Cleat Geeks

Predicting Each Riser & Faller in the 2015 NBA Draft

The 2015 NBA draft is upon us.

Within the next month, the lottery will be decided. One lucky team, thanks to a few ping pong balls, will have the honors of deciding who they want to be their next cornerstone piece. Every draft expert, GM, sports fanatic will have a preconceived notion on where they expect each prospect to go in the draft. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to realize that Jahlil Okafor and Karl Anthony-Towns will be among the top picks. However, every year there are a few players that slide around in the draft, for better or worse. In this article, I’ll attempt to predict each riser and faller in this year’s draft.

PSA: this was written before the draft lottery.

Riser

Montrezl Harrell

PF

Louisville

Montrezl Harrell has been the centerpiece for the Cardinals for the past two years. Though undersized, he is arguably the most energetic player in the country. This past year, he averaged 15.7 points to go along with 9.2 rebounds per game (ESPN). He is projected to go in the late first round, though I wouldn’t be expected to see him go right outside the lottery. He lacks a true offensive game, but not every team needs an offensive stud. I think some team will fall in love with him and take him a few picks higher than he’s projected. His energy and ability to compete with players who are larger than him will draw comparisons to Kenneth Faried. My justification for Harrell going right outside the lottery? If Thomas Robinson can go in the top 5, he can go right outside the lottery. There is no way that one of the top 20 teams won’t fall in love with his motor and toughness. He has all of the tools necessary to be a role player for a team attempting to contend with a title. Will he ever be an all-star? Probably not. But role players are valued highly by franchises, and he’s just that.

Faller

Kelly Oubre

SF

Kansas

What can I say about Kelly Oubre’s freshman year? To say the least, it didn’t live up to the hype. At all. He came into the college basketball world expecting to take it by storm. At one point in the season, he nearly fell completely out of the Jayhawks rotation. His numbers do not represent those of a potential lottery pick at all, averaging around 9 points, 5 boards and less than an assist per game. All he brings to the table is a spot up jumper, solid size for an NBA wing, and an abundance of potential. Something about him to me screams “bust”. He to me seems like too many other prospects when it comes to what he brings to a team. How many other players have we talked about that had physical tools and a lot of potential? It worries me that he isn’t an advanced ball handler, which makes him limited when creating shots. I wouldn’t expect a contender to pick him. For example, Oklahoma City (Projected the 14th pick unless if a miracle happens) probably has minimal interest in a player who wouldn’t contribute immediately. I think he will slide from a potential lottery pick into the borderline 20’s.

Riser

Cliff Alexander

PF

Kansas

Two freshmen Jayhawks make this list, but both for complete opposite reasons. Cliff Alexander, just like his teammate Oubre, had a very disappointing freshman campaign. Cliff saw his season cut short due to an NCAA violation. He is now considered a borderline 1st round pick after being considered a possible lottery pick before the season began. He is very similar to the first player on the list, as he brings energy and a whole lot of physicality with him. Some people had him slide down after his suspension, but I’ll let you in on a secret; NBA GM’s do not care. They care if the prospect can bring something positive to the team. He reminds me of Mitch McGary’s situation last year. McGary went from a predicted 2nd round pick to a late 1st rounder. I could see Cliff going as early as 19 to Washington. His motor is something not many teams will be willing to pass up on.

Faller

Myles Turner

C

Texas

Before you say anything; no I don’t hate freshmen, nor do I hate the Big 12.

The second faller on this list is Myles Turner. He is another freshman who barely saw the floor during his lone year in college, yet declared for the draft. Whether it was his effort, lack of skill, or improper use by (former) coach Rick Barnes, he did not live up to the hype of being a top 5 recruit coming out of high school. I got the opportunity to see him play against Butler in the NCAA tournament, and I’m shocked that he’s projected to be a potential lottery pick. He’s pretty solid on the defensive end, thanks primarily to his physical tools and his freakish wingspan. But offensively, he was forced to sit out on the perimeter because he was so weak. Watching him post up was embarrassing. He’s a legit 7 foot but looked like some farm animal first learning to walk whenever he tried to establish position on the block. He has fine shooting mechanics, but wasn’t all that effective when he let them fly. I truly think that he will slip out of the lottery. Granted he’s one of the youngest players in the draft, but his production at the collegiate level scares me. I just don’t see how he can compete against the more physical bigs in the NBA when he struggled in college.

Riser

Stanley Johnson

SF

Arizona

Call me crazy, but I think that Stanley Johnson will be the first small forward taken off the board. Sorry, Justice Winslow. There is something about Johnson’s game that intrigues me. For one, he is already built for the NBA, measuring in at about 6’8 240. To put it in perspective, LeBron James is measured at 6’8 250. Do I really think that he’s one of the top 5 prospects in this draft? No. but once a team comes calling for a small forward, they’ll go to him. His predicted rise isn’t more about him, rather the question marks that Justice Winslow brings to the table. Though he would only move up a couple of spots, where he is moving up allows him to be a “riser” in this article. He could go in and automatically improve any team’s defense. His physical tools will also make him an immediate contributor on the offensive end even though he isn’t a finished product quite yet.

Faller

Dakari Johnson

C

Kentucky

The lone projected 2nd round pick on this list is the big man from Kentucky. Dakari Johnson is a projected early 2nd round pick, but I think that’s much too generous. He barely played at all this year once Kentucky abandoned the platoon system, and we saw his weaknesses exposed against Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. He is probably one of the least athletic players in this year’s draft, and Jerian Grant and the Fighting Irish used that to their advantage. He was completely exposed in pick and roll situations due to his lack of explosiveness. The NBA today is almost exclusively pick and roll, and the second he were to get subbed in the opposing team would attack him. I can see him potentially going undrafted. All he brings to the table is his size, where he is listed at 6’11 260, even that isn’t all that impressive for an NBA center. The best comparison I can draw to him is a poor man’s Roy Hibbert. An even more offensively challenged, shorter, less athletic Roy Hibbert. I’m not sure if there are too many NBA teams willing to waste a draft pick on that.

There you have it. My predictions on this year’s risers and fallers in the NBA draft. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends or colleagues. Hopefully they’ll like it, but they’ll probably call me an idiot for having a different opinion than those guys on ESPN.

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