Mock NBA Draft: Lottery Picks

Evan Hayes and Kee Min

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NBA draft – where dreams come true. Sixty young men find out if they have what it takes to make to the Association and fulfill their childhood dream. Who will witness their dream become reality? Our own basketball experts look into their crystal ball. Welcome to lottery picks! This is where the big boys play. The future stars. Perhaps Hall of Famers? But just under that Top-5 pick line.

  1. Sacramento Kings – Kristaps Porzingis PF/C (International, 19)

This is a no-brainer for us. The Kings do not need a wing or a center, as they either have an elite player (DeMarcus Cousins) or plenty of potential (Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore). It is too early to reach for a PG, so why not pick up a big European who can stretch the floor? Many picked Willie Cauley-Stein at 6, but given the fact that Cauley-Stein struggled with two-center system and neither “Trill” nor “Boogie” can shoot from three, it seems illogical. George Karl’s system values spacing and a breakneck pace, and since they have already publicly stated their desire to make Cousins the offensive focal point on the low block, having someone who can shoot and run the floor is an absolute necessity for the Kings. Porzingis is a fluid shooter with range that extends to the three-point line (36.6% in Spanish ACB and Eurocup games), and his length and athleticism allow him to play above the rim. The Kings have been looking for a power forward that could either shoot or block shots and play above the rim. In Porzingis, Sacramento could get both.

  1. Denver Nuggets – Justise Winslow SF/SG (Duke, Fr.)

The Nuggets are a mess, and they just need to go with the best player on board. Winslow drops into their lap as Denver needs any talent they can muster at this point. The Duke product fits in well with the high pace, high energy system in Mile High City. While he is raw offensively, Winslow projects as a plus defender right away. With a giant wingspan and lightning quick agility, Winslow can be a ball hawk right away. Duke played him at the power forward position in the NCAA Tournament, and while he probably won’t be able to do so in the NBA, it showcased his talent for rebounding and finishing at the rim. Winslow loves to get out on the break, and he uses great athleticism to finish at and above the rim. He shot well from three-point range (41.8%), which bodes well for him despite the fact that it may not be sustainable. Winslow’s biggest weakness is his mid-range shooting ability: he has none. His ball-handling also leaves something to be desired, but the Nuggets are not in a position to be picky. They need talent, plain and simple.

  1. Detroit Pistons – Mario Hezonja SG/SF (International, 20)

Stan Van Gundy loves his shooters, as we witnessed it at Orlando, and the Pistons need more wing depth. Mario Hezonja fits the bill perfectly. With two more than competent point guards and a big man, shooter is exactly what they need. He’s more than a shooter though, as he can score at will with incredible amount of weapon he has. While he hasn’t gotten a chance to play much with Barcelona, Hezonja is not short on any confidence. With good ball handling ability and shooting ability, Hezonja also possesses breathtaking athleticism that will help him succeed in the NBA. In Barcelona he was often a little trigger happy, but that was more from an eagerness to take over games than poor decision making. He has Kobe Bryant level confidence, believing he is the best player everytime he steps on the court. That, coupled with his shooting and scoring ability, makes him a good pick for the Pistons.

  1. Charlotte Hornets – Willie Cauley-Stein C (Kentucky, Jr.)

Willie Cauley-Stein drops to nine, and the Hornets cannot be happier. Al Jefferson is by no means a rim protector, and his age and contract are expiring. Having an athletic monster shoulders great deal of defensive responsibility from Jefferson, and provides another big with a bright future along with Noah Vonleh and Cody Zeller. It also helps their depth, as Bismack Biyombo is a restricted free agent this offseason, and will command a long-term raise. Cauley-Stein would provide similar services (athletic play, rim protection) at a discounted price, and though his offensive game is raw right now, he’d have the opportunity to learn from the best offensive presence on the block in the league in Jefferson. And while offensively raw, Cauley-Stein athletic quickness and burst would be help to a Hornets team that values defense under Head Coach Steve Clifford.

  1. Miami Heat – Kelly Oubre SF (Kansas, Fr.)

If the Heat doesn’t trade their pick, which we firmly believe they should, they can go to different directions. They can draft a PG and not pay Dragic, or grab an understudy for either Wade or Deng. With some faith in Mario Chalmers, they should grab a once-hyped Kelly Oubre to look to replace restricted free agent Luol Deng. Oubre is a superb athlete that allows him to be a great defender. However, he is still raw and needs to bulk up a bit. A natural lefty with a 7’2” wingspan, Oubre often looked disinterested in his one year at Kansas and struggled to find minutes. But on a team of veterans that will hold him accountable, he can earn his minutes off the bench and learn from one of the best shooting guards of all-time in Wade. He also holds potential as an on-ball defender in case of Deng’s departure.

  1. Indiana Pacers – Myles Turner PF/C (Texas, Fr.)

Cameron Payne was heavily linked to the Pacers, but George Hill is underrated to say the least. Instead, Pacers should grab a big man to replace either aging David West or unreliable Roy Hibbert. Even though he is not an elite athlete, he is more than a reliable defender, and his expanding range and post moves makes him a very intriguing prospect. However, his lack of athleticism and lack of fluidity drops him out of top-10. Change is in the air for the Pacers, as both Head Coach Frank Vogel and General Manager Larry Bird have publically stated their intentions to have the Pacers playing at a faster pace next season, and picking Turner would give them an intriguing, young big man who could space the floor for Hill and bring a fresh dose of athleticism to a frontcourt that has been devoid of young legs for years.

  1. Utah Jazz – Frank Kaminsky PF/C (Wisconsin, Sr.)

Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors somehow coexist with each other, despite the fact that both of them clogged up the paint. While he can’t provide defense like Gobert or Favors, Kaminsky can stretch the floor and give more breathing room for Hayward, Exum, and Burke. The Jazz were actually a competitive team after shipping Enes Kanter and his giant ego to OKC, and they have one of the, if not the best, defensive frontcourt with Gobert and Favors, but Kaminsky would be able to play next to either one while adding a new dimension to the Jazz offense that they do not have right now.

  1. Phoenix Suns – Cameron Payne PG (Murray State, So.)

Should they overpay Brandon Knight? No, god no. The Suns should go back to using shooting guards, with Eric Bledsoe being the man. Cameron Payne has a great shot and knows how to create things. He has a nose for a ball, but his athleticism and build holds him back a little. While he can play too fast and be trigger-happy, he is a proven leader and a good fit in the Suns. While not explosively athletic, Payne is quick and agile, and his good range coupled with his knack for breaking down defenses off the dribble make him a good fit in the Suns’ two point guard system.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder – Devin Booker SG (Kentucky, Fr.)

It’s like he is made for Thunder. Who says he can’t defend? Surprising athleticism shown by Devin Booker at the combine turned a lot of heads in the NBA community, and he seems to be an instant upgrade over Anthony Morrow. With the fastest lane agility test time at the combine, Booker looked like he had plenty of defensive potential, or at least more ability than most analysts give him credit for. The Thunder has needed a tertiary scorer who can cause damage from the perimeter with deadly shooting and good off-ball movement, and value perimeter defense at the two guard. Booker has the potential to give them both.