Now that we are about a week removed from the anti-climatic and most uneventful NBA Draft Lottery in history (it was the first time since its inception in 1985 that no team moved up) it is time to really dive in and project where the top talent in the 2016 draft will go.
Most analysts conclude that this is a middling draft overall with only two real potential franchise changing players in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, along with a large second tier of players who could develop into good NBA players and elite role players.
The draft analysts have been wrong before though as many thought the 2009 NBA Draft was a weaker class at the time but it has produced Steph Curry, James Harden and Blake Griffin among others.
Without further ado here is your THD NBA mock draft, Philadelphia you are on the clock…
A debate has come about in the last couple months of the college basketball season and throughout the draft process whether Brandon Ingram of Duke should be considered the top prospect in the draft ahead of Ben Simmons, but in my opinion Simmons most definitely has the highest upside of anyone in the 2016 NBA Draft.
He is a 6’10” 240 lb. point-forward with a fully developed NBA physique and frame that possesses rare quickness, ball handling abilities, vision and passing skills for a player of his size to match his athleticism and has the potential to be somewhere between a young Lamar Odom or Draymond Green and a LeBron James or Magic Johnson.
Early reports indicate the 76ers intend to select Simmons number one and will if they employ the “best player on the board” strategy they have in recent years. Ironically though that strategy has placed them in the precarious postion they are in with three NBA centers in today’s NBA in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid and very little wing talent and no point guard of the future. Simmons is not a great fit here as he is a 4 in the NBA that can’t shoot at this point and Brandon Ingram is the better fit. Hard to pass up on Simmons though.
This is a perfect pick for the Lakers as Simmons would not be a natural fit alongside Julius Randle in a smallish front court or as a 3 who can’t shoot next to a 4 in Randle who can’t stretch the floor and a more traditional center.
Ingram is only 18 and has all of the skills and tools with his size at 6’9″ with incredible length, shooting ability and scoring instincts, along with his natural defensive instincts to reach his max potential of a cross between Kevin Durant and Paul George.
Ingram can be the player the Lakers can build around to move forward and beyond the Kobe Bryant era.
Bender is your latest 7’0″ European with an enticing skill set that will allow him to be a stretch 4 or 5 in the NBA and the ball handling and scoring ability to play on the perimeter and dominate smaller defenders.
We have seen some version of this type of player before and for every Dirk or Porzingis, there is a Nikoloz Tskitishvili.
Scouts say Bender was farther along at the age of 18 than Porzingis and seems to have the highest potential of anyone in this draft other than Simmons or Ingram. Whether the Celtics make this pick or trade it in a package for a established star (DeMarcus Cousins anyone…) Bender seems like he will be the pick here.
The Suns clearly have a strong affinity for Kentucky guards so why not take another one here? I know this seems crazy at first glance as the Suns already have Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Brandon Knight and just saw what happened when they tried to compile too many guards at one time, but General Manager Ryan McDonough will always take the best player on the board and Murray has the potential to be an all-star.
He is an incredible smooth and gifted scorer that can also create for others and makes up for his lack of elite quickness with utilizing angles and footwork in a variety of ways. He also shot over 40% from three and averaged 20 points a game in one year at Kentucky. He is a larger Tony Parker with a little bit of Brandon Roy in his game. The Suns shoudl take Murray and then deal Knight for whatever they can get.
The Timber-Puppies have plenty of obscenely young and developing talent on their roster already, including two future potential superstars 21 and under in Andre Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Adding a four-year, fully developed college star who can be a great leader and knockdown shooter for a team that is sorely lacking in that department just seems like a perfect fit. Even though there are a few others guys on the board here with higher potential, Hield seems to be the best pick for Minnesota.
If the Pelicans are able to get Kris Dunn to pair with Anthony Davis here, watch out. Dunn is a big, fast athletic point guard who can get in the lane and score at will and set up his teammates (although he was turnover prone in college) in the mold of John Wall.
