The NBA Draft starts later today and we wanted to wait until the the NBA Finals were over before we posted our mock draft. We then realized that a lot of trades may happen early in the week since we know teams like the Knicks were looking to trade into the draft…so here we are, the day of, posting our 2016 NBA Mock Draft.
A lot can (and will) happen to shuffle the draft tonight. Teams will trade up and down, especially if a prospect falls farther than expected.
I’m smart enough to know that my mock draft will not be 100% correct. Mock drafts are more about gauging where players should go if nothing changes from now until the draft…but chaos is expected. I feel like I have a good feel for the pool of draft-eligible players. I can give insight on who teams ‘should’ pick or possibly reasons why they shouldn’t choose someone.
- Philadelphia 76ers – SF/PF Ben Simmons (LSU) – Simmons was the consensus #1 overall prospect going into last year’s college basketball season. His stocked dropped because he played on a bad team and failed to even make the NCAA Tournament. The entire team quit on their coach, which is a red flag on Simmons. It’s been a long time since a college player was chosen #1 overall and played on a team that failed to get a bid to the tourney. Simmons will be fine in the NBA. He has all the skills to contribute right away and develop into an All-Star talent.
- Los Angeles Lakers – SF Brandon Ingram (Duke) – People with eyes compare Ingram to Kevin Durant, since he’s rail-thin and has a nice shot. I don’t expect him to be as good as Durant, well because that’s a high bar to set for a young guy. He will need to eat a lot of In-N-Out burgers to put some meat on his bones if he hopes to reach his full potential.
- Boston Celtics – PG Kris Dunn (Providence) – If the Celtics pick Dunn here, it would just show how much NBA front offices use the media to attempt to swerve other teams. All we’ve heard from the Celtics during their workouts was how great Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield shot for them. Murray reportedly hit 79 of 100 three-pointers and then Hield hit 85 of 100 later. The Celtics need shooting, but Dunn would be the best pick for them going forward.
- Phoenix Suns – PF Marquese Chriss (Washington) – The Suns are in need of a power forward, but they could draft someone like Cal’s Jaylen Brown or Israel’s Dragan Bender here instead. Chriss wasn’t a ‘can’t miss’ high school recruit when he signed to play at Washington. He’s a bit raw, but he has a very high ceiling. The Suns have the time to develop him.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – SG Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) – Hield is arguably the best shooter and can step into an NBA rotation from day one and be a major contributor. The Twolves have a lot of young talent and could make a huge leap next year. Hield is the perfect pick for them.
- New Orleans Pelicans – SG Jamal Murray (Kentucky) – The Pelicans need a ball handler and since Dunn is off the board, no other point guards would be worth drafting this high. Murray will give the Pelicans an outside shooting threat. If the Celtics draft Dunn at #3, Pelicans could try to trade down.
- Denver Nuggets – PF Dragan Bender (Israel) – Bender is the best international player in this year’s draft. He’s only 18 years old and could be taken as early as the third pick. He could develop into a much-needed stretch-four for a good team.
- Sacramento Kings – SG Jaylen Brown (California) – Going into the Pac 12 conference tournament, Brown looked like a potential top-five pick (or higher). He had some big games, but completely disappeared in Cal’s lone NCAA Tournament game. Word on the street is Brown is highly-intelligent, but often questions why a coach tells him do to something. It isn’t in a defiant way, he just wants to know the reason. Scouts think he could have issues with old school coaches if he keeps this up in the NBA. I don’t see how intelligence could end up hurting someone’s draft stock. The Kings desperately needs some brains in their organization. There are a lot of knuckleheads on the team…and in the front office.
- Toronto Raptors – PF Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga) – Toronto needs some front-court depth and Sabonis is a good rebounder and can put up points. I could see him getting a decent amount of minutes in the rotation as a rookie.
- Milwaukee Bucks – C Jakob Poeltl (Utah) – The Bucks want to trade Greg Monroe this offseason. They need someone that can step into his role. Poeltl impressed me at Utah and carried the Utes in many games in the tough Pac 12 last season. He’s just a big bruiser in the paint.
- Orlando Magic – C Skal Labissiere (Kentucky) – A lot of people think the Magic will take Labissiere. It’s just a smart pick. Nikola Vucevic needs help inside. It might even help keep him healthy.
