Scouting report: Tokoto’s value is defined by his athleticism. He is an explosive college forward who projects to improve on the offensive end once his position becomes more clear. While Tokoto is not yet a scorer, he has excellent rebounding and passing skills for a young player. He is already an elite defender, earning All-ACC Defensive Team honors his first two years at North Carolina, and he has the ability and physical tools to be a lockdown defender at three positions.
While Tokoto has excelled on the defensive end, the projected second-rounder has a tendency to lose focus at times, according to his college coach Roy Williams.
“Now, defensively, you have to have a lot of discipline and you have to be focused and the whole bit,” Williams told NBA.com. “When J.P. puts his mind to it, he is really, really good. Sometimes his mind tends to waiver. But I have tremendous confidence that he can really be a big time, big time defender, and he’s shown that he can do that.”
Notes: Tokoto finished second on his team in assists and steals and third in rebounding en route to a Sweet 16 berth for the Tar Heels. In his last 16 games, Tokoto notched 73 assists and just 27 turnovers, good for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7-1.
Scouting report: Grant’s talent as a college player seems likely to translate to the next level, given his size (pretty big even for an NBA point guard) and athleticism. He is quick and is a good playmaker, both at generating shots for himself and teammates. He is a good passer and has a great feel for the game. Grant’s 6.6 assists per game ranked seventh in the nation, and he had only 2.2 turnovers per game. Grant is very unselfish, just as willing to dish it to teammates as he is to take shots himself.
“I think he’s a pro player. I think he’s a guy who’s so unselfish. He doesn’t force shots. He took 17 shots [against Michigan State], but to me you wouldn’t even have known it. He gets fouled, he can make passes and he defends pretty well,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of Grant after playing the Irish. “I think he’s as complete a guard as we’ve played against so far. I told him after the game I was very, very impressed by him.”
There is some question as to Grant’s ability to further improve, given how polished he is already. He is relatively old — he’ll turn 23 before his first NBA game — leading some to believe he doesn’t have the same potential as a younger player might. He isn’t a great shooter, making only 31.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. He is projected to be picked in the mid-to-late first round.
Notes: Grant played well during Notre Dame‘s impressive postseason run. He won MVP honors during the ACC Tournament, leading the Irish to the conference title. He played an important role as Notre Dame made the Elite Eight and came close to knocking off then-undefeated Kentucky. He is incredibly accomplished as a college player, being named first-team All-ACC and first-team All-America this season. He comes from a long line of talented basketball players. Jerian’s father, Harvey, is a former NBA player, his brother is former Syracuse Orangeman and current 76er Jerami Grant, and his uncle is former NBA player Horace Grant. Jerian was suspended from school for the spring semester of 2014 and missed the final 20 games of the 2013-14 season for what the school called “an academic mistake.”
Scouting report: Equipped with excellent athleticism, elite shot-blocking abilities and a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Mickey has all the makings of a great defender. After returning for his sophomore year, he showed improvements on offense as well as in rebounding, where he had trouble during his rookie season. Mickey has a great understanding of the game and is very aware of what will help him get to the next level, working on that intently. He’s projected to go at the end of the first round or, more likely, in the second.
If Mickey wants to succeed in the NBA, he’ll have to continue building his strength, as his height and power aren’t really ideal for his current position as a power forward. According to NBAdraft.net, though, some of those issues are mitigated by the fact that he is such a good athlete and has that enormous wingspan, but he needs to get bigger yet to compete with larger players in the post.
Notes: Mickey, an All-SEC first-team selection his sophomore season, led the league in rebounding, was second on his team in points per game and was tops in the country in blocks per contest. His 16 double-doubles also led the SEC this season, and he was a finalist for the Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year. Mickey joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in LSU history to block more than 100 shots in a season, as he had 113 this year and 106 as a freshman. Still, O’Neal said that Mickey and teammate Jarell Martin, who also declared for the draft, are not ready for the NBA.
I’m not sure whether mock drafts got their name from the false premise that anyone could accurately mock what the front offices of all 30 NBA franchises will do come June 25 or the reality that everyone who projects to know such matters ultimately makes a mockery of themselves. It’s probably a hybrid of the two, but they sure are fun, so without further ado Green Street presents the third of four mock drafts leading up to the real thing in Chicago next week.
Keep in mind Celtics president Danny Ainge owns two first-round picks in this year’s draft — his own No. 16 selection and the Clippers’ No. 28 pick he received in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract — and predicting whether The Wolf of Causeway Street will stand pat, trade up or swap out of the draft is like guessing which ridiculous name Ron Artest will use next. Impossible.
Scouting report: Trice is one of the best pure scorers in the draft, however, his stock is somewhat limited due to his size. A potential second-round pick, Trice excels through ball-handling and quickness, both of which he uses to create plays in the lane for himself and teammates. One of Trice’s greatest attributes is his basketball IQ, which helped him lead the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.03. Though he fell below 40 percent from beyond the arc this year, he’s been one of the most consistent shooters in the NCAA throughout his career.
Although he is a good on-ball defender, Trice’s defensive viability is hurt by his size, according to scouts. Pundits say at 6 feet and 170 pounds he is simply not strong enough or tall enough to defend larger point guards in the lane. His size is expected to limit his offensive arsenal as well, making him more likely to settle for outside shots rather than driving the lane. Trice was limited by injuries and illness his first three seasons before breaking out with a stellar senior season.
According to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, size is no reason to worry about Trice, who has a similar success story to fellow undersized guards Stephen Curry and John Lucas “Is there a place for a guy that works his tail off, that understands the game, that has improved dramatically?” Izzo asked the State News. “I look at some of the things [MSU athletic communications director Matt Larson] gave me, and to think [Trice] had more points this year than the other three years combined, it’s amazing.”
