Doug Gottlieb's NBA Draft Big Board: D'Angelo Russell No. 2
Doug Gottlieb's NBA Draft Big Board has a few surprises
Here is CBS Sports Analyst Doug Gottlieb's "Big Board" ranking of top prospects for the 2015 NBA Draft.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns | PF | Kentucky
Upside: An elite shot-blocker who has also become a solid low-post scorer over either shoulder. Towns became the focal point of the team and has shown tremendous timing as a shot blocker on defense the entire year. Towns has good hands and is comfortable with a jump hook over both shoulders. Think of Towns as a young Sam Perkins. Runs the court like a wing. There are a lot of things he does well and he seems destined to keep improving.
Downside: Though better out on the floor defensively, he's not great, and just OK at containing drivers. Towns was very good, but far from dominant game-to-game. Only scored 20 or more points two times and scored single digits 20 times at Kentucky.
2. D'Angelo Russell | SG | Ohio State
Upside: Left-handed, alpha and capable of taking over a game, Russell is a dynamic scorer who likes to pass. His rapid ascent has not surprised many NBA scouts as they saw his vision and feel as a lead guard early last season, but many thought it would be a year or two before he played like he played. His game has some James Harden, some Stephen Curry. Russell is a 21st century lead guard, relates to Curry in that he plays well with and without the basketball. Though fairly slight of build, he is much stronger than Curry was this early in his career, and though not as explosive at the rim as Harden was when he was young, he has a better array of finishing shots at this age.
Downside: Russell is not a freak athlete, not a pure point and as talented as he is, as dominant as he was, his team still was average even in a Big Ten that had one elite team and most others were at least a year away. His stats are helped by Thad Matta letting him play through mistakes and taking tough shots. There are a higher volume of Russells than there are Okafors coming to the NBA game.
3. Jahlil Okafor | C | Duke
Upside: A massive big body with great hands, a soft touch around the basket and he loves to score at the block. Very well suited for traditional pick-and-roll game, triangle low-post game or classic NBA isolation in the low post. Tremendous footwork down low, with unique agility for a man his size at such a young age. Gigantic hands. Hand size and strength are a bit overplayed as the NCAA uses grippy synthetic basketballs, but not with Okafor, his hands are that big and strong. Uses the backboard well, dribbles out of double teams then reposts or simply attacks instead of passing out of the double team. There has been no more refined low post player offensive player to come out of college, especially with just one year of college basketball under his belt, in at least the past decade if not longer. Played on a bad ankle vs. North Carolina and is not soft. Seems to enjoy the contact of posting up. Good kid, good family, big bright personality.
Downside: Poor ball-screen defender who lacks the lateral agility to hedge well or face a downhill dribble drive. Not a rim protector. Though big and long enough, doesn't have shot blocker feel. Going to really struggle on defense early in his NBA career. Bad free throw shooter. Would be best suited in a system that gets him the ball with space, like the triangle.
4. Kristaps Porzingas | PF | Latvia
Upside: Young, big, skilled at a lot of things needed for the NBA. Porzingis blocks shots, can shoot the NBA 3 and can catch and finish on screen rolls. The 7-foot-2 Latvian is rangier though not as offensively developed as Frank Kaminsky, and he has the potential to be a much better defensive player with good lateral quickness as well. Porzingis is more comfortable facing up than posting up, but that is fine as both a young player and in the new age of spread high ball screen offenses.
Downside: Will take time to develop. Not a post player weighing in the 220s (though at 19 expect him to get to 240 sooner than later), and you have to be committed to having a 7-footer shoot 3s. Will get a pass for not being a very good passer because the assumption is all Euros can pass and shoot.
5. Willie Cauley-Stein | C | Kentucky
Upside: Freak athlete who can guard most any position on the floor. Cauley-Stein is a rim protector deluxe in spread high ball screen action. (Rockets, Hawks, Spurs, etc.) He possesses rare lateral quickness that allows him to switch ball screens, a skill probably 5 or so NBA bigs possess (Horford, Noah), meanwhile he has gained enough strength to hold his own vs. men down low (though it is probably the weakest part of his defense. Cauley-Stein also plays ego free on offense, and though you never going to go to him for a bucket, for young players, but needing the ball to be effective will help with the right team is early acceptance of his skill set.
