Fourteen of the thirty fan bases eagerly awaited the results of the 2016 Mock Draft on Tuesday, only to find out that they waited half an hour only for the order to stay exactly as it was supposed to go in terms of percentage. So, for all you know, I could've written this a month before the lottery, kept it the exact same and released it directly after the lottery to get maximum traffic for this site. But no, I'm an idiot, so now I have to bust my ass and try to get this one out as soon as possible.
Anyway, enough of my whining. This draft is set to be a pretty interesting one. Most have called it a two player draft, but I on the other hand, believe it's far deeper than meets the eye. I think there are gems to be found all over this draft and because of it I am extremely excited for June 23rd.
You'll notice that compared to all my other mock drafts, this one is a little bit shorter, mainly because I wanted to get it out as soon as possible. But just like version 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, it's still good.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, F, LSU
Sometimes, with the first pick, a team can get caught up with picking by need rather than selecting the best player available. If you are the worst team in the league, you shouldn't be taking the player that fits the rest of your roster, because your roster sucks. It really isn't too difficult to comprehend.
The Sixers fit the bill of this perfectly. They stink, I mean, they really stink. You don't win just 10 games with a good NBA roster, filled with real NBA players now, do you? They should have no incentive to draft by need. Unless you think that Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor are key franchise changing pieces -- none of whom have shown any signs of being this -- you do not by any circumstances pick the guy that fits your team better over the best player available.
As tempting as Brandon Ingram's natural floor spreading ability looks next to the cramped, clogged Sixers' frontcourt, the best player in this draft is by far and away Ben Simmons. His athleticism, length, fantastic instincts and amazing IQ make him a great defensive prospect, just watch the film to make sure. He's so unselfish, you'd think he'd share his girlfriend. Too add on, he is a seamless scorer from everywhere on the court apart from his jump shot.
Which by the way, isn't as broken as people believe. We aren't reaching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist levels at all, his mechanics aren't terrible. In fact, I think the only reason why people don't like his shooting ability is because he didn't take many of them in college. Why? Because he knew that with his skillset, it is more beneficial for his team for him to be attacking the basket and letting his floor-stretchers take jump shots, off of his excellent passing. It didn't hurt him too much at LSU either, because he was handling the ball most of the time, something that NBA teams have to utilize more of and something he will be doing a hell of a lot more of than standing off-ball.
Listen, Simmons isn't a great fit next to the non-shooting trio of Embiid, Noel and Okafor, but he is the best chance Philly have at acquiring a franchise changing superstar that they desperately need to turn their fortunes around. A superstar that they have devoted three years of tanking to. Now, they have a chance to acquire him, so go get him.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
The Lakers won't care who slips here. They'll take the Sixers' sloppy seconds, of Simmons or Ingram, barring unforeseen circumstances. Luckily for them, the Lakers probably see the Kevin Durant-esque Ingram as a perfect fit.
L.A. are set up well for the future with the trio of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, but those three could use someone to plug in the holes all three of them have in their game. Ingram fits that mold very well.
At 6'9'', with a 7'3'' wingspan and incredible athleticism, he has the chance to be an elite defensive player at the next level. He has all the tools (bar, possibly his skinny 196 lbs build) to succeed on that end, as well as backing it up with on court defensive production in his time at Duke. Next to a small backcourt and Julius Randle, who doesn't thrive defensively, having a small forward who is defensively capable is necessary.
On offense, Ingram doesn't need the ball in his hands, since he is a 40% three-point shooter already, meaning the Laker offense can continue to revolve around the ball-dominant duo of Clarkson and Russell. Randle down low will benefit from getting more room to operate in the low post by Ingram's shooting touch too.
Really, it's the case of a perfect pick for the Sixers. He's the best player available and the perfect fit. It makes the Celtics fan in me cringe a little bit.
Speaking of the Celtics...
3. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets): Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
This is the swing point in the draft, with no clear front-runner for spot number 3, I have my Boston Celtics taking Buddy Hield and boy would I be happy if Danny Ainge pulled this off in June.
