Charlotte Hornets

Top prospects entering NBA draft

Duke’s Justise Winslow says he can play small forward and shooting guard and a little point guard. Point guard is a reach, but he is versatile offensively and defensively.
Duke’s Justise Winslow says he can play small forward and shooting guard and a little point guard. Point guard is a reach, but he is versatile offensively and defensively. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Centers

1 (1 overall rank). Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, 7-0, 250: Towns is already a terrific defender with the versatility to play either center or power forward. He has coordination and athleticism to become a strong scorer as well.

2 (2). Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 6-11, 270: In his one college season Okafor demonstrated refined post moves that are hard to find these days. He lacks great lateral quickness defensively.

3 (8). Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7-1, 240: Cauley-Stein will start out as a post defender, but he’s demonstrating in pre-draft workouts that he has a jump shot he never got to employ at Kentucky.

4 (11). Myles Turner, Texas, 7-0, 240: At a time when basketball is becoming more free flowing, the fact that Turner can play inside on defense and has a reliable jump shot offensively makes him a lottery pick.

5 (29). Robert Upshaw, Washington, 7-0, 260: On size and talent, he’s got it. But two college programs expelled him and he has had some heart issues, too, so he could slip into the 30s.

6 (33). Nikola Milutinov, Serbia, 7-0, 225: This is a guy who needs to get stronger and heavier. Often teams late in the first round will draft a European pro to avoid paying salary while he develops. He fits this bill.

7 (35). Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse, 6-10, 245: He had a strong season that was cut short by Syracuse’s decision not to accept a bid to the ACC or NCAA tournaments in anticipation of NCAA sanctions.

8 (39). Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7-0, 255: He’s a ways away from impacting an NBA game, but guys with his size and some potential often get drafted in the top half of the second round.

9 (40). Guillermo Hernangomez, Spain, 6-11, 255: A true back-to-the-basket scorer who is strong enough to hold up in the post. He won’t wow you with any one thing, but he’s solid backup material.

10 (51). Mouhammadou Jaiteh, France, 6-11, 250: He’s kind of a project, who in the past has submitted his name for the draft, only to pull it back out.

11 (54). Arturas Gudaitis, Lithuania, 6-10, 255: Big and strong with decent feet; he’s in that category of European players an NBA team drafts hoping down the road he’s a more refinedplayer.

Small forwards

1 (6). Justise Winslow, Duke, 6-6, 225: Winslow says he can play small forward and shooting guard and a little point guard. Point guard is a reach, but he is versatile offensively and defensively.

2 (12). Stanley Johnson, Arizona, 6-6, 225: A very physical, explosive small forward who also made 37 percent of his 3s in his only college season. Invited last summer to work out with Kobe Bryant.

3 (14). Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6-9, 230: He’s a long, athletic small forward who can also play some power forward. But over his college career he was not particularly reliable from the college 3-point line.

4 (15). Kelly Oubre, Kansas, 6-7, 200: He seems like the high-risk/high-reward guy – long, with a decent 3-point shot, but also his inexperience is apparent. He’s very confident in himself.

5 (24). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas, 6-7, 215: Along with Montrezl Harrell, Hollis-Jefferson is the energy guy in this draft. Sometimes that works and sometimes the skills don’t catch up to the motor.

6 (26). Justin Anderson, Virginia, 6-6, 227: Anderson shot the 3-ball well last season (45.6 percent, although on only 104 attempts). He excelled on a team that emphasized great defense.

7 (34). Jonathan Holmes, Texas, 6-8, 240: Holmes might need to split his time between small forward and power forward to land an NBA roster spot.

8 (43). Anthony Brown, Stanford, 6-6, 215: A fifth-year senior, Brown ended his career a very solid 40 percent from the 3-point line.

9 (47). Cedi Osman, Turkey, 6-8, 190: A player with a great motor, but obviously he needs to gain some weight and muscle to play in an NBA frontcourt.

10 (49). Daniel Diez, Spain, 6-8, 216: Has been a pro in Europe for five years. Strong basketball skills but not particularly athletic by NBA standards.

11 (59). Branden Dawson, Michigan State, 6-6, 225: Quite a rebounder for his height (9.1 his senior season), but Dawson has no real perimeter game.

Power forwards

1 (4). Kristaps Porzingis, Spain, 7-0, 220: Has that high skill level at a time when the trend is toward power forwards who can stretch the floor with shooting range. He’s a legit shooter out to the NBA 3-point line and can make plays off the dribble.

2 (9). Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin, 6-11, 245: He’s an accomplished college senior, rare in this one-and-done era of NBA entry. Hehas offensively skills inside and outside, but will struggle to guard the post.

3 (16). Trey Lyles, Kentucky, 6-10, 250: Teams sometimes compromise on skill to draft a player with Lyles’ size. In this case, he has the jump shot and moves to compete for minutes as a rookie. He played some small forward for Kentucky.

4 (22). Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6-8, 230: He’s a rugged guy who plays with great energy. He defends hard and grabs offensive rebounds. A stint with Kevin Durant’s basketball trainer has improved his jump shot.

5 (23). Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6-11, 230: Portis shot 47 percent from the college 3-point line (though that was on only 30 attempts), so he has potential to stretch defenses if he keeps expanding that shooting range.

6 (25). Kevon Looney, UCLA, 6-9, 210: He was a very productive rebounding in his one season in the Pac-12 (9.2 per game), and rebounding tends to be the skill that carries over most from level to level.