Cons: Cauley-Stein can only really catch and dunk offensively and most believe that while very intelligent, he isn't a baller and doesn't love the game. That said, he does compete, has steadily improved. Changing his middle name to Trill is kind of a clown move that shows some that he cares more about silly stuff than just being a tremendous basketball player. Does Cauley-Stein look very similar to Tyson Chandler/DeAndre Jordan when they were three years out of high school? Sure, but Chandler morphed into a dedicated player and Jordan is the most dominant shot blocker/rim protector in the league, will Cauley-Stein work to take that next step?
6. Devin Booker | SG | Kentucky
Upside: Youngest player in the draft, Jrue Holiday and Tobias Harris were similar and were under-drafted. A prolific shooter with a compact stroke, Kentucky really never ran anything for him and yet he still had moments where he succeeded. Most freshmen, even the best of them, shoot erratically during their first season before settling down. Booker is no different. Supremely confident, high scoring IQ, Booker seems to understand the angles and windows needs to create offense. Late bloomer with exceptional work ethic, Booker is an ideal shooting guard to play with dominant ball handling point/lead guard. Reminds me of Klay Thompson at same age.
Downside: Needs to continue to work on his body. He looked young vs. Wisconsin for instance, who went at him in the post with Sam Dekker. Booker is not particularly long or athletic, though some of that will change as he gets into his 20s. Not a great ball-handler, something that will also have to be developed as guards run a ton of ball screens in today’s NBA. Though his shot looks good coming off his hand, and he gets rid of it quickly, Booker is still very streaky. Booker told everyone around him he expected to stay 2-3 years in school as he knows (his dad was a tremendous player and likely told him) he needed time to develop. Can Booker keep improving while not losing his confidence? Does the team who drafts him this high understand that in three years they can have an all-star?
7. Emmanuel Mudiay | PG | China
Upside: Explosive, strong point guard who is going to be difficult to contain in transition and off a ball screen. Can score mid-range and in, but also has great feel for passing and setting up teammates. Could have used the refinement of SMU, but Chinese basketball at least made him play against men. At his size and athleticism he should be a very good defender who can guard both the 1 and 2. Excellent rebounder with a lot of Jason Kidd to his game. A powerful lead guard who snaps the ball well on passes and is too big and too strong for his high school contemporaries. Mudiay has good lead guard feel, plays well downhill and even a half season of Chinese ball is good seasoning for the lifestyle change and talent difference in the NBA game. Chinese teams are elite in terms of being compared to other European leagues, but there are some very good point guards who are men and they challenged him.
Downside: Mudiay has barely played in games in a year and will have a bit of a learning curve in running an NBA team. Some concerns about the company he keeps -- there are a lot of hands out. Not a good shooter, and though he has worked on form over the past year, in games there will be a lot of slippage. Must be in a system that he possesses the ball as he is not particularly good without it. Needs to play and needs to learn how to win.
8. Mario Hezonja | SG | Croatia
Upside: Croatian playing in Spain at a very high level. Explosive finisher at the basket with toughness, deep range and quick release, Hezonja should be a starting 2 in the league within two years. Big, tough and competitive, Hezonja is comfortable with and without the ball in an offense (Not as a point guard in any way, but comfortable attacking ball screens). Having played at such a high level he understands the economy of shots needed to be successful early as a non-star player. Can and will dunk everything going at the rim. A unique, competitive wing who should start in a year or two and could become an all star.
Downside: Hezonja needs to develop a left hand (drives almost exclusively right), take better shots (he takes bad ones) and learn to play defense (he plays little and goes for steals). Watch tape of Hezonja and you will be taken by the confidence and arrogance in his persona at times, which he will need to stay positive early in his NBA life, but can rub veterans the wrong way.
9. Stanley Johnson | SF | Arizona
Upside: Great NBA body, super competitive and wants to win at both ends of the floor. Zero off-the-floor issues. Johnson has improved as a spot-up shooter as that has always been the weakest part of his offensive game. Johnson, unlike Justise Winslow, played exclusively on the perimeter, so he rarely if ever had a college 4-or-5 guarding him to exploit. As the floor opens up in the NBA Johnson’s strength and body control will become more pronounced than at Arizona where he played on a team with limited floor spacing due to their personnel. Johnson has the unique ability to make a steal, get a tip-in, or simply get to the free-throw line at winning time to make a play to help his team. Winner, competitor, potential all star.
