The NBA Finals take center stage this week, but the 2015 draft is what's on the mind of the 28 teams not playing for the championship.
As June 25 inches closer, the Minnesota Timberwolves don't appear to be locked onto one player with the No. 1-overall pick. It's almost certain though that Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor will be the pick. The only question now is which one gets the honor of going first.
ESPN's Chad Ford just released his mock draft 6.0, and KAT is still his choice for the top spot, but notes Okafor is who T'Wolves GM Flip Saunders is enamored with:
Karl-Anthony Towns is the No. 1-ranked player on my Big Board. However, virtually all the signals from sources inside the Wolves point to Jahlil Okafor being Flip Saunders' favorite right now. That obviously can change as we get closer to the draft. Workouts and interviews and lobbying from staff (I hear most of the rest of the staff favors Towns) could push Towns back atop.
And after watching Towns' workout Monday, I believe that the Wolves will figure this out in favor of Towns. Towns has tremendous upside, no glaring weaknesses and he's a better fit in Minnesota, in my opinion, than Okafor. He has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft and I think his impact will come sooner rather than later.
The next Wildcat to come off the board is Willie Cauley-Stein going sixth to the Sacramento Kings, where he would be paired with fellow Wildcat alum DeMarcus Cousins:
Should the Kings keep this pick, their choices will likely be between Cauley-Stein, Winslow, Hezonja and, if he somehow slides, Mudiay. Cauley-Stein is the overwhelming favorite in Sacramento. The Kings desperately need rim protection and Cauley-Stein is the best defender in the draft.
Pairing a defensive force in Willie with an offensive load in Boogie would have the potential to be one of the best frontcourts in the NBA.
Later in Ford's mock, Devin Booker makes it three Wildcats in the top 10 by going ninth to the Charlotte Bobcats, joining former UK champion Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:
Their need is obvious: The Hornets finished dead last in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage at 31.8 percent last season. Hezonja, Oubre, Johnson, Frank Kaminsky and Myles Turner can all shoot 3s and would be good fits. But assuming Hezonja is off the board, Booker might be the best option. Other than Hezonja, Booker is the best shooter of the group, and while he's the youngest player in the draft, he has a terrific basketball IQ and plays with maturity.
Ford also has Trey Lyles going 16th to the Boston Celtics:
If they stay at No. 16, they'll take the best player available. I think that's Lyles. Not only does he fit a need (Jared Sullinger is their only other 4 under contract next season) but I think he's the best talent still on the board. Lyles could go as high as Indiana at No. 11 or Utah at No. 12.
No other Cats crack the first round. Andrew Harrison has seen his stock soar in recent weeks, but not enough to crack Ford's latest mock.