The draft order was kept the same for the first time ever, and Lakers fans rejoiced as the Lakers managed to keep their pick. Since this draft appears to be a two player draft, the Lakers can’t go wrong as they choose whoever is left on the board between Ingram and Simmons. The rest of the draft is madness as there is a list of players that could be drafted in a wide range. The draft is full of plenty of potential high impact players that could break out and become stars, but their more realistic ceiling is lower. I decided to rank the top 32 players in order by talent according to all of the information gathered:
|1. Ben Simmons||PF/C/PG/SF||LSU|
|2. Brandon Ingram||SF/SG||Duke|
|3. Dragan Bender||PF||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|4. Jamal Murray||SG/PG||UK|
|5. Jaylen Brown||SF||Cal|
|6. Kris Dunn||PG||Providence|
|7. Henry Ellenson||PF||Marquette|
|8. Buddy Hield||SG||Oklahoma|
|9. Timothe Luwawu||SG/SF||Mega Leks|
|10. Deyonta Davis||PF/C||Michigan State|
|11. Jakob Poeltl||C/PF||Utah|
|12. Skal Labissiere||C/PF||UK|
|13. Marquese Chriss||PF||Washington|
|14. Furkan Korkmaz||SG||Anafolu Efes|
|15. Denzel Valentine||SG||Michigan State|
|16. Demetrius Jackson||PG||Norte Dame|
|17. Domantas Sabonis||PF/C||Gonzaga|
|18. Wade Baldwin||PG||Vanderbilt|
|19. Taurean Prince||SF||Baylor|
|20. Malik Beasley||SG||Florida State|
|21. Damian Jones||C||Vanderbilt|
|22. Chieck Diallo||PF/C||Kansas|
|23. Ivica Zubac||C||Mega Leks|
|24. Ante Zizic||C||Cibona Zagreb|
|25. Dejounte Murray||PG/SG||Washington|
|26. Tyler Ulis||PG||UK|
|27. DeAndre Bembry||SF||Saint Joseph's|
|28. Zhou Qi||C||Xinjiang|
|29. Juan Hernangomez||SF/PF||Estudiantes|
|30. Patrick McCaw||SG||UNLV|
|31. Caris LeVert||PG/SG||Michigan|
|32. Malcolm Brogdon||SG||Virginia|
It is pretty easy to rank talent, but going into the heads of GMs to find out what they will do is much harder. Certain teams draft for need and others just take the best player available at that point. This draft is really interesting, and as someone who covered it from the preseason, my board has been shaken up by names I didn’t know about. Players can rise up, fall, or stay about the same based on how the pre-draft workouts and interviews go. Even though Simmons and Ingram rule the draft as far as having the most potential, there are plenty of players that are a couple adjustments away from breaking out as maybe more than just solid starters or role players. Some teams need just that, a solid player to fill out their core or further bolster their bench. Others need more from the players they pick. After the #9 player on my board, the rest are a combination of fliers or niche players that will know their role coming into the league. As always, we sleep on players because of their age or their build and underestimate what they may do coming into the league. I am a personal big believer in drafting the best player available, but some teams draft for need so it will be interesting how the real draft plays out. Anyway, let’s get to the mock.
2016 Mock Draft 1.0
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons
Nelson???? Not picking Simmons to go to the Lakers????? Yeah, as much as I would love for the Lakers to land the better player out of the 2, it appears as if the Sixers will be the ones taking the Australian. Ben Simmons is a 6’10” power forward that can handle the ball like a guard with the body of a big man. His ultra-athleticism allows him to fly up and down the court and is a mismatch waiting to happen. With the Sixers looking to shop Okafor and already having an anchor on defense in Noel, Simmons is a great fit in the frontcourt. With all of their other late first round picks, they can draft some defensive wings and shooters to surround him with what could be a fun team. Whichever team drafts Simmons will have to experiment with his versatility as he can play point, some 3, 4 and some small ball 5 for certain stretches. Now, Ingram is very much in consideration for this spot, and I think the decision will be 51%-49% Simmons, only because of the Brett Brown connection and how Brian Colangelo loves flashy players. Ingram is the plug and play pick that doesn’t require an immediate trade and gives them the shooting they need. The Sixers can’t go wrong with either, but they are still in need of a franchise changing player. Simmons gives them all of that.