Downside: Arizona struggled to coach Johnson as he likes to play not work. While Johnson is very bright, he can be stubborn to coach. Many scouts are predicting that he will be a bust in the NBA as he doesn't shoot the ball that well, has no real position and he is living on his high school reputation. Will Johnson put in the work it takes to develop the rest of his game? Will he take coaching from older players, coaches and executives?
10. Justise Winslow | SF | Duke
Upside: Smart, tough and very athletic, Winslow is likely to be this year’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or maybe even closer to Derrick Williams. Winslow excelled in the tournament, but he was playing the 4, which allowed him to take over at times vs. college big men. I don't think he will struggle moving out on the floor like Williams has, nor do I believe he will be James Harden as some have suggested. Winslow measured at just 6-4.5 in socks at the combine. Winslow becomes an undersized 2 or 3 -- basically a wing. Great kid, tough, likes to guard, rebound and attack.
Downside: He isn't a natural ball-handler as of yet. His passing and shooting need major work in order for his finer attributes to take over.
11. Cameron Payne| PG | Murray State
Upside: Legit point guard who can get his in addition to running a team. Lefty, deep range from 3 off both the catch and using the ball screen. Explosive scorer who can get buckets in bunches, but also has feel to run a team, feed the hot hand. Raises the level of teammates as his surrounding talent was good, but he took them to a higher level. Takes and makes big shots. Was a secured rebound away from making an NCAA Tournament, where he likely would have become more of a household name. Long enough, strong enough. Body and face looks like Lou Williams to defend at high level, clever off the ball defender who could be valuable immediately as a back-up guard who can change the tempo at both ends.
Downside: Played at lower level. High volume of possessions went through him. Payne takes some chances on defense when playing off the ball, but he is going to have to continue to improve his ball screen defense.
12. Kevon Looney | PF | UCLA
Upside: Long, skilled, talented power forward who is comfortable 17 feet from the basket. Not a grinder, but will compete for boards and buckets as a face-up player. Looney is a just 19 so there is a lot of room for physical growth in thickness and possibly height. Though not explosive, he is fairly elegant in movement and could eventually guard 3s and 4s.
Downside: Not a post player, not a great athlete, Looney is just a nice long, smooth basketball player who clearly isn't an alpha. Though he didn't play with creative guards, there were a lot of moments during the season in which he floated and was fairly unproductive. Shoots well, but not to the college 3, let alone NBA 3-point range. Can get lost in shuffle and be “Just a guy” if he doesn't stretch his range and improve his motor.
13. Delon Wright | PG | Utah
Upside: Wright went from being overrated to undervalued. A tremendous on-ball defender who can guard the point and the 2. While that may not seem like a priority to some outside the NBA, inside the league, guarding Curry, Westbrook, Lillard, Harden etc. is paramount in game-planning to win. Though not a great college 3-point shooter, he is smart enough to not take a lot. Played for an NBA coach and used angles that are similar to NBA angles to get in the lane for mid-range shots. Legit 6-4 1/4 in bare feet, long arms, grown man body. Excellent vision on pick-and-roll game, two-year JUCO player, and two-year in Division I -- and was given no free passes by either coach. Improved his 3-point field goal percentage over 13 percent year-to-year. Free-throw percentage way up too.
Downside: 23 years old and not a good enough shooter right now. Can get in the lane and hit mid-range shots and he can run a team, but how effective will be if NBA teams sag off and go under every screen. Men vs. boys a lot in college, how will he matchup vs. guys his own age or older. Wright, though a little bit older, isn't a much safer pick as a back-up who could develop into a starter on a good team.
14. Frank Kaminsky | C | Wisconsin
Upside: Stretch-5 who also has some low-post game, Kaminsky is ready to help on some level right now. Infectious personality, no matter the role he should adjust well as he has been both a star and a bench player. Can really shoot the ball with range and a quick release. Has good feet around the lane, though he clearly prefers finishing over his left shoulder. Willing passer out of the double team. Has tremendous size and a good base to establish position.
