BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE 2015 NBA DRAFT
Minnesota TimberwolvesPicks: #1 overall Karl-Anthony Towns and #24 overall (via trade) Tyus Jones The Timberwolves easily had the best night, as they snatched a perfect fit for their team in Karl-Anthony Towns, a 6’11 power forward who can double up as a center. The Kentucky product was part of the 2014-15 record-breaking Wildcats team and, through his solid shooting skills and rim protection abilities; he is likely to be an immediate impact player alongside 2014-15 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins. Additionally, Minnesota dealt its two second-round picks to move up the draft and claim Tyus Jones, a freshman from Duke who was a big reason behind the Blue Devils’ national title winning feat in the 2014-15 NCAA basketball season. Although Jones is questionable in terms of athleticism and strength, he has proven to be a big-time scorer in crucial times of need, while his natural instincts as a guard could make him a good backup for Zach LaVine.
Los Angeles LakersPicks: #2 overall D’Angelo Russell, #27 overall Larry Nance Jr. and #34 overall Anthony Brown The Lakers were largely expected to go for Jahlil Okafor using their second overall pick, but they surprisingly used the pick on D’Angelo Russell, a freshman from Ohio State, who can play as a PG or SG. Besides his lethal passing skills, the 6’5″ guard is an avid shooter both on the paint and from outside the perimeter, which could make him a crucial player for the Lakers, whose shooting skills abandoned them in the 2014-15 season. With Julius Randle already in the team playing more-or-less the same game like Jahlil, it probably makes sense that the Lakers opted for Russell over Okafor. To fill the need for a big man presence in their team, the Lakers pulled another surprise by snatching Larry Nance Jr., a 6’8 power forward from Wyoming. Most experts had expected the Lakers to go for Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, who was still on the board. Even so, Nance has a unique ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and his solid athletic skills could make him a useful role player at the hoop. Anthony Brown was however not that much of a surprise, considering he nailed at least 44 percent of his three-pointers in back-to-back seasons at Stanford and his average size and athleticism could be of invaluable importance to the Lakers. As a note though, the Lakers will probably need to get a proven big man from the free agency if they are to feature positively in 2015 NBA betting lines.
OTHER NOTABLE WINNERS
Orlando MagicLanded Mario Hezonja (Croatia, 6’8″, SG/SF) who is a spectacular athlete with great competitiveness and confidence. Also got #51 Overall pick Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington, 6’4″), a player who led the nation in scoring and three-pointers made.
Miami HeatSnatched #10 overall pick Justise Winslow (Duke, 6’6″, SF), a good defensive-minded player with terrific athleticism and slick shooting skills from anywhere on the floor. Also had a solid #40 overall pick in Josh Richardson (Tennessee, 6’6″, SG), a potential 2-guard player who had a remarkable time during the work-outs, showcasing his stellar scoring on the paint, near the rim and from beyond the arc.
Brooklyn NetsWisely traded #29 pick for #23 pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona, 6’7″, SF) and #29 overall pick Chris McCullough (Syracuse, 6’10”, PF). Hollis-Jefferson is a great ball-handler with athleticism that makes him an asset for knocking down easy baskets. Also, they got a veteran role player in Steve Blake through Hollis-Jefferson’s trade. Meanwhile, McCullough is a ruthless finisher and if he can shake off the ACL injury he suffered in January, he should be a great addition to the team.
BIGGEST LOSERS OF THE 2015 NBA DRAFT
Atlanta HawksPicks: #50 overall Marcus Eriksson, #59 overall Dimitrios Agravanis, and traded Kelly Oubre for Tim Hardaway Jr. in a three-team deal Coming off an ACL injury that saw him miss the whole year in the Spanish ACB, Hardaway is unlikely to offer the Hawks much help in 2015 as a shooting forward. The fact that his shooting skills are not that good means he will most likely be spending his time on the bench. Agravanis, a Greece power forward, is also one of those players who you draft and place on your bench, as his skills are far from stellar. Hardaway is just about the only player from Atlanta’s draft that can offer some value in shooting every once in a while. His below-par defensive skills could however see him sidelined from regular playing time, as was the case when he was with the Knicks. All these make the Hawks our biggest losers.
Boston CelticsPicks: #16 overall Terry Rozier, #28 overall R.J. Hunter, #33 overall Jordan Mickey, and #45 overall Marcus Thornton With as many as four picks to use wisely, Boston looked confused like a kid in a candy store, spoilt for choice thus ending up with the wrong choices. With Avery Bradley already in Boston, picking Rozier was uncalled for and a reach, as there were many other valuable players on the board. No doubt, Rozier is hard working player with good defensive abilities, but with his undersized build, the Louisville product is unlikely to offer much to the team. For Hunter, a Georgia State product, we have no complaints about him, as he is a lethal shooter. So although he is equally undersized, he should be able to give good value to the team, especially if he can get bigger players to screen for him. Like Hunter, Mickey could be a valuable shooter for the Celtics at the power forward position. Having led the nation in shot blocking as a player for LSU, he can also be a crucial 2-way player, assisting in the defense. But then again, he too needs to put up some muscle and height to compete against the beasts in the league. Finally, we have Thornton, a William & Mary product. Though he is occasionally able to knock down threes, he lacks the skills to be a reliable passer and shooter, making it difficult to impact a team positively. All in all, the Celtics would get the a C grade for getting two potential stars in Mickey and Hunter, but with four picks, they should have done better, no wander we rank them under the biggest losers in the draft.
OTHER NOTABLE LOSERS
San Antonio SpursEven with his splendid height that makes him a good around-the-rim player, #26 overall pick Nikola Milutinov (Serbia, 7’0″, C) is unlikely to find to be impactful in the crowded big-man spurs team. #55 overall pick Cady Lalanne (Massachusetts, 6’10”, PF/C) had good workouts and could be a good role player, but he is likely to need some time to get his confidence up before he starts shining in San Antonio.
New Orleans PelicansUndeniably, using a #56 overall pick on Branden Dawson (Michigan State, 6’7″, SF/PF) sounds like a good deal as his is a physically strong player that can make clean the glass, make plays at the rim and defend on the paint. Unfortunately, Dawson is not much of a shooter, averaging 55.9 percent shooting from the floor in his time at Michigan State. Making matters worse, Dawson failed to knock down a single three-pointer in his four years at with the Spartans. For the Pelican team that badly needs help in the offense, there is no doubt that his recruitment is not going to solve the great need on the attacking end of the field.
Sources ESPN.com (http://espn.go.com/nba/draft2015/story/_/id/13148888/minnesota-timberwolves-select-karl-anthony-towns-no-1-overall-2015-nba-draft) CBSsports.com (http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25224780/report-teams-think-mario-hezonja-is-trying-to-pull-a-kobe-to-get-to-pistons)