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Making a Mockery of the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery

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A day before the draft, I take a stab at predicting the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery selections.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

#1: Minnesota Timberwolves

The T'Wolves are sitting pretty. Fresh off of trading sometimes-superstar Kevin Love for the explosive Andrew Wiggins (and the decidedly non-explosive Anthony Bennett), they now stand poised to add the draft's best player to their roster. Will they? Our best guess is: maybe.

Minnesota has a talented center in Nikola "Tesla" Pekovic, but he's already 29, and about as injury-prone as Andrew Bogut if he hypothetically caught a disease from the Outbreak monkey. There's a golden opportunity to lay the foundation for what could be a good inside-out defense (by pairing big K.A.T. with the lengthy Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio), and despite his old-school leanings, I doubt even Flip Saunders screws this up.

Fun Fact: Can we at least be happy they aren't taking a guard? Have you seen their lottery history with guards? It is not good. It's not good at all.

-Jared Stearne, GSoM

Should Take

Will Take

Karl-Anthony Towns, C

Karl-Anthony Towns, C

#2: Los Angeles Lakers

Now things get interesting. The Lakers are reportedly trying to acquire Rajon Rondo (fresh off of his masterful double-agent performance in Dallas) and Boogie Cousins (who would be traded...why?). Those guys just happen to play the same two positions that the next best players in the draft play.

Most are penciling in Okafor here, and if you squint, he looks like the kind of skilled, big-bodied low post center the Lakers always seem to have exactly one of. But Russell is the slightly better talent, and a more appropriate fit for a rapidly changing NBA. He's got superstar potential, and he'll save the Lakers the embarrassment of starting Jordan Clarkson at point guard in a guard-dominant NBA. Plus, with Julius Randle returning (coming for the first time?), the Lakers roster with Okafor just doesn't have ideal floor spacing to make us believe in their long term chances. Okafor is hardly a bad pick here, but he's the lesser of two great options.

Fun Fact: The Lakers are already mathematically eliminated from the 2016 NBA Playoffs. -Jeanie Buss, Lakers

Should Take

Will Take

D'Angelo Russell, PG

Jahlil Okafor, PF

#3: Philadelphia 76ers

Remember these guys? They happen to be in need of a point guard (among other things), and the natives are beginning to get restless with the endless flurry of serious injuries to their incredibly young core (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, the wrong Teague brother, etc.). It's time to produce on-court results, and that means taking D'Angelo Russell to inject some life into a dead 76ers offense.

Russell projects into the biggest star guard in Philly since Allen Iverson, with a south paw handle and a nice shooting stroke. He's really the ideal guard for the NBA today, and the ‘6ers roster should afford him plenty of opportunities to show off on offense. Here's your odds-on winner for rookie of the year. If he's not available, Philly will have to throw yet another high lottery pick at a big man - but a darn good one, at least.

Fun Fact: Joel Embiid just got injured again. -Sam Hinkie, 76ers

Should Take

Will Take

Jahlil Okafor, PF

D'Angelo Russell, PG

#4: New York Knicks

Oh Knickerbockers. Not only did the worst team in the NBA finish with the fourth pick in the draft, but they also likely missed out on D'Angelo Russell, a player they've had eyes for all along. Fortunately for them, they have exactly one rotation spot cemented, which means they can pretty much take whoever. Kristaps Porzingis is the right call: a massive 7'1" stretch four who still has a lot of filling out to do. He may be too weak to bang inside this year or next, but his range should allow him to play in all sorts of lineups as a face-up big while he grows into his body.

However, he is not what you would consider a traditional triangle big man. Additionally, he figures to be a minus on defense no matter where you play him, due to his lack of strength and his high center of gravity. I suspect that if Phil Jackson makes Porzingis his pick, he'll have to hold his nose while doing so. More likely, the Zen Master takes old-school point guard Mudiay, who can do everything but shoot. Other more traditional players like Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley-Stein also make sense, here.

Fun Fact: the famed triple-post offense (better known as the triangle) is the best and only offense any team could ever need. -Phil Jackson, Basketball Savant

Should Take

Will Take

Kristaps Porzingis, PF

Emmanuel Mudiay, PG

#5: Orlando Magic

The Magic, holding the five pick in what seems to be a four player draft, are wisely attempting to trade down. What do they need? A solid power forward? Why hello there, David Lee rumors!

