DRAFT15: Go Big; Or Go Home

2015 NBA DraftThe 2015 NBA Draft turned out be one of the most boring draft nights in recent memory, but 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie didn’t let the bland nature of last night stop him from using his six draft picks to bring home six players who stand 6’6 or taller.  Included in Hinkie’s haul for 2015 were a franchise level big man; two draft and stash European players; a first-team All-MAC Conference power forward; an ACC prospect who plays above the rim; and a third European prospect who many feel is NBA ready right now.

The 2015 NBA Draft will certainly not be remembered as an exciting, whirlwind, Hinkiepalooza style event that we have come to expect from the 76ers chief basketball decision maker. However when we look back years from now we could view the 2015 Draft as a key turning point in this franchise’s fortunes.

Analysis of the 76ers 2015 NBA Draft night after the jump…

Hinkie may not have gotten the star back court player most of Philadunkia nation was clamoring for, but the addition of Jahlil Okafor at No. 3 overall gives the Sixers a much needed low post scorerand potential All-Star level player.  Hinkie added depth for the future by grabbing Willy Hernangomez (No. 35) out of Spain and Arturas Gudaitis (No. 47) from Lithuania in the second round.  It is highly likely both players will remain overseas for the near future.

Sandwiched in between those Euros was the addition of Bowling Green power forward Richaun Holmes (No. 37).  With his fifth pick of the night (No. 58) Hinkie nabbed former North Carolina Tra Heel J.P. Tokoto.  Finally, with the 6oth and final selection of the night Sam took Serbian big man Luka Mitrovic.

 

 

No. 3 overall — Jahlil Okafor (6-11; 270):  Okafor became the 17th consensus All-America pick at Duke in the Mike Krzyzewski era and was also the first freshman in history to be voted player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that was before he helped lead the Blue Devils to coach K’s fifth career national title. He was also voted the national freshman of the year and ACC freshman of the year. Okafor led the Blue Devils in scoring, rebounding, offensive rebounds, free-throw attempts and field-goal percentage.  He averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, and 1.4 bpg.  Okafor shot 66.4% on FGs and 51% from the FT line.

Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com says: “Considered a game-changing prospect already in middle school,Jahlil Okaforcame into his freshman season with huge expectations, and did not disappoint in the least bit. He was named ACC player of the year and a First Team All-American, and played a major role in Duke’s NCAA Tournament run culminating in a championship over Wisconsin. Standing 6-11, 270 pounds, with a 7-5 wingspan, a 9-2 ½ standing reach and absolutely gigantic hands, Okafor has ideal physical attributes for an NBA center. He’s extremely nimble and agile for a player his size on top of that, running the floor well when motivated, and being very graceful with his movements.”

 

No. 35 overall — Willy Hernangomez (6-11; 255):  Hernangomez was traded to the Knicks, but here’s waht the Sixers will mis…is on loan from Real Madrid, which could be an interesting situation for next season. He is playing this season with fellow 2015 NBA draft prospect, Kristaps Porzingis. Although he and Porzingis are teammates, Willy is still the #1 option on the team as he leads them in FG attempts. He was named MVP of Eurocup in week 8 and was named to the all-tournament team at the 2014 FIBA Europe U-20 championship representing Spain.

Matt Kamalsky of draftexpress.com says:  “Standing 6’11 with a 7’1.5 wingspan and a 255-pound frame, Hernangomez has nice size for a center. He’s not a particularly explosive athlete, but moves fairly well for his size and has plenty of potential to continue getting stronger.  Hernangomez’s physical profile, coupled with his budding offensive skill level makes him a serviceable, fairly well-rounded offensive center, even if he still has plenty of room to grow. Half of Hernangomez’s possessions come from a balanced diet of post ups and rolls to rim, with another significant portion of his offensive production coming from cuts and put backs. He was the only player in the ACB to use 80 total possessions in both situations according to Synergy Sports Technology—evidence of how his ability to exploit his size and mobility helped him on the offensive end.”

You can view Willy’s draftexpress.com video by clicking here.

 

No. 37 overall — Richaun Holmes (6-10; 245):  Holmes earned a spot on the All-Mid-American Conference first team and was voted the league’s defensive player of the year as the Falcons finished 21-12 and played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. He finished his career, which was only three years because he played his freshman season at a junior college, as Bowling Green’s all-time shot blocker (244).  He averaged 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 2.7 bpg.  Holmes shot 56.3% on FGs, 41.9% from three and 71.2% at the charity stripe.  Holmes was one of the standouts at the 2015 NBA Draft combine and impressed scouts at the event to the point that he went from a prospect projected not to get drafted to an early 2nd round candidate.

