Jerry Zgoda’s

draft prediction

1. Timberwolves: Jahlil Okafor

Duke, 6-10 freshman center

 

– and prospect -- for years. Scouts question his defense and lateral quickness, but his array of polished moves at just age 19 could make him an unstoppable scorer in the NBA. Karl-Anthony Towns might be the consensus No. 1 pick around the league, but Okafor’s skills at such a young age probably puts him atop the Wolves’ draft board. In December, Wolves boss Flip Saunders said whoever gets Okafor in the upcoming draft is getting Tim Duncan and he still is believed to be a big fan.

2. L.A. Lakers: Karl-Anthony Towns

Kentucky, 6-11 freshman center

Once slightly obscured by all his team’s other talent, Towns’ late-season play has made him a near-consensus top pick because of his defensive and shot-blocking potential as well as his mid-range (or better) shooting ability.

 

3. Philadelphia: Emmanuel Mudiay

Chinese team Guangdong, 6-5 point guard

Maybe this year’s International Man of Mystery, much like Australia’s Dante Exum was last year. Big, physical guard who invites John Wall comparisons, but isn’t that explosive. He needs to improve his shooting. NBA execs wanted to see Larry Brown develop him for a season at SMU, but he opted for $1 million payday to play in China instead

 

4. NY Knicks: D’Angelo Russell

Ohio State, 6-5 freshman point guard

• Some NBA scouts compare him to James Harden because both are left-handed, but Russell says he has studied another lefty to which he’d rather compare himself: San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili. He’s great passer because of his court vision and three-point shooter with great range as well.

 

5. Orlando: Kristaps Porzingis

Spanish team Sevilla, 7-1 power forward

• Probably the most intriguing talent in the draft: A 19-year-old fast approaching 7-2 who plays the perimeter like a guard but has the size and length to protect the rim from the weak side. Of course, there are the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons, but a better best-case comparison might be a taller, more athletic Pau Gasol.

 

Three others

 

• Duke freshman forward Justise Winslow

 

• Croatian swingman Mario Hezonja

 

• Kentucky junior center/forward Willie Cauley-Stein.