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Towns, Okafor go 1-2 in NBA beat writers mock draft

Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns (left) and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor lead this year’s draft pool.Photos from AP/Associated Press

It was a predictable 1-2 punch with the first two picks of the Globe’s NBA beat writers mock draft.

Karl-Anthony Towns, a 7-foot center out of Kentucky, was chosen No. 1 by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune for the Minnesota Timberwolves. That left Duke center Jahlil Okafor for the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, picked by’s Baxter Holmes.

With the draft nearing, writers in NBA cities were recruited to pick, in real time, for the teams they cover.

With three minutes per pick, the draft took about an hour and a half, with only a couple of curveballs. The New York Times’s Scott Cacciola picked Trey Lyles, out of Kentucky, at No. 4 for the Knicks, and Ahmed Fareed of Comcast San Francisco traded the last pick — “I decided to break the rules” — packaging it with David Lee to unload the big man’s salary for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Here are the picks and the beat writers’ analyses:


1. Minnesota: Karl-Anthony Towns, C-PF, Kentucky

Measurables: 7 feet, 250 pounds

2014-15 statistics: 10.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, .566 FG%, 2.25 BPG

Briefly: Flip Saunders chooses Towns’s multi-skilled game — a bit reminiscent of another gifted 7-footer named Kevin Garnett two decades ago — over Okafor’s polished low-post game. Towns’s defensive mobility, shot blocking, and effortless shooting from long range were the clinchers.

— Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribune

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

Measurables: 6-11, 270

2014-15 statistics: 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, .664 FG%, 1.4 BPG

Briefly: Lakers love franchise centers, and Okafor fits the mold.

— Baxter Holmes,

3. Philadelphia: D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State

Hannah Foslien/AP

Measurables: 6-5, 180

2014-15 statistics: 19.3 PPG, 5.0 APG, .449 FG%, 5.7 RPG

Briefly: In addition to being the best player available, Russell fills a glaring hole for the Sixers after they traded away point guard Michael Carter-Williams in February. A better shooter than Michael Carter-Williams, Russell could excel playing with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.


Keith Pompey, Philadelphia Inquirer

4. New York Knicks: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

Measurables: 6-10, 235

2014-15 statistics: 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, .488 FG%, 1.05 APG

Briefly: If Russell (and Towns and Okafor) are unavailable at 4, I’m guessing the Knicks would probably try to move down. But since trades aren’t an option here, they seem to like Lyles; he has the sort of versatility that would make him a nice fit for the offense. And Phil Jackson has been adamant about wanting to do things his way, almost defiantly so. So he is going to take the player he wants, regardless of consensus opinion.

Scott Cacciola, The New York Times

5. Orlando: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Baloncesto Sevilla

Measurables: 7 feet, 220

2014-15 stats: 10.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, .531 FG%, 1.0 BPG

Briefly: This is a high-risk, potentially high-reward pick for the Magic. Porzingis is perhaps three years away from being an effective rotation player on a good NBA team, but if he has All-Star potential, the Magic have to take him because they need high-ceiling players.

Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel

6. Sacramento: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China

Measurables: 6-5, 200

2014-15 stats: 18.0 PPG, 5.9 APG, .514 FG%, 6.3 RPG (12 games)

Briefly: The Kings have looked for a long-term solution at point guard for years, so they cannot pass on a chance to select perhaps the second-best prospect and add size at the point.

— Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee

7. Denver: Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia

Measurables: 6-8, 200

2014-15 stats: 4.8 PPG, 1.3 APG, .593 FG%, 2.0 RPG


Briefly: In need of many things, the Nuggets are most in search of a player with star potential. Hezonja qualifies, checking off boxes in shooting — something the Nuggets sorely need — and athleticism.

— Chris Dempsey, The Denver Post

8. Detroit: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke

Measurables: 6-7, 230

2014-15 stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .486 FG%, 2.1 APG

Briefly: This would be a dream scenario for the Pistons. You get the sense Hezonja is at the top of the wish list, but they will be more than happy to take Winslow as the consolation prize.

Vincent Ellis, Detroit Free Press

9. Charlotte: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

Brynn Anderson/AP/Associated Press

Measurables: 6-6, 205

2014-15 stats: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, .470 FG%, 1.1 APG

Briefly: The team with the worst 3-point percentage selects the best shooter in this draft. If not Booker, then Willie Cauley-Stein makes some sense.

Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer

10. Miami: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

Measurables: 6-7, 245

2014-15 stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .446 FG%, 1.7 APG

Briefly: Lucky break for the Heat that Johnson slipped to this spot. Small forward is their biggest need, and Johnson is the No. 2 prospect at that position in this year’s class.

Jason Lieser, Palm Beach Post

11. Indiana: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Measurables: 7-1, 240

2014-15 stats: 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, .572 FG%, 1.76 BPG

Briefly: Indiana wants to play smaller and faster next year, and although Cauley-Stein isn’t a threat on the offensive end, he is by far the best defensive big man in the draft. Extremely skilled at what he does, Cauley-Stein can impact the Pacers as much as, if not more than, defensive-minded veteran center Roy Hibbert. Also, he can still get garbage points under the rim and run the floor as a lob threat — way better than Hibbert. Besides, he goes by “Trill.” What’s not to love?


Candace Buckner, Indianapolis Star

12. Utah: Myles Turner, C, Texas

Measurables: 7-0, 243

2014-15 stats: 10.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .455 FG%, 2.6 BPG

Briefly: The Jazz could use another big man to round out their frontcourt rotation and Turner, who has great size and stretch potential, has the most upside here. He might not be as ready as Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, but the Jazz have the ability to wait.

Aaron Falk, Salt Lake Tribune

13. Phoenix: Frank Kaminsky, C-PF, Wisconsin

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Measurables: 7-1, 242

2014-15 stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, .547 FG%, 2.64 APG

Briefly: The Suns are plenty young, so taking an older player with less upside won’t bother them. They need size and a big man whose shot can stretch out a defense to make room for two penetrating point guards, similar to what Channing Frye once did for them.

Paul Coro, The Arizona Republic

14. Oklahoma City: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State

Measurables: 6-2, 185

2014-15 stats: 20.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, .456 FG%, 3.7 RPG

Briefly: This might be the exact scenario the Thunder are hoping for. OKC’s front office is believed to be high on Payne, and if he’s still available, I think he’s the guy. The Thunder need a steady, long-term option besides star Russell Westbrook. D.J. Augustin is as steady as they come as backups go, but he’s entering the final year of his contract. Payne, meanwhile, might be viewed as an upgrade both in the short and long term.


Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman

15. Atlanta: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas

Measurables: 6-11, 242

2014-15 stats: 17.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, .536 FG%, 1.38 BPG

Briefly: The Hawks face the loss of Paul Millsap to free agency, and Portis would fill a need. He would provide needed depth at power forward if Millsap re-signs.

Chris Vivlamore, Atlanta Journal Constitution

16. Boston: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia

Measurables: 6-6, 228

2014-15 stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, .466 FG%, 1.73 APG

Briefly: With no bigs available with the Hawks taking Portis, the Celtics take the tough, defensive-minded Anderson. And they are hoping Anderson’s 3-point range has improved.

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe

17. Milwaukee: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

Measurables: 6-7, 200

2014-15 stats: 9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, .448 FG%, 0.8 APG

Briefly: The Bucks are already loaded with young talent on the wing, and in an ideal world, they might have preferred a versatile big like Portis at No. 17. Still, Oubre’s smooth stroke and two-way potential likely provide too much value to pass up at this stage of the draft, and his combination of length and defensive versatility would seem a perfect fit for Jason Kidd’s switching, pressuring defense.

Frank Madden, SB Nation

18. Houston: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame

Measurables: 6-4, 205

2014-15 stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.7 APG, .478 FG%, 3.0 RPG

Briefly: The Rockets ignore need in the draft, especially with almost every player they select headed to the D-League for much of their rookie season anyway. But they are not opposed to having someone that would be a good fit, and with the uncertainty at point, Grant does make sense. They are more likely to take him for his outstanding athleticism, passing, and potential to develop as a reliable shooter.

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle

19. Washington: Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin

Measurables: 6-9, 200

2014-15 stats: 13.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, .525 FG%, 1.23 APG

Briefly: The Wizards jump on the borderline lottery talent after he slides further than expected. The versatile Dekker provides three things the Wizards need: athleticism, wing depth, and a stretch-four option. And he can do so immediately.