Derek Bodner of draftexpress.com says:  “Holmes’ improvement on the offensive end over his three seasons at Bowling Green has been the most stark change in his standing as a prospect, averaging 20.4 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted during his senior season, the best of his career. When Holmes arrived at Bowling Green, he was a skinny, athletic project with an unrefined back to the basket game and without much from the perimeter. Over the years, that outside shot of Holmes’ has improved considerably. Holmes free throw shooting has gone from 62% his sophomore season, to 70.6% as a junior and 71.2% as a senior. Perhaps more importantly for his stock, Holmes has slowly developed three point range on his shot. Holmes shot 30-83 from three point range over his last two seasons at Bowling Green. While that sample size is still very low, it’s enough to inspire confidence in his continued development as a jump shooter going forward.”

 

No. 47 overall — Arturas Gudaitis (6-10; 255):  An interesting prospect because of his large presence on the court. Likely will have a more successful career in Europe than he ever will stateside but a probable late draft pick nonetheless.  Gudaitis had a very exciting season starting for Zalgris as they finished in the top 16 of the Euroleague and as the No. 1 seed in the playoffs of the LKL. He was also invited for the first time to participate with the Lithuanian senior basketball team.

Matt Kamalsky of draftexpress.com says:  “Gudaitis’s intrigue as a NBA prospect and his ability to score inside and pull down rebounds at a respectable rate start with his physical tools. Standing around 6’10 in shoes, with a 255-pound frame and big hands, the physical, slightly undersized center is built similarly to the newly trimmed downMitch McGary. Despite the knee injury he suffered right around two years ago, Gudaitis is a terrific athlete for his size. He has exceptional mobility for his size, runs the floor extremely well, and is often able to compensate for his average length inside with fairly impressive leaping ability.  On top of his sheer size and athleticism, Gudaitis is a very physical player. He dives to the rim with purpose after setting screens on the perimeter, gets extremely low and looks to move bodies when posting up, and throws himself recklessly into contact when looking to score. Much of his production is based on his effort, athleticism, and physicality.”

You can check out Gudiaitis’s draftexpress.com video by clicking here.

 

No. 58 overall — JP Tokoto (6-6; 210):  Tokoto surprised some observers by declaring for the Draft after his junior season, and though some of his numbers were modest, some of them were exceptional.  Not many players in the draft passed for 163 assists, as Tokoto did, let alone small forward candidates.  And he’s got NBA explosiveness and the ability to become a shutdown defender capable of checking three positions.  Most analysts have forecast him as a second-round pick. Earning a trip to the Chicago pre-draft combine didn’t hurt his chances.  Tokoto finished second on his team in assists and steals and third in rebounding as he helped the Tar Heels reach the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.  At UNC last season he averaged 8.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, and 1.5 spg, while shooting 42.8% from the floor; 37.5% from deep and 61.5 from the FT line.

Josh Riddell of draftexpress.com says:  “One of the most athletic players in college basketball,J.P. Tokotodecided to declare for the NBA Draft after his junior season. He’ll hope to show he has a refined skill set to match his athleticism and be a productive shooting guard at the NBA level.  Measured at 6’6.25” with an impressive 6’10” wingspan and a developing 196-pound frame at the NBA Draft Combine, Tokoto rounds out his athletic tool kit with great explosiveness, agility and quickness. He’ll be able to match the size, length and athleticism of most NBA guards which provides him an interesting foundation as a prospect heading into the season.”

 

No. 60 overall — Luka Mitrovic (6-9; 225):  Prior to the season he was named captain of the Mega Crvena Zvezda (Serbia) team. They would go on to reach the top 16 in the Euroleague.  In the Adriatic League his team won 20 games in a row, finished the season 24-2 and ultimately won the championship.  Mitrovic played a significant role as the starting power forward.  Mitrovic scored a career-high 30 points in a double-overtime game against Galatasaray on November 21, 2014.  He averaged  8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 2.3 apg.  

Davide Bortoluzzi of NBADraft.net says: “Mitrovic seems to have blossomed the very season in which he becomes automatically eligible. He grew up playing with Novi Sad and made his debut as a senior in Hemofarm Vrsac before moving in 2012-2013 to Red Star. Standing 6-foot-9 he has a solid structure and long arms, but he still needs to bulk up to face the physicality of the NBA level. A solid athlete despite not being extremely explosive, he’s mobile and smooth running the floor, and he shows a solid jumper from 3-point, basically in catch-and-shoot situations. He could be considered a tweener by NBA standards, since his game is based on facing the basket, but he has the potential and the technical skills to play in the post position. Definitely a late bloomer with a high likelihood to be selected in the late second round.”

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