While numerous college standouts are preparing to become professionals for the first time, it’s the international prospects that draw the most intrigue.
For over a decade, teams have been trying to land a player capable of providing the same impact as Dirk Nowitzki, a foreigner that managed to completely reshape the course of a franchise and carry the team to an NBA title.
The lure of the unknown has driven teams to draft from overseas early and often on draft night, as just a year ago, Dante Exum was selected with the fifth overall pick by Utah.
This season provides another promising point guard, with a bit of familiarity and a ton of uncertainty.
Point guard Emanuel Mudiay, the second ranked player in the high school class of 2014, was set to become the player to transform SMU into a relative collegiate program and learn under Larry Brown, a coach that propelled Detroit to the NBA title in 2004.
In an effort to support his family, Mudiay opted out of his commitment to SMU to play professionally in China, where he averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steal per game in 12 appearances with the Guangdong Tigers.
The 19-year-old possesses the combination of size, speed and agility that can make an impact at the next level, but accessing what he has accomplished is difficult since he spent the last year more than 7,000 miles away.
Few 6-foot-5 point guards come into the NBA with the ability to finish at the basket with both hands, post up smaller defenders and have the awareness to setup teammates for open looks.
Mudiay is set to transform a franchise in less than 48 hours, along with several others as the 2015 NBA Draft begins in Brooklyn Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.
A few outside factors have the potential to completely reshape the draft, as Sacramento continues to explore a deal involving All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, but considering the latest information, Shatter the Glass offers its mock draft just two days before the draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Karl-Anthony Towns
The versatility, all-around game and athleticism of Towns has made him impossible to pass up in Minnesota, and the team has already revealed his name will be called first by commissioner Adam Silver Thursday night. Towns is a 7-foot-1 center with the ability to post up, has a soft jump shot and the ability to protect the rim will make him the second Kentucky big man selected first overall in the past four seasons.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- Jahlil Okafor
The 2015 NBA Finals was basically a showcase of the decline of post play. Okafor is capable of resurrecting the art of scoring with the back to the basket, as he was simply dominant during his freshman season at Duke. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 17.5 points on 66.8 percent shooting from the field and already has the footwork to be one of the most unstoppable scorers in the league.
3. Philadelphia 76ers- D’Angelo Russell
There is no more complete back court player entering the league next season than Russell. At 6-foot-5, he is capable of playing either guard position and during his lone season at Ohio State, averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. The complete set of skills will be too much for the 76ers to pass up, even if Russell doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia.
4. New York Knicks- Emmanuel Mudiay
New York is hoping Mudiay is capable of completing a perfect combination both on and off the court. By playing alongside Carmelo Anthony, the 6-foot-5 guard should have enough space to attack the rim at will, while being able to facilitate the offense through one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. Second year coach Derek Fisher is hoping Mudiay can become the player he personally develops for years to come.
5. Orlando Magic- Justise Winslow
The Magic have plenty of experience selecting in the draft lottery, as the team has selected three times in the last two years. Orlando has plenty of young talent and believe the selection of Winslow, a player providing some much needed athleticism at the small forward position. New coach Scott Skiles will instill a defensive mentality on the team, a perfect fit for Winslow.
6. Sacramento Kings- Willie Cauley-Stein
Reports of a stress fracture in the right ankle of Cauley-Stein have caused his stock to stumble a bit, but if the team is serious about dealing Cousins, or even looking to have a power forward flourish alongside him, he will be selected sixth. Caule-Stein was named the National Defensive Player of the Year following his junior season at Kentucky.
7. Denver Nuggets- Kristaps Porzingis
The Nuggets are a team in flux, so the addition of Porzingis could be a ploy to help facilitate a deal, or just simply add a talented piece to the roster. The 7-foot-1 forward out of Latvia has a quick release and unlimited range on his jump shot, but also boasts enough athleticism to provide an immediate impact in the NBA. The biggest question is his strength, as Porzingis weights just 230 pounds, he will need to add some bulk to his frame, or else he will get pushed around in the post.
8. Detroit Pistons- Stanley Johnson
Even though he stands 6-foot-6, Johnson brings along a wingspan with an additional 5.5 inches, making him one of the most promising defensive players in the 2015 NBA Draft class, but is capable of hitting jump shots off the dribble or in pull-up situations. Johnson rebounds the ball, is a deft passer and will be capable of guarding four positions the moment he steps onto an NBA court, something Stan Van Gundy will quickly appreciate in his lineup.
9. Charlotte Hornets- Devin Booker
Few players scored the ball as efficiently as Booker in the NCAA last season. The 6-foot-6 guard knocked down 47.1 percent of his attempts from the field, shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range and knocked down 82.8 percent of his free throws. As the NBA Finals was a showcase of the offensive efficiency of Golden State, the addition of Booker, especially in place of Lance Stephenson, will be a welcome one.
10. Miami Heat- Mario Hezonja
Hezonja will likely not fall outside of the top-10 in the draft, as several reports have emerged about Sacramento strongly considering selecting him four picks earlier. If he fell to Miami, the Heat would be delighted to add perhaps the most talented shooting guard in the 2015 NBA Draft class. The 19-year-old out of Croatia possesses enough athleticism to compete immediately for a spot in Miami’s rotation.
11. Indiana Pacers- Myles Turner
Turner offers the best of both worlds at the power forward position, as he blocked 2.6 shots per game as a freshman at Texas, but also is a skilled shooter from all over the court. The 6-foot-11 forward knocked down 83.9 percent of his free throw attempts and has enough range as to be a threat at the 3-point line. The Pacers are pondering a move involving Roy Hibbert and the selection of Turner could close the deal.
12. Utah Jazz- Kelly Oubre
Since 2000, the Jayhawks have sent 13 players into the NBA as lottery selections, the most of any team in the nation. North Carolina, Connecticut and Kentucky are all tied for second with 10, but Kansas will likely add one more with Oubre, a 6-foot-7 small forward. During his freshman season with the Jayhawks, Oubre proved to be a capable defender with a nice shooting touch, both skills that should help a young Jazz team.
13. Phoenix Suns- Trey Lyles
On a deep and talented Kentucky team, Lyles was forced to play out of position all year, lining up at small forward. The 6-foot-10, 240 pound Lyles carries a 7-foot-4 wingspan, allowing him to develop into one of the most dynamic defenders in the NCAA. Phoenix needs to add depth to its front court, and selecting Lyles would be a good start.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder- Cameron Payne
In two years, Payne went from a player not even considered for the McDonald’s All-American game into a potential lottery selection by Oklahoma City. The 6-foot-2 guard then ranked in the top-15 in the NCAA in points and assists, as he averaged 20.3 points and 6.0 assists per game during his sophomore season at Murray State, prompting the Lakers, Kings, Nuggets, Pacers, Thunder and Celtics to conduct private workouts before the draft. Payne could quickly transform from an unknown prospect into a key component for the Thunder as they look to add talent alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.