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How will Top of NBA Draft Shake Out?

The 2015 NBA Draft is this Thursday, and everybody is trying to figure out how things are going to shake out. There are smokescreens billowing all over the place, and we have to wade through all the rumors and nonsense to try to determine what makes sense. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what could happen at the top of the draft.

The general consensus is that the Minnesota Timberwolves will take Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick, even though Wolves president and head coach Flip Saunders is said to really like Okafor. Other names like D’Angelo Russell and even Kristaps Porzingis have been mentioned as possible options at No. 1, but it’s likely between Towns and Okafor.

Assuming Towns goes No. 1, it would then make sense for Okafor to go No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, that’s no sure thing. Perhaps the Lakers are concerned about an Okafor/Julius Randle frontcourt. Perhaps they’re big fans of Russell (or Emmanuel Mudiay), even with Jordan Clarkson on board. Perhaps they’ve fallen in love with Porzingis like so many others. I’d be surprised if the pick wasn’t Okafor, but never rule anything out.

Things could get really interesting at No. 3 with Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers. Russell seems like a perfect fit in Philly and the Sixers need a point guard, but Hinkie has never been afraid to go off script. With Joel Embiid‘s injury woes and Dario Saric still a year or two away from coming over, Porzingis could be a legitimate option. Hinkie supposedly loves Porzingis and there has been a lot of chatter about Philly taking the talented Latvian. Mudiay is another option, or maybe they get wild and take Mario Hezonja or Justise Winslow. There’s also the possibility of trading back for more assets. Never put anything past Hinkie.

The New York Knicks are another fascinating case. The Knicks, like these other teams, need a lot of help and could go in many different directions. There have been plenty of rumors about Phil Jackson trading back, and it could make some sense if New York got a good lottery pick and a quality veteran player. But if the Knicks stay where they are, they’ll likely have their pick of one of Russell/Porzingis, then Mudiay, Winslow, Hezonja and Willie Cauley-Stein. Considering the roster in place, I don’t think they could go wrong with any of those guys, although having Russell fall would be the ideal scenario.

The Orlando Magic round out the top five. A big man or a wing makes the most sense for them, and Porzingis would be a good pick here if he falls. Cauley-Stein would be an intriguing option as well considering Nikola Vucevic‘s inability to protect the rim. Winslow or Hezonja would be solid picks to help out on the wing, and they could potentially slide right into the starting lineup if Tobias Harris leaves as a restricted free agent.

This gives you a general idea of what could happen at the top of the draft, but when Thursday finally rolls around, I’m sure nothing will go as expected. There will be surprise picks. There will be trades. That’s what makes the draft so fun. You just never know what you’re going to get.

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