One last opportunity to squeeze profit out of NBA season

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There’s still one last opportunity to squeeze a profit out of the 2014-15 NBA season. That’s what’s going through the minds of the key decision makers on the league’s 30 teams as we hit draft week. It should be your primary motivation too.

NBA Draft props have become a nice source of income for investors, especially if you can find a book that provides a healthy variety of options to consider. There aren’t many available yet, but look for them to pop us as we get closer to Thursday’s festivities.

The following first-round mock should hold up well as teams look to come away with building blocks in what appears to be a fairly deep draft given the upside available among the top 20 prospects. Use it wisely.

1. Minnesota: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky – T’wolves the only team who saw him showcase his skills in a workout. They won’t pass him over.

2. L.A. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke – A good chance he ends up being the best player in this draft. Offensive gifts are undeniable. His defense won’t be as bad as it’s looked.

3. Philadelphia: DeAngelo Russell, G, Ohio State – The 76ers traded Michael Carter-Williams and won’t let an opportunity to grab one slip through their fingers.

4. New York: Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, Latvia – The hype machine on him has been working OT, swearing up and down he won’t be the next European bust. He’s got size and touch.

5. Orlando: Justise Winslow, F/G, Duke – He’s smart, a winner and a terrific athlete. As the surest thing at No. 5, look for the Magic to pull the trigger on the 19-year-old.

6. Sacramento: Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Kentucky – Getting DeMarcus Cousins’ top choice wouldn’t be a bad way to go for new VP Vlade Divac. Game-changing defensive potential.

7. Denver: Emmanuel Mudiay, G, Guangdong – Considered the top prep guard in the country prior to opting for an early start to his pro career. The perfect replacement for Ty Lawson, who the Nuggets are actively shopping.

8. Detroit: Mario Hezonja, F/G, Croatia – Stan Van Gundy loves versatile forwards and has just added Ersan Ilyasova from Milwaukee with Greg Monroe set to walk.

9. Charlotte: Devin Booker, G/F, Kentucky – Not too complicated: best shooter on the board at a time where that’s what they need most.

10. Miami: Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona – The Heat will move on from Luol Deng sooner than later. Opportunity to draft a steal with the last lottery pick they hope for a long time.

11. Indiana: Frank Kaminsky, F, Wisconsin – With David West and Roy Hibbert nearing the end of their tenure, Kaminsky brings something new as a versatile offensive threat.

12. Utah: Myles Turner, F/C, Texas – His frontcourt versatility would be an asset that would complement the emerging combo of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.

13. Phoenix: Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin – A versatile forward to add to the arsenal. The Suns could go in any direction here, including trading the pick entirely.

14. Oklahoma City: Cameron Payne, G, Murray State – Long tied to the Thunder, he’d be the change of pace point guard to start cutting some of Russell Westbrook’s minutes.

15. Atlanta: Trey Lyles, F/C, Kentucky – Has size and versatility. On many boards, he’d be the prospect with the most upside here.

16. Boston: Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas – The Celtics vow to be active on draft night, so they may not even be making this pick. Reigning SEC Player of the Year has length and motor.

17. Milwaukee: Kevon Looney, F, UCLA – The Milwaukee native would bring a little extra juice as this selection if the Bucks don’t trade out of this spot.

18. Houston: Tyus Jones, G, Duke – The Rockets can’t wait to have Patrick Beverley healthy again, but need another playmaking guard who can stretch the floor. A proven winner.

19. Washington: Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame – A local product whose maturity and swiss-army knife skills could provide an instant boost.

20. Toronto: Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville – The Raptors had him in against Looney and love his wingspan and athleticism.

21. Dallas: Kelly Oubre, G/F, Kansas – Athletic wing is raw, but his upside is the highest remaining at this point.

22. Chicago: R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State – Fred Hoiberg is going to need to tweak the roster to play a faster pace. Adding the best shooter left in the draft fits.

23. Portland: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F/G, Arizona – Athletic wing has to develop his jumper, but can step in and help defend right away.

24. Cleveland: Rakeem Christmas, F/C, Syracuse – With his 7-5 wing span, the Cavs could wrap up a rim protector who really helped himself at the combine.

25. Memphis: Delon Wright, G, Utah – The Grizzlies could use another standout defender and can groom him to be an asset behind Mike Conley.

26. San Antonio: Justin Anderson, G/F, San Antonio – He’s out of central casting to join what could be the Spurs’ last stand as title contenders.

27. L.A. Lakers: Terry Rozier, G, Louisville – Would’ve likely been drafted higher if not for off-court concerns.

28. Boston: Olivier Hanlan, G, Boston College – Offers a different look at guard from Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.

29. Brooklyn: Jarell Martin, F, LSU – Aids the push for increased athleticism up front.

30. Golden State: Joseph Young, G, Oregon – He’ll get buckets in the pros. Adds another shooter to the arsenal.

Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Contact Tony at [email protected].

About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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