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Here’s a quick video roundup of all 30 picks in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft, which took place Thursday night:

Magic draft Mario Hezonja 5th overall

The Orlando Magic selected guard/forward Mario Hezonja (HEH-zone-yuh) in the first round (fifth overall) of NBA Draft 2015.

Hezonja (6’8”, 218, 2/25/95) has spent the last two seasons playing in the Spanish ACB league with FC Barcelona. Last season (2014-15), he appeared in 31 regular season games, averaging 4.7 ppg., 1.9 rpg. and 1.3 apg. in 14.7 minpg., while shooting .392 (29-74) from three-point range. Hezonja also played in 22 Euroleague contests, averaging 7.7 ppg. and 2.0 rpg. in 16.5 minpg., while shooting .382 (29-76) from three-point range.

Before joining FC Barcelona in 2012-13, Hezonja spent four seasons playing in Croatia. He was a member of the Croatian Senior National Team that participated in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. While with the Junior Team, Hezonja helped Croatia win the gold medal at the 2012 U17 Worlds and bronze at both the 2011 U16 Euros and 2011 U19 Worlds. He was named MVP at the 2011 U16 Euros, averaging 20.0 ppg. and 8.2 rpg.

Knicks draft Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson announced today that with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft, the team has drafted forward Kristaps Porzingis from Latvia.

Porzingis, 7-3, 233 pounds, was an early entry candidate who had played professionally for Cajasol Seville in Spain over the past three seasons. In 75 career ACB games, the 19-year-old averaged 8.1 points, and also added a 9.9 points-per-game average in Eurocup play.

“We could not pass on Kristaps,” Jackson said. “He has eye-opening talent and is ready for the challenge to play in New York City. He can contribute for us this season.”

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has traded the draft rights to Branden Dawson to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for cash considerations.

Dawson, 6-6, 225, was the 56th overall selection by New Orleans in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Michigan State product was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team and Second-Team All-Big Ten as a Senior, averaging 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds during the campaign.

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have selected Justise Winslow in the first round (10th overall) and Josh Richardson in the second round (40th overall) in the 2015 NBA Draft.

“Today was a great day for the Miami HEAT as we move forward in retooling the team and being able to draft Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson,” said HEAT President Pat Riley. “They are two very young gifted players. They can play multiple positions and we feel very fortunate to have them. It’s not only a great day for us, but also for HEAT Nation.”

Winslow, who helped Duke to the 2015 NCAA Championship as a freshman, appeared in 39 games (all starts) for the Blue Devils and averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.33 steals and 29.1 minutes while shooting 48.6 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from three-point range and 64.1 percent from the foul line. He was selected to the All-ACC Freshman Team and the USBWA All-District II Team. He was the third-highest scoring freshman in the ACC and capped the season with the second-most double-figure scoring efforts (31) and the second-highest rebound average by a freshman in the conference. He posted seven double-doubles and finished second on the team in rebounds (252), steals (52), blocks (34) and free throws made (100) while placing third in points (492), assists (82) and three-point field goals made (46). Additionally, during the NCAA tournament, he outperformed each of his statistical categories from the regular season as he started all six games and averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.67 blocks and 1.50 steals while shooting 50.9 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from three-point range and 75.9 percent from the foul line.

Richardson, who played all four seasons at Tennessee, appeared in 136 career games (110 starts) for the Volunteers and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.08 steals and 28.2 minutes while shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from three-point range and 75.8 percent from the foul line. Finished his career ranking third in school history in games played, ninth in minutes (3,802), ninth in starts, 10th in steals (147), 16th in blocks (88) and 28th in points (1,252). As a senior, he appeared in 32 games (all starts) and averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.09 steals and 36.3 minutes while shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from three-point range and 79.8 percent from the foul line. Among the accolades he collected during his senior season, Johnson was named to the Associated Press and Coaches All-SEC First Teams, the SEC All-Defensive Team and the Defensive All-American Team. He was also selected to the SEC Community Service Team.

Thunder land Cameron Payne in Draft

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected guard Cameron Payne with the 14th pick and center Dakari Johnson with the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, it was announced by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Payne (6-2,180) appeared in 69 games in two seasons at Murray State, averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.81 steals in 32.4 minutes per game. As a sophomore, Payne was named the Lute Olson Player of the Year, an award given to the top NCAA Player with at least two seasons of experience after leading the Racers to a 29-6 season, which included an Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) regular-season championship and a pair of wins in the National Invitational Tournament.

