NBA Mock Draft 2016: Edition 1
For all the tanking that the Sixers have endured, the team's results so far have been mixed. Nerlens Noel has been okay, but far from a franchise cornerstone, and Jahlil Okafor had a rough rookie season. The hope is that Joel Embiid will actually finally play and Dario Saric will arrive from Croatia as the new and improved Kristaps Porzingis. Even if that happens, Philly's backcourt is thin and lacking star power. In my opinion, Ingram has the higher ceiling than Ben Simmons and offers this team more versatility in their backcourt. If he can add on weight and become more aggressive, his 6'9" frame with long arms and fluid game could remind Sixers fans of Kevin Durant quickly.
2. Los Angeles Lakers Ben Simmons, F, LSU
Peculiar only begins to describe this past season at LSU for Ben Simmons. First off, the Australian born forward was a weird fit in Baton Rouge, where superstar basketball players aren't extremely common (outside of Shaq). His hot start and filled stat sheet were quickly overshadowed by the Tigers' struggles and by the end of the year, his poor grades and fact he couldn't lead LSU to an NCAA Tournament left questions around him. His grades shouldn't be a problem, it isn't likely they represent character concerns. The problem is his jump shot, as he didn't show any consistent jumper throughout his time at LSU. His superb athleticism and playmaking ability may enable him to get by in college basketball, but I fear he could struggle without a jumper to fall back on, making him a slightly riskier pick than Ingram.
3. Boston Celtics Dragan Bender, F, Croatia
The wonderful play of Kristaps Porzingis in his rookie season in New York has benefited international prospects as a whole, but perhaps none more than Dragan Bender. The Croatian forward has a game similar to Porzingis; he uses a thin, tall frame to gain position in the post and finish in acrobatic ways. He isn't a lights out perimeter shooter but can stretch the floor, and he is a solid defender. While he may need some time to adjust to the fast-paced NBA, he could add enough diversity to the Celtics' offense to push them over the top and into the Eastern Conference's elite.
4. Phoenix Suns Henry Ellenson, F/C, Marquette
In a Draft sure to be dominated by the Ingram-Simmons debate, the mystery of Bender, and the sharpshooting Buddy Hield, Ellenson may end up being the most underrated prospect in it. The Marquette big man doesn't have a flashy game but he is as rock-solid a big man prospect as they come. He is blessed with great size, good mobility and a feathery touch around the basket. The Suns were terrible this past season and could use help anywhere. They make like the potential of Jamal Murray or Jaylen Brown here, but Ellenson is a good fit and is the type of prospect that will produce for a decade.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
It is easy to be excited if you are a Minnesota Timberwolves fan. Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns look like legit superstars, Zach LaVine continues to awe, and Tom Thibodeau is a great coach. If the T-Wolves could add one more piece, they have a legitimate Finals contender in just a few short years. Ricky Rubio's career trajectory is pointing down, and Minnesota should seek his replacement with Murray. The polar opposite of Rubio, Murray is an aggressive scorer who wants the ball. He isn't a natural point guard but he can learn and he can help space the floor for Towns underneath.
6. New Orleans Pelicans Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
New Orleans sits in a weird position at this point right now. A year after making the playoffs in the brutal Western Conference, they regressed mightily. They may still have one of the league's premier stars in Anthony Davis, but haven't surrounded him with the right talent. Kris Dunn was prolific in his time with Providence, and he could be the Pelicans' future point guard with inconsistent Jrue Holiday set to hit free agency in 2017.
7. Denver Nuggets Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
Prolific is just one way to describe Buddy Hield's senior season in Oklahoma. He was always a good player but this past offseason he improved his shooting and really grew as a leader. The result was a magnificent with 25 points per game, while shooting over 50% from the field. Denver needs some youth, and Hield's great shooting could really help their floor spacing.