Buddy Hield may not have the upside someone like a Jaylen Brown or a Dragan Bender, but he might be more NBA ready than anyone in the class. He is ready to slot into a J.J. Redick type role right at this instance. Plus, the Celtics need an NBA ready player at this slot, assuming that they don't trade the pick, as they are already in the thick of Eastern Conference contention and if they make the right roster moves throughout the offseason, they could vault into title contention. Getting someone that can contribute in a playoff game here is key, someone that has a feel for big games. Hield adds that in abundance, as we saw in the NCAA Tournament.
With the Celtics already in the contender circles of the NBA, they need someone that can fill a need, rather than going best player available here. Buddy Hield's role is already defined within the Celtics. The Celtics need more shooting. They had to break the rust off of Jonas Jerebko (who did an incredible job) during the Hawks' series just to add this, because there was no space on the floor for Isaiah Thomas to create offense.
Sadly, the Celtics didn't have enough of it, especially after Avery Bradley went down. Imagine if they had Hield in that series, someone that could've come in straight away, hit a big three in a big moment and helped loosen up the stagnant Celtic offense. And while Hield isn't a replacement for Bradley, he does fit in slightly better than Bradley in a lot of lineups, with the need for shooting.
Speaking of that need for shooting, the Celtics ranked 11th in three-point attempts this year, but just 28th in three-point percentage. They are a high volume shooting team, but don't have the quality to quite pull off that style yet. Perhaps, Hield could fix that.
4. Phoenix Suns: Jaylen Brown, SF, California
The Jeff Hornacek era of basketball is over in Phoenix. This isn't a good thing by the way, Hornacek is a far superior coach to Earl Watson, but what it does mean is that the two-point guard lineup days are over and the Suns can start building around a more conventional lineup.
What it also means is that Devin Booker will be given every opportunity to be the Suns' shooting guard of the future and if things work out well, a franchise player. Slide the returning Eric Bledsoe in next to him and you've got a top notch backcourt! With the young, developing Alex Len at center, that leaves only the forward spots to fill, spots that they can fill with both their lottery picks.
While T.J. Warren might be good later on down the track, Jaylen Brown has the chance to be a superstar. He is one of, if not the best athlete in the entire draft class, with incredible physicality to add to that. At 6'7'', with a 7'0'' wingspan, he is already a fantastic defensive player and with a little bit more seasoning, he'll turn into something special on that end. He's basically just a taller, more physical version of Eric Bledsoe.
The big question marks that always hang over Brown's head revolve around his raw offensive game. His shooting stroke was extremely inconsistent in college. Per hoop-math, he made just 30% of his 2 point and 3 point jump shots. However, Brown shot a lot of these, accounting for 57% of his offensive shots, meaning that he believes that he has what it takes to be an at least competent shooter in the future. I've also mentioned quite a lot that I really do like his shooting mechanics too. He hops into his shot, dips the ball a bit and holds his follow-through.
Even if his jump shot never comes along, his offensive floor might be someone as good as DeMar DeRozan, an all-star that is in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pair share a lot of similarities. Just look at the way both use their athleticism and physicality to bulldoze their way to the rim, no matter who the hell is front of them.
Plus, there's an insurance policy if Brown doesn't develop a jump shot, with Devin Booker next to him, there may be no need for any more. Instead, Brown can make his bone-shattering drives to the rim and cover for his wing partner defensively.
A lot of people have Dragan Bender here, but I think that this power forward class is really deep and that the
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dragan Bender, PF/C, Bosnia & Herzegovina
With Thibs in charge, it's time to get him some talent.
A lot of people have the Timberwolves taking a guard here, but I'm unconvinced that Kris Dunn is a great fit in the backcourt and I personally, am not a big fan of Jamal Murray's game.
So why not get a long-term partner for your franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns? Both are 21st century big men and share a lot of similar traits: athleticism, rim-protection, defensive switching ability, a solid jump shot for big men and play-making. Since both can do so many things on the basketball court, they seem like a seamless frontcourt pairing. Especially when you think that the Wolves don't have a better partner for Towns on roster. Gorgui Dieng is cool, but his jump shot needs to continue to improve in order for their offense to flourish. Nikola Pekovic is nice, but ever since his injury he hasn't been the same player. Adreian Payne and Nemanja Bjelica could be good some day, but neither have the upside of Dragan Bender.