Downside: Doesn't protect the rim and has never been asked to do anything except sink on a ball screen. Could really struggle on defense. Big enough to be a center, but not strong enough to use his low-post moves against the physicality of the NBA.
15. Rashad Vaughn | SG | Utah
Upside: Vaughn can really shoot with deep range and an effortless release. Second youngest player in the draft. Good size, talent to be a starting two-guard 2-4 years down the road. Has become a better driver. Wont need coddling as he was away from home at Findlay and UNLV last two years. Makes shots, which is still the name of the game. Has some off the dribble game, more in transition than half court, but pull up pro three is already in the arsenal.
Downside: Coming off scope of knee. Shot selection is suspect. UNLV guys are not seen as used to being pushed in practice, even though he likes the gym. Isn't a guy who is seen to make winning plays. Scoring alpha, but has not shown himself to be a leader on defense. Has to be with the right team, needs to develop for a year or two.
16. Sam Dekker | SF | Wisconsin
Upside: Big, strong, and well coached, Dekker has a chance to be a very good NBA player. Dekker played some 4, thinks he is a 2 and truthfully is about as much of a small forward as anything else. Got some Mike Miller in his game. Bouncy, has swag. Played far better and was more comfortable out of the confines of Bo Ryan’s system last summer. Has some Harrison Barnes to him in that if you played small with him at the 4, he could be effective and decent on defense.
Downside: Slow release, inconsistent shooter. Not a good enough ball handler/passer to be a 2, not a good enough shooter/defender to be a 3 and D small forward. Not an alpha.
17. R.J. Hunter | SG | Georgia State
Upside: Very skilled on offense. Has NBA 3-point range with a quick enough release, good feet and hands in the post and legit NBA height.
Downside: Likley wont be as effective versus the elite athlete. Played against lower level of competition in Sun Belt Conference.
18. Myles Turner | C | Texas
Upside: Great size, which allows for the potential of being a rim protector on defense and skilled shooting 4 or 5 on offense. Improved steadily as season wore on despite not being the focal point of an enigmatic offensive team. High release, excellent range, seems to be very comfortable on pick and pop game. Good base defending the low block on defense, solid hands in blocks shots and catching the ball. Excellent free throw shooter with very good hand action.
Downside: Doesn't move well laterally at all. Big guys legs are hard to tell in terms of development, but he is either a late bloomer there or not very laterally athletic. Struggles to play without the ball on offense, constantly hunting post ups and shots. Was never really double teamed, would have a learning curve in that department too. Has some LaMarcus Aldridge to his game, but not nearly the passer (20 assists all season) or range of Aldridge at the point in his career.
19. Tyus Jones | G | Duke
Upside: There is a lot of Chris Paul to Jones’ game … though maybe not enough. Not the passer that Chris Paul is, but a good passer, shotmaker, leader who is a starter on a bad team and a really good backup on a good team. Keep in mind most in the league view CP3 as a great point, but not a great athlete, Jones struggles laterally on defense and needs a ball screen to get going on offense, but he is absolutely a guy who makes your team better. I would draft the head, heart, skill and hope I can develop the body. Alpha, unafraid of taking the big shot.
Downside: We have a tendency to overreact to the tournament for draft picks. Who can forget Taurean Green being drafted after two national titles. Jones will get sliced and diced on defense early in his career, and while the same could be said for Stephen Curry coming out, Curry was always hidden on defense early at Golden State (even often now) and if you take Jones in the lottery, you are essentially turning a team over to a guy who is really going to struggle in isolations and high ball screens as well as general containment. Additionally Jones will make the right play and has good vision, let us not say he is Jason Kidd like with his ability to see a play ahead and create shots. Jones is solid and can be a starter or a really good back-up depending on how he changes his body and if he defends at the NBA level. Also Jones measures from 6-0 1/4 without shoes to 6-2 with shoes seem to say he is wearing platforms, or trying to hide his true height.
