The 2015 NBA Draft Ignition Switch

In no particular order, these are the players to keep an eye on in the NBA draft tomorrow.  No tricks, no cheap thrills, just strait booty.

Jahlil Okafor – Duke 

  • NBA Position: Center
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 6-11
  • Best-case comparison:  Hakeem Olajuwon/Tim Duncan

He’s big and powerful with huge hands, palms the ball easily (also 13 tennis balls in one hand) which allows him to control rebounds in traffic … Polished, skilled back to the basket scorer with a variety of moves … Smooth for his size, solid rebounder, very good IQ, plays to his strengths, knows his limitations and doesn’t try to do things that he can’t do … NBA body and strength, quick feet for a player with such a big frame … Has great moves and counters, the footwork of an NBA vet, soft touch around basket.

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Okafor isn’t a great athlete and his conditioning will be an issue early on.  He doesn’t seem to be a “hard worker” as much as he was just bigger and more skilled than EVERYONE in the NCAA.  He’ll be solid right away in the NBA, but he’ll get beat up by bigger, more athletic centers. NBA Team Projections: los-angeles-lakers-logo9272399-1424903469

Emmanuel Mudiay – Congo 

  • NBA Position: Point Guard
  • Class: International
  • Ht: 6-5
  • Best-case comparison:  John Wall, maybe Russell Westbrook

Emmanuel is a true point guard with dynamic speed and athleticism and great size… Very unselfish player who loves to get his teammates involved … Outstanding ball handler who is equally comfortable attacking right and left … Excels in the open court where his speed hits another gear… Sees the entire floor…Very quick first step and a lethal crossover … Has the size and strength to post up smaller guards … Good rebounder for a guard.

He’s an incredible athlete, but with that being said he’s similar to LOTS and LOTS of guards with size and athleticism: he can’t shoot outside the paint.  He may be TOO athletic for his own good, he obviously never had to develop his jump-shot the way it should be.  He’s still very young with tons of potential to develop a jumper, but look how long it’s taken guys like John Wall and Russell Westbrook to develop a legit jumper and a real feel for the game. NBA Team Projections: New-York-Knicks-Logo  sacramento_kings_logo_3931vy57q2i5o1bhia4krdz2ysd9o9272399-1424903469

Stanley Johnson – Arizona 

  • NBA Position: Small Forward
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 6-7
  • Best-case comparison: Metta World Peace (when he was the Indiana Pacers – Ron Artest) or possibly the newly improved Jimmy Butler

The first two things that jump out are his incredible football player like body and his competitiveness … He’s a standout with his on ball defense where he is able to use his huge chest to muscle any offensive threat … But compared to Ron Artest, he looks like a much better defender off the ball, using his large wingspan to deflect passes and his big hands to snatch the ball away from opposing players … Defensively, he’s absolutely a beast, who could immediately play in the NBA and create problems for many NBA wings … He uses his big shoulders to get into the lane and finish with contact and he doesn’t have any problems finishing with both hands around the rim … He became a better ball-handler late in the season, as well as a good pick-n-roll scorer

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Stanley is a beast athletically and sized up to bang underneath like Anthony Mason.  Can he develop the skills necessary to be an All-Star in the NBA?  His shooting, passing and ball-handling will have to continue to develop, but he seems to be worth the initial investment for many teams.

NBA Team Projections:

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D’Angelo Russell – Ohio State 

  • NBA Position: PG/SG
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 6-5
  • Best-case comparison: A left-handed Magic Johnson…yes seriously

An incredibly talented combo guard with tremendous ball skills … Intriguing long term prospect considering his package of attributes … Smart, and smooth guard who never seems to get rattled or rushed into making mistakes … Makes everything look easy … Great imagination and creativity, his vision and passing ability is the best several analysts have ever seen (click here) … Excellent decision maker and appears to have the ability to develop into a GREAT point guard for the next level … He’s got a 6-foot-9 wingspan that gives him the ability to disrupt passing lanes and shots, as well as an extra length to get to loose balls and get shots off … Shows good form on his shot with a quick release … Very good at running the pick-and-roll, well ahead of most guards at the same stage in that element ..

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D’Angelo has the charisma, skill potential and confidence to be the NBA’s next HUGE, true point guard.  I’m actually excited to see how this guy plays out, for the first time in a long time I actually REALLY like a point guard coming out of college.

NBA Team Projections:

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Karl-Anthony Towns – Kentucky 

  • NBA Position: Center
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 7-0
  • Best-case comparison: An even better Marc Gasol

Strengths: Center prospect with the size and skill set to make a strong impact at both ends of the floor in the NBA … Hard worker, smart kid, with strength of character … Possesses a great feel for the game … Offensive game oozes potential with a text book shooting form, great touch and ability to hit outside and mid range jumpers effortlessly and consistently … Has even implemented a steadily improving hook shot into his repertoire … His length and strong body gives him excellent ability to rebound and hold position in the post … Tremendous rebounder on a per 40 minute basis, with big hands, good box out fundamentals, post positioning and energy … Has worked hard on his body and has developed broad shoulders and good strength … Should be able to add additional weight and play comfortably in the 260-270 range … Terrific passer, good vision, he’s able to find players when doubled, and even have the offense run through him at the high post … Very good shot blocker … Underrated foot speed and perimeter defensive ability … Recently in workouts has shown the ability to step out and shoot the three very smoothly and effortlessly.