A Dunn and Davis pick and roll and fast break would be a frightening and illuminating site and Dunn could be the sidekick The Brow needs in order to take the leap as a player.
It feels like the Nuggets could go a million ways here but adding another scoring and stretch big who can also dominate the glass and pair with Emmanuel Mudiay seems like the fit here.
Ellenson is very skilled as an offensive player and can score in different ways but he lacks high level athleticism or length and could struggle to protect the rim or guard the pick and roll effectively. Feels like a bit older David Lee to me, which means he could be a very productive NBA player.
The Kings would love to be able to take Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray here but with those guys being off the board, they take the most talented player left in Jaylen Brown.
Brown is a highly explosive and highly aggressive offensive player who attacks the rim and utilizes his strong build. He is very similar to Stanley Johnson and has the potential to be an 18 point per game scorer in his career, not a bad value for the number eight pick.
Chriss is another explosive athlete that can potentially be a 3 or a 4 on the NBA level. He has a nice shooting touch and a developing offensive skill set to stretch the floor or use his quickness against other big’s to get to the rim.
He would be a great addition to the Raptors and take over some of Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola’s minutes.
Peoltl plays his tail off and is always working the offensive and defensive glass and protecting the rim as an active big man with good lateral quickness.
He is developing a nice post game to compliment his hustle and aggressiveness and is a low risk pick that should become a dependable starting or rotational big. He seems to be a great fit for a budding juggernaut flush with talent in Milwaukee and needs a big guy to protect the rim and do the dirty work.
The Magic have plenty of young talent on both sides of the ball, but if there is one thing they are missing it is an active, traditional big man to play alongside Nikola Vucevic that clean attack the glass and protect the rim as that is an area in which Vucevic struggles. Davis could be that guy. Davis is very raw but he has all of the tools and instincts to be a great shot blocker and pick and roll defender and finisher.
The Jazz have plenty of length, athleticism and young talent on the wing and in the front court and need a point guard and distributor. With the top tier of point guards off the board, drafting a highly intelligent and savvy basketball player like Valentine to be a do everything distributor who can put his teammates in positions to score seems like a great fit.
Luwawu is a somewhat under the radar 6’7″ quick and athletic two-guard from France. He possess the quickness and burst to explode and finish at the rim over defenders and is very effective on the fast break. The Suns are sorely lacking wing athleticism and Luwawu could provide that for them. He is a developing shooter and ball handler and although his defensive awareness isn’t high naturally, he has all of the tools to be a really good NBA defender as well.
According to NBA draft insider Chad Ford, the Bulls are honing in on drafting a big man with their 14th pick, which would mean they are more than likely planning on losing Joakim Noah or Pau Gasol or both, and it seems like Zizic is the guy shooting up draft boards who can be taken here.
Zizic possess good fluidity and mobility for a player of his size and is a very active player around the rim. He has the lateral quickness to be a good rim protector and could become a good pick and roll finisher. He needs to get stronger and develop a more well-rounded offensive game.
The run on foreign players continue as the Nuggets bank on the potential of an 18-year-old slashing and scoring two-guard that is similar to Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic.
Korkmaz can run the floor and finish on the break as well as knock down an open jump shot. He is still very lean and needs to fill out and become a better defender but it seems like the skills are there for him to be a solid NBA player.
Prince is one of my sleepers of the draft. He is an athletic and aggressive player with a great NBA body and the potential to be a very valuable 3-and-D player in today’s NBA with his strength and commitment to the defensive end and ability to hit corner threes. He would be a great addition to the Celtics.
Baldwin is a very experienced and intelligent big point guard at 6’4″ 200 lbs. and could be the potential replacement for Mike Conley if he bolts in free agency.
He is very long and a good but not great athlete which could give him the potential to guard point guards or shooting guards effectively in the NBA. He has has very good vision and composure and became a very good three point shooter in college.
