The 2015 LB Community Big Board begins today. Each year, we crowdsource the readers of Liberty Ballers to determine the community's draft prospect ranking. These are compared with ours, and in retrospect we can see where we went right and went wrong. For instance, Doug McDermott finished 12th last year, four slots ahead of Elfrid Payton and seven ahead of Jusuf Nurkic. Great job, us!
Joel Embiid and Dario Saric were second and ninth, respectively. While we have no idea how that will turn out, the Sixers did get both lower than we had them ranked.
Anyway, we'll start today with seven prospects, each associated with either the 76ers or the top selection in the draft.
Karl-Anthony Towns, the latest in a string of hyphenated player names, is widely considered the top prospect in the draft, and is the consensus favorite to be selected number one overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The one-year Kentucky player saw only 21 minutes per game in Kentucky's platoon system but impressed with his all-around ability, and is considered a model big man for the current NBA. Jake Pavorsky wrote about Towns earlier this season.
Jahlil Okafor entered this season as the favorite for the top pick, an offensive mega-prospect with a refined post game that may lack in some other areas. The one-year Duke player averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a freshman, with an insane 66% field goal percentage. Okafor is projected by many to be selected second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers.
D'Angelo Russell, the favorite of many to drop to the Sixers with the third overall pick, was another college star. At Ohio State, Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. At 6'5", Russell can play either guard position and carries a lethal three point shot. But his play against good teams, compared to his same numbers against bad ones, calls into question whether or not his statistics on the year were inflated. Matt Carey and Marc Whittington each wrote about Russell at times this season.
Emmanuel Mudiay played in China last year. Sam Hinkie was apparently the only general manager among teams at the top of the draft to visit China himself to see Mudiay play. Mudiay dominated the competition when healthy, but will need to rebuild his jumper.
Mario Hezonja, a favorite among some blog readers and writers, played for Barcelona in the ACB in Spain and in EuroLeague this season. You can read more about him: here from Wesley Share, and here from Marc Whittington.
Justise Winslow moved into the upper echelon of draft prospects due to his strong NCAA tournament play with Duke alongside Okafor. Drawing comparisons to James Harden due to his build, foul-drawing capability, and left-handedness, the 19-year-old averaged 12.6 points per game in his freshman season. Unlike Harden, Winslow hasn't been as effective on his free throws, shooting only 64%. Whittington wrote about him here.
Finally, Kristaps Porzingis rounds out our starting seven. Porzingis like Hezonja played in the Spanish ACB, he for Sevilla. The 7'0" Porzingis comes with a rail-thin frame and three-point range, but will need a lot of work before he becomes an impactful NBA player and would be a long-term project.
Use the space below to cast your vote and discuss in the comments. The vote closes tonight at midnight.