*****Case for Brandon Ingram – Here is the better fit for what the team currently has and with rumors that the Sixers are looking to trade Noel to the Hawks for Teague, the Simmons-Noel dynamic takes a hit. It suffers another blow since Mike D’Antoni is now the Rockets head coach. Simmons seems to be far and away the #1 pick up to this point, but a Noel trade does raise some eyebrows.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram
This is a heck of a consolation prize. Ingram might end up being THE prize of this draft. The 6’9″ wing from Kinston, North Carolina is an absolute stud. He can rise up and shoot over most players and his an amazing 7’3″ wing span that allows him to recover well on defense and contest shots late. His frame will need a lot of work as he is rail thin, but with more time in the weight room, his offensive game will expand to possibly the heights of Kevin Durant. His overall game may end up more similar to that of Paul George as he can play both ends of the courts, but his offense isn’t unstoppable like Durant’s is. The Lakers already have a shining core of young talent with Larry Nance, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson. All that is missing is a wing that can play defense and shoot the 3. Ingram fits that to a T. It obviously depends on how he develops, but he and Russell can be the future of the Lakers for years to come. The Lakers have one of the easiest draft choices ever: pick whoever is left between Simmons and Ingram.
*****Case for Simmons – DUH. Simmons is the best player in this draft and if he were to fall down to the #2 spot then there is no way that you pass that up.
3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender
#1 player on my board for best name in the draft, The Dragan has a unique skill set that not many players have. His 7’1″ frame is ultra skinny and weighs only 216 pounds, but he can catch and shoot like a guard and can pass very well for a player of his height. Once he fills out, his post game will develop more, but as of now he has a good touch that can be used over most defenders. He can face up and put it on the floor which makes him a tough cover. He often gets slept on by most fans, as most of the spotlight goes to Brandon or Ben. His ceiling has been regarded by most to be very high, and when you look at the tape it is clear why. He could very well end up being the best player out of the class, with muscle added to his frame and improvements fundamentally. The Celtics need a franchise player and Bender could develop into that. He comes in and bolsters their lackluster front court. Odds are they trade the pick, but if they keep it, Dragan is the way to go.
4. Phoenix Suns – Jaylen Brown
I would love to give them Henry Ellenson here, but I have to stick to my board. Considering also that the Suns have Devin Booker, Brandon Knight, and Eric Bledsoe, a guard like Jamal Murray would be a log jam. So, Jaylen Brown makes sense here, since he is an excellent plug and play player at the 3 and could also play some small ball 4. Brown has the body of a ready made small forward as he is 6’7″, and he can develop into a go-to defensive stopper. His jump shot is spotty at best with no consistency, and he struggles to create some by himself at times. The Suns could use the defense and with Bledsoe pushing the ball up the court, Brown fills in a lane with his athleticism. In the college season, he was very inconsistent and looked a bit lost during some games, and he had a quite stretch that last 2 month where not much was heard about him. Still, if he manages to improve his shot and can embrace playing the small ball 4, the Suns could have found themselves a diamond in the rough.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray has to be one of the most controversial prospects in this draft, as people have a wide spectrum of where he could go. The Wolves are built so perfectly that they could pick Buddy Hield and no one would argue. They have the best future 1-2 punch in the NBA and have a young guard in Zach LaVine. Ellenson does make some sense here, but I think Murray would go along nicely with LaVine. He has elite shooting and is a capable passer that can create for himself. As he gets stronger, he will be able to expand his game. His vision could also use some work. Jamal complements the core nicely as he gives them some much needed shooting. He isn’t very athletic or explosive, but he is productive. He still has room to grow, so they hope that he can become more than just a scorer. There is a lot to like when it comes to Murray, who can be at the very least a good, if not, solid combo guard.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Kris Dunn
The Pelicans need a guard that can give Anthony Davis the ball and get the f*** out of the way, and Dunn can do that pretty well. With Jrue Holiday being off/on the court with injuries, the Pelicans really need some guard help. Murray could be picked here if the Wolves go with someone else. Dunn is an electrifying player that can push the ball up and has enough athleticism to get by most players and then recover when he gets beat. He is a terrific playmaker and has an average shot that will need to be improved in order for him to take his game to new heights. The Pelicans get their game manager that they so desperately need, and Dunn goes to a guard needy situation that he wants to be in.
