With the NBA regular season over and the playoffs in full swing, I thought it would be a great time to re-evaluate the rookie talent. With many exceeding and fulfilling expectations, others were on the other end of that spectrum. Many players were pleasant surprises for their teams, and some are even helping out with a playoff push.
In this article I will be re-drafting the lottery eligible picks of the 2015 NBA draft and explaining why I think each team either made the right or wrong decision. It’s no easy task to come out of college and live up to the expectations of the harsh NBA community. With all new responsibilities, these youngsters have a lot more on their plate then just basketball and their rookie season just being an adjustment period.
Would you be happy if your team drafted the player I think they should have chosen? Would you make any changes to my draft? The NBA draft is always a crapshoot and GMs just try to go with their gut. It’s no easy job to evaluate and draft talent as an NBA front office and that’s why I get to re-draft the first round. In a perfect world, there would be no re-drafting, there would be no draft busts but that just isn’t how the league works. No player wants to be a bust, no player intends to suck, but with the tough adjustments it’s no surprise that not everyone is cut out for the hard work that comes with being on of the most talented players in the NBA.
This list is only being made a after the rookie year of the youngsters, so they could still turn things around, but this is where the rookies stand after one year into the grind. The only thing that will get these guys to the top is hard work, and resilience.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
It should come as no surprise that this big fella will remain at the no.1 slot in my NBA re-draft, with a great rookie year reminding NBA fans of this kids untapped potential. I think that if he continues to develop he could become an Anthony Davis 2.0. KAT is no joke and don’t be surprised if you see him in the All-Star game in a few years. It doesn’t hurt that he is playing alongside Andrew Wiggins and the two can form a tremendous duo in Minnesota for years to come.
2. Kristaps Porzingis – Los Angeles Lakers
Kristaps Porzingis was seen as a huge risk-reward pick before the draft. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t see him panning out to be as good of an NBA talent as he did in his first year. Now that we see the Zinger is really an elite talent that can do it all, I think the Lakers would rather have him than D’Angelo Russell. Plus maybe their locker room wouldn’t have major beef with him. The Knicks have made plenty of mistakes in recent years, but this certainly wasn’t. Good on them.
3. D’Angelo Russell – 76ers
It’s not that I don’t think Jahlil Okafor was a good pick for the Sixers, it’s more the position that they need to fill. With Embiid coming back next season (hopefully) and Noel, Okafor really doesn’t fit in and they could do much better with a point guard and I think D’Angelo Russell is the best guard available. As it looks now, the Sixers are going to need to trade one of their bigs already. Well, at least the Sixers will get another crack at a top pick this year.
4. Jahlil Okafor – New York Knicks
Okafor had a solid rookie season, and as usual, offense wasn’t the problem. As a Sixers fan, I watched him all season and I can say he has the potential to be the best post scorer in the NBA. What he has on the offensive end though, he lacks on the other side. When Okafor was on the court, it really seemed like the team couldn’t get a stop. If he can step up his defense and rebounding, only then will he be on of the best in the league.
5. Devin Booker – Orlando Magic
Devin Booker impressed everyone this season for the Suns. I will be moving him up eight spots in my re-draft because of it. After being a one-and-done at Kentucky, the 19-year-old proved that he was ready for the NBA. Booker would fit in nicely with the Magic because they drafted a shooting guard, (Hezonja) so it makes sense to give them one. Hezonja just didn’t perform as the Magic wish he did. Who knows, maybe this re-draft will look different a year from now.
6. Myles Turner – Sacramento Kings
Myles Turner gets it done on the offensive and defensvie side of the ball, with a great second half of the season and winning a Rookie of the Month award for February. Turner showed that he wants to prove that he should have been drafted higher and he probably should have. I become more and more of a fan of Turner the more I watch him. He has shaken the reputation of being the guy that runs extremely weird and has made a name for himself. Turner made a statement this season. He will be a force to be reckoned with.
7. Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets
I will keep Mudiay with the Nuggets because I think it is a good spot for the Nuggets to start their rebuild. He was just average for the Nuggets. He had some great moments, but you would like to see him become more consistent and also shoot a better percentage from the field. He dished the ball pretty well considering he didn’t have the best teammates. I could see him running the Nuggets for years to come. It will just take some patience.
8. Justise Winslow – Detroit Pistons
Justise Winslow will be an elite defender in the league some day, just wait for it. He possesses the athleticism to do a ton on the floor for any team he plays on. The Pistons originally drafted Stanley Johnson but I think Winslow will be the better overall player when it’s all said and done. The Pistons are an improving team as it is, but Winslow could have sped up their process a little more.
9. Willie Cauley-Stein – Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets chose Frank Kaminsky at the 9 spot in the real draft and frankly, I think that was a reach. Yes that pun was intended, but seriously, yeah he had a great college career, but I think most knew that his game wouldn’t translate to the NBA too well. Cauley-Stein however, the defensive specialist would fit much better with the Hornets. The Hornets already have an offensive big with Al Jefferson and Cauley- Stein would be a good complement to him.
10. Stanley Johnson – Miami Heat
I was high on Stanley Johnson before the season because he played on both sides of the ball. While his season probably didn’t go as well as I would have liked, he still has some great potential to be a good player in the NBA. I know Stanley can play at the NBA level because he is strong, athletic, and skilled, he just needs to put it all together and he will watch himself go to the next level. So even though he was a little bit underwhelming this season I know that with more minutes he will be a very good player.
11. Bobby Portis – Pacers
Bobby Portis was definitely good enough to move up in this re-draft. Averaging a solid 7 points and 5 rebounds in limited minutes, he provided a big lift to the Bulls. It’s hard for a rookie to contribute straight out college to a playoff team but Portis fit in nicely with what the Bulls do. I think he would also fit in nicely with the Pacers as well. Portis will continue to develop and if he gets more minutes he will start to put up double doubles on a nightly basis.
12. Trey Lyles – Utah Jazz
Trey Lyles will stay with his team. He is a new-school NBA stretch 4 who can knock down the three ball. With the NBA continuing to move more and more away from the basket, Lyles will become increasingly important. Traditional power forwards are becoming harder to come by these days with stretch 4’s becoming the new big thing. Lyles fit well with the Jazz this season and I think they made a great pick to get him.
13. Mario Hezonja – Phoenix Suns
I will put Hezonja here because although he didn’t have a great rookie season, it’s not easy coming from overseas to transition to the NBA. I will give him another season to prove himself. I don’t have him being taken any earlier because he is still risky. He can shoot the three and he is athletic enough and handles the ball well enough to create his own shot and I think he could fit in nicely off the bench for the Suns. I think this season he has to prove the he can compete at the NBA level if not, he might be on the bench for a while.
14. Kelly Oubre – Thunder
Kelly Oubre would be a perfect fit with the Thunder. Being a good defender, he would fit well alongside Durant and Westbrook, and maybe get them to the next level. He didn’t put up great numbers but he didn’t quite get the minutes to prove himself. If he could just develop a 3pt shot that is more consistent he could bloom into a perfect 3 and D guy. This pick could be a little bit risky but I think it’s worth the reward.
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