Ramifications of the Ping-Pong Balls (Post-Lottery Analysis)

Ramifications of the Ping-Pong Balls (Post-Lottery Analysis)
May 19, 2015, 10:43 pm
There wasn't a great deal of drama on NBA Draft lottery night, but that doesn't mean that there won't be plenty of intrigue leading up Draft night June 25th. We break down some of the many different scenarios in play.

#1) Minnesota Timberwolves
Will Look At: Karl Towns, Jahlil Okafor
Prediction: Karl Towns

Drafting Karl Towns and slotting him as a shot-blocking, floor-spacing power forward and occasional small-ball center makes far too much sense, but this is unlikely to be a quick decision ala Anthony Davis or LeBron at #1. Look for Flip Saunders to thoroughly look at Jahlil Okafor while keeping his office line open for trade offers. It wasn't too long ago that Okafor was considered the sure-fire #1 pick in the draft, and Minnesota will certainly want him to come in and make his case in a private workout setting.

If Okafor indeed has his heart set on being a Laker like persistent rumors have indicated for some time now, it will be interesting to see if his agent Bill Duffy (a college friend of Flip Saunders at Minnesota) sends him in for a workout to play hardball. It's tough to pass on the opportunity to be the #1 pick in the draft, and there are really no guarantees he'll be selected #2 at this stage.

There should be plenty of drama surrounding this pick in the next five weeks.

#2) Los Angeles Lakers
Will Look At: Karl Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay
Prediction: Jahlil Okafor

The Lakers have to be feeling awfully good to not only move up to the #2 pick in the draft from their original slated position of 4, but just to keep it (away from Philly) to begin with. Some would say that the Lakers' draft choice will be made by whatever Minnesota decides to do at #1, as many consider this to be a two player draft with the pair of prized big men in a tier of their own at the top. That's not entirely unfair, but it may be a little simplistic, at least this early on in the process. With Kobe Bryant on his last legs, and having shot 29% from beyond the arc last season, and Jordan Clarkson a fairly streaky shooter (31% in NBA, 32% in college) in his own right, there are some definite concerns about the health of the Lakers backcourt as well moving forward. Add in the fact that the Lakers' power forward of the future, last year's #7 pick Julius Randle, is very much a low-post player without great range on his jumper, and it makes sense to wonder how good of a fit Okafor is on this roster as it's currently constructed, and whether someone like D'Angelo Russell could make more sense.

The Lakers will most definitely give long hard looks to Russell and Mudiay as well, and either of those two could absolutely jump up and grab this spot with a highly impressive workout. The Lakers reportedly put more stock on their private workouts than possibly any team in the NBA, and Mudiay especially will come in with almost a perfectly clean slate. Look for the Lakers to work the phones hard to, at the very least, hear what's out there.

#3) Philadelphia 76ers
Will Look At: D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Mario Hezonja
Prediction: D'Angelo Russell

The 76ers have done a great job of accumulating talent in the frontcourt, with (a hopefully healthy) Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric, who they've been relentlessly courting. Now they'll need to look towards their backcourt and wing situation, which both look fairly bleak at the moment. D'Angelo Russell is the natural fit to be slotted here thanks to his superior shooting and the emphasis that Sam Hinkie has himself said he places on that. Mario Hezonja is somewhat of a sleeper pick here as well, and it wouldn't be shocking at all if the Sixers gave him a long look to ensure they aren't missing out on the next Klay Thompson. Kristaps Porzingis could give them a much-needed stretch 4 option, which they don't currently have, but he might be more realistic should they elect to trade down.

#4) New York Knicks
Will Look At: D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein
Prediction: Emmanuel Mudiay

The Knicks will be disappointed to slide down two spots to #4, as the only team that took any kind hit in this NBA Draft lottery from their initial slating. They are still in good shape, though, as this draft has proven talent that extends out to the 4th pick and likely well beyond too. Emmanuel Mudiay and his sponsors at Under Armour would likely be very happy to see him end up here, and he certainly fits the bill playing a position of need, but he'll have some work cut out for him first, as their top decision makers have likely seen little to nothing of him in person due to his unique circumstances. A strong workout will go a long way in helping convince the front office, but they will most certainly give long looks to defensive stalwarts Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein as well.