20. Jerian Grant | PG | Notre Dame
Upside: Athletic combo guard who really improved this season after a year off due to suspension. Explosive driver, dunker who is a willing and capable passer as a lead guard. Mature and knows his game, Grant uses ball screens to get downhill and attack. Decent outside shooter who has pretty good feel on a ball screen. Has the size and strength to defend both guard positions. Competitor who likes contact, loves the big game as well. Was suspended a year at Notre Dame, came back more focused, was accountable for academic issue. Baller, good genes, terrific athlete.
Downside: Not a true point. Not a consistent deep shooter. His handle isn't suspect, but he does not have the ball on a strong either. Grant projects as a good solid guard off the bench who could be an interesting potential starter on a bad team or with major work on his ball handling and shooting. Can he make a rotation? Sure. Can he be a starting point? Not likely on a good team.
21. Bobby Portis | PF | Arkansas
Upside: Explosive post-up and face-up 4 man who can defend the rim and rebound, Portis has a lot of the traits of a highly touted 1990s power forward. Statistically played well despite not playing in a traditional system with an elite point guard. Competes on the glass and will dunk everything around the rim. Improved shooter with decent mechanics. Competes on the glass, runs well in transition and has excellent feet versus face up big men on defense.
Downside: Good at everything including playing hard, not great at anything. Safe pick, but seems to lack the "It" factor to be a star. Played a lot of center in college, will be a 4 mostly in the pros, though when teams downsize he could be very useful against undersized bigs as he can move and has long arms. Wants the ball down low, but doesn't establish good post position very often.
22. Trey Lyles | UK | Kentucky
Upside: A 6-10 fluid 4 who can really score. Lyles played both the 3 (he started at small forward) and the 4 at Kentucky, and improved steadily on his defense, the weakest part of his game coming into college. 17 feet and in Lyles can get buckets as a finesse big man who dribbles and shoots well. Very young with room for his body to improve and he has put a ton of time in with his father (former non-NBA pro) in both Canada, where he was born, and Indiana, where he finished high school. Can guard both 3 and 4, is a decent rounder and improved passer as well. Two years away from being a potential starter, but should stick in the league for a long time.
Downside: Wants to be a 3, but isn't a 3 and will probably never be a 3. As a face-up 4, he just doesn't have that range yet and he doesn't help his team much when he doesn't have the basketball. Might be a little overwhelmed early in his career at limited minutes and the strength of the next level. Likes to work, but will he grind? Skilled more than athletic, which is usually a good thing, but at his age he should be a bit more athletic.
23. Kelly Oubre | SF | Kansas
Upside: Smooth lefty who blossomed under Bill Self as the year went on. Elegant runner, long-armed finisher, improved shooter and the rate of his improvement leads you to believe his basketball is not only still ahead, but it could be much better than it is now. Oubre was lost on defense to start the year and not comfortable handling the ball then either, but he won minutes with his scoring in transition, his improved shooting and defense. Oubre looks like a player with his long body, deft touch and emotionless demeanor. Talent is there, though a bit of a tease.
Downside: Lacks killer instinct. Low motor at times, seems to occasionally try and live up to others expectations instead of just playing as a solid wing, excellent finisher and defender. Not tough, can be punked. 36 games, only 28 assists. Entitled at times, Oubre looks the part but can be utterly unproductive and not truly seem to care. Doesn't go right, not a guard at all, more of a 3 man who doesn't rebound. Solid player, but has a lot of Xavier Henry in him.
24. Cedi Osman | PG | Macedonia
Upside: Big, really big guard who can handle create and make plays on offense. Plays at a high level overseas and should fit in well with the right team that values spreading the floor and creating. Just turned 20 years old, has improved his shooting some and seems more comfortable without dribbling than earlier in his career. Because of size (6-foot-6) he can play some point with an undersized 2 and defend the bigger player. Talented, energetic, competitive and a shot creator, Osman is a year of strength/Americanization training from being a rotation guard and potentially a good starter.
Downside: All the ball-handling in the world cant help if he isn't a better shooter. Also not a true point guard as much as just a good guard to have who can play. Not thick and not as much of a grinder as many Euros (He is Macedonian by birth). Kind of a wild card on both ends who leaves his man to make plays on defense and can force it on offense if his jumper fails him.
