76ers could play wild card af­ter Tim­ber­wolves, Lak­ers.

Tim­ber­wolves, Lak­ers ap­pear to have draft se­lec­tions set. Af­ter that, who knows?

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Brod­er­ick Turner brod­er­ick.turner@latimes.com Twit­ter:@BA_Turner

The sense is that the first two play­ers taken in Thurs­day’s NBA draft will be big men, even dur­ing a time when teams are play­ing more small ball than ever.

There are two guards in the draft, how­ever, who fit the mold of to­day’s point guard-cen­tric league, guards with the size and skills who have be­come de­sired at that po­si­tion.

Not to be left out of the draft con­ver­sa­tions are Euro­pean play­ers who have been im­press­ing scouts, coaches and gen­eral man­agers, leav­ing them all dream­ing of get­ting the next Dirk Now­itzki.

This 2015 draft class is con­sid­ered one of the more tal­ented and ath­letic groups of re­cent years.

Of course, there re­main the typ­i­cal ru­mors, spec­u­la­tions, so-called draft “prom­ises” to play­ers and talk of jock­ey­ing for draft po­si­tion. And there are still al­most five days left for the first picks are made.

With the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves draft­ing first and the Lak­ers pick­ing sec­ond, there ap­pears to be a con­sen­sus on how the draft will start.

But af­ter they make their de­ci­sions, pre­dic­tions could get scram­bled.

The Tim­ber­wolves are ex­pected to take Karl-An­thony Towns, the 7-foot cen­ter from Ken­tucky, firstover­all in the draft.

The Lak­ers haven’t been able to get Towns in for a pre draft work­out, leav­ing many around the league to as­sume Towns has been guar­an­teed to be the top pick by the Tim­ber­wolves. Thus, the feel­ing is, Towns and his peo­ple don’t see the need for him towork out for the Lak­ers.

But the Lak­ers wouldn’t end up with a bad con­so­la­tion prize if they use their No. 2 pick on Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is a 6-foot-11, 270pound cen­ter who led Duke to the NCAA cham­pi­onship. He’s con­sid­ered the most NBA-ready big man in the draft be­cause of his strong low-post tal­ents.

Af­ter that it gets in­ter­est­ing, be­cause Philadelphia is pick­ing third, and no one in the NBA knows what the 76ers are do­ing and have been do­ing in re­cent years un­der se­cre­tive Gen­eral Man­ager Sam Hinkie.

Af­ter Hinkie traded Michael Carter-Wil­liams, the 2014 rookie of the year, to Mil­wau­kee this past sea­son, it would ap­pear that the 76ers need a point guard.

But the buzz around the NBA is that D’An­gelo Rus­sell, a 6-5 point guard from Ohio State whom many see as a lesser Stephen Curry type, doesn’t want to play for the un­pre­dictable 76ers. Rus­sell did work out for the 76ers last­week.

So that’s where Euro­pean tal­ent Kristaps Porzingis comes into the pic­ture. Porzingis, a 7-foot power for­ward who has been com­pared to Now­itzki, is ex­pected to go third to Philadelphia.

That could ben­e­fit the New York Knicks and Pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son.

Most scouts be­lieve Rus­sell, if taken fourth by the Knicks, is the right fit for the tri­an­gle of­fense.

But­the Knicks could also opt to take Em­manuel Mu­diay, a 6-5 point guard who played in China last sea­son.

Or the Knicks could change course and take Wil­lie Cauley-Stein, a 7-1 cen­ter from Ken­tucky whom many view as hav­ing the abil­ity to de­fend mul­ti­ple po­si­tions in to­day’s NBA.

What­ever hap­pens Thurs­day night, the draft prom­ises to pro­vide some in­trigue.

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