Bender not only fills a need as a power forward, but as just a shooter. Dragan has a great looking stroke for a big man and would instantly lift the Wolves' ghastly 5.5 made threes per game, which ranked them 29th in the league.
What's even more impressive is that Bender is he's just 18 years old. With the Timberwolves in no rush to win games. One knock against Bender is that he isn't NBA ready, but on the Wolves, they are in no rush to make the playoffs or be a contending team.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
When I look at the Pelicans' roster, you can pretty much discount everything and everyone except for Anthony Davis. Everyone else on the roster fits into one of the following categories:
- Bad basketball player
It doesn't matter who they are -- outside of Davis --, they will undoubtedly fit one of those four categories.
So with this pick, they can just grab the best overall player and they don't have to worry about their position or fit too much. However, in this instance, they land not only the best available player in my books, but someone that is going to be the best possible fit for this Pelicans' team.
Kris Dunn is the best point guard in this draft class, by quite a long way. He has great physical tools for a point guard, standing at 6'4'' and with an incredible 6'9'' wingspan. This, combined with his poor man's John Wall athleticism make him an intriguing prospect on both sides of the ball. With the length and lateral quickness to scare any point guard running at him and with the speed to blow by slower defensive players and the body to finish at the rim once he gets there (a place where he shot 62% this past season).
The idea of a Kris Dunn-Anthony Davis pick and roll should be tantalizing enough for Pels' fans on its own to be in love with this pick without giving it a real second thought. With Dunn's athleticism and play-making ability off the dribble or off screens, Anthony Davis better be ready for a lob fest in NOLA for years to come. If Dunn can drop his turnovers down from 3.5 in 2015-16 and improve his decision making, he'll be scarily good.
Anyone worried about his age, since he is a senior, shouldn't. Just think back to another 6th overall pick from 2012 and you'll see why there is no need to worry about age when picking in the lottery. In fact it might actually be beneficial, seeing as they in theory should be more NBA ready.
7. Denver Nuggets: Marquesse Chriss, F, Washington
Someone's going to complain about the lack of Jamal Murray, I can feel it. But there is no need for him at this spot, with the young Emmanuel Mudiay and the improving Gary Harris completing a backcourt that could be around for the next decade if things go swimmingly.
Up front though, they could use another athletic specimen to pair up with the awesome Nikola Jokic.
Marquesse Chriss is one of my favorite prospects in the whole draft class. He's the definition of a 21st century big man. He is a phenomenal athlete, that toggles between positions defensively with ease, blocks shots at the rim and has surprisingly good range on his jump shot, being a 44% mid-range shooter and a 35% one from downtown. Nikola Jokic can do a lot of things too, making for an athletic, versatile frontcourt that can't be messed with.
There are a few concerns around Chriss. There are concerns around his character, intelligence and attitude especially, along with his poor rebounding rate. The Nuggets shouldn't worry too much about either of those. Mike Malone is a fantastic coach and managed to get Boogie Cousins engaged, think he can't work a similar magic trick on Chriss? In terms of his poor rebounding, a part of his game in which he struggled, gathering in just 5 per game in 23 minutes of action, these worries shouldn't throw the Nuggets off the scent. The Nuggets are already the 9th best rebounding team in the league and also, Chriss spent a lot of his time at the three in Washington, meaning that with more time as a pure four, he should be able to develop a better knack for boards with position closer to the rim.
8. Sacramento Kings: Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
If Murray slips this far, the Kings should gobble him up in a heartbeat.
I have a lot of problems around Murray's game. Including, his length, his position, his athleticism and his defense. All of those are question marks. He might not be long enough to play two-guard, nor does he have the height (you could make the same case about Buddy Hield, except he has a 6'9'' wingspan). He will struggle defending this position at the NBA level, especially when he struggled big time at the college level. If he plays point, his lack of familiarity with the position will come back to bite him, as will his athleticism, which is largely underwhelming. Not to mention, he doesn't have the unselfish mindset of a pure point guard, but more of a pure scorer. This lack of athleticism will mean he will struggle defending guys like Russell Westbrook at the NBA level and will also have trouble getting to the rim.
