Justin Hodges NBA Mock Draft 1.0
1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C, Kentucky
All signs point to the young and emerging T-Wolves going with Kentucky’s athletic monster. Towns’ versatility and ability to play the four spot is the best fit for Minnesota. The Timberwolves already have Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng crowded at center with Anthony Bennett as the only pure power forward (assuming Kevin Garnett retires). Towns is destined to be a star in this league; with an incredible hodgepodge skillet of size, athleticism, ball-handling and jump shooting ability.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
The Lakers could go in many different directions with this pick, with no real possibility of bad pick as this team is in need of so much. Number one priority though is scoring, and Russell is the best scorer among the pool of top tier players. An incredible three point shooter, as well as an exceptional ball handler, poises Russell to one day emerge as the NBA’s next star at the guard position. Russell, in my eyes, is best at the two, but showed at Ohio State that he could play point guard as well. After Kobe Bryant’s final season, Russell and Jordan Clarkson should make for an exceptional backcourt.
3. Philadelphia 76ers- Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
Emmanuel Mudiay will be the NBA’s next great point guard no matter which team drafts him. He has exceptional size for the position as well as play on the court that resembles former number one pick John Wall. The recent news of Joel Embiid possibly missing next season led to some believing Philadelphia would select Jahlil Okafor or Kristaps Porzingis to replace the size. Mudiay is a game changer though, and a soon-to-be elite point guard running the 76ers’ offense could be what takes Philadelphia back to the playoffs in a few years.
4. New York Knicks- Jahlil Okafor, C ,Duke
This pick for the Knicks isn’t a concern of what position to pick rather than who’s the best player left to choose from. In this case it’s Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. A game changer offensively, Okafor is for sure to be the league’s next great center. Players like Okafor are hard to come by. Okafor is a truly gifted scorer in the paint and has almost unstoppable size at over 270 pounds. His defense is a work in progress and in this case he’s going to a team that could use help defensively. In the end this is a pick that would work beautifully for both sides.
5. Orlando Magic- Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
The Magic have an extremely talented roster that includes young stars in the making at every position, except power forward. This is where the foreign big man will fit in almost perfectly. Porzingis is a pure stretch four that has incredible three point shooting ability. Private team workouts have sky rocketed his stock, as he has truly wowed NBA scouts as a potential star in this league. Putting Kristaps at the four may be what shoots Orlando to the playoffs next season; competing what would be a terrifyingly loaded starting lineup.
6. Sacramento Kings- Willie Cauley-Stein, PF/C, Kentucky
If your superstar player really wants a certain player on his team, you do whatever it takes in order to get that player. All-Star center Demarcus Cousins said in a report that he wants fellow Kentucky Wildcat Willie Cauley-Stein on his team. Kentucky fans drool over that possibility, and most experts look at it and say “why not?”. Cauley-Stein is an incredibly gifted defensive presence and an athletic masterpiece. Bulk up more, throw him next to Boogie Cousins and you’ve got yourself a truly terrifying front court.
7. Denver Nuggets- Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia
Hezonja would be a solid fit for the Nuggets who could use some scoring ability. Throw Mario at the two or three spot and he’ll give you reliable outside scoring and floor spacing. Denver is still in the process of a tough rebuild, and Hezonja would be a good piece to the puzzle in the mile high city.
8. Detroit Pistons- Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
You’d figure the Pistons should be in the playoffs by now, with all this talent stored in the motor city. Something always seems to mess up the process for the Pistons though, the latest being the mistake of signing Josh Smith. Now Smith is in Houston, and the Pistons need a small forward. If Justise falls into place, the Pistons should be very content. A defensive specialist with signs of good scoring ability make Winslow, perhaps, the best three in this draft class. Winslow could potentially become a 20-10 rebound guy if he is handled correctly.
9. Charlotte Hornets- Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
The Hornets were among the worst outside shooting teams in the NBA last season; a big reason why they struggled. Lance Stephenson just never fit, and he is now on to the Los Angeles Clippers. Gerald Henderson will exercise his player-option for the summer; needless to say Charlotte needs a two-guard. Booker falls right into place with what Charlotte needs, which is hot and pure three point shooting. Booker is as close to a pure prototype shooting guard as there is coming out of college, and can bring much needed scoring ability to the Carolinas.