7. Denver Nuggets – Henry Ellenson
The Nuggets could go Buddy Hield right here and I wouldn’t hate it, but in the end, I think that Ellenson fits nicely with Jokic and it gives Mudiay a fully stretched out court for him to operate in. Ellenson can take the ball up the court and handle it pretty well for a big man. His shot is really good, as he can pick and pop at anytime or even pump and take it to the hole. His range is expanding to the 3 and measured well at the combine, so that gives him some potential as a small ball 5. Henry fights for rebounds and has a great motor, not to mention he is a great kid all-around. The Nuggets get a future proof 4 in this draft that pairs well with their other floor spacing 5.
8. Sacramento Kings – Buddy f***ing Hield
Up there with Simmons, Buddy Hield was a joy to watch but a pain to be on Twitter when he was hot. He has improved his shooting much more than when he entered the college season, and has grown in other aspects of the game from playmaking to his defense. He still is not overly explosive, and his defense pays for that. He can only guard shooting guards and can’t really defend point guards. Buddy has improved over his college career, and some teams are banking on these prospects to make progress, but Hield has a track record of improving over time. This kid has a high motor and is a very hard worker, so he will clean up some of his mistakes. He will be a good/great shooter that has to rely on screens for most of his offense because he will struggle to get past defenders. The Kings get some offense and a solid contributor early on, and Cousins will have a player to kick the ball out to for a shot. Buddy is not the next Dwyane Wade, but a catch and shoot shooter that is a great kid and leader is something that provides value and is a important piece.
9. Toronto Raptors – Timothe Luwawu
Luwawu is a fun prospect. The 21 year old is a playmaking 2-way player that can shoot, albeit not consistently, and make some great passes, as he pushes the ball up the floor really well. He has improved his handle, but he is limited to only certain moves and cannot make more advanced ones. He still was able to put up points and offense isn’t really his strongest asset. He can defend the 1,2, and 3 very well, as he stays in front of them and uses his length to bother shots and intercept some passing lanes. The Raptors will need a wing after Demar DeRozan goes to the Lakers [Editors note: Ummmmmm….] so Luwawu will replace him nicely. You can have him and Powell interchange in a wing favored league.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Jakob Poeltl
Poeltl, my sleeper pick, seems to be getting at least a tad overlooked. Why? Every year, he has taken big steps in improving his game, similar to his fellow potentially top five pick, Buddy Hield. He has added a left hand to his game and has carried Utah all of this season. He runs on a high motor and plays tougher than his frame allows. He can defend players on the perimeter and can bang down low with bigs. He has soft hands that allows him to be a role target for guards. The Bucks have Plumlee as a RFA and Monroe isn’t meshing well with the team so Poeltl would provide some much needed insurance and gives point god Giannis a great roll man to work with.
11. Orlando Magic – Deyonta Davis
“Hi Frank Vogel, Welcome to the Orlando Magic. We are going to hand you a 6’11” defensive stud that has some really soft hands and room to grow on offense. Make him a defensive wizard, k thanx.” In all serious, Davis is another unknown name to the draft world that has risen up boards with his defense and offensive flashes. He can step out and guard some smaller players but his most eye popping skill is his shot blocking. He can block shots on players just going 1 and 1 but struggles a bit on help defense. He needs to build consistency for his offensive skills as he has some sort of a mid range shot and post game but further polishing will help develop this aspect of his arsenal. His versatility as far as being a PF or C makes him a good fit with Aaron Gordon going forward. He does all of the dirty work for the team and he hasn’t finished growing. If you haven’t seen his Draft Express videos, you’re missing out:
12. Utah Jazz – Denzel Valentine
The Jazz are so close in getting to the next level that all they really need is a role player. Denzel is a do it all utility guy that can rebound, pass, and even shoot some 3 point shots. His defense needs some work, but having Gobert and Favors next to him will certainly help in hiding that. After 4 fun years at Michigan State, he is now going to be your favorite bench player as he will do all the dirty work to help get a team into the playoffs providing the Jazz with some productivity from the bench.
13. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss
The Suns need a 4, and Chriss gives them a high risk/high reward player that, if developed right, can become a special 4 in the league. He can face up and shoot mid range jumpers and is an elite leaper that has good hands that can catch lobs. He isn’t as polished as other prospects, and it will be a couple seasons until he really starts to make an impact on a team, but he turns 19 just before draft day so he will have the time. It will be interesting if he falls this low but if he does, he may be the steal of the night.
14. Chicago Bulls – Skal Labissiere
Skal is a project, but he is definitely worth a look this late into the lottery if he even falls this low. The Haitian can spread the floor as he has one of the smoothest shots in the draft with a high release point and shot form. He is really thin and needs to bulk up. He is still a good rim runner that can block shots with his 7 foot height. The Bulls are kind of stuck in a rebuild/playoff contending mode that could make this pick for a more NBA ready player, but at the moment, Skal looks like the kind of player that they could take a chance on in hopes he develops into something special. He looked lost and not really even ready for college. His ceiling is still insanely high, almost as high as the release point on his shot.
15. Denver Nuggets – Furkan Korkmaz
Well the Nuggets aren’t any closer to contending, so drafting a player like Korkmaz that they could draft and stash in Europe or bring off the bench slowly is something that they should look into. In a couple years, when the roster looks more set, they could buy his contract and make him come over. Furkan is a ball handling shooting guard that has a quick trigger and can pass very well. His body needs to add muscle, but he can help create offense off of the bench.
16. Boston Celtics – Taurean Prince
Boston cannot keep this many picks, so this one most likely gets traded, but in the case that they don’t, Prince is the pick here. Even though he has a top 5 name in this draft, he also is a smart 2 way wing, is a mediocre 3 point shooter who is really, really athletic. He could turn out being like a wing that is already on the Boston roster, Crowder, who is all over the court getting rebounds, or doing things that energy guys off the bench do. His passing and rebounding also makes him that do it all type player that contenders similar to the Celtics look for.
17. Memphis Grizzlies – Tyler Ulis
So the Grizzlies need a guard huh? Well I have a sophomore court manager that might just fit that need of theirs. Ulis is an undersized player and his measurables are nothing to write home about, but his 5’9″ body makes him a pesky little defender that can score in many ways. He is quick enough to split pick and rolls or turn the corner. He has good range as a shooter and passes extremely well. The Grizz could use a playmaker like him and he can learn under another outstanding playmaker in Mike Conley.
18. Detroit Pistons – Domantas Sabonis
When looking at the frontcourt depth for the Pistons, it may make you vomit. Tolliver and Ilysova are not going to be enough going forward and Sabonis gives them a breath of fresh air here. Domantas carried his Gonzaga team throughout the tourney and that caused his stock to rise. Taking Sabonis would give Drummond some much needed breathers or even allow him to come off the bench for some energy alongside Drummond.
19. Denver Nuggets – Demetrius Jackson
I do love Jackson’s game, but I have him going lower than most project him, just because I think that teams will draft this way. Ulis and Memphis are a perfect marriage and Jackson is a potential candidate for that spot. Jackson could be more of an energy guy off the bench or the first guard off the bench of a contender, but for the Nuggets he could start alongside Mudiay. He provides some sort of insurance for Mudiay, and his improved shooting helps him to complement him well.
20. Indiana Pacers – Wade Baldwin
His body is well made for the NBA, as he has plenty of upper body strength to take on contact, combined with good length in a 6’11” wingspan with his 6’4″ height. The Pacers need some depth behind George Hill, but with Baldwin’s upside, he can even take over the starting spot alongside Monta Ellis. He can shoot really well from the 3 point line and his defensive upside with his measurements, not to mention his improved playmaking makes him a really enticing player.
