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2015 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

A look at who made the best and worst trades and picks on Thursday night's draft. I thought this was actually a very good draft for a lot of teams, and few made really bad decisions, but mistakes were definitely made.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, all opinions on draft prospects are just opinions. I love Rondae Hollis Jefferson as a player. Love. Some don't, which is why he was drafted at 23. But I do, and my rankings come from that.

Draft Winners

Minnesota Timberwolves: Flip Saunders made the obvious pick at number 1 with Karl Anthony Towns, but it was still correct, and gives them a defensive stud at center for years to come. His really good move came when he traded the 31 and 36 picks to Cleveland for Tyus Jones at 24, however. Jones is small and not very athletic, but he can run an offense, and will be a huge breath of fresh air as a backup point guard for Ricky Rubio after suffering through Zach LaVine last year. He will also be a solid stop gap starter for the inevitable Rubio injury.

Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay was the top high school prospect a year ago, and as recently as a couple weeks ago was being considered at the 2nd or 3rd pick. For the Nuggets to get him at 7 is a huge coup, as he should start at point guard for them right away. This does mean Ty Lawson is on the move, but Mudiay is a good start to the Nuggets rebuild. He is athletic and a good playmaker, comparable to Tyreke Evans or a lesser John Wall.

Miami Heat: While the drop is unfortunate for Winslow, the Heat came away lucky, as he is a terrific defender and all-around player who will help Miami make playoff runs right away. He is a good backup at the 2 or 3, and can play on the defensive end as soon as he enters the league. Winslow has the potential to be an All Defense level player in a few years, but can attack the basket and does the little things as well. Getting him at 10 is tremendous value.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder shipped out Reggie Jackson last year, and needed a replacement at backup PG. Payne will be a solid lead guard in the NBA, capable of running the offense, hitting 3s off the dribble, and playing at least competent defense. He will probably not be a mid-major star like Damian Lillard or Steph Curry, but will help out the Thunder next year, and is insurance in case Westbrook leaves in a couple years. Dakari Johnson at 48 was also a solid pick for yet another athletic big man who can rebound, set screens, and foul hard.

Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri somehow got a future 1st rounder (the Clippers pick in 2017 actually) plus the 46 pick in this draft for Greivis Vazquez, and then picked Delon Wright at 20. Vazquez is probably not worth a 1st rounder at all, much less an additional second rounder thrown in, and Wright should be able to step into his shoes as backup PG in Toronto right away. Wright is old for a rookie, but he is an incredible defender at PG, can pass the ball, and is strong going to the hoop. His shooting is a work in progress, but if he can improve on that, he will be a very viable replacement for Kyle Lowry in a couple years. Possibly my favorite draft as a whole.

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets dumped Mason Plumlee and their 2nd round draft pick Pat Connaughton for Rondae Hollis Jefferson and Steve Blake. Hollis Jefferson is one of my favorite prospects in the draft as an incredible perimeter defender who can guard positions 1-4 and is an explosive athlete. He might not have much of an offensive game, but he fits in great next to Deron Williams and Joe Johnson next year as an off ball player who does the little things. He should be a staple in All Defense conversations for years to come. Plumlee is a fine backup center, but he doesn't have much upside, is already 26, and is two years through his rookie deal. They then selected Chris McCullough at 29, a big man who would have gone much higher if he weren't sitting out next year with a torn ACL. Brooklyn finally appears to be looking towards the future.

Golden State Warriors: Drafting Kevon Looney at 30 was a steal. While Looney is a boom or bust candidate, he was predicted in the top 10 as recently as a couple months ago, and has huge upside. He can rebound, he can shoot, and has defensive potential. Whether he pans out or not, he was a great value pick that late in the first round.

Indiana Pacers: At 11 the Pacers selected Myles Turner, their Roy Hibbert replacement. After years of struggling with lack of offense from their center position, the Pacers selected a boom or bust big man who has a large tool set, but runs oddly and has fringy athleticism. If he is able to correct his movement, it might make him a quicker and more decisive player, and unleash his potential. In the 2nd round Indiana nabbed Joseph Young, who will take the place of Rodney Stuckey as a combo guard off the bench, though Young is more in the Lou Williams mold.


New York Knicks: I don't hate Kristaps Porzingis as a prospect, but he is an odd fit with the Knicks, who have an aging Carmelo Anthony and need to compete while he is still a star player. If Phil Jackson really think that Porzingis was the top talent left on the board, then he was right to make the pick, but Emmanuel Mudiay and Justice Winslow were players who might have helped out the Knicks sooner and were on the same level as prospects. Finally, I just don't like Kristaps as much as some due to his poor rebounding, which is probable to carry over to the NBA. On the other hand, I love their move for Jerian Grant, one of my favorite prospects, especially for just Tim Hardaway JR.

Utah Jazz: While all of the first or second tier prospects were gone by the Jazz pick at 12, Trey Lyles was still not a very good pick for the Jazz in my book. With Gobert and Favors already dominating frontcourt minutes, taking a raw power forward prospect is a little weird. He isn't likely to help the Jazz make a playoff push this year, is blocked from a lot of minutes barring a trade, and there were better fitting or higher upside players on the board.

Boston Celtics: It is possible that the Celtics panicked when a player failed to drop to them, because Terry Rozier was a reach at 16, and a very confusing fit barring a future trade. Rozier is a solid enough player, a guy who should be a fine backup point guard, but there were better players on the board, and Boston already has Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and Avery Bradley at the 1 and 2 spots. Even at point guard I think Jerian Grant, Tyus Jones, and Delon Wright are better prospects by far. RJ Hunter was a superb pick at 28, but he doesn't offset the earlier misstep of Rozier.

Atlanta Hawks: Jerian Grant is a terrific scorer and playmaker who carried Notre Dame to a number 3 berth in the NCAA tournament this past year, and is worth a lot more than Tim Hardaway JR. Hardaway is terribly inefficient, not a good defender, and chucks shots up like there is no tomorrow. Not only that, but Grant comes in with two more years of control and is a more prolific overall player. The Hawks did gain two future 2nd round picks from their Wizards trade, but it wasn't enough to offset the Hardaway for Grant swap.

Portland Trailblazers: I had them as winners for drafting Rondae Hollis Jefferson at 23, but then they traded him and Steve Blake, a still acceptable backup point guard, for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton (41) from the Nets. "RHJ" is a terrific perimeter defender and athlete with upside, whereas Plumlee is a mediocre backup center with no real skills who is already 26. I like Connaughton, but this trade was not good for the Blazers.

Philadelphia 76ers: By all accounts, Philadelphia wanted D'Angelo Russell to fall to them. When he didn't, they selected Jahlil Okafor at 3, and while the center from Duke is a great prospect, Russell is a far better fit for the 76ers. This is because they already have two lottery big men and a couple other solid prospects on their roster, and the addition of Okafor means trades are coming. The rest of their draft was weak as well as they continued to draft big man after big man, with half of them being stashes who won't help their team. Basically, the tank continues.