Thursday 25th May 2017,
The Hoop Doctors

15 Early Elite Prospects For The 2016 NBA Draft


  • jamal murray rt float  1

    The dog days of late Summer are the dead period in pro and college hoops. The 2015 NBA Draft is in the books, all Summer Leagues are over, and free agency has already seen the biggest players on the move early in the process.

    So, it’s the perfect time to begin prognosticating the upcoming season, even if it many months away.

    We will begin with some elite prospects for the 2016 NBA Draft, led by top incoming collegiate freshmen and a handful of talented International players capable of going high in the Draft.

    This past year, the Draft was dominated by NCAA freshmen like Karl Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Jahlil Okafor as well as International prospects Kristaps Porzingis and Emmanuel Mudiay, all of which looked tremendous this Summer.

    But which potential prospects will be the talk of next year’s Draft?

    It’s way too early to be sure, but here is THD’s list of 15 Early Elite Prospects For The 2016 NBA Draft………..


  • zhou qi

    7’2 210lbs Center

    Xinjiang Flying Tigers

    19 Yrs Old

    Qi has quickly become China’s next great hope when it comes to premier NBA talent coming out of the Far East. Most fans will make instant comparisons to the legendary Yao Ming, but the still only 19 year old prospect has a much more modern game rather than Ming’s imposing back-to-the basket low post game. The 7’2 Qi played limited minutes in this year’s Nike Hoops Summit due to an injury but has shined playing in the Chinese Basketball League, averaging 14.1 ppg, 7 reb, and 3.3 blocks during the ’14-’15 season. His imposing 7’6 wingspan makes him an imposing shot blocker and has above average handles and soft jumper to match, making him one of the elite prospects heading towards the 2016 NBA Draft. He reportedly has signed a 3 year deal with Xinjiang in the CBA and is the focal point of the Chinese National Team, so bringing him stateside may be an issue if he declares for next year’s draft.


  • damontis sabonis 2

    6’10 240lbs Power Forward/Center

    Gonzaga Bulldogs Sophomore

    19 Yrd Old

    Clearly the star of the U20 European Championships this past month was Sabonis, as he starred for Lithuania, averaging an Tourney high 13.2 rebounds, including a record 28 boards in a single game. He played last season for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, helping lead them to a deep NCAA run, averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshman. He flirted with declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft but decided to return to college for his sophomore season. He is the son of legendary Hall of fame big man Arvydas Sabonis and has played professionally in both senior and junior levels in Spain as early as a 17 year old. Maybe not the most flashiest player with a ways to go on offense, Sabonis exudes strength, mobility, toughness, and rebounding, making him a player to keep an eye on in the college ranks this season.


  • Utah v Oregon

    7’1 240lbs Center

    Utah Utes Sophomore

    19 Yrs Old

    One of the more promising big men in the college ranks last year as a freshman, the Austrian born Poeltl decided to return to Utah for his sophomore season after averaging 9 points and 7 boards in 23 minutes and despite helping lead the Utes to a Sweet 16 finish in March Madness. He has a bruising offensive game from 10-12 feet in but his real strength lies as a mobile big with an impressive defensive prowess. He’s still very raw but has impressive touch on his jumper, runs the floor as well as any 7 footer in college, and has great lateral quickness to be an elite defender as he develops. Poeltl is one of the fastest rising prospects in the 2016 class and could be a Top 10 lock with another stellar sophomore season in ’15-’16.


  • caris levert

    6’7 210lbs Shooting Guard

    Michigan Wolverines Senior

    21 Yrs Old

    Possessing elite size and skill for the SG position, LaVert was looked at as a potential NCAA Wooden Award contender prior to last season but unfortunately re-injured his surgically repaired left foot in January and was lost for the season. Prior to the injury, LeVert set career highs, scoring 32 points in a game and averaged 14.9 ppg, 4.9 reb, and 3.7 steals. LeVert is one of the most versatile skill sets of any prospect in the college ranks as he can be a high volume scorer, elite 3 point threat, can put the ball on the floor, and has potential as a great defender because of his length. With that being said there are some concerns about the re-occuring foot injuries and a lack of overall strength, but a strong senior season could boost him to being a Top 10 pick next June. Some see him in the mold of former NBA 6th Man of the Year Jamal Crawford for his ability to score at will.


  • isaiah briscoe

    6’3 215lbs Point Guard/Shooting Guard

    Kentucky Wildcats Freshman

    19 Yrs Old

    Touted as the #1 point guard entering the college ranks this season, Briscoe is a huge floor general with an impressive 6’9 wingspan, with tons of experience and an incredible feel for the game for a 19 year old. With a very solid build, he’s a beast on drives to the basket, regularly finishing well with contact and has an ever improving jumper that extends beyond the 3 point line. Just an average athlete, Briscoe reminds many of the 2nd coming of Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving for his uncanny ability to score as well as efficiently handle the rock and run a team. With a solid showing this season Briscoe could be a Top 5 selection come June.


  • kris dunn

    6’4 205lbs Point Guard

    Providence Friars Senior

    21 Yrs Old

    One of the nation’s top floor generals as a junior last season, Dunn should be a Preseason NCAA POY candidate after finishing 2nd in the country in assists(7.6 ast) in ’14-’15. Possessing great size and athleticism for a PG, Dunn excels in isolation situations, using his lightning quick first step to blow past defenders getting to the basket or using a pro-like pull-up jumper. He’s also an excellent defender thanks to a 6’8 wingspan, winning Big East Defensive POY last season. The one concern for Dunn has been the injury bug as he has missed significant portions of both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Providence. Many see him as a player comparable to Philadelphia’s Tony Wroten.