Notes: Trice helped lead Michigan State to the Final Four as a seventh seed in the NCAA Tournament. He earned East Regional Most Outstanding Player honors for averaging 19.8 points and 4.0 assists in four games while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range. Said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski before the Final Four: “I think he’s been the best player in the tournament, of any team. I don’t think there’s a kid playing any better than that kid.”
After the regular season, Trice was voted third-team All-Big Ten and named Michigan State‘s team MVP.
Scoutingreport: Rozier is a very solid athlete and versatile point guard. He can finish at the rim and generate points offensively, both for himself and teammates. He can create for himself off the dribble and shoot off the catch. He is a very solid free throw shooter, making 79 percent of his attempts from the stripe. An explosive and quick athlete, Rozier stuffed the stat sheet in this his sophomore season at Louisville. He is a great rebounder for his size, corralling 5.6 per game.
“I think you see what a special player Terry Rozier is because when the play breaks down and things don’t go well, he, like [Dwyane] Wade his idol, he can get his shot off any which way and almost every 15- to 17-foot shot he takes, you think it’s going in,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitinosaid of his two-year combo guard.
His freshman year, Rozier shot well from deep and didn’t turn the ball over, but he got worse as a sophomore. His 3-point shooting fell from 37.1 percent in 2013-14 to 30.6 percent this past season, while his turnovers jumped from 0.6 per game to 2.2 per game. He needs to rein in the turnovers to succeed at the next level. His shooting efficiency also leaves a little to be desired, as he shot 41.1 percent from the field last season. Because of the evolution of basketball towards 3-point shooting, Rozier will need to be better from distance to find a consistent role. In many mock drafts, Rozier is projected to be a late first-round pick, but could also fall to the second.
Notes: Rozier led the 2014-15 Cardinals in scoring, assists and steals and was second on the team in rebounding. He was named second-team all-conference by the coaches and media as the Cardinals played their first season in the ACC. For his freshman season Rozier was named to the AAC All-Rookie team.
Scouting report: Projected to go as high as the late first round, Hernangomez brings an old-school approach to the block. He has a refined post game, highlighted by his ability to create space with his body. He also is capable of stepping out to hit the mid-range jumper. Mentally, Hernangomez is one of the strongest prospects in the draft, with an extremely high basketball IQ.
The biggest knock on Hernangomez is his low ceiling. Many scouts question his athleticism and whether his high basketball IQ can save him on the defensive end. Without leaping ability or lateral quickness, Hernangomez is questionable with regard to rim protection and pick-and-roll defense.
Notes: Hernangomez likely will return to his principal team, Real Madrid, for a few years following the draft in order to work on aspects of his game. He was named MVP of the Eurocup and made the all-tournament team at the 2014 FIBA Europe U-20 championship representing Spain. He played for Baloncesto Sevilla (on loan from Real Madrid), the same team as top-five projected pick Kristaps Porzingis. Hernangomez has drawn comparisons to Marc Gasol for the way he maneuvers and navigates the post on offense. Against Barcelona on Dec. 7, he dropped 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting along with 13 boards and two steals.
Scouting report: White was not highly recruited coming out of high school in Ohio — at least not by the big-time Division 1 programs. However, he proved to be a perfect fit at Iowa, where he led the team in rebounding all four seasons and became the only player in school history to record 1,800 points and 900 rebounds. Last season he earned All-Big Ten first-team honors after being the only Division 1 player to average at least 16 points and seven rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. He led the Hawkeyes in points, rebounds and steals, and in Iowa’s NCAA Tournament opener he dominated in an 83-52 victory over Davidson, hitting 11-of-14 shots en route to a game-high 26 points.
White, projected to go in the middle of the second round, acknowledges he doesn’t look like a typical NBA prospect, and he might struggle to defend at the next level, but he is lauded for his work ethic, offensive efficiency and ability to contribute everywhere on the court. “I don’t fit the mold,” White told NBA.com. “I don’t look as athletic as I probably play.”
Said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery: “His numbers are astronomical. We didn’t run many plays for him. He just scores. He steals the ball and gets a run-out breakaway. He’s a great motion player on back cuts and curl cuts. He can rip and one-dribble dunk from the 3-point line. We did post him up periodically, but a lot of what he accomplished, he did with his skill set.”
Notes: White set Iowa career records for games played (140), free throws made (618) and free throw attempts (800), and ranks second in points (1,859), third in rebounds (901) and 14th in double-doubles (16). He compares himself to Chandler Parsons and Andrei Kirilenko: “Guys that are my size, obviously versatile guys,” White told the Des Moines Register. “They know the game well and know how to help their team win.” White and his longtime girlfriend, former Iowa volleyball player Grace Burns, are expecting their first child in August.
Scouting report: A projected early second-rounder who helped his stock with a solid performance at the NBA combine, Christmas possesses a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism. He’s long, with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and can run the floor in transition, both offensively and defensively. His length helps him at both ends of the floor, especially on the glass. His size helps him work the low post, and he has great touch around the basket. He uses his size to his advantage when defending the low post, affecting shots and protecting the rim.
The biggest knock on Christmas is his size. While he uses it to his advantage in the post, it will not translate to the NBA if he intends to keep his traditional position as center, according to many pundits. Another facet of his game which needs improvement is his passing. Experts believe he tends to panic when passing out of the post, leading to bad turnovers.
Notes: Christmas earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2014-15, along with All-ACC Defensive Team merits as well. He also was named a third-team All-American. After raising his scoring average from 5.8 to 17.5 from his junior year to his senior year, he was chosen as the conference’s Most Improved Player. A native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, who attended high school in Philadelphia, Christmas got his degree at Syracuse (a B.S. in communications and rhetorical studies) in three years, playing last season as a grad student.