8. Sacramento Kings Jaylen Brown, G/F, California
The Kings haven't made the NBA Playoffs in a decade, and while they have a legit stud in Demarcus Cousins, they are very thin everywhere else. Jaylen Brown could be the addition they need to spark their struggling offense. The wing from California has exceptional athleticism and is a dangerous threat in transition. His poor shooting will need to improve, but he could finally end the Kings' run of drafting terrible guards (Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore, Jimmer Fredette).
9. Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
While they are in the Eastern Conference semifinals at the moment, Toronto has been unable to really get over the top for a long time. DeMar DeRozan is as exciting as they get but he doesn't fit the mold of someone who could lead a team to a title, and he will hit free agency this summer. While the Raptors will monitor that situation, they could go best player available here. Jakob Poeltl was dominant at times in Utah but is still very raw. He could learn the ropes from another big man that came into the league very raw, Jonas Valanciunas.
10. Milwaukee Bucks Malik Beasley, G, Florida State
This could be an interesting offseason for Milwaukee. They have a rising star in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Grevis Vazquez are all set to hit the open market this summer. Malik Beasley has some flaws in his game and is very young, but the talent is there for him to be a future star. His athletic ability and ability to finish around the rim would be a welcome addition for the Bucks.
11. Orlando Magic Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
Few players in recent memory have been as big of busts in college basketball as Skal Labissiere. The former five-star recruit was hailed by many as a possibility for the No.1 pick before the year began. Instead, Labissiere was limited to 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game over 16 minutes a game, and looked lost for much of the season. Even with his deficiencies, Orlando could take a chance on his vast potential because they are already so young.
12. Utah Jazz Domantas Sabonis, F/C, Gonzaga
With a young core headed by Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert intact, Utah should be merely looking for depth with this selection. Domantas Sabonis was terrific over his two years with Gonzaga and the son of NBA legend Arvydas could become a valuable asset off the bench for the Jazz.
13. Phoenix Suns Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State
After trading away Markieff Morris, Phoenix should continue to reload a backcourt that has lacked a star for some time now. Already selecting the NBA ready Ellenson at four, they should go with potential here, and Davis fits the mold. The forward had his fair share of ups-and-downs with Michigan State this past season, but he is a beast on the glass and should grow offensively.
14. Chicago Bulls Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
The Bulls are another team whose future is uncertain and will be interesting to watch. They were a massive disappointment this season, and have to face the fact both Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol could be free agents and Derrick Rose may never be the same. They could upgrade their frontcourt by snatching up Washington product Marquese Chriss, a well-rounded forward with good versatility.
15. Denver Nuggets Brice Johnson, F, North Carolina
Kenneth Faried has been a beast ever since he stepped on court in Denver, going from a raw big man from Ohio Valley member Murray State to a monster nicknamed "The Manimal". However, he isn't anybody you can build around, because his game has major holes in it. Denver could look to deal him in the near future, and why not snatch up his replacement in Johnson, who is a similar beast on the glass and plays with the energy and fire?
16. Boston Celtics Timothe Luwawu, G/F, France
Boston will have three first round picks in this Draft (this one comes from Dallas in the Rajon Rondo deal) and it is likely they will spend at least one on international developmental guy. Luwawu is vastly underrated; the French prospect plays with great fluidity and has a proven pedigree.
17. Memphis Grizzlies Denzel Valentine, G/F, Michigan State
Memphis' season was ruined this past season by injuries but they also have the fact that they are aging, with Zach Randolph growing older and Vince Carter on his last legs. Denzel Valentine could give the Grizzlies a dynamic wing who can do everything and is a better all-around player than either Lance Stephenson or one-dimensional Tony Allen.
18. Detroit Pistons Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
Tyler Ulis will be an interesting player to watch this year. He has been absolutely terrific the past two seasons at Kentucky but is undersized and generally viewed as role player at best at the next level. If he receives bad feedback, he could always return to Lexington. If he goes, Detroit could add a backup point guard after dealing away Brandon Jennings this season.
