By Chris Emma–
(CBS) The draft order is set, the NBA suits are ready, the next crop of talent awaits its big moment and we are all left clueless as to what will really happen.
Let’s be real here, the NBA Draft is a crapshoot. So much randomness has happened in the past, and plenty will ensue after commissioner Adam Silver steps to the podium on Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Sure, there are a few certainties. Karl-Anthony Towns looks to be going first to Minnesota. Jahlil Okafor, the Chicago native, appears off to the Lakers with the second pick, and Ohio State star D’Angelo Russell looks to be the third selection, off to Philadelphia. But the rest is just fun and speculation.
Of course, the ultimate form of speculation comes in the form of a mock draft. So, here we go.
Note: This format doesn’t include the likely event of trades.
1.) Minnesota Timberwolves: PF/C Karl Anthony Towns, Kentucky — Imagine this 6-foot-11 body working as a monster NBA power forward or athletic center. Towns will be a monster in the next level.
2.) Los Angeles Lakers: C Jahlil Okafor, Duke — It was quite evident at Duke that Okafor was as polished of an NBA prospect offensively as you could find at the college level, though some wonder about his lack of elite athleticism.
3.) Philadelphia 76ers: G D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State — The playmaking Russell has star potential in the NBA.
4.) New York Knicks: F Kristaps Porzingis, Sevilla — The big, lanky forward is bound to be the best Kristaps in NBA history.
5.) Orlando Magic: SF Justise Winslow, Duke — Somehow, Winslow went under the radar as a one-and-done star on Duke’s title team. He has star potential.
6.) Sacramento Kings: PG Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Southern Tigers (China) — After skipping college and taking the unconventional route to the NBA, Mudiay is ready for the spotlight.
7.) Denver Nuggets: SG Devin Booker, Kentucky — While Booker is raw, he has high upside in the NBA, and he’s still 18.
8.) Detroit Pistons: SG Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona (Spain) — An athletic 6-foot-8 guard would work well for Stan Van Gundy’s group.
9.) Charlotte Hornets: SF Sam Dekker, Wisconsin — While Dekker is considered a wild card, Michael Jordan loves his wild cards.
10.) Miami Heat: C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky — How about three Kentucky players in the top 10?
11.) Indiana Pacers: PF/C Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin — The National Player of the Year will be fascinating to follow in the NBA and would fit well in Indianapolis.
12.) Utah Jazz: C Myles Turner, Texas — The big man could make a big mark in Salt Lake City.
13.) Phoenix Suns: PF Trey Lyles, Kentucky — Death, taxes and John Calipari putting Wildcats into the lottery.
14.) Oklahoma City Thunder: SG R.J. Hunter — The feel-good story of the NCAA Tournament is a real NBA prospect.
15.) Atlanta Hawks: F Stanley Johnson, Arizona — A strong defender, Johnson would be an ideal fit for the Hawks.
16.) Boston Celtics: PF Bobby Portis, Arkansas — The Celtics need an impact big, and the Razorback star fills that void.
17.) Milwaukee Bucks: PG Cameron Payne, Murray State — The Racer fits well with the Bucks’ athletically gifted core of young talent.
18.) Houston Rockets: G/F Kelly Oubre, Kansas — A raw talent from Lawrence would work well with Kevin McHale.
19.) Washington Wizards: G Jerian Grant, Notre Dame — Grant would be a great role player to complement John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt.
20.) Toronto Raptors: C Arturas Gudaitis, Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania) — The Raptors have a history of taking little-known international players earlier than anticipated, so how about one Arturas Gudaitis?
21.) Dallas Mavericks: PG Tyus Jones, Duke — Another member of the Blue Devils’ championship team goes off the board.
22.) Chicago Bulls: SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona — A great defender who can run the floor, the Bulls could do well with Hollis-Jefferson at 22nd overall.
23.) Portland Trail Blazers: SF/PF Jarell Martin, LSU — A solid defender and versatile forward, Martin’s a great fit for the Trail Blazers.
24.) Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Kevon Looney, UCLA — GM LeBron James will love the standout from UCLA who’s a physical presence.
25) Memphis Grizzlies: F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville — With Zach Randolph aging, Harrell could take a year or two of grooming before becoming a key player in Memphis.
26.) San Antonio Spurs: SF Justin Anderson — Could you imagine what Gregg Popovich would do with the defensive ace and capable shooter?
27.) Los Angeles Lakers: PG Delon Wright, Utah — Wright’s a lanky point guard who’s a top-notch defender, and the Lakers could really use help on D.
28.) Boston Celtics: SF Anthony Brown, Stanford — The Celtics can add depth with their second pick.
29.) Brooklyn Nets: PF Cliff Alexander, Kansas — Low-risk, high-upside, Alexander could be a total steal or a complete bust.
30.) Golden State Warriors: PF Chris McCullough, Syracuse — He’s known for creating defensive havoc, though he suffered an ACL injury in January.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.