10. Miami Heat- Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
This is the best possible fit for Miami at pick number 10. Stanley Johnson is a kid with a ton of upside and great potential in a Miami uniform. Luol Deng never got it going last year, opening the need for an athletic wing player. That is what Stanley Johnson is, a wing player equipped with great defensive ability and raw scoring ability. Certain players are just great fits with certain teams, Stanley is a great fit with the Miami Heat.
11. Indiana Pacers- Myles Turner, C, Texas
Roy Hibbert is more than likely done in Indiana, with the hopes of moving to a faster and more athletic lineup next season. Turner would fit in nicely with what the Pacers are trying to do. While weighing only 240 lbs, Myles still brings stretch scoring and athleticism to front court that Hibbert could not. This would be the smart pick for Indiana if he is available.
12. Utah Jazz- RJ Hunter, SG, Georgia State
Hunter is one of those guys whose NBA career will depend on if his coaching staff will use him correctly. The Jazz have a solid core of young talent, with a need of outside scoring. Their current two-guard, Alec Burks is more of a defender and slasher than anything else. RJ Hunter could be a valuable role player or even starter if his skillful scoring ability can be utilized to its full potential. Hunter is one of the best three point shooter in this class, and can be a difference maker for an emerging Utah team.
13. Phoenix Suns- Kelly Ourbre, SF, Kansas
Whether it was Gerald Green, PJ Tucker, TJ Warren or whoever was thrown there, small forward was an issue for the Suns last season. Kelly Oubre would be a great fit for the Suns; a nearly perfect wing player with solid athleticism and the perfect size to make him a potential star. Jeff Hornacek can throw Oubre into the starting lineup right away, and from then on could be the long term answer for the small forward position in the desert.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder- Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin
The Thunder appear to be right back in the mix of things with Kevin Durant coming back alongside MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. As a solid team with talent stacked all around, all that’s really needed is bench depth for the Thunder. Kaminsky is a good pick for any team looking to add bench scoring. Kaminsky brings great scoring ability and obvious athleticism for a guy who’s around seven feet tall; a big reason why he was the national player of the year. He makes for a great sixth man and a complimentary scorer for a team already loaded with scoring talent.
15. Atlanta Hawks- Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
It’s likely that Demarre Carroll will not return to the Hawks as he pursues a bigger role elsewhere. That opens up the need for a small forward, which puts the likes of Sam Dekker into the Hawks’ hands. Dekker made great strides last season and put himself on the map as a prospect with his crazy athleticism and consistent three point shooting. Dekker knows how to play without the ball, which would fit well with Atlanta’s ball-movement based offense.
16. Boston Celtics- Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
The one thing that the surprisingly up-and-coming Celtics lacked was size in the front court. Brandon Bass is not a quality starting four at his age, which begs the need to bring in yet more young talent. Lyles is an absolute steal this far into the draft, considering he has talent level that has drawn comparisons to Grant Hill. One of the most well-rounded athletic 6’10” players you’ll ever get outside of the lottery; Lyles has an incredible skill set that includes smooth jump shooting and above the rim finishing.
17. Milwaukee Bucks- Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Bobby Portis was the SEC Player of the Year over the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns for a reason. Portis is one of the best bigs that will be available post-lottery when it comes to the fundamentals of basketball. Strong work ethic and floor spacing help Portis be the great prospect that he is. He’d fit right in to Brew-town, who’s in desperate need of a power forward. Their next best option is Johnny O’Bryant.
18. Houston Rockets- Cameron-Artis Payne, PG, Murray State
If you go to school somewhere like Murray State, you’ll likely not get recognized for most of your career. However, Cameron Payne can flat out ball. He makes his teammates better, he takes care of the ball, and he can flat out score. Patrick Beverly is a restricted free agent, and whether he stays or goes the Rockets need help at point. That was shown after Beverly went down with injury. Cameron Payne could be a long term starting piece for the Rockets as they inch closer to an NBA championship.
19. Washington Wizards- Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Looney is an intriguing prospect; an insanely strong and athletic kid that can not only finish at the rim with authority, but can also stretch the floor with good perimeter shooting. It certainly seems like Nene is starting to go on the decline of his career, and seems willing to maybe come off the bench if Washington can fill in a younger and more athletic power forward.