  • melo trimble 1

    6’3 190lbs Point Guard

    Maryland Terrapins Sophomore

    20 Yrs Old

    Melo helped lead the Terps on a deep NCAA run last season, putting up 16 ppg and shooting more than 40% from behind the arc as a freshman. He started the year off strong, playing as one of the top players in the nation early but fell off as the year went on. He looked much stronger this Summer playing for Team USA in the Pan American Games, showing a dedication to get to the FT line, where he shot an impressive 86% last season. He has great ball-handling skills but is not really known as a prolific passer just yet, averaging just 3 assists per game as a freshman. He’s capable of playing some SG, excelling as a spot up shooter. Defense is an area in need of improvement but should be one of the top point guards and players to watch again this season.


  • ivan rabb 3

    6’10 215lbs Power Forward

    California Golden Bears Freshman

    18 Yrs Old

    The Cal Bears hit the recruiting Lottery this offseason by landing not one, but two Top 10 rated recruits in Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Rabb is a super athletic forward that reminds many of 10 time NBA All Star Chris Bosh for his ability to stretch the defense with perimeter offense and amazing agility for a player his size. He’s still painfully thin and has a ways to go but his potential is through the roof as a future pro, possibly even after just one collegiate season.


  • cheick diallo 1

    6’9 220lbs Power Forward

    Kansas Jayhawks Freshman

    18 Yrs Old

    The Kansas freshman has yet to be cleared by the NCAA but when and if it happens, the Jayhawks are getting an immediate impact, high motor player that should make everyone around him better. He’s a freakish athlete at 6’9 and could be a double-double machine every game in college. He may not be the most accomplished offensive player but he has outplayed most other prospects, winning both 2015 McDonald’s Game and Jordan Clasic MVP’s, by shear determination and technique, outworking the opposition. Diallo is still rather thin at 220lbs but has tremendous potential as a defender thanks to a 7’4 wingspan and 9’1 standing reach.


  • dragan bender

    7’1 215lbs Power Forward

    Croatia Maccabi Tel Aviv U-18

    17 Yrs Old

    Easily the top European prospect to this point is 7 foot Croatian sensation Dragan Bender. Not only does he have a cool name but the immense potential to one day be an elite NBA player. Many see him as the 2nd coming of Pau Gasol because of his ability to run the floor and pass like a guard, while being an elite rebounder and defender inside the painted area. Bender is still only 17 years old and needs to work on his jumpshot, but should be an elite NBA prospect in 2016, especially because of his combination of size, speed, and skill.


  • jaylen brown 1

    6’7 220lbs Small Forward

    California Golden Bears Freshman

    18 Yrs Old

    Brown was an athletic high volume scorer on the high school level and will be one of the most exciting to watch freshmen in the college ranks this Winter. A physical specimen, he outmuscles opponents finishing above the rim, having a man’s body at a young age. He probably would be able to hold his own in an NBA game right now but still needs to improve on his perimeter game to be a big time scorer as a professional. Some see him as this year’s version of former Duke standout Justice Winslow.


  • brandon ingram 2

    6’9 195lbs Small Forward

    Duke Blue Devils Freshman

    17 Yrs Old

    Coach K and Duke continue to be one of the shrewdest recruiters in the game, landing yet another Top 5 high school player Brandon Ingram, who has potential to be an elite pro because of an already advanced offensive game that some have compared to Kevin Durant. That’s some high praise but warranted as Ingram averaged 24 points and 10 boards as a senior and Kinston HS in North Carolina, leading the school to their 4th straight state title. His weakness at this point is a rail thin frame and lack of strength, but he has an immense 7’3 wingspan and an eerily similar physique and game to KD when he was once a skinny recruit at Texas.


  • jamal murray 3

    6’5 205lbs Point Guard

    Kentucky Wildcats Freshman

    18 Yrs Old

    No players’ stock for the 2016 NBA Draft has risen as fast as incoming Kentucky freshman Murray, as he was key in the World beating Team USA in the Nike Hoops Summit, then was the biggest star at the most recent Pan American Games, leading Canada on a deep run. He doesn’t ooze athleticism but has enough to outplay the competition, scoring from anywhere on the court including being an advanced 3 point shooter. A true point guard that looks comfortable with the ball in his hands, he has instant leadership qualities and has extensive experience in pick-and-roll situations and late game heroics. He is a player that wants the ball with the game on the line and could be a Top 5 lock next Summer if he can just find enough playing time to showcase his talents in a loaded Kentucky backcourt.


  • skal labissiere 3

    7’0 215lbs Power Forward/Center

    Kentucky Wildcats Freshman

    19 Yrs Old

    The next in line of great University of Kentucky draftees, the Haitian born “Big Skal” is considered by some to be in the running for top overall selection before playing a minute at UK. His skill set instantly reminds most of former #1 pick Anthony Davis, with a tad better offensive game at the same age. He’s a legit 7 footer with the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, possessing great mechanics to be a top notch scorer at any level. He sees the floor well and is a great passer and rebounder to boot. A player with very few weaknesses, Skal is an instant NCAA Wodden Award candidate and probable preseason All American. He simply that good……..


  • ben simmons 3

    6’10 230lbs Small Forward/Power Forward

    LSU Tigers Freshman

    19 Yrs Old

    This year’s National Gatorade HS Player of the Year surprisingly will be playing his college ball at LSU, rather than Duke, Kentucky, or Kansas in what will likely be his lone season in the NCAA. Simmons is a 6’10 point forward that amazingly has drawn some unfair comparisons to Lebron James for his dominance on the high school level. He has a great first step to go with an advanced perimeter game and plays intense defense, getting the best of fellow elite players on multiple occasions. An Australian native, he is a close friend of Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum and is most expert’s early favorite to be the #1 selection next June. He’s such an advance player for such a young age, most feel he would have gone straight to the NBA if rules allowed it. Watch him while you can in college next season.


 

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