- Atlanta Hawks – PF Henry Ellenson (Marquette) – I kind of doubt Atlanta will keep this pick, but if they can’t afford to re-sign Al Horford, Ellenson could be someone they could target to help fill his spot.
- Phoenix Suns – SG Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt) – The benefit of having multiple first-round picks is that you can take a risk. If the Suns pick Chriss early in the draft, they need more of a sure-thing with this pick. Baldwin can play all over the floor and can defend.
- Chicago Bulls – PG Dejounte Murray (Washington) – The Bulls need someone to help fill a back-court need. Murray can create his own shot, but isn’t a great scorer (yeah, it’s a bit of a useless skills right now until he learns to hit his shots). Scouts believe he can develop consistency with his shooting. He’s long with a high-upside. It will be hard for the Bulls to pass if Murray drops this far.
- Denver Nuggets – SG Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey) – The Nuggets didn’t shoot the ball well from deep. Korkmaz can come off the bench immediately and get some good looks.
- Boston Celtics – PF Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) – The Celtics can take a risk and pick Davis. He didn’t play many minutes at Michigan State, but he was one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball. The Celtics have too many draft picks, so they can stash Davis down in the D-League while he develops.
- Memphis Grizzlies – SG Malachi Richardson (Syracuse) – We all know Memphis is interested in Richardson. He’s the antithesis of the usual back-court Grizzlies player. He’s athletic and can create his own shots off the dribble. His playmaking abilities are why he will be drafted this high.
- Detroit Pistons – SG Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) – It’s hard for an NBA team to pass up on a really popular, local college player. Rumor is that he has an issue with his knee, but the Pistons could overlook it. Valentine was a great college player and all signs point to him being a very productive NBA player.
- Denver Nuggets – SF Timothe Luwawu (Serbia) – The Nuggets have become very international over the years. Many of their players actually share the same agent as Luwawu. As much as I hate that his has become how players are signed in free agency and drafted, sharing an agent can be the reason you end up on a certain team.
- Indiana Pacers – PF Brice Johnson (North Carolina) – The Pacers can get someone that can contribute right away. He may not have the upside, but those with any upside left this late, are extremely risky.
- Atlanta Hawks – SG Mailk Beasley (Florida State) – Beasley can score and attack the hoop. He can replace Dennis Schroder on the bench…since Schroder will now be starting for Atlanta.
- Charlotte Hornets – SF Taurean Prince (Baylor) – Prince is athletic with a long wingspan. Wing players his size with his ability don’t fall very far in the draft.
- Boston Celtics – C Ivica Zubac (Croatia) – Zubac would be a stash candidate for Boston. He could stay overseas for a year, but it isn’t a given. He could come over right away, but Boston just has too many darn picks for them all to make the team immediately.
- Philadelphia 76ers – SG DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s) – This is a good story. He’s a local guy and can help the Sixers out right away. He can play point-forward and can defend multiple positions.
- Los Angeles Clippers – PG Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame) – Jackson would be the perfect young backup for Chris Paul. Jackson can shoot and is great in the pick-and-roll.
- Philadelphia 76ers – SF Juan Hernangomez (Spain) – This could be a stash pick for the Sixers. He has length and shot around 40% from deep last season in Spain. He could turn into an asset for Philly.
- Toronto Raptors – PF Thon Maker (Canada) – Maker is the biggest question mark in this entire draft. He hasn’t really stayed in one spot long enough to play organized basketball at a high level in one spot. He wowed scouts at workouts and at the combine, so he’s legit. He could go as high as the bottom of the Lottery or as low as the beginning of the second-round. I don’t think he will fall past Toronto at #27.
- Phoenix Suns – C Ante Zizic (Croatia) – The Suns probably need to stash one of their first-round picks overseas. Zizic needs to develop, but could turn into a rotational big man for a good team.
- San Antonio Spurs – PF Cheick Diallo (Kansas) – I don’t know how the Spurs do it every year, but another borderline Lottery talent could fall to the Spurs late in the draft. He has a high upside and given a little time, he could turn into something special.
- Golden State Warriors – C Diamond Stone (Maryland) – Stone is a very good player, but the rumor out there is that he has some background issues. He hasn’t done himself any favors during team interviews. The Warriors are stacked and Stone’s talent on the court deserves a first-round grade.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.