21. Atlanta Hawks – Damian Jones
Horford is most likely gone, so Jones is a serviceable replacement. The 2nd Condor taken in the first round, Jones is an unpolished prospect that showed flashes of dominance on both defense and offense. He is really athletic for a man of his size, not being on the level of Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, but is a good lob target and can be a presence in the paint. He has stretches of good basketball, but they don’t appear consistently enough for someone to be 100% sold on him. The Hawks get a project that could develop well. After all, he is just 20 years old.
*Rapid fire picks from here on*
22. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Beasley
All aboard the Beasley hype train. The 6’5″ guard out of Florida State gives the Hornets some much needed shooting and helps fill the hole that could be left if Batum leaves in free agency. Malik kinda broke out and rose up the boards, and he is a good guard to have coming off the bench.
23. Boston Celtics – Ante Zizic
This 19 year old is an ideal selection if the Celtics decide to keep all of these picks. He can come to the NBA next year and is a good draft-and-stash candidate so that the Celtics don’t overfill their roster. The Croatian big man can run up and down the floor very well and is a modernized center. He may start as a backup/energy guy but his 19 years of age makes him a possible breakout candidate.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – DeAndre Bembry
Another do-it-all player that gives the Sixers some much needed depth and a player that has multiple skills. With the addition of Simmons, Bembry is another multi-positional player that can play many spots and do different things. Let’s make the Sixers fun again!
25. Los Angeles Clippers – Cheick Diallo
Diallo can become a defensive monster, as he is a mobile big man that can play the 4/5 and can even guard some 3’s. Even though he spent most of his season on the bench, Cheick performed well during the Combine and that has raised his stock. It is a gamble to choose someone who has so little tape, but his upside and possible day 1 contributions are enticing enough for a contender like the Clippers to pick up on.
26. Philedphia 76ers – Dejounte Murray
The Sixers need guards and Murray is a pretty good option in this range. He is pretty athletic and he can get by players at will. He isn’t good at stretching the floor (it seems like they are going to be getting a lot of athletic non-shooters) but his size and body allows him to be a good role player.
27. Toronto Raptors – Ivica Zubac
The Raptors are contenders and I don’t see that changing. A possible draft and stash big, Zubac could be used to replace Biyombo. He is 19 and still has room to grow, which he will need since he is very unpolished. He is a rim runner that can recover quite well on defense.
28. Phoniex Suns – Zhou Qi
His name alone makes him worthy of a first round pick. Even though he can be knocked over by a strong breeze, his outside shot and long body gives him plenty of potential on defense and offense.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Juan Hernangomez
The Spurs will end up drafting a forward this late and turning him into the next Tim Duncan. Hernangomez is a high energy/motor guy that has improved overseas and his age allows him to possibly be coached into more.
30. Golden State Warriors – Caris LaVert
The Warriors are so good that they could take another injury risk similar to Looney. LaVert is a possible lottery player if not for his injury. Might as well give him the Warriors jersey already.
31. Boston Celtics – Patrick McCraw
McCraw has a lot of potential on defense because of his speed and lateral quickness. He can impact the Celtics off the bench to give them a booster defensively. His offense needs a bit of work, but he is a solid playmaker that could steadily improve over time.
32. Los Angeles Lakers – *Insert Mitch’s choice*
Mitch has a proven track record of choosing good players in the later rounds so whoever he chooses will be a solid role player. BOOK IT.
Top 10 coolest names in the draft
1. Dragan “The Dragon” Bender
2. Zhou “the big zucchini” Qi
3. Jermaine “not Jennifer” Lawrence
4. Guerschon “My girlfriend can’t pronounce my name” Yabusele
5. Thon “shot” Maker
6. Georgios “Hey, that’s my” Papagiannis
7.Furkan “no mas” Korkmaz
8. Paul “I’ll be done in a” Zipser
9. Denzel “be my” Valentine
10. Malik “not the Catholic” Pope