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NBA Draft: Prospect Rankings 15-30

Fred Katz

Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in 5th grade, but he maintains that his per 36 minutes numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.

We took a look at prospects 1-15 earlier this week. Here's the remaining prospects 15 prospects to conclude the first round:

16. Houston Rockets (from Knicks) – Arnett Moultrie PF (Mississippi State), 6-11, 233

The UTEP transfer was one of the most underrated and dominant players in the SEC this past season. He was a physical force inside the paint, averaging 16.4 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting. He can actually step out and hit a shot outside the paint. On a Mississippi State team that had some serious struggles and that didn’t truly have the best team chemistry, Moultrie stayed out of the negative Bulldog press all season.

He was a member of a team that got into fistfights during practice while members of the media watched on. They had guys like Renardo Sidney, who hardly knew the definition of effort. Yet, Moultrie didn’t get involved. Throw him in a positive environment and he might be able to flourish.

17. Dallas Mavericks – Austin Rivers SG (Duke), 6-5, 203

Most people have Rivers going much higher. In fact, most people have the Hornets scooping him up with the 10th overall pick. But Rivers fits better into a team that will teach him actually how to play team basketball, not necessarily let him play the way he plays. He is a physical talent, but the problem with Rivers is that he simply thinks he is better than he is. That will-to-win is surely a positive to see in a player. That cockiness isn’t even something that is bothersome; great high school and college athletes usually tend to have that trait. The problem is with his decision-making.

Rivers got better at seeing plays develop as the season went on, but you could usually tell when he was going to pass, when he was going to shoot, and when he was going to put the ball on the ground before he ever even did it. His determination is high. That’s not the issue. The problem is that his predetermination is just as high. That’s not a quality that will translate well to the NBA and it could seriously hurt his chances of performing up to his physical capabilities.

18. Houston Rockets (from Timberwolves) – Terrence Ross SG (Washington), 6-7, 197

In the final Rockets’ pick of the draft – or at least what is the final Rockets’ pick for now – I have to thank Daryl Morey for making the mock draft process as difficult as it could possibly be. Seriously, the minute picks 1 through 15 came out yesterday, BAM – another Rocket trade. So let’s be realistic. This draft has Houston selecting Kendall Marshall, Arnett Moultrie and Terrence Ross, but that isn’t going to happen. Houston probably won’t have those picks tonight – or at least that’s the plan.

With the 0.004 percent chance (according to completely unscientific research) that Houston keeps all three picks, Ross would be a nice selection. Trying to trade Kevin Martin, the Rockets could use another wing. Ross is long, has good size for a shooting guard and can guard multiple positions. He fits pretty well into a Dork Elvis mold of basketball.

19. Orlando Magic – Tyler Zeller C (North Carolina), 7-0, 247

Tyler Zeller makes no sense here! Dwight Howard is loyal, remember? He’ll be back in Orlando after this season when he signs a five-year deal to stay!

Alright, now that we got that out of the way, Zeller is a nice piece to have around after the Magic either sell Dwight for 75 cents on the dollar or insanely lose him for nothing in free agency. He’s a smart player, is pretty good defensively – though he’s no Howard – and most off, he has an incredible motor. He can run as well as any big in this draft and is actually more athletic than for what he gets credit.

20. Denver Nuggets – Terrence Jones PF (Kentucky), 6-9, 252

Three picks, two Terrences. Has that ever happened in NBA history? Probably not.

Jones is athletic and has pretty good size. He may not have NBA three point range, but he will be able to step out to about 20 feet and consistently hit. He can jump, run, and play pretty decent defense. The problem with this Jones is the same as the problem with the other Jones, Perry. They both vanish from games and that’s not a trait you want to see in a kid coming out of college.

It’s incredibly possible that Jones just played with too many good players in his collegiate years. On a team with five potential first round picks, he could have just gotten lost in the shuffle offensively. What worries me most is that his rebounding was inconsistent. He’d have games where he hit double digits. Then he’d follow that up with a three-rebound game. That’s usually more indicative of effort than scoring.