Sabonis was almost a 20 and 10 guy in college and is a very tough and high IQ player. He is very smooth and can finish and score in the post as well as be an effective pick and pop guy who can stretch the defense and spread the floor. Combine this with his toughness and rebounding and he is just the kind of role player Stan Van Gundy likes.
Jackson is a highly athletic, highly aggressive point guard that is a very pesky defender and is a blur in the open court. He plays for a passion for the game and a toughness that makes up for his lack of size and propensity for being a little out of control at times. He seems to fit with Denver’s wide open fast paced style in the thin air in the Pepsi Center and could be a nice backup for Mudiay.
The Pacers took a nice step forward this season and are lacking another athletic and
active presence down low who can attack the glass and the rim and provide a little offense.
Johnson seems like a perfect fit as a long, lean and springy 4 in today’s NBA that can face-up from 15 feet and score and blow by slower defenders and use his quickness to defend the pick and roll.
Bembry is another guy who has the potential to be a high-level NBA role player that can defend other teams scoring wings really and provide some scoring punch off of the bench. He seems like a perfect Hawk. He has a very high basketball IQ and could be a potential replacement for Kent Bazemore if the Hawks lose him in free agency. They will develop his three point shot.
Stone is a big, strong and nasty big man with a developing post game and surprising quickness for his frame.
He is a good passer out of the post already and seems like a younger version of Al Jefferson, which makes it perfect that Jefferson himself can tutor and mentor him to fully develop his similar game. “Baby Jefferson” will become his nickname in Charlotte.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. LaBissiere was seen as the guy who would go number two overall behind Simmons at the beginning of the college basketball season but after a year in which the talented and gifted, yet very raw 7’0″ struggled mightily and looked lost falling to the back of the Wildcats rotation it became clear that he may not even be a lottery player. The Celtics may not actually be drafting here but if they are he is the perfect luxury pick to develop slowly that could potentially be a huge steal.
Beasley came out of nowhere last year to average 15 ad 5 for the Seminoles last season as a freshman and flash the potential to be a modern NBA scoring wing shooting 47% from the field and 37% from three. The 76ers need all of the scoring wing talent they can get and Beasley seems like a decent fit here.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Tyler Ullis, the self-proclaimed number one pick if he were over 6’0″ and not 5’9″ was one of the 5 to 10 best players in the country last year and averaged 17 and 7. He plays with a passion, confidence and chip on his shoulder similar to fellow diminutive dynamo Isaiah Thomas and can knock down big time shots. The Clippers sorely need a better backup point guard option than Austin Rivers and Ullis is their guy.
The 76ers will in theory have a plethora of talented big man next season with Noel, Okafor, Simmons and Embiid (maybe?) but one thing none of those big man have and they won’t have at all if Dario Saric doesn’t come over, is a big who can stretch the floor and score in different ways.
Richardson made a name for himself and introduced himself to a national audience in the NCAA tournament during Syracuse’s improbable run to the Final 4. Richardson is your prototypical, long and springy wing player on the NBA level that can slash to the rim or knockdown an open jump shot and has the natural ability to be a good two way player. He just needs to let the game come to him more.
The Suns have three first round picks and are in need of more talent in the front court so why not take a swing at one of the most intriguing and boom or bust players in the draft?
Maker is a YouTube legend as a quick, skilled ball handler and athlete at 7’1″ that could develop into a nice face-up score and elite rim protector. Maker took a step back at his prep school last year though and is still very raw, scouts worry he doesn’t have the work ethic or attitude to be a great NBA player.
Brogdon is a natural born leader and a very intelligent four year player that was well coached at Virginia and shot about 40% at three in his senior season while being a high-level defender. Doesn’t he sound like a Spur to you?
The Warriors have oodles of talent and depth and have the luxury of taking a guy here who could develop into a really good backup wing that can provide some scoring and knock down open shots. If they lose Harrison Barnes this summer, Levert could potentially step in and take some of his minutes if healthy.