A Look Back at the 2015 NBA Draft Class

On this day, October 27, in 2015, Pace and Space first launched on our old webhost. It was opening night of the 2015 NBA season, and the rookies from that season led to this site’s first Twitter beef.

That’s right, Matt Moore of CBS Sports blocked me when I said Emmanuel Mudiay couldn’t shoot a lick and would wash out of the league, contra his opinion.

Mudiay is out of the league now. In 306 NBA games, he posted minus-0.2 career Win Shares and an execrable .446 eFG%, making him absolutely the worst pick in the 2015 lottery.

The moral of the story is what I call Jaycee’s Law, after a girl I went to college with who said (and I swear on my father’s grave this is true!) “I never argue with Fox. He’s always right!”

Y’know what, screw it. It’s Pace and Space’s seventh anniversary, and I’m going to indulge the crap out of my ego right now and tell that story. Skip ahead to the next subhead if you don’t care.

A Crazy Tale

It was 2011 and I was a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno (shout-out to JaVale McGee, the best NBA player the Wolf Pack produced.) Jaycee was a high-strung fellow accounting major working (and stressing) way too hard, and I was in the computer lab with her working on something or other. I remarked that “if you don’t learn to slow down and be less Type A, you’re going to have a heart attack by the time you turn 30.”

Her friends came into the lab and one said “you look like you’ve seen a ghost, what’s wrong?”

Jaycee said “Fox just told me I’m going to have a heart attack before I turn 30” and when asked why she cared about my opinion, she said “I never argue with Fox, he’s always right!”

I was not dating her. I wasn’t even trying to talk her into bed (I was 34 in 2011, having gone back to college to ride out the Great Recession, way too old for some barely-legal college kid who I think was still too young to drink at that point.)

Probably should’ve. I mean, what was she gonna do, argue with me?

Anyway, ego trip over, back to the basketball.

2015 Was Not a Good Draft.

Devin Booker, 13th pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

It should surprise no one to learn that Karl-Anthony Towns is the career leader in Win Shares (66.5, counting games through Oct. 26, 2022) and second in WS/48 (.192.) Montrezl Harrell is second in total WS (40.7) but first in WS/48 (.197.) Myles Turner is third in total WS (32.8) while Richaun Holmes (seriously!) takes the bronze medal in WS/48 (.161.)

This is not a draft class that set the world on fire. KAT may yet make the Hall of Fame—if he sticks around long enough, he’ll almost certainly cross the 125 WS line that currently demarcates those who are all in the Hall above that line and eligible.

Vince Carter, at 125.3, is next man up, and I’m just about certain he’ll get in once it’s put to a vote. Scottie Pippen, at 125.1, stands above the boundary as well. Shawn Marion, who is not in, sits at 124.9 career WS.

Trezz? No way. Turner? Not a chance. Devin Booker (30.8 WS, .091 WS/48, 10.6 VORP in eight years)? Unlikely unless he gets a ring without Chris Paul. Kristaps Porzingis or Delon Wright or Larry Nance Jr. or Holmes? Get real.

2015 was one of the worst drafts the NBA’s ever seen, just top-to-bottom mediocrity except for Towns if he keeps up his pace and wins something either in Minnesota or by pulling a Jimmy Butler and forcing his way out of Minnesota and onto a contender.

The Busts Were…Busty.

Like Dolly Parton busty. Like “Studio Gainax” anime boobs busty.

Besides Mudiay, who managed negative Win Shares in 302 games and over 7,000 minutes, there’s 17th overall pick Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn posted minus-0.6 WS in 139 games and 1,671 minutes.

D’Angelo Russell was the second pick. He finally seems to have found his stride in Minnesota. Funny how getting traded for Andrew Wiggins improved the careers of not one but two catastrophic draft busts to the point where they might actually salvage respectable NBA careers. But until last season, Russell was horrendous. Yeah, he could score, but his advanced stats proved beyond doubt that’s all he could do.

Jahlil Okafor, the third pick, doesn’t look like there’s a Russell Redemption in his future. He washed out of the league after a garbage fire of a 2021 season in Detroit. In that campaign, he scored 5.4 points in 12.9 minutes a game.

Mario Hezonja was a waste of the fifth pick for Orlando; he lasted just five years, shooting 41.7 percent and 31.9 percent from the field and beyond the arc respectively. A sub-.500 eFG% from a swingman doesn’t cut it in the NBA these days. You can’t shoot like you’re Allen Iverson and expect to stay up.

Rounding out the bust list in the lottery is Stanley Johnson, released by the Jazz in the preseason after a seven-year career shooting a gods-awful 38.4 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from long range, good for a plug-awful .448 eFG%.

Lost Promise

Even the guys who were supposed to be good never quite panned all the way out.

Myles Turner, the 11th pick, hasn’t been able to stay on the floor. He played 74 games in 2019. He’s played 64, 47, and 42 games in the three years since, and he’s already hurt this year.

Kristaps Porzingis is another guy with a chronic infestation of the injury bug in his locker. He missed the entire 2019 season and has played just 341 games out of over 600 on the schedule since he came into the league.

Justise Winslow showed a lot of promise with his athleticism as the tenth pick. Sadly, injuries and never really translating that athletic ability into actual basketball skill have relegated him to just 8.4 points per game in 319 career appearances.

The entire list on Basketball Reference below Towns just reads like the bench rotation for most decent teams. And that’s at the high end of the scale. The busts aren’t even in that category. And  let’s face it, there were a lot of them.

And then, of course, there’s Mudiay and Vaughn. Those guys had fewer Win Shares in their NBA careers than Len Bias, who died on draft night in 1986, had in his.

Unlike a lot of the guys drafted in 2015, though, Pace and Space is here for an eighth season and still going strong. Should’ve taken this site in the lottery.

And now that I think of it, I wonder what happened to that girl. She’s past 30 now…I hope she chilled out, and I really hope she didn’t have a heart attack!