Jorge Castillo, The Washington Post

20. Toronto: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA

Measurables: 6-9, 220

2014-15 stats: 11.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, .470 FG%, 1.28 SPG

Briefly: The woods are littered with No. 20 busts, but the Raptors are going to need some frontcourt help and versatility; alternatively, they take someone none of you has ever heard of.

Doug Smith, Toronto Star

21. Dallas: Delon Wright, PG, Utah

Tony Avelar/AP/Associated Press

Measurables: 6-6, 190

2014-15 stats: 14.5 PPG, 5.09 APG, .509 FG%, 4.9 RPG

Briefly: Mavericks need a point guard with the Rajon Rondo thing not working out, and Wright has the size and NBA pedigree to help out.

— Gary Washburn, Boston Globe

22. Chicago: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke

Measurables: 6-2, 184

2014-15 stats: 11.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, .417 FG%, 3.5 RPG

Briefly: Jones has been a winner at every level. He provides some point guard depth, which is even more important given Derrick Rose’s recent health issues.

Adam Himmelsbach, Boston Globe

23. Portland: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona

Measurables: 6-7, 220

2014-15 stats: 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, .502 FG%, 1.16 SPG

Briefly: The Blazers have a slew of free agents and no second-round picks, so — barring a trade — this is their only shot at adding young talent to the roster. They could go a variety of ways this late in the first round, but they could do a lot worse than Hollis-Jefferson. Although he’s limited offensively, Hollis-Jefferson is a superb athlete and an elite defender who potentially could guard every position from point guard to power forward — and do so immediately.

Joe Freeman, The Oregonian

24. Cleveland: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville

Measurables: 6-2, 190

2014-15 stats: 17.1 PPG, 3 APG, .411 FG%, 5.6 RPG

Briefly: Native Clevelander could back up Kyrie Irving and play alongside him, if needed. He’s a tough customer who can defend and distribute the ball.

Bob Finnan, The News-Herald

25. Memphis: R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State

Measurables: 6-6, 185

2014-15 stats: 19.7 PPG, 3.6 APG, .395 FG%, 4.7 RPG

Briefly: The Grizzlies could use shooting, and Hunter might have more range than any other prospect in this draft. Will benefit from not being the sole focus of opposing defenses.

Adam Himmelsbach, Boston Globe

26. San Antonio: Guillermo Hernangomez, C, Spain

Measurables: 6-11, 255

2014-15 stats: 10.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, .546 FG%, 0.5 APG

Briefly: The Spurs would have gone with Hunter, since Danny Green is a free agent. On the other hand, Tim Duncan might retire in 10-12 years, and maybe the Spurs trade Tiago Splitter to create cap space. So . . . a center

Mark Rosner, Associated Press

27. Los Angeles Lakers: Jonathan Holmes, SF/PF, Texas

Measurables: 6-9, 240

2014-15 stats: 10.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, .389 FG%, 1.03 BPG

Briefly: The “stretch-four” position is all the rage these days, and the Lakers could use a PF with range. Holmes fits that bill and can defend and rebound.

Baxter Holmes,

28. Boston: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville

Measurables: 6-8, 240

2014-15 stats: 15.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, .566 FG%, 1.2 BPG

Briefly: Not the rim protector the Celtics were seeking in this draft, but Harrell has a motor that never stops. Must work to improve his jumper.

Adam Himmelsbach, Boston Globe

29. Brooklyn: Jarell Martin, PF, LSU

Measurables: 6-9, 235

2014-15 stats: 16.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, .509 FG%, 1.78 APG

Briefly: With the Nets looking for additional athleticism all over the roster, they’ll take the 6-10 Martin, who could give them a nice complement to free agent forward Thaddeus Young if they can retain him next month.

— Tim Bontemps, New York Post

30. Golden State: trade pick and David Lee

Briefly: Since nobody picks after me, I decided to break the rules. The Warriors have so much depth they could take Chris McCullough (PF, Syracuse) here and wait on his recovery, but their biggest desire may be to minimize their luxury tax. They’re going to figure out a way to trade Lee and his $15.5 million salary. Packaging the 30th pick in a trade may be the only way that gets done.

Ahmed Fareed, Comcast San Francisco