#5) Orlando Magic
Will Look At: Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis
Prediction: Mario Hezonja

If Rob Hennigan wants to go with a defensive stopper for the fourth consecutive time in the lottery, he'll have two very strong options in Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein. But maybe upgrading their very shallow wing position and bolstering the team's weak perimeter shooting could be the direction they opt to go in? If that's the case, Mario Hezonja makes perfect sense. He'll gleefully soak up all the 3-pointers Payton, Oladipo and Gordon don't want to shoot, while also bringing great size and athleticism for his position.

#6) Sacramento Kings
Will Look At: Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis
Prediction: Willie Cauley-Stein

The Kings will be watching intently to see who falls out of the top-5, as there are plenty of scenarios in play that could see someone unexpectedly taking a tumble. For example, what happens if the Lakers decide not to take Emmanuel Mudiay? Surely Orlando would have to pass on him too after picking the similarly sized and limited perimeter shooting Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo in back to back years? Or would someone jump in with a trade? The Kings' draft board will be full of scenarios and possibilities in play, including taking any of the four plays listed above. If George Karl were making the pick (he'll most certainly make his voice heard), probably Mario Hezonja (in this scenario gone) or Kristaps Porzingis get very strong votes, as does a trade. If needs and current roster weaknesses are looked to be addressed (the Kings were abysmal defensively last year, and have been for some time), then certainly Justise Winslow or Cauley-Stein have to be strongly considered, even if they aren't classic Karl types. What will Vlade Divac think? Cap guru Pete D'Alessandro? And what about owner Vivek Ranadive? There are a lot of moving parts here. And of course the phone will be ringing constantly from other front offices.

#7) Denver Nuggets
Will Look At: Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis
Prediction: Justise Winslow

The Nuggets have a lot of interesting young pieces on their roster, including a super talented point guard, small forward, power forward and center, but that didn't prevent them from losing 52 games last year. Shooting guard seems like the natural place to start their hunt, and one of Justise Winslow or Mario Hezonja is likely to be on the board here still. If not, that means they'll have their pick of Mudiay, Porzingis and/or Cauley-Stein, who could all be useful in different lineups they could toss out. The Nuggets have a great deal of flexibility with many trade options likely to be at their disposal, as they don't really have a single bad contract on their cap. Tim Connelly is unlikely to box himself into any one option early in the process and will certainly have plenty of contingency plans at his disposal once his team goes on the clock.

#8) Detroit Pistons
Will Look At: Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Kaminsky, Stanley Johnson, Myles Turner
Prediction: Kristaps Porzingis

Stan Van Gundy has an affinity for stretch 4s, and there just so happen to be three very talented ones available where he'll be picking. Andre Drummond could surely use the floor-spacing any of these power forwards could bring, it's only a matter of picking the one they feel fits their timetable and style of play best. Porzingis gets the nod narrowly for now, but Turner and Kaminsky are certain to get long looks here as well.

#9) Charlotte Hornets
Will Look At: Frank Kaminsky, Stanley Johnson, Myles Turner, Kelly Oubre, Devin Booker
Prediction: Stanley Johnson

The Hornets picked what they hope to be their 4-5 combo of the future in Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh in the last two drafts, even if the jury is still out on whether they can live up to that, as they are both extremely young. With that in mind, looking to address their fairly porous situation on the wing could make quite a bit of sense, with Stanley Johnson, Kelly Oubre and Devin Booker likely being three players who get the longest looks here. Stanley Johnson's improvement as a shooter is a key selling point (and an absolute necessity alongside MKG), and if he can convince them that he'll continue along the same trajectory moving forward, he could be a very attractive option here.

#10) Miami Heat
Will Look At: Frank Kaminsky, Myles Turner, Kelly Oubre, Devin Booker
Prediction: Kelly Oubre

Miami is reportedly looking long and hard at the wings in this draft, in an attempt to bolster what is certain to become a huge position of need as 33-year old Dwyane Wade's career winds down. Stanley Johnson will certainly get strong consideration here if he's available, but in this scenario he's not, which brings us to the next most talented wing available, Kelly Oubre. While not a particularly advanced ball-handler or all that consistent of a player overall as a freshman, Oubre looks the part and has clear-cut upside to grow into. The question is whether the Heat have the patience to slug through an extended rebuild process. Maybe go in another direction altogether and take one of the talented big men that are here, such as Frank Kaminsky or Myles Turner and go back to playing small-ball?.

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