With all the rumors that fly around prior to the NBA Draft, it can sometimes be difficult to surprise people once the night finally arrives, since pretty much everyone has heard just about every possibility by that time. This year, however, is a bit of a different story.
The 2015 draft is kind of a combination of last two years’ drafts. It has the same uncertainty among lottery teams as the kooky, Anthony-Bennett-led 2013 class did, only with balance and depth that better resembles the heralded-but-more-top-heavy 2014 class.
Anyway, there’s no amount of rumor mill chatter that could possibly predict what seems like a potentially wild night of maneuvering for NBA clubs. Karl-Anthony Towns seems like a lock to go to Minnesota at number one, but intrigue ramps up immediately after that once the Los Angeles Lakers go on the clock with the second choice.
The Lakers, being the Lakers, are of course the team that’s swooping in to try to save DeMarcus Cousins from George Karl in Sacramento, but any move LA might make for Cousins would require them to part with that choice. Whatever they decide to do with that pick, it should have a huge effect on the rest of the draft and could lead to some surprising scenarios.
Here’s a look at some of some hypotheticals for tonight that seem pretty unlikely, but based on the latest “sources” and “reports,” suddenly seem actually within the realm of possibilities.
Jahlil Okafor slips to 4
For months, we’ve been hearing all about the decision between two big men, Towns and Okafor, at the top of the draft. Of course, with the draft imminently approaching, we’re now hearing differently.
Today, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding reported that the Lakers were leaning toward choosing point guard D’Angelo Russell in the number-two slot, which could be true, given that the Lakers need a guard to play with Kobe and inherit the team, but could also be false, given that Philadelphia reportedly covets Russell at number three (or DO THEY?!), and the New York Knicks would probably love to have him at four.
As mentioned, it’s also apparently possible that LA could trade for Cousins, moving Sacramento into the second slot, and who knows what they would do there. In any case, if Russell goes in the second slot, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the 76ers would choose Okafor at 3, given that they remain invested in both Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, which would mean Okafor would fall to the Knicks at four.
Okafor would be a perfect fit for Phil Jackson’s triangle offense––have you heard of it?––but New York might not even be picking at four!
There have been and continue to be, per Woj at Yahoo!, rumblings that Jackson would be more than happy to move back in the lottery, perhaps to select Trey Lyles or Frank Kaminsky, which again, could just be a smokescreen.
If Phil and the Knicks stay in the fourth spot, they would love to have a post star like Okafor to build around. Unfortunately, there’s no way they can bank on that scenario.
Kristaps / Mario both go in the top-five
A pair of foreign scorers that were once hovering on the fringes of the lottery, both Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja have rocketed up mock drafts recently, and there’s a strong belief that each of the players could be selected in the top five.
Porzingis has been the man of the moment recently, with the Sixers reportedly enamored by the talented Latvian, along with a host of other teams. Porzingis is a prototypical Euro 7-footer with range on his jumpshot, the type of guy that teams are crazy about in today’s NBA. Hezonja, meanwhile, is an uber-confident wing scorer who can play the two or the three and has exploded with his recent uptick in minutes during FC Barcelona’s playoffs.
The intrigue of Porzingis could easily seduce some team in the top five, but Hezonja’s destination could wind up being even more intriguing, as word on the street (from Draft Express) is that he’s trying to “pull a Kobe” and force his way to Stan Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons, which would actually be pretty sweet.
Trey Lyles will go before WCS
Teams seem to be bailing on Willie Cauley-Stein, who was considered a top five pick not long ago. Now, he’s falling down boards, thanks to a combination of his ankle issues––which could reportedly require additional surgery, per Draft Express––and the rise of other prospects. There’s a real chance that he could fall to Indiana at 11, but if they elect to go in a different direction, who knows how far he could fall?
With several teams reported to be intrigued by the malleability of Trey Lyles, who played on the perimeter for Kentucky last season and could be an ideally skilled, playmaking modern four. There’s a real chance someone snaps up a guy like that rather than a big man with health issues.
Kaminsky falls out of the top-10
Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky has been one of the players who has been on a meteoric rise in the last few days, with his potential range for being selected allegedly ranging from the Knicks at 4 to the Hornets at 9.
Let’s see how true that is, as New York would be crazy to take him that high, and Charlotte’s recent trades would seem to preclude them from further crowding their frontcourt. Don’t be surprised if Kaminsky’s stock hasn’t actually gotten that high, and he falls out of the top-10.