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He’s as close to a guaranteed star instantly as you can get in the NBA.  He could be DeMarcus Cousins without the headcase/knucklehead attitude combined with Marc Gasol.  He’s GOTTA be the first player taken, if Minnesota doesn’t take him (then they’re really dumb), the Lakers definitely will at #2.

NBA Team Projections:

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Kristaps Porzingis – Latvia

  • NBA Position: Power Forward
  • Class: International
  • Ht: 7-1
  • Best-case comparison: A more athletic Dirk Nowitzki

As a legit 7 footer he has perfect height for the role, combined with long arms and big hands … Despite the size he prefers to play as a small forward, showing amazing body control, coordination and ball handling skills … Porzignis excels in transition situations, where he can use his speed, fluidity and athleticism to outrun defenders … During the past season he has improved his off the ball game, exploiting cuts and backdoors to get the rim … He’s a solid shooter, with range also from three point, showing a remarkable confidence and variety of solutions: step-back, pull-up jumper, catch and shoot are all part of his repertoire … His lateral mobility makes him a solid P&R defender, a key skill for a big man, especially at NBA level.

His high ceiling would be a more athletic Dirk Nowitzki, his basement level is something like Andrei Kirilenko on an off night.   Let’s hope he doesn’t get a dragon tattooed on his back.

NBA Team Projections:

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Justise Winslow – Duke

  • NBA Position: Small Forward/Power Forward
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 6-6
  • Best-case comparison: James Harden

Big time athlete with elite level speed and athleticism … Shows the ability to score in a variety of ways, with spot up shooting as well as scoring off the dribble … Can finish at the rim with highlight dunks, and does a good job of utilizing his great body strength to absorb contact … Very dangerous in the open floor with his speed and leaping ability … Tremendous basketball body with solid wingspan and great body strength considering his age … Excellent on ball defender showing great lateral speed and awareness as well as a high effort level. Even blocks some shots, making use of his great quickness and timing … Has exhibited a nice ability to create off the dribble from the perimeter and get to the rim and finish … Has great body control and touch on the move … Smart kid and considered a high character individual.

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His game really turned into something fun to watch in the NCAA tourney, he combined a TON of athleticism with size and skill at scoring the ball in traffic.  If he can develop his jumper, he could easily be the next James Harden.  He’s got that quickness and body control that very few players combine, he just needs to learn the scorer’s game and improve his jumper to get to star status in the NBA. NBA Team Projections: vy57q2i5o1bhia4krdz2ysd9osacramento_kings_logo_3931logo_rainbow

Devin Booker – Kentucky

  • NBA Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
  • Class: Freshman
  • Ht: 6-6
  • Best-case comparison: Klay Thompson

High basketball IQ and 3-point specialist … Good feel for the game and makes smart plays … Sharpshooter who’s shooting release and form is mechanically sound … Silky-smooth and lighting quick release with a soft touch … Has good balance and accuracy on his shot and releases the ball at its highest point … Great floor spacer … Terrific scoring instincts … Possesses a deadly step-back jumper … Makes shots from the corners and at the top of the key … Ability to catch-and-shoot and make shots off the dribble … Efficient shooter off pick-and-rolls and while coming off screens … A crafty and instinctual playmaker who can distribute to his teammates … Willing to make the extra pass around the perimeter … Unselfish player and wants to get his teammates involved … At 6-foot-6, 206, he has good strength and size for a two-guard at the next level and resembles a prototypical high-volume NBA long range specialist … He’s capable of using one or two dribbles and pulling up from 15-18 feet.

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Re-read the description of Mr. Booker again if you need to, but it’s basically a carbon-copy of what was said about Klay Thompson when he was coming out of Washington State.  I love this kid’s game, if he gets to the right team that can use him the way that Golden State uses Thompson, he’ll be a 18-20 point scorer in the NBA.

NBA Team Projections:

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Quick predictions:

Denver and Philly will screw this up, Denver will pick ANOTHER European player that will refuse to come over to Denver (look at their track record).  They’ve drafted eight international players since 2002 (two were first-rounders), NONE of which have played more than 3 seasons in Denver, and NONE have even SNIFFED A SINGLE all-star vote.  Don’t even get me started…

Philly will surprise us all and select ANOTHER Power Forward/Center “project” with athleticism (Willie Trill Cauley-Stein or Kristaps Porzingis) and tank again for a third season in a row.   Philly fans will finally burn down the arena and give up all hope.  Don’t worry 76ers fans, the Nuggets fans are a few seasons away from that too.

Advice for the Draftees, don’t wear these suits:

Just for kicks, here’s the quick list of second tier guys to keep an eye on tomorrow.  These guys will be the true test of a great draft for most franchises; who can find the diamond in the rough outside of the lottery picks.

2nd-tier guys:

Mario Hezonja – SF, Croatia Myles Turner – Center, Texas Sam Decker – SF, Wisconsin Cameron Payne – PG/SG, Murray State RJ Hunter – SG/PG/SF, Georgia State Willie “Trill” Cauley-Stein – Center/PF, Kentucky (name change surprisingly didn’t UP the draft stock) Frank Kaminsky – PF/Center, Wisconsin Kelly Oubre – SF/PF, Kansas Bobby Portis – SF/PF, Arkansas Jerian Grant – SF/SG, Notre Dame Kevin Looney – SF/PF, UCLA Trey Lyles – PF/Center, Kentucky Tyus Jones – PG/SG, Duke

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