Has the news sunk in yet? The Minnesota Timberwolves will pick first in the 2015 NBA Draft on June 25. It's really happening. Now comes the next phase of interminable waiting, waffling and Woj-bombs. Similar to our series of power ranking roundups, it's time to take a look at the mock drafts around the web and see what everyone thinks the Wolves have planned six weeks out. Away we go!
NBA.com/Scott Howard Cooper: Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns is at the top of the board because most teams give him the edge, over Okafor and the entire field. The Timberwolves offered no hint in the immediate aftermath of the lottery win, though. There is no reason they should have, either. Bring three or four guys in, get a look at their medical information, get a better feel for their personality, and zero in on the pick with more than enough time before June 25 to build the relationship. It's one of the advantages of picking first.
SHC takes the most common (and most desired on these pages) opinion that Karl-Anthony Towns is the pick (but really doesn't give much reasoning other than because most teams say he's first).
ESPN/Chad Ford: Karl-Anthony Towns
The Wolves are the only team some NBA scouts believe might take Jahlil Okafor over Towns. I see the appeal, and I know Flip Saunders is a fan. But for now, I'm sticking with Towns. Not only is he a more complete player, but I think he's a better fit. With Towns, the Wolves have the ability to form a super-team. His versatility should allow the Wolves to play him alongside Gourgi Dieng -- another young center they really love. And put Towns on the floor with this year's Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio running the point and other solid young prospects such as Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammed, Anthony Bennett and Adreian Payne and the Wolves have the best young core in the NBA. It might take them a while to be super-competitive in the West, but when they mature in a few years, it will be a major wow.
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Hey, remember back in the day when teams were evenly split between Jahlil Okafor and Towns? We've gone from that to the Wolves being "the only team" possibly in on Okafor over Towns. However, the long-term look of the team that Ford alludes to is what many of us have been dreaming of for a good long while now.
CBS Sports/Sam Vecenie: Karl-Anthony Towns
The Timberwolves are the lucky team that will get their pick of the top guys. I still believe that Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are 1A and 1B in this draft class. However, Towns is the pick for the Wolves, in my opinion. The two players are close enough that you can take the player who best fits your team, and for the Wolves I like the versatility of Towns. He's physical enough to get a bucket in the paint, but also skilled enough to stretch the floor with his solid jump shot. That ability to stretch the floor is a big reason why he makes more sense for them, as Towns has the potential to keep the paint open for Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins, which will be essential to their offensive success. The Wolves are also in need of a rim protecting center, and Towns likely profiles a bit better in that regard than Okafor if he can fix his foul issues.
Vecenie agrees on fit, and especially focuses on the offensive side of the ball. His comment about foul issues is worth keeping an eye on.
CBS Sports/Zach Harper: Jahlil Okafor
The Timberwolves win the draft lottery and they get to end up with Flip Saunders' favorite prospect in the draft with Jahlil Okafor. He'd be the big man to complement Andrew Wiggins in this latest rebuild.
Harper, who still also covers the Wolves on occasion in addition to his national duties, is the first of our writers to take Jahlil Okafor over Towns, and it's for the same reason many of the local writers suspect Okafor: Flip Saunders loves him. This view noting the Flip-ness of the situation is critical to keep an eye on.
CBS Sports/Gary Parrish: Jahlil Okafor
It might be true that Towns is a better fit with Minnesota's current roster. But this is also true: I don't care. Because I think the goal with the first pick should always be to take the best longterm prospect regardless of position or need or style, and, in my opinion, that's Okafor. And, in my opinion, that's always been Okafor. He was the No. 1 prospect in high school before becoming the best player on a college team that won the national championship. He has unbelievable hands and incredible feet. I see no reason (other than bad luck with injuries) that Okafor won't become a franchise big.
Parrish comes from more the college side of things than the pro side, and I find it quite interesting that he views Okafor as the best long-term prospect over Towns. That little line about bad luck with injuries, though. If there's a franchise that knows about that...
SBNation/Kevin O'Connor: Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns has the potential to be an All-Star and he even has an outside chance of becoming a transcendent player. He's long, athletic and scores in a myriad of different ways on the offensive end. He has a great handle for a big man and will likely develop into a knockdown shooter. But he's going to make his most immediate impact on the defensive end as a shot blocker patrolling the paint.
O'Connor joins the Towns crowd for many of the same reasons. I continue to be intrigued by Towns' offensive fit with the Wolves.
SI/Chris Mannix: Karl-Anthony Towns
Minnesota—which secured the first pick for the first time in franchise history, and became the first team since 2004 to win the lottery with the worst record—will have its pick of top big men. Towns, a polished post player who also thrives at the free-throw line, has the early edge. The chance to send Towns to Kevin Garnett College for a year has to be appealing to the Timberwolves, too.
The term "Kevin Garnett College" is delightful.
Bleacher Report/Dan O'Brien: Karl-Anthony Towns
The Minnesota Timberwolves cashed in on their NBA-worst record in 2014-15, landing the coveted No. 1 slot in the lottery.
They're desperate for frontcourt versatility, and Karl-Anthony Towns is their clear-cut best fit. He'll help fill the squad's need for interior defense while expanding its offensive options.
His stock climbed throughout the 2014-15 season because he emerged as Kentucky's most dangerous player on both ends. The freshman phenom covers ground swiftly, plays with dexterous skill and shows the smarts and coordination to improve. That's all anyone could want from a one-and-done frontcourt prospect.
Not only did he prove to be the Wildcats' go-to option in the paint, but he also showed glimpses of jump-shooting talent. He sank 43.1 percent of his two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com, and converted 81.3 percent of his free throws.
Towns' "inside-out" label also applies to the defensive end, because he's effective both near and away from the bucket. His length and tenacity make him a superb shot eraser and rebounder, and he also corrals ball-handlers in pick-and-roll scenarios.
Given the recent focus on Hack-a-Whoever, Towns' free throw percentage as a seven-footer remains significant and important, especially if he develops an ability to draw fouls consistently.
Sportsnet/Dave Zarum: Karl-Anthony Towns
It's a nice problem to have, but in this year's draft winning the lottery means facing an incredibly tough decision. Minnesota is ready to move on from Nik Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng is better suited off the bench, meaning there is a need at centre.
Karl Towns and Jahlil Okafor, the consensus 1st and 2nd-ranked prospects, are both great choices and should make an impact at the next level. Okafor may be more polished, but the Timberwolves have the luxury of patience to allow Towns- a raw player with a better outside shot who defends space well- develop in concert with Minny's young core.
They even like Towns up in Canada!
Sporting News/Sean Deveney: Jahlil Okafor
There is a debate on for the TImberwolves, over whether the pick will be Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns. Okafor is a polished, skilled offensive big man who can handle himself in the paint. Many scouts feel like Towns has the higher upside, but he has not spent much time in the spotlight as a featured player. This will come down to workouts, and Okafor's skill level could give him a slight edge.
This is a take. The fact that it mentions nothing about the defensive side of the ball is questionable given the Wolves' remarkable weakness on defense in 2014-15.
That's seven votes for KAT and three for Okafor. That feels like a pretty good representation of the overall belief at this point: Towns is likely the best prospect, but there are doubts as to whether or not the Wolves will pick him for assorted reasons. Remember: there's lots of time yet. This is but the beginning of this road.