Recapping The 1st Round Of The NBA Draft, Team By Team, Pick By Pick

2015 NBA Draft: Yahoo Sports recaps the NBA Draft’s 1st round, offering team grades for each player selected from No. 1-30:


1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns (PF/C, Kentucky, Fr., 19, 7-0, 248): The Towns vs. Okafor debate faded recently as NBA personnel fell in love with the versatile ex-Kentucky big man. Towns shined in the paint for the Wildcats, protecting the rim with his ability to alter shots at one end and bullying big men for low-post baskets at the other. He will never be as brilliant a back-to-the-basket scorer as Okafor, but he runs the floor well, moves more fluidly defending the perimeter and is capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A+

2. Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell PG/SG, Ohio State, Fr., 19, 6-5, 193): Once considered a tick or two below some of the elite players in his class, Russell ascended draft boards this winter thanks to a brilliant freshman season. He has the quickness and vision to run the point in the NBA yet also possesses the shooting ability and scoring instincts to thrive off ball too. By going with Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers keep alive the possibility of adding a free-agent big man this summer in a year when a handful of frontcourt standouts will be available. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Jahlil Okafor (C, Duke, Fr., 19, 6-11, 272): How did Okafor enter the college basketball season as the consensus No. 1 overall pick, put up huge numbers in leading Duke to a national title and still slip from No. 1? Concerns about his pick-and-roll defense and free-throw shooting is the most obvious explanation. The 76ers already have former top-five picks Nerlens Noel and and Joel Embiid, but they couldn’t resist adding Okafor too when he fell to them. Now they have to either find a trade partner or hope that Okafor’s array of polished low-post moves outweigh his other flaws. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A

4. New York Knicks – Kristaps Porzingis (PF, Sevilla/International, 19, 7-0, 230): Much to the chagrin of a jeering New York crowd, the Knicks got a 7-foot forward from Latvia who has played in Spain, speaks perfect English and has rocketed up draft boards the past few months. Porzingis is certainly a high-risk pick, yet his potential is tantalizing. The 19-year-old is long, athletic, graceful and equally adept at shooting threes, attacking the rim and blocking shots. Marc J. Spears’ grade: B+

5. Orlando Magic – Mario Hezonja (SG/SF, Barcelona/International, 20, 6-8, 200): He did not play much for European power Barcelona this past season, but the headstrong 20-year-old flashed immense offensive potential when he did get on the floor. He’s athletic enough to blow by a defender off the dribble, yet a deadly enough shooter to force opponents to guard him out to the 3-point line. If the Magic are patient, this could be a high-value pick. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A

6. Sacramento Kings – Willie Cauley-Stein (C, Kentucky, Jr., 21, 7-1, 242): If DeMarcus Cousins is truly on his way out of Sacramento, then the Kings may have turned to his alma mater to nab his replacement. Cauley-Stein won’t be the polished scorer that Cousins is, but the 7-footer is a defensive menace. He has the size and strength to hold his position on the low block against centers, the timing and athleticism to alter shots in the paint and the quickness and footwork to stay in front of guards on the pick-and-roll. Marc J. Spears’ grade: B

7. Denver Nuggets – Emmanuel Mudiay (PG, Guangdong/International, 19, 6-5, 200): Either Denver intends to play two point guards whose strength is attacking off the dribble, or Ty Lawson may be on his way out. Mudiay is an elite point guard who originally signed with SMU but skipped college and played professionally in China last season. He is a big and strong but an erratic shooter. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A

8. Detroit Pistons – Stanley Johnson (SF, Arizona, Fr., 18, 6-7, 242): He became a high school phenom and a college standout by overpowering smaller wings off the dribble and finishing with aplomb in transition. He will still be capable on defense and dangerous in transition in the NBA, but it will be interesting to see how he fares facing defenders of his size and strength. A knock-down jumper would certainly help, and perhaps with time Johnson will develop one. Marc J. Spears’ grade: B

9. Charlotte Hornets – Frank Kaminsky (PF, Wisconsin, Sr., 22, 7-1, 231): He ascended from unheralded recruit to national player of the year by transforming himself into college basketball’s biggest matchup problem. If he faced a traditional center, he’d float to the perimeter and rain down jumpers. If he faced a smaller, quicker player, he’d back him down and score in the paint. Kaminsky may not be an elite defender or rebounder in the NBA, but he should remain a multidimensional scoring threat. Marc J. Spears’ grade: B

10. Miami Heat – Justise Winslow (SF, Duke, Fr., 19, 6-7, 222): While Winslow has drawn many comparisons to former ex-Kentucky standout Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the former Duke star has a more diverse set of skills. He’s almost as multidimensional a defender as Kidd-Gilchrist, yet he also is a solid slasher, an improving shooter and dynamic in transition. The only concern is that much of Winslow’s production at Duke came as an undersized power forward, so he’ll have to prove he can take quicker wings off the dribble in the NBA.. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A+

11. Indiana Pacers – Myles Turner (C, Texas, Fr., 19, 7-0, 239): He has already proven he can swat shots. Now he’ll have to try to swat away questions about his durability and his potential to impact the game on offense. The 19-year-old center was considered one of the elite players in his class when he signed with Texas, but he made only a modest impact on offense for the Longhorns, often fading against top teams. The form on his outside shot is solid yet he made only 27 percent of his threes. Marc J. Spears grade: B

12. Utah Jazz – Trey Lyles (PF, Kentucky, Fr., 19, 6-10, 241): Still somewhat of a mystery because the ex-Kentucky forward had to contort his game to fit the role UK needed him to play last season. The Wildcats had a glut of frontcourt talent, so Lyles became a 6-foot-10 small forward in a two-post offense. While he isn’t a liability defending the perimeter, his more natural position in the NBA is probably power forward. The skilled, versatile rookie should add to the strength of an already formidable Utah frontcourt. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A+

13. Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker (SG, Kentucky, Fr., 18, 6-6, 206): The John Calipari infomercial continued Thursday night when Booker became the fourth Kentucky player selected in the lottery. Booker is an elite shooter with good size for his position. He has a chance to develop into a Klay Thompson-esque wing if his defense and ability to create off the dribble develop. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Payne (PG, Murray State, So., 20, 6-2, 183): From Damian Lillard, to C.J. McCollum, to Elfrid Payton, the past few drafts have featured mid-major guards who ascended from obscurity. The latest to join that group is Murray State’s star, a combo guard who enjoyed a breakout sophomore season for the Racers. Payne soared up draft boards this spring because of his ability to pass or score. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A

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Posted on June 29, 2015, in NBA, NCAA Basketball, Sports Media World and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Recapping The 1st Round Of The NBA Draft, Team By Team, Pick By Pick.

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