By: Mike Bonomo and Chinmay Vaidya, KCOU Sports
The 2015 NBA Draft is on Thursday and this draft class is extremely talented in both frontcourt positions. Mike Bonomo and Chinmay Vaidya break down the best centers in this class.
Bonomo: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
Vaidya: Karl-Anthony Towns
MB: Your number one pick, ladies and gentlemen. He’s got a ton of skill and can truly score from all over. He’s phenomenal around the rim, and his range extends to every area of the floor. A team can really use him in whatever style fits their personnel the best. Whether you want to keep feeding him in the post or use him to space the floor a bit he can do it reliably. There are some questions about exactly how good of a defender he will be, but he will be average if not better. He’s a potential superstar.
CV: Karl Towns is a star in the making. He can do it all. I was on the fence between Okafor and Towns until I saw the video of Towns draining threes. That sealed it for me. Towns can run the floor, play strong defense and wear people out in the post. He can hit free throws at a high rate and can develop a solid inside-outside offensive game. Even if he busts, his defensive ability is valuable.
Bonomo: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Vaidya: Jahlil Okafor
MB: I really wanted to put Okafor number one. I’ve been following him since he played in high school at Whitney Young in Chicago, but Towns did more than enough to jump over him. There’s actually a little bit of bust potential with Okafor, though I don’t expect it. He really needs to improve defensively, because right now he’s an awful defender. He’ll get killed in the pick-and-roll and needs to get in better shape. His free throw shooting will be a big problem too. However, teams are starting to forget why he was so highly touted in the first place. He’s already so polished in the post it’s incredible. His footwork is impeccable and he can score in just about any way around the basket. He’s a very smart passer from the post and stays remarkably calm when double-teamed. Everyone talks about the league going small, but there’s value to having a guy who truly can have his way in the post. Al Jefferson has shown that and I expect Okafor to as well.
CV: I wanted to see Okafor go up against Towns. Okafor was never really challenged in the post this season and I don’t know if he can score in the NBA as easily as he did at Duke. His offensive game is amazing and he will eventually get the hang of playing defense. I really like his ability to maneuver in the post and hit that midrange bank shot. His free throw shooting has to get better or we will see “Hack-A-Jahlil” next year. He’s the second-best player in this draft.
Bonomo: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Vaidya: Willie Cauley-Stein
MB: Willie Trill is a guy who I’m really excited to see at the next level. He’s listed at 7’ 1” and can guard every position on the court if needed. His athleticism is off the charts and he could be the best defender in the league. He needs to polish his offensive game but it shouldn’t hold him back. Some teams seem to be worried about his mental makeup and how much he really loves the game. He’s still a sure top-10 pick.
CV: You’d be surprised if I told you that a top-10 pick in the NBA draft can’t score for his life. Meet Willie Cauley-Stein. He has almost zero offensive game and there isn’t any sign of him getting it soon. However, he is blessed with defensive versatility and speed. WCS can guard any position on the court and run the floor in fast break situations. In my eyes, he is the 7’ 1” version of Dennis Rodman.
Bonomo: Dakari Johnson, Kentucky
Vaidya: Robert Upshaw, Washington
MB: I’m much higher on Johnson than most. I don’t expect him to ever be a star, but he should be a useful player right away, and for a long time. He has an NBA body already and is a good rebounder. He has an okay midrange shot and is a smart passer. He’s not much of an athlete and needs to work on his post moves, but I can’t see him being worse than a good backup big man.
CV: Upshaw has problems off the court. He’s been dismissed from two teams and there are some red flags about his work ethic. There is talent there and Upshaw’s teams were better with him on the floor. He’s a defensive anchor and his offensive game is developing slowly. Some team will take a chance on him in the late first round.
Bonomo: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Vaidya: Frank Kaminsky
MB: I want to like Kaminsky so bad, but it’s hard for me to see him being very successful at the next level. He’s got the height and is one of the better jump shooters in this class, and in the right system can be a very good starter. But if a team misuses him he’ll really struggle. He’s not a good defender and is pretty skinny. Good post players will take advantage of him defensively and I’m not sure how his success in the post offensively in college will translate. He’s a risky pick, but he’s got more upside than most mid to late first rounders.
CV: Kaminsky fits more at the power forward position in my eyes. He can shoot from range and has solid post moves. However, his frame isn’t going to hold up in the post on the defensive end. I could see him succeeding on a team that loves shooting and spreads the floor well. The Hawks and Suns come to mind.