7 (27). Christian Wood, Nevada-Las Vegas, 6-11, 220: He could stand to add some weight/muscle, but he averaged 10 rebounds last season, which is elite in a 40-minute game.

8 (31). Jarell Martin, Louisiana State, 6-10, 236: He has ideal size for his position and has demonstrated a mid-range jump shot. He could sneak into the middle of the first round.

9 (32). Jordan Mickey, Louisiana State, 6-8, 235: He’s more a conventional power forward than the “stretch 4s” becoming the vogue; productive as both a low-post scorer (14 ppg., on 52 percent shooting) and rebounding (8.8 per game).

10 (36). Cliff Alexander, Kansas, 6-8, 240: His freshman season was cut short by an NCAA extra-benefits investigation. He shot 57 percent from the field, but has little offense outside the lane.

11 (44). Chris McCullough, Syracuse, 6-10, 220: McCullough was a prominent high-school recruit who played 16 games before needing ACL surgery. That injury precludes him from pre-draft workouts.

12 (46). Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green, 6-8, 235: He made a big improvement in his outside shooting in his last college season, jumping from 30 percent from the 3-point line to 42 percent.

13 (48). Aaron White, Iowa, 6-9, 228: White got to the foul line nine times a game against Big Ten competition last season. Remember ex-Charlotte Hornet Brad Miller? That was his undervalued knack, too.

14 (52). Alan Williams, UC-Santa Barbara, 6-8, 265: A big-time scorer, he averaged about 18 points his last three college seasons. But he could stand to lose a little weight.

15 (52). Larry Nance, Jr., Wyoming, 6-9, 230: He’s the son of the former Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers power forward. Offensively skilled but not particularly physical, he would benefit from additional shooting range.

16 (53). Brandon Ashley, Arizona, 6-8, 230: Ashley waited his turn with the Wildcats to have a more featured role. He’s a good athlete with a somewhat limited offensive skills.

17 (57). Vince Hunter, Texas-El Paso, 6-8, 205: A solid inside scorer, but that free-throw percentage – 61 percent – is the sort of thing that would make NBA scouts think long and hard about using a second-round pick.

Shooting guards

1 (7). Mario Hezonja, Spain, 6-8, 215: A great combination of skill and athleticism, Hezonja can play either shooting guard or small forward. Will have quick offensive impact.

2 (10). Devin Booker, Kentucky, 6-6, 205: Maybe the best 3-point shooter in this draft, Booker excelled at the agility test at the NBA Combine.

3 (17). R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, 6-5, 185: Hunter’s breakout moment was the NCAA Tournament upset of Baylor. He nailed a long 3 to clinch the victory.

4 (21). Rashad Vaughn, Nevada-Las Vegas, 6-5, 195: A flat-out scorer (17.1 ppg.) who shot 48 percent from field, 38 percent from the college 3-point line. Turned pro after one season.

5 (30). Michael Frazier, Florida, 6-4, 195: He shot 43 percent over three college seasons from the 3-point line, but that average declined each season.

6 (38). Joseph Young, Michigan State, 6-2, 205: He averaged over 20 points in his last college season, but he doesn’t have great point-guard skills and is small for a shooting guard.

7 (41). Norman Powell, UCLA, 6-4, 215: He waited his turn to be a featured player with the Bruins, averaging 16.4 points as a senior.

8 (42). J.P Tokoto, North Carolina, 6-6, 200: If he’s drafted (and likely he will be) it will be for his defense. He improved his jump shot at IMG Academy this spring.

9 (45). Michael Qualls, Arkansas, 6-6, 210: His size is appealing. You’d for him to have shot better than 42 percent from the field in the SEC.

10 (55). Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame, 6-5, 215: He shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season. Potential complication –he could also play pro baseball.

11 (60). Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington, 6-9, 210: Very productive his last college season, averaging 23 points, 53 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.

Point guards

1 (3). D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, 6-5, 180: He averaged 19 points and five assists his one college season. Can play either the point or shooting guard at the NBA level.

2 (5). Emmanuel Mudiay, China, 6-5, 200: A big, strong, explosive penetrator and passer. He needs some improvement on his jump shot.

3 (13). Cameron Payne, Murray State, 6-2, 180: A scoring point guard (20.2 points per game last season) who is worked his way into the top 15 in this draft.

4 (18). Tyus Jones, Duke, 6-1, 190: A gifted passer-dribbler who shined in Duke’s run to the national championship. Limited quickness and explosiveness.

5 (19). Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, 6-5, 203: A big point guard somewhat in the mold of Golden State Warrior Shaun Livingston. Could play some off the ball in the NBA.

6 (20). Delon Wright, Utah, 6-5, 185: He waited to be a senior and a featured player, averaging 16.4 points. His 31.4 percent average from the 3-point line needs to improve.

7 (28). Terry Rozier, Louisville, 6-2, 190: A solid passer whose wingspan (6-foot-6) compensates for his relative lack of height. He tends to be a very streaky shooter.

8 (50). Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6-6, 210: He makes 3-pointers (37 percent in two college seasons), but his 39 percent from two-point range suggests a guy who doesn’t get much off his dribble-drive.

9 (56). Olivier Hanlan, Boston College, 6-4, 190: He’s more a scorer than a true playmaker, but at his height and build Hanlan will likely have to play primarily point guard to make it in the NBA.

10 (58). Quinn Cook, Duke, 6-2, 185: He showed great leadership in Duke’s title run and made some key 3-pointers. He’ll need to play point in the NBA and Tyus Jones held that role in Durham last season.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments