NBA

What if NBA teams could have a do-over on the 2015 draft? Here's how it might turn out

Even with the benefit of hindsight, Karl-Anthony Towns still would be the first player selected from the 2015 NBA draft class, based on his impressive body of work this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But as the 2015-16 regular season nears its close, let's indulge in a little revisionist history and attempt a do-over of last year's draft.

Would the top 10 players taken last June remain in the same order?

No chance.

The changes would start with No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell of the Lakers moving down, and the likes of No. 3 pick Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks, No. 10 Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat and No. 11 Myles Turner of Indiana Pacers all moving up.

After almost a full season of watching the rookie class adapt to life in the pros, here's what the top 10 draft choices might look like if teams got a second chance at selecting the 2015 class:

1. Towns, center, Minnesota. (Timberwolves would happily take him again.)

2. Porzingis, forward, Lakers. (No. 4 overall pick by the Knicks last June.)

3. Jahlil Okafor, center, Philadelphia. (Selected No. 3 by the 76ers.)

4. Winslow, forward, New York. (Miami took him 10th.)

5. Turner, forward, Orlando. (Indiana took him 11th.)

6. Russell, guard, Sacramento. (Lakers made him the No. 2 pick.)

7. Willie Cauley-Stein, center, Denver. (Sacramento took him sixth.)

8. Emmanuel Mudiay, guard, Detroit. (Denver made him the seventh pick.)

9. Stanley Johnson, forward, Charlotte. (Detroit took him eighth.)

10. Devin Booker, guard, Miami. (Phoenix took him 13th).

Some top-10 picks from last June would fall out of the revised top 10: center Frank Kaminsky, taken ninth overall by Charlotte, and guard Mario Hezonja, taken fifth by Orlando.

"If the Lakers had to do the draft again, they might take Porzingis over D'Angelo Russell," said a scout for an Eastern Conference team, who is not allowed to speak publicly. "I think Russell is a good player who can score. But he's not the two-way player Porzingis is."

The 7-foot Towns will be the easy choice to be named the rookie of the year after winning the Western Conference rookie-of-the-month award in the first four months of the season.

The 20-year-old center has certified his talent. He's tied for eighth in the league in rebounding (10.3 per game), tied for sixth in double-doubles (37) and ninth in blocks (1.77), while averaging 17.7 points, shooting 54.5% from the field and making 82% of his free throws.

Yeah, he's the best in his draft class.

When the Knicks selected Porzingis, their fans howled in protest. But the 7-3 Latvian has shown considerable talent on the court and a star's personality off it — in media-crazed New York, no less.

Porzingis won the Eastern Conference rookie-of-the-month award the first three months of the season.

He plays defense (1.88 blocks per game, tied for seventh in the league), can shoot the three-ball (33.2%), make his free throws (84.8%) league), rebound (7.2, second-best on the Knicks) and score (14.0 points per game, second on the Knicks).

Last spring Okafor was high on the Lakers' radar, and was the player many Lakers fans wanted them to draft after he led Duke to the NCAA championship.

But the Lakers passed on the 6-11, 275-pound center with big hands and a solid game down low, letting him go to the 76ers instead.

Okafor led the 76ers in scoring (17.5) and was second in rebounds (7.0) before a right knee injury ended his season after playing in 53 games.

"Every year we talk about trying to find talented big men," said a talent evaluator for a Western Conference team. "Well, Okafor and Porzingis are both talented big men. You can always find guards."

The athletic 6-7 Winslow is more of a defensive presence, his versatility allowing him to defend several positions. He scores most of his 6.1 points per game in transition, and his 5.3 rebounds in a reserve role are fourth-best on the Heat.

Turner has come on so strong for the Pacers that he took the starting power forward position away from Lavoy Allen.

The 19-year-old Turner missed 20 games earlier in the season with a left thumb injury. But he just kept putting up numbers, and now is averaging 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.48 blocks on the season.

As for the Lakers, maybe Coach Byron Scott was right to bench the confident — some would say cocky — Russell 20 games into the season. But the brash 20-year-old never wavered, and the proof is in how Russell has responded since going back into the starting lineup after the All-Star break.

And it's more than just the 21.0 points on 47.4% shooting, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds Russell has averaged in his last 10 games. It has been his swagger — and his improved all-around play.

The 7-foot Cauley-Stein's shot-blocking (1.0 per game) and ability to step out on the perimeter have proved he's a good defender for Sacramento.

Denver's Mudiay was the third guard selected in the June draft. On Thursday he scored a career-high 30 points against Phoenix, but Mudiay has struggled with his shot and decision-making. This season he's making 35.4% of his shots and 29.9% of his three-point attempts and has turned the ball over 3.3 times per game.

Detroit's rookie forward Johnson has averaged 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds, mostly as a reserve.

Meanwhile, all the injuries in Phoenix have allowed Booker time to thrive in the backcourt. He dropped a career-high 35 points against Denver on Thursday and has scored in double figures in 28 of his last 31 games.

"It's difficult, especially with a young player, to come right out and say, 'This is what this guy is going to be,'" a scout for a Western Conference team said. "You cannot judge these kids so definitively until three or four years out."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 13, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Natural reorder of things - Knowing what we know now, would the 2015 draft play out the same way if it were held today? Highly unlikely." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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