21. Boston Celtics – Andrew Nicholson PF (St. Bonaventure), 6-9, 234

Nicholson was one of my favorite players in the NCAA this season. He is a skilled power forward than could probably hug Veruca Salt post-blueberry gum with a 7-4 wingspan that is one of the best in the draft. He can actually step out and hit a 20-footer if you leave him open. That plus an above-average handle for someone his size makes him dangerous.

That being said, Nicholson played at St. Bonaventure. There aren’t many Bonnies roaming the courts of the NBA and that’s for a reason, but the Atlantic 10 is a consistently underrated conference with quality teams like Temple and Xavier. Meanwhile, the team that won that conference tournament last season: St. Bonaventure.

22. Boston Celtics (from Clippers) – Fab Melo C (Syracuse), 7-0, 255

Melo was hilariously dreadful as a freshman and then somehow completely changed as a player entering his sophomore year. He is still raw offensively, but was a force on defense, winning Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

The most impressive part of Melo’s improvement – aside from the offseason weight loss – had to be his footwork on the defensive end. He became a dominant shot blocker by learning when to bite and when not to bite on pump fakes. Few college sophomores are actually mentally capable of having that sort of recognition. In fact, plenty of NBA players – including top shot blockers like Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan – bite on pump fakes all too often. Melo ended up averaging fewer personal fouls per game than blocks per game, a rare feat to accomplish for a center.

He has good size, but probably will never become much on the offensive end. On defense however, Boston could end up with a big body that ends up as a versatile defensive player. That’s something the Celtics have needed ever since they traded away Kendrick Perkins.

23. Atlanta Hawks – Quincy Miller SF (Baylor), 6-10, 219

You kind of have to ignore the numbers at Baylor in the case of Miller. He was a top ten recruit coming out of high school and has the size and athleticism to become a really quality NBA player as a small forward. He was held back as a freshman after tearing his ACL in the offseason, but now it looks like he is back at 100 percent.

Miller showed the ability to step up in big games against top competition. He dropped 20 against San Diego State in a close win for Baylor. He also had 29 in his first meeting against Missouri and then 20 in his second. Baylor breeds a street ball environment. It’s tough to play there. The system is basically just a load of athletic specimens running in different directions – so he should fit in great with the Hawks. (Sorry, had to do that.) It’s possible Miller hasn’t even come close to gracing his ceiling. He could be a guy that we look back on and think, “How did he go 23?”

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Lakers) – Moe Harkless SF (St. John’s), 6-9, 207

The most incredible part of this year’s St. John’s team is that “Moe Harkless” was only the third best name on the team behind Sir’Dominic Pointer and everybody’s favorite: the wondrous, the only God’sgift Achiuwa. Actually, if Nurideen Lindsey hadn’t left the team halfway through the season, you could throw him into the mix. We can thank Steve Lavin for putting that together.

When it comes to on the court, though, Harkless is pretty clearly the most talented of all those players. He doesn’t yet have three point range, but he could develop his shot enough to be able to hit the open long range jumper on occasion. Shooting is usually the last skill that develops in young players and freshman forwards often can’t shoot particularly well. Harkless is a good athlete and was a strong rebounder in what is consistently the most physical conference in the country. He would fit in well in Cleveland – who mock drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fourth overall – as an athletic forward to complement Kyrie Irving.

25. Memphis Grizzlies – Scott Machado PG (Iona), 6-2, 207

Machado was flat out the most fun player to watch in college basketball this past season. He’s the type of player you have to watch often to appreciate and when you do, you can’t help but love his game.

Machado plays a different type of style than a guy like Kendall Marshall, who is more of a passer in transition. Conversely, Machado thrives in the half-court game. He can carve squads up like no one has seen since Bill Cutting. Meanwhile, he was remarkably efficient scoring the ball. He shot 49.5 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three. He is hardly a high-volume scorer, but if he needs to score, he can. He’d fit in perfectly playing behind Mike Conley in Memphis. I seriously can’t wait for this fake scenario to happen in my mind.