20. Toronto Raptors- Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Toronto will likely need a good sized four man with Amir Johnson heading to free agency. Harrell seems to be a good fit for the Raptors, who brings NBA size combined with good athleticism to whichever team drafts him. Harrell will likely make an instant impact once he gets to the association; Toronto’s hoping they can get their hands on him.
21. Dallas Mavericks- Delon Wright, PG/SG, Utah
With the Rajon Rondo trade being a complete disaster, the Mavs need a new point guard to take over this dynamic offense. You could go Tyus Jones or Jerian Grant here, but the best fit is Delon Wright. Wright is not a ball dominant point guard, which is key when it comes to playing next to Monta Ellis. Wright and Ellis in a backcourt together would be able to play off of each other very easily and very effectively when given the opportunity to do so.
22. Chicago Bulls- Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
The Bulls always have plenty of depth, but Mike Dunleavy is not getting any younger, and it’s about time for Chicago to get a young stud at that three spot. The stud could be Justin Anderson, a guy who shot 45% from three and led an absolutely stout Virginia defense which fits what Chicago needs to finally take the next step to being a finals team.
23. Portland Trail Blazers- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
The Trail Blazers are in need of wing production. While Wes Matthews is coming off of injury, Nicholas Batum has not proved his worth within the last two seasons. Hollis Jefferson could be could player to plug into that spot, has he potentially brings better defense and rim-attack than any of Portland’s other options.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers- Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Rashad Vaughn has really come on as a prospect since team workouts began, showing great scoring ability whether it’s inside or from deep. Iman Shumpert is a restricted free agent and J.R. Smith has a player option this summer, so an extra two guard could be a big need for the Cavaliers.
25. Memphis Grizzlies- Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse
The Grizzlies hope that Justin Anderson drops here in the actual draft, but in my world he doesn’t. In my world the Grizzlies draft Chris McCullough out of Cuse. McCullough is a very mature kid that has good passing ability for his size and also adds some range with his jump shot. Zachary Randolph may be heading into the lower part of his career, bringing the need of a young power forward to go ahead and develop.
26. San Antonio Spurs- Jarell Martin, PF, LSU
Nobody has any idea how much longer Tim Duncan’s gonna play for. It could be another few years before Duncan hangs it up. Just in case he decides to go early though, the Spurs need to go ahead and find a young power forward to potentially replace him. LSU’s Jarell Martin could be that guy. Martin is an absolute workhorse, rebounds the ball well and plays good defense. You’ll rarely see this guy take any plays off.
27. Los Angeles Lakers- Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky
Pairing Dakari Johnson with his former college teammate Julius Randle could be a pretty good idea. Johnson brings good size at seven feet, 260 lbs and is among the most NBA-ready centers left when it comes to being not only a low post presence but running the court as well. Lakers still need size and Johnson could be that guy that can give them it, all he needs is that aggression and confidence and he’ll be just fine.
28. Boston Celtics- Aaron White, SF, Iowa
Outside of Evan Turner, the Celtics don’t really have a true small forward. Aaron White is a really undervalued guy that has enough of a work ethic to really make himself into a quality player in the NBA. White is a solid three point shooter, rebounder and above the rim finisher. He showed great leadership skills leading a short handed Iowa team to the NCAA tournament. Personally I think this pick will probably be traded away, but if the Celtics keep it, go for White.
29. Brooklyn Nets- Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
Tyus Jones drops considerably here compared to other mocks. The lingering question is, does Jones have the size to be effective at the NBA level? Brooklyn is a team that could bring him in and make it work though. Jones has great game. If there were a high level NBA point guard to compare Jones to, I’d say Deron Williams. Williams could finish out his days with the Nets by developing Jones, then letting the young stud take over after. There is something about Jones that separates him from the likes of Austin Rivers or any of the high level guards to recently come out of Duke, besides Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving.
30. Golden State Warriors- Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Wood lacks strength and size for the position, but the Warriors always have a way to make players like that work out. With David Lee and Andrew Bogut likely to be traded, the Warriors will need to add some size to bench to replace what they’re about to lose. Wood adds even more athleticism to a Warriors bench that will be loaded with the same guys that just won a championship. Wood could be a great fit for Golden State.