19. Denver Nuggets Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
With three first-rounds picks this year it would not be surprising at all to see Denver could the foreign route with at least one selection. Korkmaz is a high upside wing out of Turkey that is a polished shooter and a strong defender. He could add immediate help on the wing and an in ideal world, space the floor for Emmanuel Mudiay.
20. Indiana Pacers Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
In my opinion, few teams were as disappointing this past season as the Vanderbilt Commodores. A popular dark horse pick, the Commodores appeared to have a prototypical big man in Damian Jones. Jones never really looked comfortable this past season and he has some serious flaws in his game. Even so, Indiana would appreciate another developmental big to pair with budding Myles Turner.
21. Atlanta Hawks Taurean Prince, G/F, Baylor
Atlanta did miss Demarre Carrol's presence this year as the versatile swingman did all the gritty stuff for the team in last year's breakout. They could get his younger self, a gifted forward who is a better shooter and should only grow as a defender.
22. Charlotte Hornets Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
Stone, who was a major get for Mark Turgeron and Maryland, had an up-and-down freshman year. He had moments where he looked like a dominant big man but he struggled with foul trouble and confidence. Even so, Charlotte could use another big man with Al Jefferson slowly growing older.
23. Boston Celtics Chieck Diallo, F/C, Kansas
Only in the NBA Draft can a player miss half a season due to eligibility issues and then promptly average 3.0 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game, and still be viewed by some as an NBA lottery possibility. Diallo is super young and raw but Boston has enough depth and is stable enough he could slowly grow and evolve.
24. Philadelphia Sixers Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse
Philadelphia is absolutely terrible at spots on their roster, most importantly their wing. Malachi Richardson came out of nowhere to help lead a Syracuse tournament run. He is terribly inconsistent but he has moments where he is unstoppable. If Philly can use and develop correctly, they could get a real steal here.
25. Los Angeles Clippers Wade Baldwin, G, Vanderbilt
Much like his former teammate Jones, Baldwin has his moments. He has the explosiveness of Russell Westbrook and has legit size. Though, he makes poor decisions and isn't a team leader. The Clippers could still use him as he could provide with a solid, high potential backup to Chris Paul as they push onward.
26. Philadelphia Sixers Guerschon Yabusele, F, France
I wouldn't be surprised to see Philly move away from international prospects as the Colangelos hope to win right now, and they are already have Dario Saric still overseas, although his arrival in the United States could be seen. Even so, they could still fall in love with Yabusele, a rock solid French prospect who rebounds very well.
27. Toronto Raptors Thon Maker, F/C, High Schooler
Thon Maker has to be one of the most interesting prospects in recent draft history. He comes straight out of high school because he played at a prep school instead of heading to college. He also happens to be 7'2" with a jumpshot reminiscent of Kevin Durant. Though he is too much of a risk for many teams to strike on him, except for Toronto. They could use a developmental big and Maker would be a good fit.
28. Phoenix Suns Dejounte Murray, G, Washington
Phoenix's backcourt issues became evident at the trade deadline last season when Isaiah Thomas was traded to Boston and Goran Dragic dealt to Miami. Brandon Knight is pretty good but he has some bad nights and Eric Bledsoe can't stay healthy. Murray has the chance to be a lottery pick, but his poor shooting could drop him.
29. San Antonio Spurs DeAndre' Bembry, F, St. Joseph's
Few situations could fit as seamlessly as this selection. Bembry was terrific with St. Joseph's bringing an old school game and using his strength. He could become a solid, well-rounded wing for San Antonio, who continues to age throughout their roster.
30. Golden State Warriors Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV
The Warriors obviously don't have a ton of issues but one spot they could improve at is center. Andrew Bogut isn't that good and he is getting older, and Festus Ezeli nor Mareese Speights are overwhelming. Golden State could add a young but talented seven-footer in Zimmerman out of UNLV.