Assuming our dream doesn't come true, the Magic face a tough call. There's tons of wing talent on the big board, but they're stocked there with Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Let's take a stab at Justise Winslow, Jameis Winston's handsomer and more physically fit twin brother from Duke. He's got some small-ball-death-squad potential as a stretch power forward, and he's a strong defender already. This Magic team will not be fun to play against (and they were already kind of a pain).

Fun Fact: Scott Skiles couldn't even dunk in NBA Jam. -Kids from the ‘90s

Should Take

Will Take

Justise Winslow, SF

Mario Herzonja, SF

#6: Sacramento Kings

I'm not putting much stock into the Cousins-to-Lakers rumors, and neither should you. Boogie is still under contract for three more years, so our neighbors up highway-80 still have another two years to show something in a loaded western conference.

They could begin in earnest by picking a contributor with some star potential. Mario Herzonja, a slashing Euro with legitimate three-point range, could be the ideal young player to play alongside or replace Rudy Gay (should he depart via trade). With the sixth pick, this is a BPA selection all the way. There's a real possibility for Mario, who is already known as quite the brash, overconfident hot head, to make Sacramento an entertaining league pass watch all season.

Fun Fact: They're we're definitely considering trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Lakers, and that's that! -An anonymous Kings' insider calling from the 213-area code.

Should Take

Will Take

Mario Herzonja, SF

Justise Winslow, SF

#7: Denver Nuggets

Lots of rumors swirl the Rocky Mountain state, as a roster that seemed so young, talented and fun just two years ago now seems a wreck. Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and picks have all been bandied about, making this selection the draft's most volatile pick.

Denver could be a very, very different team very soon. So with that in mind, the Nugs aren't likely to consider their current roster when making draft moves - they just want the best talent. Arizona swingman Stanley Johnson, with a condor-esque seven-foot wingspan, looks like the kind of frantic athlete who could earn a BPA selection. With the length and athleticism to play either the 2 or the 3, Johnson should make up for the loss of former draft pick Evan Fournier (dealt to Orlando for Aaron Afflalo a year ago). I'm betting the Nuggets instead look to Devin Booker, possibly the best three-point shooting guard in the draft. The Nuggets were wretched from deep last year, and he would offer an instant improvement.

Fun Fact: the Kings and Nuggets traded head coaches in the most messed up, botched way possible. Remember when Nuggets coach George Karl was Denver's coach of the year, and Mike Malone was a dark horse contender for the same prize in Sacramento? -Jared Stearne, GSoM

Should Take

Will Take

Stanley Johnson, SF

Devin Booker, SG

#8: Detroit Pistons

The Pistons aren't on quite the upward trajectory of hoops-nerd favorites Orlando and Milwaukee, but at least they are moving in a positive direction. Sort of. Brandon Jennings is still recovering from an ACL-tear, and is no guarantee to play meaningful minutes for these Pistons ever again. Meanwhile, Greg Monroe is a free agent, and Stan Van Gundy hasn't exactly made an effort to woo the once-promising power forward.

That leaves a roster that, other than Andre Drummond, is pretty shallow, though thankfully free of hilarious butt-of-joke contracts like Ben Gordon's and Josh Smith's. When your best player is your center, it makes sense to target a franchise point guard (especially if one like Mudiay falls to the eighth slot). But Detroit has an even bigger hole at small forward since dealing Caron Butler. At least at point guard, they can talk themselves into Reggie Jackson as an adequate stopgap. We'll see.

Fun Fact: We have reached out to Houston about re-acquiring Josh Smith in order to cut him again. It worked well the last time. -Stan Van Gundy, Pistons

Should Take

Will Take

Emmanuel Mudiay, PG

Stanley Johnson, SF

#9: Charlotte Hornets

Lance Stephenson isn't coming through that door, but for Michael Jordan and the Hornets, hopefully someone better will. The Hornets have been a drag on offense for years, now, and the answer (more three-point shooting) has been the solution every time. Just so happens that we're expecting the draft's best three point threat to be available with the ninth selection, one Devin Booker. But stay alert, because the Hornets are right with Denver as teams most likely to trade down out of the top-10.

If Booker isn't available, we might see Charlotte opt for one of the many big men piling up on the big board. With Al Jefferson down low for at least one more year, a complimentary player (or even a replacement) makes sense. Frank Kaminsky and Trey Lyles would both fit the bill.

Fun Fact: If the Hornets stay at #9 and don't take Devin Booker, the commissioner has an option to contract the team in 2017 (thereby cancelling the all-star game). -Marc Stein, ESPN

Should Take

Will Take

Devin Booker, SG

Trey Lyles, PF

#10: Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade will probably be back in Miami because pretty much no one else can afford a part-time player with bad knees, no matter how good his resume looks. Anyway, after some wheeling and dealing last season, the Heat are suddenly a fascinating team to watch this offseason. Dragic and Wade are free agents, Bosh is recovering from an illness, and Whiteside is entering the last year of his dirt-cheap deal.

Miami could do some serious work to overhaul the roster right now if it so chooses, and that makes their draft position so unclear. With Mario Chalmers potentially on the trading block for luxury tax avoision (it's a word, look it up) purposes and Norris Cole long gone, we'll go with Cameron Payne, the well-rounded veteran point guard from Murray State. Willie Cauley-Stein and Myles Turner would be good value here, too, though they're lesser priorities.

Fun Fact: James Caan was only offered the iconic role of Sonny Corleone after noted gangster Pat Riley turned down the role to focus on his coaching career. -James Lipton, Inside the Actors Studio

Should Take

Will Take

Cameron Payne, PG

Willie Cauley-Stein, C

#11: Indiana Pacers

There doesn't seem to be much mystery in Indiana. With the big board light on wings and heavy on bigs, this is the perfect opportunity to replace much-maligned center Roy Hibbert. His play has slipped a bit (though not as much as people seem to think), and he can't run for 48-minutes anyway. Turner is a bit stiff and Cauley-Stein has some foot injury concerns, but both should strengthen the center platoon in the near term, and provide a center for the future once Hibbert's deal runs out.

Fun Fact: The Pacers may attempt to trade Hibbert this offseason. They're betting on the fact that no one has seen him play this past season. -Ramona Shelburne, ESPN

Should Take

Will Take

Willie Cauley-Stein, C

Myles Turner, C

#12: Utah Jazz

The Jazz have a nice lineup that teetered on the verge of being very good - at least while Rudy Gobert was in the lineup. They don't really have a hole at any one position, so they're in great shape to draft purely on talent. Kelly Oubre could be an interesting pick: a swingman with a endless wingspan and nice athleticism. Utah could also look to beef up their big man rotation, as they don't have much on the bench after Gobert and Derrick Favors.

But Utah gonna Utah, and that's why we have the "Will Take" section.

Fun Fact: That wasn't enough for you?

Should Take

Will Take

Kelly Oubre, SF

Frank Kaminsky, PF

#13: Phoenix Suns

The Suns eagerly grab the best prospect on the board, Trey Lyles, an undervalued forward who could hear his name called even sooner. The Suns are rumored to be interested in Portis in the lottery, and may have already made him a promise. Bobby Portis wouldn't be a bad grab, based on talent, though I wonder if his post-game would be a good fit for the Phoenix Suns offense with Eric Bledsoe pushing the pace.

There were rumors of a trade involving Eric Bledsoe and the Knicks #4 pick, but they've been dismissed by both sides.

Fun Fact: Gorillas aren't suns. -Neil deGrasse Tyson, Hayden Planetarium

Should Take

Will Take

Trey Lyles, PF

Bobby Portis, PF

#14: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder desperately need a true point guard to spell Russell Westbrook, and potentially give their ball dominant stars a quality role player to line up with. Tyus Jones should be able to provide a bit of calm to a lineup that verges on reckless at times, even as a rookie.

The Thunder don't need to hit a homerun here: with Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka all coming back to play for new head coach Billy Donovan, the team needs to focus on staying healthy into the playoffs and encouraging Kevin Durant to re-sign in Oklahoma. Alternatively, the team could look at a high-potential future starter, like Kelly Oubre, as a poor-man's Durant insurance policy. That would be a depressing downgrade, but this team would still be playoff ready without Durant, if he pans out.

Fun Fact: The Thunder have the same odds to win the Championship as the 67-win Warriors, despite not having James Harden and never having won 67 games. -Bovada Sports Book

Should Take

Will Take

Tyus Jones, PG

Kelly Oubre, SF