But the Kings won't care about any of those problems. Why? Because their backcourt needs both a point guard and a shooting guard. Rajon Rondo probably won't return as he is entering free agency this summer and Ben McLemore has been shockingly bad throughout his NBA career thus far. Drafting Murray would put the Kings in a position to play him at either spot, giving him time to figure out which position is best for his future.
With his position not a factor for the Kings, all of his strengths will shine through. From his deadly in-between game, to his silky smooth outside shot. Murray is adapt from scoring at any spot on the court, he can come of pin-downs to score off a catch-and-shoot and on the very next play, weave his way through a pick and roll for a pull-up.
Even if I don't like Murray as a prospect, I'd certainly take him here if I were the Kings.
9. Toronto Raptors (via New York Knicks): Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State
This is high for Deyonta Davis, I'm unsure if there's any other mock draft on the entire internet that has him going this high, but I'm going to pick him here purely based on his fit and need for the Raptors.
If you've watched any Raptors' game during the playoffs you will know that they are missing a power forward to take them to the next level. Luis Scola isn't the answer to any question in 2016, Patrick Patterson is much better suited to be coming off the bench and DeMarre Carroll can play there, but can only do it in short bursts.
Many have the Raps picking Marquette's Henry Ellenson here and although I have him rated higher on my big board, his game is very similar to a guy like Patrick Patterson.
Deyonta Davis gives them something they don't already have: an athletic defensive big man, that can stretch the floor. The Raptors just don't have a guy that can do all of those things and could need it if they want to become a real contender in the NBA.
Davis is already a fantastic defender, with his long arms and leaping ability. He is fast enough to switch on to smaller guards and strong enough to body anyone in the post. Plus, he was coached by Tom Izzo, so you know he'll be good on that end. Offensively, he could give Jonas Valanciunas the room to operate inside with his nice touch from the outside, with the potential to turn into something far more than just a floor spacer. He was only given an opportunity to score at Michigan State on only a very select few occasions, so with a few more touches he might turn out to be something special. Plus, he's only 19 and doesn't turn 20 until December.
The Raptors don't need him to contribute immediately either with a slew of other veteran options, so Davis will be given time to marinate on the sideline until his raw self is truly ready.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
The Bucks started Miles Plumlee at the back end of the 2015-16 season. This was after they paid Greg Monroe to be their prized free agent signing and they found out that to play their aggresive, athletic, scrambling defense, they need a rim-protector. In hindsight, letting Zaza Pachulia go for nothing was a terrible move.
While Miles Plumlee fits the mold of the center on a fast-breaking team, Jakob Poeltl is twice as good from a talent perspective and fits just as well.
On defense, Poeltl might be the best in the class. He is a mobile big man that doesn't allow anything easy at the rim. Put up a soft shot and he'll swat it. Run it at him and he'll stay straight up and force a miss. Being as mobile as he is for a 7 footer, he is amazingly good at defending the pick and roll.
The only knock on him at that end is his strength. In the second round of the NCAA tourney, Domantas Sabonis dominated his skinny body in the post, raising eyebrows for many scouts, who are now wondering if he can be tasked with defending physical threats down low.
Offense is an area in which Poeltl has clearly worked tirelessly on. This past NCAA season, he averaged 17 points on 65% shooting from the field, a big step up from the 9 he averaged in 2014-15. Poeltl showed off a good post game, but more impressively, a nice mid-range game that will make him all the more intriguing come draft day.
11. Orlando Magic: Wade Baldwin IV, PG, Vanderbilt
DISCLAIMER: I LOVE WADE BALDWIN IV!
Yep, Wade Baldwin IV is my favorite prospect in the entire class, you caught me red handed. But boy does this guy have potential.