26. Indiana Pacers – Marquis Teague PG (Kentucky), 6-2, 180

Amazingly enough, Teague is kind of the same player as his brother, Jeff. The difference is that Marquis is probably a bit further along in his development at this stage of his career. Teague was a top recruit, is a strong defender and is really athletic. He will be able to run with pretty much any NBA point guard.

The raw ability is there, but the shooting probably isn’t. He didn’t always make the best decisions of when to shoot and when to pass as a freshman. While he had a strong first-year campaign in Lexington, he took a few too many shots, and finished third on the team in field goal attempts. There is no way he should have been taking more shots than Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Darius Miller. Now, he was only a freshman last season so that basketball IQ is bound to improve and it probably will. If he does become more of a distributor, he could be good value for a Pacer team that could potentially use another guard.

27. Miami Heat – Draymond Green PF (Michigan State), 6-7, 236

All die hard college hoops fans just let out a collective sigh of relief. Green has to go in the first round, right? For Green supporters, it’s not just that he was able to score consistently in the Big Ten. It’s not just that he was a rebounding machine or the best passing forward in the conference. With Green, it’s the intangibles.

He’s a tremendous leader and competitor. He’s a brilliant player that seemingly doesn’t make a bad decision. He’s every coach’s dream. Isn’t that the perfect type of player to go to the defending champs? Someone who you know just gets it. Green’s body could be likened to Brandon Bass’. If Miami, who could use another rebounder, ends up with a slightly better passing, slightly better ball-handling Brandon Bass with the 27th overall pick, Pat Riley would have to be elated.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Jeffery Taylor SF (Vanderbilt), 6-7, 213

This has to happen. If we can get two Swedes on one team, we have to do it. Ironically enough, Taylor could end up being a Thabo Sefolosha type of player. He is athletic, a pretty good shooter, and is strong defensively. The issue with Taylor is that he’s a t-rex and that’s not because of his intensity.

Taylor’s arms might as well only go down to the bottom of his rib cage. His 6-6 wingspan is notably short for someone who is 6-7 and who fashions himself as a perimeter defender. Someone who is that stout might be easier to go around. That being said, Taylor is an experienced senior who has good footwork and plays hard. His athleticism will help him stay in front of guys and with the 28th pick, he is probably the best player remaining on the board.

29. Chicago Bulls – Tony Wroten PG (Washington), 6-6, 203

Wroten is the player that a lot of scouts liken to Rajon Rondo. The problem is that a lot of that comparison comes from negatives and not necessarily from positives.

Wroten just can’t shoot. He made nine of the 56 threes he attempted at Washington as a freshman and hit only 58.3 percent of his free throws. The positive is that he is still young. He is athletic and skilled enough to eventually improve on his shot. He may never become a knock-down assassin, but he has other skills that could make up for that.

Wroten has a quick first step and is explosive with the ball. On the defensive end, he uses his athleticism to stay in front of defenders well and actually could become a pretty good perimeter defender. He has huge size for a point guard and can be an imposing physical force on whomever he is guarding. Meanwhile, he gets to the line often and if he improves in making his free throws, that could be how he accumulates his points.

The Bulls need a point guard right now. Who knows the status of Derek Rose? Wroten could give them the type of player that Tom Thibodeau covets: a big, athletic, defensive-minded guard that has a high motor and plays hard.

30. Golden State Warriors (from Spurs) – Festus Ezeli C (Vanderbilt), 6-11, 264

Mark Jackson wants to change the culture in Golden State. Well, here’s his chance to continue that. The Warriors already made a trade acquiring Andrew Bogut, a defensive force at center. Now, they have to make up for the loss of Ekpe Udoh, who was part of that trade. Ezeli’s potential isn’t near Udoh’s, but he is a big, long center that has the ability to block shots. He is never going to develop very much skill on the offensive end, but he is a quality defensive presence in the middle of the floor and will be able to get a few rebounds. The Warriors are looking for a backup center with a defensive mentality. If they have the chance to take one with this pick, they have to bite.