During his sophomore season, the guard led the Racers to a 25-game winning streak (second longest in the nation) while averaging 20.2 points (13th in NCAA), 6.0 assists (15th in NCAA), 1.94 steals and 32.2 minutes in 35 games. He was named OVC MVP and Honorable Mention AP All-America. The Memphis, Tenn. native, appeared in 34 games as a freshman, averaging 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 1.68 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He was named All-OVC First Team, OVC Freshman of the Year and earned an MSU record nine OVC Freshman of the Week awards.

Johnson (7-0, 255), who helped Kentucky reach two consecutive Final Fours, appeared in 78 games during his two-year career in Lexington, averaging 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game. As a sophomore, the center helped UK to a 38-1 record including both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament crowns, after averaging 6.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 16.3 minutes in 39 contests.

The Brooklyn, NY product, played in 39 games as a freshman averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game. He tallied 10 points and seven rebounds to help UK get past Wisconsin in the 2014 National Semifinal.

Nuggets draft Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall

The Denver Nuggets selected guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Mudiay, 6-5, 200, was an early entry candidate and spent the 2014-15 season in China playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In 12 games, he posted averages of 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.60 steals in 31.5 minutes per game.

“We couldn’t be happier that Emmanuel was there for us at number seven and we are thrilled to welcome him to Denver as the newest member of the Denver Nuggets” General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said.

Originally from Kinshasa, the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo and also the city that produced former Nuggets great Dikembe Mutombo.
Mudiay attended Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, Texas where he led the team to a 30-6 record as a high school senior in 2014. After his senior season, Mudiay was ranked the number two overall player by Rivals and Scout and number five by ESPN. He was selected to the Parade and USA Today All-American First teams. He was also selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game, the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game and played alongside Nuggets 2014 second round draft pick (41st overall) Nikola Jokic at the Nike Hoop Summit.

Celtics 2015 Draft results

The Boston Celtics selected guards Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, forward Jordan Mickey and guard Marcus Thornton in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Rozier, a 6’1” sophomore guard, was selected with the 16th overall pick. He ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring and was selected to the Second Team All-ACC. Rozier was also named to the ACC All-Rookie Team as a freshman. Rozier was named one of 17 watch list finalists for the 2015 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award and a Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 candidate for the nation’s top player.

Hunter, a 6’6” junior guard, was selected with the 28th overall pick. He was a two-time AP All-American Honorable Mention. Hunter was the first player in school history to earn conference player of the year honors twice and three straight First-Team All-Conference honors. In just three seasons, he became Georgia State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,799 points, while also topping career lists for three-pointers made, three-point attempts, free throw percentage, free throws made and free throw attempts.

Mickey, a 6’8” sophomore forward, was selected with the 33rd overall pick. He led the NCAA D-I in blocks per game (3.64) and led the SEC in rebounding (9.9 rpg), while being selected First-Team All-SEC by the coaches and media. Other than Shaquille O’Neal, he was the only player in LSU history to block more than 100 shots in a season (106 in 2014, 113 in 2015).

Thornton, a 6’4” senior guard, was selected with the 45th overall pick. He was the CAA Player of the Year and AP Honorable Mention All-American. Thornton finished as William & Mary’s career leader in points (2,178), three-pointers (325), games played (127), three-pointers made per game (2.56), minutes played (4,328) and minutes per game (34.1).

Sixers 2015 draft results

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today the team has selected the following players in the 2015 NBA Draft: Jahlil Okafor with the 3rd overall pick, Richaun Holmes with the 37th overall pick, Arturas Gudaitis with the 47th overall pick, J.P. Tokoto with the 58th overall pick and Luka Mitrovic with the 60th overall pick. Additionally, the Sixers acquired the rights to the New York Knicks two future second round picks in exchange for the rights to the 35th pick.

The 6′11″, 272 pound Okafor was an early entry candidate for the NBA Draft following a standout freshman season at Duke, during which he helped lead the Blue Devils to a 35-4 mark and the NCAA Championship. The 19-year-old Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks, and was selected as a consensus First Team All-American. Additionally, he was named the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and the USBWA 2015 National Freshman of the year, while also being selected as a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith National Player of the Year awards. Okafor is also a three-time gold medal winner while playing for Team USA during the 2011 Under 16 FIBA Americas, the 2012 Under 17 World Championships and the 2013 Under 19 World Championships.

Holmes was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year for Bowling Green after the 2014-15 season, in addition to a First Team All-MAC selection. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a senior and recorded 244 career blocks to top the Falcons’ all-time list.

