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Feeling a hoops draft

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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DI staffers Kyle Mann and Charlie Green predict the first 10 selections of tonight’s NBA draft.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves — Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C

The Timberwolves have a budding two-way superstar on the perimeter with Andrew Wiggins, and they’ll leap at the opportunity to pair him with the versatile Towns. He can protect the rim and defend the pick-and-roll, as well as stretch the floor. Towns has the most potential in this draft.

2. Los Angeles Lakers — Jahlil Okafor, C

The key is simply to not overthink this one. Towns and Okafor have been in a class of their own since January or earlier, and the Lakers as much as any team in the NBA know the importance of having a dominant big man. Okafor will give them the big-bodied post weapon they’ve longed for since Shaq.

3. Philadelphia 76ers — D’Angelo Russell, G

I hate to do this to Russell, I really do. A skilled shooter and uniquely heady passer for a 19-year-old, he is more than a scorer and is the best guard prospect since, at least, Kyrie Irving. He’ll be one of the top shooting and passing guards in the league in a few years; we can only hope Philly puts a real team around him.

4. New York Knicks — Emmanuel Mudiay, G

Kristaps Porzingis has made a serious play for this spot in recent weeks, but the Knicks could be hesitant to take him after whiffing so badly on Andrea Bargnani. Furthermore, Mudiay is a big, athletic, pass-first point guard who will bring excitement to Madison Square Garden and facilitate Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.

5. Orlando Magic — Kristaps Porzingis, F

The Magic are ecstatic if this plays out. With Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, they’re set in the backcourt and have an opportunity to snag a much-needed scoring punch in the frontcourt. At 7-2 with a fluid jumper, offensively challenged Orlando hits the jackpot.

6. Sacramento Kings — Willie Cauley-Stein, C

This mock is made under the assumption that DeMarcus Cousins is still with the Kings, and the trendy idea is that Cauley-Stein is versatile enough defensively to ease pressure on Cousins and to allow Cousins to work out in the mid-range offensively. It would create one of the more imposing NBA frontcourts.

7. Denver Nuggets — Mario Hezonja, G/F

The Nuggets find themselves positioned obscurely; they have a stable point guard in Ty Lawson and a frontcourt anchor in Kenneth Faried, but not much else. Hezonja, a 6-8 wing, could be the type of player to win both a 3-point contest and a dunk contest, so Denver goes for upside here.

8. Detroit Pistons — Justice Winslow, F

The Pistons are thrilled that Winslow slips to them at No. 8 and for good reason. Athletically gifted and defensively rigorous, Detroit lands a top-five talent.

9. Charlotte Hornets — Sam Dekker, F

Charlotte passes on sniper Devin Booker and goes with Dekker — a streaky shooter who can put the ball on the floor and bring athleticism and upside to Charlotte. The darling of the NCAA Tournament also has the versatility, size, and offensive skills to play either small or power forward in the pros.

10. Miami Heat — Frank Kaminsky, F/C

Kaminsky might be the most NBA-ready prospect in the class, and the Heat seem to like that when drafting. He can stretch the floor with range as a shooter and has excellent footwork in the post. “Frank the Tank” does not have a huge ceiling however, and length is about all he brings on the defensive end.


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