OAKLAND –- The lottery picks are in and there are a few surprises, notably with the choice made by the Lakers at No. 2 overall.
1) Timberwolves select center/forward Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky.
This was the obvious choice here and the 7-footer happens to be a good fit for the Timberwolves. This decision was made weeks ago, and it’s the right one for a team in need of a mobile with a comprehensive offense game.
Projection: Pau Gasol.
2) Lakers select 6-5 point guard D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State.
Los Angeles has found its next leader. By resisting the option of Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers made an immediate statement, indicating confidence they’ll find a big man via trade (DeMarcus Cousins) or free agency (LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love).
Projection: Deron Williams (in his youth).
3) 76ers select 6-11 center/forward Jahlil Okafor of Duke.
He was the best prospect available, but creates a logjam of big men in Philly. This will make a lot more sense when someone – Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel or Okafor – is moved. If this is insurance in case Embiid’s feet never heal, it’s expensive.
Projection: Zach Randolph.
4) Knicks select forward Kristaps Porzingas of Latvia.
Those who have seen this kid fall in love with his skills and desire. He can do a bit of everything, and delivers at both ends. He’s 7 feet but weighs only 220, so he’ll need to gulp down a lot of protein shakes.
Projection: Kevin Garnett (poor man’s version).
5) Magic chooses 6-8 small forward Mario Herzonja of Croatia.
I’m looking forward to seeing this kid, dubbed by some as the “Croatian Klay Thompson.” The scouting report says his offensive repertoire is extraordinary, his confidence off the charts.
Projection: Chandler Parsons.
6) Kings select center Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky.
Sacramento undoubtedly would have the best center in the league if it could combine this 7-footer’s defense with the offense of DeMarcus Cousins. Cauley-Stein has to be a beast on D, because he’s a very limited offensive player.
Projection: Larry Sanders.
7) Nuggets select 6-5 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay of China.
Denver is rebuilding, and this is its replacement for the soon-to-be-dealt Ty Lawson. Since Mudiay is only 19 years old, he’ll need some time to develop. He immediately becomes the best pure point guard to play under Michael Malone as a head coach.
Projection: Tyreke Evans.
8) Pistons select 6-7 small forward Stanley Johnson of Arizona.
The one-and-done stud was a man among boys in leading Mater Dei High in Santa Ana to a state championship in 2014. He has a nice handle, terrific vision and a nice blend of strength and finesse.
Projection: Metta World Peace (without the, um, offbeat persona).
9) Hornets select 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin.
Some doubt whether Frank the Tank can make it in the NBA. I don’t. He may not be a star, but he’ll be a quality player for a long time. His footwork and savvy will present opportunities to score. I’ll take him over Spencer Hawes or Jordan Hill right now.
Projection: Ryan Anderson.
10) Heat selects shooting guard/small forward Justise Winslow of Duke.
Originally projected to go higher, but rumors are that he wasn’t very impressive in workouts. Never mind. He’s a keeper because he does many things well. At 6-6, 225 Winslow is strong, crafty, smart and fearless. He embraces the big moment.
Projection: Joe Johnson.
11) Pacers select 6-11 forward/center Myles Turner of Texas.
With David West opting out, Indy pursues taller and more athletic potential replacement. Turner is a one-and-done player whose motor is unquestioned. He’ll defend, block shots and do his share of scoring.
Projection: Serge Ibaka.
12) Jazz select 6-10 power forward Trey Lyles of Kentucky.
Another one-and-done Wildcat, Lyles showed well in the NCAA Tournament. He’s not an exceptional athlete but he’s solid all the way across the board, and makes good use of his 7-4 wingspan. Better on offense than on defense.
Projection: Derrick Favors.
13) Suns select 6-6 shooting guard Devin Booker of Kentucky.
The list of one-and-done Wildcats never ends. Booker may be the best pure shooter in the draft and is deadly from deep. Performing mostly as the sixth man for Kentucky, he quickly proved himself ready for the next level.
Projection: Klay Thompson.
14) Thunder selects 6-2 point guard Cameron Payne of Murray State.
This will allow OKC to begin the process of giving Russell Westbrook a few more minutes off the ball. Payne is quick and decisive, a natural leader who qualifies as a sleeper pick in a draft with plenty of big names from big schools.
Projection: Jeff Teague.