy that new coach Fred Hoiberg can breathe new life into the Bulls' older players, it becomes all the more imperative that the team get younger without losing too much. Hollis-Jefferson is as ready to contribute right away as any player in the draft. His defensive skill and rebounding will allow him to likely step into the role left vacant by Kirk Hinrich, who has declined tremendously over the last few years.
#23 - Portland Trail Blazers: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
The Trail Blazers have a problem: LaMarcus Aldridge is probably a 50/50 proposition to leave this summer. At the moment, unless they're willing to let 7'1 Meyers Leonard start, they don't have another PF on the roster. Wood, while still relatively young and raw, has a very modern skillset for the PF position in the NBA, with floor stretching ability and some unique ball-handling ability. He needs to get stronger and develop a better feel for the game, but this is a good pick regardless of whether LMA leaves.
#24 - Cleveland Cavaliers: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
I can't help but think the Cavs need a new backup center, what with the three they currently employ having nearly 40 years of NBA experience, but Anderson Varejao's contract disagrees with me. The team also has a need for a backup point guard, as Kyrie Irving is prone to small, nagging injuries. Grant would be a perfect fit, as he should come in ready to contribute 10-15 minutes a game right away.
#25 - Memphis Grizzlies: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
Anderson is an upperclassmen, he's big, he's gritty, he's surprisingly athletic, and he wants your lunch money. I'm just kidding on that last part...mostly. Anderson is a perfect fit for the Grizzlies. Both his mentality and his ability complement the team, and his ability to step in and play from day one will allow the team to potentially stretch out their run of playoff appearances with the current core.
#26 - San Antonio Spurs: Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse
With the news that the ever excitable Tim Duncan and company are back for one more improbable run, the Spurs' pick this year becomes slightly harder to predict. McCullough, the raw forward out of Syracuse, seems a likely pick. McCullough is rehabbing an ACL injury, or he might have gone higher. He has all the raw potential to be a valuable player in the NBA, and the Spurs are known for taking diamonds in the rough.
#27 - Los Angeles Lakers: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
The Lakers got good value out of Jordan Clarkson last year, and I think they take another high value point guard with this pick. Wright may not be the flashiest or the most athletic guard in the league, but he is a thoughtful player with enough physical tools to compete. He'll surprise some people with how good he is on day 1.
#28 - Boston Celtics: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Vaughn may have more potential as an NBA player than his Runnin' Rebel compatriot, Christian Wood. At just 18 years old, he is one of the youngest players in this draft. He is already a talented shooter, and has the athleticism and size to be an effective defender. At this point, his problems are mostly mental, and Brad Stevens should be able to help tremendously with that.
#29 - Brooklyn Nets: Jordan Mickey, PF/C, LSU
Mickey is undersized. There is no doubt about it. He is also one of the best pure shot blockers in this draft. The Nets really need at least someone on the roster who is a threatening defensive presence in the post. It'll be interesting to see Mickey compete with last year's pick, Cory Jefferson, for minutes.
#30 - Golden State Warriors: George de Paula, PG, Brazil (Pinheiros)
The Golden State roster is, quite simply, stacked. They have some of the highest quality starters in the NBA. They also have some of the most effective D-League guys currently warming their bench (McAdoo, Holiday) or signed to their D-League affiliate. At this pick, I think they go for a backup PG - currently their one kind of hole, though Aaron Craft is likely to take it this offseason after a terrific D-League season - and that they will go for a draft-and-stash guy. de Paula has tremendous size for the position, though just average athleticism, and is also relatively young. Given a few years to season, he could become a valuable bench commodity - or a valuable trade commodity.