25. Montrezl Harrell | PF | Louisville
Upside: Animal on the boards, competitor in big games, Harrell still hasn't played with a big-time creative NBA caliber point guard to get him the basketball. Peyton Siva couldn't shoot, Russ Smith didn't pass and this year was a mess at Louisville, thus I believe he is a better ball-screen big than his play may lead you to believe. Improved face-up shooter. Tremendous natural motor. Long arms, good feet, good solid hands. Has some Millsap potential.
Downside: Smallish, especially as he is a 4 or 5. As a 4 he doesn't stretch the floor that much, though he can shoot. Played a lot of zone, played a good amount of center in college. Probably tops out as a rotation big.
26. Jarrell Martin | PF | LSU
Upside: Crazy-talented athlete. Can score in bunches and though he is a scorer, not a shooter, a lot of the numbers are lower as he was not surrounded by great passing, spacing or quality point guard play this year. Martin isn't Brandon Bass in intensity and activity on the glass, but leaving early reminds me of Bass and he too may play in the league for a long time. Tons of potential if surrounded by the right veterans and he buys in.
Downside: Cause for concern: Position-less Martin would be a nightmare for power forwards to guard, but will he guard anyone? Martin is fluid enough to become an NBA 3 man, but not a ball handler by any sense of the imagination. Will he compete or does he just want to score?
27. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | SF | Arizona
Upside: Freak athlete, super long, fearless defender. Less refined Stacy Augmon-type. Loves to defend, also very competitive. Crafty as to not allow that to limit him. Excellent finisher and dunker in both the half court or in transition.
Downside: Can't shoot, not a high-level offensive player as a passer or ball handler. Thinks of himself as a Kobe Byrant-type, not a Kidd-Gilchrist type of player.
28. Olivier Hanlan | PG | Boston College
Upside: Scoring guard who fits new model for lead guard. Reminds me of C.J. McCollum in his ability to both pass and score. Excellent off ball screens. High usage rate in college is fine as he would be a lead guard off the bench.
Downside: Not a great athlete, not a true point, Hanlan is a work in progress as a playmaker.
29. Jonathan Holmes | SF | Texas
Upside: Superior athlete who is more of a face up 4 than a 3 man. Could morph into a 3-and-D with more and more work on his jumper. Crazy athletic and strong body combination. Improved shooter, especially when his feet are set on kick out, and a competitive defender/rebounder. Tough.
Downside: A bit mechanical shooting,passing,dribbling. Badly wants to be a small forward, just has not been to this point. As an undersized 4 man, doesn't have a post up game really to speak of either.
30. Richaun Holmes | PF | Bowling Green
Upside: Long-armed freak athlete who can be a pick, roll and lob big man. Can protect the rim. Hassan Whiteside clone? Wind up toy in that he will compete every practice and every game. Should be very valuable on defense. Holmes statistically dominated the MAC and Portsmouth Invitational.
Downside: Limited on offense. Starting to shoot jumpers more and more, don't want him to lose his energy or intensity on the glass
Red Flagged, but talented enough to be on this list.
Robert Upshaw | C | Washington
Upside: It is not based on talent, he has it, but he is a waste of that talent to date. Kicked off two teams by likeable, affable coaches. Washington source told me he was a “Waste of time because he simply didn't care most days and even Lorenzo Romar gave up on him, which seems impossible to believe.” In addition apparently Upshaw has been red-flagged for a heart issue. Do not be surprised if this supreme talent goes undrafted.
Downside: Kicked off two NCAA teams, seen as lazy, entitled and really difficult to coach. Not a refined passer or low post scorer, will he work to improve? Does he like off-court activities more than basketball? He played for two coaches who gave him multiple chances to get right and failed, I personally wouldn't give him guaranteed money, though his talent is undeniable. Upshaw has an immense amount of talent and can be an elite shot blocker/dunker in an NBA system, but I would not draft him in the first round with a first-round deal.
Christian Wood | PF | UNLV
Upside: Talented and long, Wood dominated Brandon Ashley in a head-to-head matchup early this season. Potentially he is a face up 4 man who can defend 3-5 and protect the rim.
Downside: No idea of shot selection, lot of varying degrees of non-criminal immature baggage that will likely take him out of the first round. Super selfish, not a winner, tough to coach and has a lot of bad habits. Was red-flagged before interviews and hasn't done anything to change that since.
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