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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / September 26.
  • Strong Big Man Crop Could Headline 2015 NBA Draft

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    NEW YORK — When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver steps to the podium to open the 2015 NBA Draft, there is at least a fair chance he will read off the name of a big man.

    After that, there could be another, and another, and yes, another. By the time the first round ends, Silver may have spent a good portion of his evening reading names of kids who will spend their NBA careers in the post.

    The 2015 NBA Draft is still 14 months away, but the way things are shaping up right now, it may be dominated by post players. In its 2015 mock draft, has three of the first four picks, seven of the first 11 and 12 of the first 19 as players who stand 6-foot-9 or taller. That group now includes returning Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell, returning Florida forward Chris Walker and returning Kentucky center Dakari Johnson.

    Simply put, 2015 may prove to be one of the deepest years for big men in recent memory.

    Leading this group is 6-foot-10 Duke-bound big man Jahlil Okafor, who scored 29 points to go with nine rebounds in picking up MVP honors as his East squad defeated the West, 158-147, at the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday evening at Barclays Center.

    OKaforAside from Okafor, Kansas-bound projected 2015 No. 2 pick Cliff Alexander (23 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) and projected No. 4 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, a Kentucky recruit (nine points, seven rebounds, three assists) also had strong showings in Brooklyn on Friday night.

    “They [are] stellar. They ain’t the top of the crop for no reason, so I think they [were] very impressive today,” Jordan Brand sponsee Carmelo Anthony told of the big men Friday night. “Without a doubt [they can play in the NBA], without a doubt.”

    “On paper, it looks like a great class,” one veteran NBA scout told “What I’ve seen of them in high school, they have a great future as long as they continue to develop.”

    “I think we [the bigs] are the deepest of this class, especially,” said Towns, who led St. Joseph-Metuchen to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions crown last month. “Some people are more biased towards guards, some are more biased towards big men, that’s not my decision to make. My job is to just go out there, produce and play my game the way I know.”

    Everyone drafts on potential and Jahlil is ready because he has size, he has athleticism, he has understanding of the game and he has skill,” legendary new York City-based talent evaluator Tom Konchalski told “He has the whole package. Built like a bus, moves like a greyhound.”

    While Konchalski appears sold on Okafor’s NBA readiness more than a year before he can go there, the rest of this big man class has work to do.

    Long viewed as a tremendous athlete with plenty of upside, Alexander still has a ways to go.

    “Cliff has got to work on his offense,” Konchalski said. “But I mean, talk about an explosive athlete and a guy who has an NBA body right now, but he’s got to elevate his skill level right now. But if he does, he can be an impact player right away in the NBA if he does. But he’s 6-8 1/2 and he’s not going to be a five man at his size. He’s going to be a four man. He’s gotta improve his skills.”

    Turner Mickey'DRed flags have already risen on Turner, who has proven to be injury-prone. The uncommitted 6-foot-11 Texas native’s standing as the No. 11 pick in 2015 represents a slip after he had previously been as high as No. 2 behind Okafor and ahead of Alexander.

    “Myles Turner, first of all, is a human injury,” Konchalski said. “He’s hurt all the time and that’s a function of his having to get stronger and really work on his body. He’s a long way away physically from being able to play in the NBA. I think he has tremendous potential, but he has a long way away physically.”

    All of the aforementioned players are freshmen-to-be, but when taking into account they will be part of the 2015 draft class, it must be noted that they will be joined by players who have already made their mark in college.

    Kentucky sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, Louisville sophomore Montrezl Harrell and Florida freshman Chris Walker represents 2015 picks 8, 9 and 10 according to DraftExpress. All three could have reasonably left for the NBA this year, but will instead presumably do one more year in school, then join Okafor and Co.

    Additionally, there is a notion that the No. 1 pick in 2015 may not be a big man at all. With strong play in recent postseason events, including 19 points and six assists at JBC, 6-foot-5 SMU-bound point guard Emmanuel Mudiay appears poised to be considered for that top pick.

    “He’ll be in the conversation, but it’s a long way off,” an NBA scout told


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