After No. 1 pick, NBA draft remains full of intrigue

After No. 1 pick, NBA draft remains full of intrigue
Karl-Anthony Towns speaks at a media event Wednesday ahead of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA)

The NBA draft is expected to deliver its typical plot twists, with enough surprise picks Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to force players and general managers to stay alert.

One of the few sure things seems to be the selection of Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns as the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Then the intrigue starts with the second overall pick by the Lakers.

Even as most Lakers fans clamor for Los Angeles to use that pick on Duke center Jahlil Okafor, it appears that Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell remains in play.

And there also has been constant chatter about the Lakers' quest to trade their pick, and some players, to the Sacramento Kings for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

After Okafor had the first of his two pre-draft workouts with the Lakers this month, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak didn't hesitate to state how the team is approaching this draft.

"Everything is on the table," Kupchak said.

The Philadelphia 76ers will be next in line, and when it comes to the 76ers' front office, everything always appears to be in play.


The 76ers have the third pick and it would seem wise to take Russell — if he's still available — because Philadelphia needs a point guard, after trading 2014 rookie of the year point guard Michael-Carter Williams (the 11th pick in the 2013 draft) to Milwaukee.

But Philadelphia is also interested in Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot power forward who has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki.

The 76ers' decision will have a direct bearing on what the Knicks do with their No. 4 overall pick.

Russell, at 6-5, is the kind of big point guard Knicks President Phil Jackson likes to run his triangle offense.

But if Russell is not available, that could force the Knicks to take Porzingis, or 6-5 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay or perhaps Duke small forward Justise Winslow.

Or, the Knicks could trade their pick and move down in the draft.

So the rest of the league will just have to wait and see which players are available after the top four teams make their choices.

Another possibility is that Boston, with two first-round picks (Nos. 16 and 28), is reportedly looking to move up and land a top-10 pick, while other teams, including Sacramento and Charlotte, might be willing to trade their picks and move down.

Decisions, decisions.

There will be 60 players taken in the two rounds of the draft, and every executive hopes he makes the right decision.

But it's still a bit of guessing game, even after the final selections are made.


1. MINNESOTA; Karl-Anthony Towns; Kentucky; PF/C; 7-0, 248; Can play and defend multiple positions. Has a high ceiling.

2. LAKERS; Jahlil Okafor; Duke; C; 6-11, 270; Will he still be with the Lakers at the start of training camp?

3. PHILADELPHIA; D'Angelo Russell; Ohio State; PG/SG; 6-5, 193; 76ers will go the smart route and take Russell. Has the skills to be really, really good.

4. NEW YORK; Kristaps Porzingis; Spain; PF; 7-0, 230; Knicks will take him if they don't trade the pick. Can't want to hear fans' reaction when he's selected.

5. ORLANDO; Justise Winslow; Duke; SF; 6-5, 222; Magic looking to upgrade on the wing.

6. SACRAMENTO; Mario Hezonja; Spain; SG/SF; 6-8, 200; If Kings trade small forward Rudy Gay, Hezonja can play the position. Really good shooter.

7. DENVER; Emmanuel Mudiay; China; PG; 6-5, 200; Mudiay has the size and skills to be a starter.

8. DETROIT: Stanley Johnson; Arizona; SF; 6-7, 242; Fills a need for Pistons at small forward. His shot needs work, but defense is solid.

9. CHARLOTTE; Devin Booker; Kentucky; SG; 6-6, 206; Hornets need outside shooting and Booker can provide that.

10. MIAMI; Trey Lyles; Kentucky; PF; 6-10, 241; A versatile player who can score inside and play good defense.

11. INDIANA; Willie Cauley-Stein; Kentucky; C; 7-1, 242; May have more offense than he showed at Kentucky. Can step out on pick-and-rolls.

12. UTAH; Myles Turner; Texas; C; 7-0, 239; Can help space the floor for the Jazz with his outside shooting.

13. PHOENIX; Frank Kaminsky; Wisconsin; PF; 7-1, 231; Considered to be NBA-ready because of high basketball IQ.

14. OKLAHOMA CITY; Cameron Payne; Murray State; PG; 6-2, 183; Thunder in need of a backup point guard.

15. ATLANTA; Sam Dekker; Wisconsin; SF; 6-9, 219; Hawks looking to trade their pick. Dekker isn't a great talent, but has a nice all-around game.

16. BOSTON; Bobby Portis; Arkansas; PF; 6-11, 246; Gives Celtics depth at power forward. Is tough and active for a big man.

17. MILWAUKEE; R.J. Hunter; Georgia State; SG; 6-5, 185; Bucks need more offense. Hunter can knock it down from long range.

18. HOUSTON; Tyus Jones; Duke; PG; 6-2, 185; Rockets need some help at point guard. Plus, Jones can shoot.

19. WASHINGTON; Montrezl Harrell; Louisville; PF; 6-8, 253; Is long and athletic and will crash the offensive boards.

20. TORONTO; Kelly Oubre; Kansas; SF; 6-7, 203; Though a streaky shooter, he can score.

21. DALLAS; Delon Wright; Utah; PG; 6-5, 190; Mavericks also need a point guard. But Dallas may trade the pick.

22. CHICAGO; Rashad Vaughn; UNLV; 6-5, 199; Vaughn is a scorer. New Bulls Coach Fred Hoiberg tried to recruit him to Iowa State.

23. PORTLAND; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson; Arizona; SF; 6-7, 211; His offense may take time to develop, but he can play defense right now.

24. CLEVELAND; Justin Anderson; Virginia; SF; 6-6, 231; A physical defender who can play multiple positions. Can back up LeBron James at small forward.

25. MEMPHIS; Kevon Looney; UCLA; PF; 6-9, 222; Has size and skills to be a versatile player at small and power forward.

26. SAN ANTONIO; Guillermo Hernangomez; Spain; C; 6-11, 255; Spurs not looking to bring him over right away; they need money for free agents.

27. LAKERS; Terry Rozier; Louisville; PG; 6-1, 190; If Anderson, Vaughn and Hollis-Jefferson are gone, Rozier is the guy.

28. BOSTON; Jarell Martin; LSU; F; 6-10, 239; May have gotten a promise from Danny Ainge. Can score off the dribble and run the floor.

29. BROOKLYN; Rakeem Christmas; Syracuse; PF; 6-10, 250. Athletic big man, but with limited offensive skills.

30. GOLDEN STATE; Jordan Mickey; LSU; PF; 6-8, 235; Undersized power forward, but is athletic and has long arms.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner