Chad Ford Big Board 12.0
Could D'Angelo Russell's rise make Okafor slide on draft night?
The NBA draft is just one day away. Teams are now finalizing their big boards in preparation for Thursday night. Here's our final Big Board for the 2015 NBA draft.
Remember, these rankings aren't based on my opinion. They are based on talking with numerous NBA GMs and scouts. Obviously, each team has its own rankings and they'll differ from these. However, here's a consensus of what the NBA as a whole thinks.
Note: After you get past pick No. 8, this board gets pretty wacky. Keep in mind that consensus is used very lightly from that point on. Teams are all over the place on those 10 to 15 players. Some love them, some hate them. Everyone is essentially lumped together.
Towns began the season on Big Board 1.0 at No. 3 and ends it at No. 1. Of the 30 teams I spoke with, 29 had him No. 1. In July, concerns about his low-post ability and potential playing time issues (with Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson already on the roster) hurt his stock a little. One year later he's the most complete prospect in the draft. He has John Calipari to thank for some of that. Calipari insisted he put away his jump shot and learn how to play like a big man on both ends. He also has his teammates, against whom he had to bang every day in practice, to thank.
Towns isn't perfect now, but he's close. He can score in the paint and on the perimeter. He can protect the rim and rebound. He shoots free throws like a guard. And he's a great kid and proven worker. He needs to continue to add toughness and polish onto his overall game, but with so few weaknesses and so much upside, Towns looks like a potential superstar. He'll go either No. 1 to the Wolves or No. 2 to the Lakers.
Russell didn't crack our Big Board until early December when he debuted at No. 10 after getting off to a red-hot start at Ohio State. In February he climbed up to No. 3 and two weeks ago he overtook Jahlil Okafor for No. 2. Russell's meteoric rise was based on a terrific season in which he proved to be both an elite shooter and passer. But his stock was also given a huge boost by the strong play of guards like Steph Curry and James Harden in the NBA. Scouts saw some of them in him, and in a league that follows trends carefully, he became the "it" guard in this draft.
With strong analytics scores to back up his lofty position, there are scouts who openly wonder whether, in five years, he'll be the best player in this draft. Russell will likely go either No. 2 to the Lakers, No. 3 to the Sixers or No. 4 to the Knicks. There's a chance he could go No. 1 to the Wolves (they are seriously exploring that option), but it's a long shot.