We often here people say that someone, "has all the tools to succeed." In Baldwin's case, he has every single tool imaginable. He stands at 6'4'', weighing in at 202 lbs and having a 6'11'' wingspan, he looks like he was created in any basketball lover's head. With that body, he adds great athleticism too, making for a physical specimen. Obviously with those tools, he is going to be a monster defensively right away. With those long arms, in college, he bothered every guy he went up against, not letting anyone past those massive limbs.
But on offense, he is still very raw. Even with that athleticism and length, he didn't use it all too well when heading to the rim. According to hoop-math, he made just 50% of his shots around the hoop. The tape shows it as well, far too often, he would shy away from contact and set himself up for hard finishes at the bucket, even if he did everything right up until that point:
His jump shot is weirdly a question mark too. From the outset, he is a 40% three-point shooter, which is weird for a guy with that body and athleticism. So, you'd assume he is an extremely polished shooter, right? No, he shot just 35% on two-point jumpers last season. He absolutely struggled with his decision making in the mid-range area. Speaking of decision making, he wasn't great in that area of his game either, turning the ball over nearly 3 times per game.
But with those types of tools, he offers an enormous upside and an intriguing proposition for the Magic. This is because Elfrid Payton is their incumbent, but didn't improve from his rookie season to now. Perhaps, he'll stay that way forever, meaning that the Magic need a higher upside point guard to provide contrast and another option to Elfrid Payton in the long-term.
- Need for higher upside point guard
12. Utah Jazz: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
I have seen people pick guys like Henry Ellenson and Jakob Poeltl here and I have no idea why. The Jazz already have Trey Lyles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Jeff Withey on roster, all of whom could be starting on a different NBA team. I have also seen people pick a wing with this selection, usually someone like Malik Beasley, but with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood already on the team, there is no need to get a third man in that rotation just yet, especially with Alec Burks there too.
What this team needs is a point guard. Sure Dante Exum will be returning from injury soon and may be ready to start next season, but they need an insurance policy just in case Exum isn't the same guy or even if his best position ends up being the two-guard spot. If Exum does do one of those two things, who actually thinks that Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto or the highly disappointing Trey Burke is actually the answer in Utah?
Demetrius Jackson is a bit of a reach here, but he fills an instant need for the Jazz. Outside of the pure need Utah have for a point guard, Jackson's a pretty good player. He is as explosive as they come, is a solid jump shooter, good defender and rarely turns the ball over, all things you want out of a point guard.
It doesn't matter who it is, but the Jazz desperately need to pick a point guard with this selection.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards): Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette
Remember what I said about this being a deep power forward class?
Well, as it seems, the Suns were right in this instance not to bite on Bender and wait until their second pick because they've managed to pick up arguably the most skilled, polished big man in the entire draft with Henry Ellenson.
Anyone that has read any mock draft on the entire internet, will know that Ellenson's ceiling is extremely comparable to that of Kevin Love. He's a great finisher around the rim, can stretch his jump shot out to the perimeter with ease, rebounds well and isn't the best defensive player anyone has ever seen. See where the Kevin Love comparisons start to flow in?
With Jaylen Brown drafted with the fourth pick, a great backcourt and a developing center already in place, the Suns just need a floor spacing power forward to complete their young starting five. Ellenson adds this and then some, with the upside to be somewhere around an all-star caliber big man. After ditching the disgruntled Markieff Morris at the mid-point of the 2015-16 season and seeing Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer not being able to fully succeed with the starting role, drafting Ellenson seems like a great move.
14. Chicago Bulls: Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, France
Listen y'all, it's time for the Bulls to start their rebuild. Rid yourselves of veterans and maybe even trade Jimmy Butler for a few more future assets to start that.
If they do start their rebuild, drafting Timothe Luwawu is a great opening.
Luwawu is a long, athletic wing who will instantly be a force defensively in the league. In France's Adriatic league, he has shown off the potential to be great offensively too, averaging 14.6 points, on 40/37/69 splits. His offensive game is still coming along very slowly still though, with his decision making and consistency still major question marks. But at the very least, his NBA future looks to be a 3 and D player, somewhat like what Courtney Lee has done throughout his career.
But his ceiling looks to be a heck of a lot higher, if he patches the holes in his game and good be a nice risk/reward pick for the Bulls, to kick-start their rebuild.
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