Gudaitis played for Zalgiris in Lithuania’s LKL league in 2014-15, where he averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 57 total games, which included 21 starts. The 6’10” forward has spent the past three seasons in the Zalgiris organization.

Tokoto spent three seasons at North Carolina, where he averaged 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as a junior in 2014-15. The 6-foot-6 wing was selected First Team All-ACC Defensive Team for two consecutive seasons.

Mitrovic averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Crvena Zvezda during the 2014-15 season, where the team won the Adriatic ABA League title. The 6-foot-8 forward spent three seasons with Crvena Zvezda, where he played in 75 games in 2014-15, which included 60 starts.

Several NBA Draft-night Hawks trades

Several NBA Draft-night Hawks trades

Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting on some Atlanta Hawks trades agreed to during the 2015 NBA Draft:

The Hawks made two draft-night trades – and ended up with NBA player Tim Hardaway Jr. Thursday night.

The Hawks made their No. 15 overall pick in the first round of Kelly Oubre. The freshman small forward from Kansas won’t play in Atlanta. The Hawks sent Oubre to the Wizards for the No. 19 pick and two future second-round picks.

Twenty minutes later the Wizards picked Jerian Grant for the Hawks, who sent the point guard from Notre Dame to the Knicks for Hardaway.

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the 2015 NBA Draft:

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

The 76ers took the best available player, who just happens to be another towering post player.

The team selected Duke center Jahlil Okafor with the third pick in the NBA draft Thursday night at the Barclays Center at Brooklyn.

The Sixers were expected to take Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell in that spot. But they settled on Okafor after Russell went second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Okafor is a 7-foot, 275-pound man-child with an imposing presence on the blocks.

Timberwolves select Karl-Anthony Towns first in 2015 NBA Draft

The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight selected forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky with the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Towns, a 6-11 forward/center, averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.26 blocks and 21.1 minutes in 39 games (all starts) for the Wildcats this past season and was named SEC Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SEC. He shot 56.6 percent from the field, 81.3 percent from the free-throw line and recorded a team-best eight double-doubles. Towns was a Consensus Second Team All-American and was named NCAA Midwest Region Most Valuable Player after leading Kentucky to the Final Four. He scored a career-high 25 points, on 10-of-13 shooting, to lead the Wildcats past Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

A native of Piscataway, New Jersey, Towns was a three time first-team All-State selection while playing for St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. He was named Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year in 2014 after averaging 20.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 blocks and leading St. Joseph to a 30-2 record and a state title. Towns shot 66.1 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the free-throw line as a senior. He made 127 three pointers over his three-year high school career.

The 19-year-old Towns has been a member of the Dominican Republic National Team since 2012 and averaged 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in FIBA play.

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoting Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on the value of top NBA draft prospect Karl-Anthony Towns:

karl-anthony towns

Most expect the Wolves to take Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick. And while Flip wasn’t saying who he’s taking, he did extol Towns’ virtues when asked about the Kentucky center.

Here’s what he had to say when asked about Towns’ best attributes: “Everyone talks about his versatility,” Saunders said. “He’s known right now [as] more of a defensive player. He’s very much underrated offensively, I think, because of playing [in Kentucky coach John Calipari’s] situation. By far, he’s the best pick-and-roll defensive big man in the draft. If you base things on it analytically, he’s the top analytical player, everything he’s done, on a per-minute basis. There’s a reason that people are looking at him as being one of the top players in the draft.’’

These are the players invited to the 2015 NBA draft “Green Room.” The NBA invites players to attend the event that are expected to be selected fairly high up in the draft. There are always exceptions, surprises and disappointments, no matter which means are or are not listed.

· Devin Booker (Kentucky)
· Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
· Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
· Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
· Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona)
· Stanley Johnson (Arizona)
· Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
· Kevon Looney (UCLA)
· Trey Lyles (Kentucky)
· Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of Congo)
· Jahlil Okafor (Duke)
· Kelly Oubre, Jr. (Kansas)
· Cameron Payne (Murray State)
· Bobby Portis (Arkansas)
· Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)
· D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State)
· Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
· Myles Turner (Texas)
· Justise Winslow (Duke)

Hawks face uncertainty as NBA draft approaches

Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution painting a picture of the Atlanta Hawks’ situation as both the NBA Draft and free agency approach:

The Hawks will enter the NBA draft not knowing if they will have two, one or zero gaping holes on their roster.

It’s not an enviable position.

The draft is Thursday, and six days later comes the start of free agency. Two-fifths of the Hawks’ starting lineup — DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap — will hit the open market and are free to sign with any team. Both could be gone. One or the other could depart. Both could return.

Drafting for need is illogical. The prevailing alternative would be to draft the best available player. Not necessarily.

“We do our best to separate the draft from free agency,” assistant general manager Wes Wilcox said. “Certainly, they are connected. Our focus in every draft is to identify the best player who fits us. There is the long-standing debate over drafting the best player versus drafting for a position of need. It’s certainly something we all juggle. We’ve become comfortable with being guided by what we call our draft objective, which remains the same every year, we want to draft a guy who fits without our culture, fits (coach Mike Budenholzer) and his system and can add to and become a piece of our core.”

Lakers draft workouts continue

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News blog reporting the latest on Lakers NBA Draft workouts:

Only two hours earlier, the Lakers worked out a prized prospect that might pave the way for a once storied franchise to return to prosperity.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the Lakers worked out a player that might not even become available in the NBA Draft.

Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor intrigued the Lakers as a possible No. 2 pick with his size, post play and eagerness to wear purple and gold. Murray State sophomore guard Cameron Payne intrigued the Lakers as a possible prospect should they somehow climb up in the NBA draft after their No. 2 pick and before their 27th and 34th selections.

Willie Cauley-Stein as confident as anyone in 2015 NBA Draft

Here’s the Denver Post reporting on a high-rated prospect in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft:

Among the tattoos on the right side of Willie Cauley-Stein’s neck is one famous phrase.

Hakuna Matata.

No worries.

It’s a large part of how he views the pre-draft process.

“I see myself as the No. 1 player in the draft, but it is what it is,” said the 7-foot, 240-pound former Kentucky standout. “You can just take it day-by-day, put in the work and the draft is going to be the outcome of whatever the draft is.”

Is he mad at not being mentioned in the same breath with former Wildcats teammate Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke star Jalil Okafor, the first two players expected to be chosen.

“You can’t get mad about it,” he said. “You just gotta work for it.”

Pistons draft workouts continue

Here’s the Detroit Free Press reporting on some Pistons draft workouts:

J.P. Tokoto and Rakeem Christmas have a few things in common.

Both are considered second-round prospects for the upcoming NBA draft that could sneak into the bottom of the first round. Both performed well in 5-on-5 during last month’s NBA draft combine in Chicago.

And both were at the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility this morning for a pre-draft workout.

They were joined by Virginia power forward Darion Atkins, UNC-Charlotte point guard Pierria Henry, William & Mary point guard Marcus Thornton and Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington.

Knicks to work out Willie Cauley-Stein

Knicks to reportedly work out center Willie Cauley-Stein

With the NBA Draft coming later this month, much of the fun will be to analyze how important it is that certain teams worked out certain players. Some workouts suggest teams may consider trading up or down, or sending their pick away altogether. Or shocking the world by drafting someone at a completely unexpected spot. Anyway, here’s ESPN NY reporting on the Knicks:

The New York Knicks will host Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein for a workout on June 16, a league source confirmed.

The Knicks have the fourth pick in the draft.

Most draft observers project Cauley-Stein to be taken outside of the top four picks.

The Knicks could go against popular sentiment and take Cauley-Stein with the fourth pick or they could trade for a lower first-round pick and select Cauley-Stein there.

Pondering some Suns draft prospects

Pondering some Suns draft prospects

It’s extremely hard to predict which exact players will get drafted by which exact teams, but knowing which players actually did work out for a team prior to the draft can provide a clue. Here’s the Arizona Republic pondering some Phoenix Suns draft possibilities:

There is the NBA trend of “stretch fours,” the tall power forward who can shoot 3-pointers proficiently to drag a big man out of the paint and create space for an offense.

The next level of that trend is to have a “stretch four” who also is a playmaker for when defenses chase him off the line.

Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker and Arizona’s Brandon Ashley are June 25 draft candidates for that job, and they participated in Wednesday’s Suns pre-draft workout. The Suns could consider Dekker at No. 13 and Ashley at No. 44, although he holds out hope to be a first-rounder.

As Ashley knows all too well from an Elite Eight meeting, Dekker showed the athleticism and shooting to be that type of player during the NCAA tournament. Dekker’s stock bolted to lottery range once the 6-foot-9 junior turned aggressive for a 19.2 tourney scoring average with 42 percent 3-point shooting.

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