07 June 2016

2016 NBA Mock Draft: 3rd Edition

(USATSI)
The month is now June and that mean we are only weeks away from the 2016 NBA Draft. Therefore, here is my third mock draft.

1. 76ers - Ben Simmons, F, LSU
Philadelphia 76ers (2016 - Pres)Originally I was thinking that the 76ers would go with Brandon Ingram because Simmons would be an odd fit on their roster and Ingram fills a bigger need. Now as it looks like the team is trying to open up room in their frontcourt by moving either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, it seems like they are trying to open up space for the Australian. The unique skill-set for a player of his size is very intriguing and are why many project Simmons to be a star at the next level. He may not be the best shooter in the world but he more than makes up it with the awareness and the playmaking ability of a point guard and some impressive athleticism.

2. Lakers - Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
Los Angeles Lakers (1977 - 2001)Los Angeles will take whichever player the Sixers do not take and with the top pick projected to be Simmons, I think the Lakers would happily select Ingram should they stay at this pick. After all, he would seem to be a good schematic fit for what we would think new coach Luke Walton would like to run as well as fit right in between Deangelo Russell and Julius Randle. Ingram needs to get bigger and stronger but he is a terrific shooter and he has got the size and the length to be a very good defender. The fact that he got better over the course of his sole season in Durham certainly helps.

3. Celtics - Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Boston Celtics (1977 - 1996)This pick is where the draft should really get fun, unless there is a trade into the top two. After all, I'm not convinced that Boston stays with this pick by any stretch. But should they do stay at three, they do have some options. One of their biggest needs is shooting as they were one of the worst teams in the regular season and the postseason from beyond the arc and they really lack the kind of knockdown shooters that could help take this team to the next level. Hield happens to be the best shooter in the draft and given his age, he should be able to step right in and play right away.

4. Suns - Dragan Bender, F, Israel
Phoenix Suns (2014 - Pres)Considering that at the moment, the Suns have zero power forwards under contract, that is why you have seen many folks look at either Bender or Marquese Chriss. I think that Bender is the superior prospect and given that the organization appears to be trying to do their due diligence with him, I think he could be the guy. I have heard some comparisons to Toni Kukoc and he's said to have a great work ethic. He is certainly raw and not ready to play at a high level right away, his perimeter shooting and his defensive versatility make him a good fit for the modern NBA.

5. Timberwolves - Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
Minnesota Timberwolves (1990 - 1996)Even as the team has high hopes after a strong rookie season from Karl-Anthony Towns, the continuing rise of Andrew Wiggins and the hiring of coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves still lost over 50 games and have plenty of holes still to fill. One of them is perimeter shooting and Murray could certainly help in that regard as he's got a really nice stroke beyond the arc. He is naturally a point guard but he played off the ball a lot in Lexington. However, he does need to take greater care of the ball.

6. Pelicans - Kris Dunn, G, Providence
New Orleans Pelicans (2014 - Pres)The Pelicans have a big need both for depth in the backcourt, particularly as New Orleans had durability issues there last year. Now the Pelicans already have a point guard in Jrue Holiday but not only might Dunn be too good to pass up here, you could play him and Holiday as both can play the two guard positions. He is a very skilled defender and he brings the effort on that end and he has got better physical tools than I had previously thought. He could be more consistent with his jumper but he's a good playmaker.

7. Nuggets - Jaylen Brown, G/F, California
Denver Nuggets (2004 - 2008)The Nuggets do have a number of wing players already in the mix but given that both Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have injury issues, it may not be a bad idea to bring in more talented wings that can grow alongside Emmanuel Mudiay. Brown is really fun to watch in the open court thanks to his combination of speed and athleticism and he has got a better jump shot than some think. Brown also should be a solid rebounder and a pretty solid defender in the NBA as well. The concern with him was with his sole season at California, one in which his level of play fluctuated from time to time.

8. Kings - Henry Ellenson, F/C, Marquette
Sacramento Kings (2017 - Pres)We love DeMarcus Cousins but one thing that the Kings have lacked that could make him better is a stretch four that can help create some space for Cousins, as well as young big Willie Cauley-Stein. And there isn't a better stretch four than this Marquette product. Ellenson may not have the highest upside considering he is not particularly athletic and may not be that much of a defender in the NBA, although Cauley-Stein would be helpful in that regard. But he is the kind of player that can play in transition and hit an outside jumper.

9. Raptors - Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
Toronto Raptors (1996 - 2006)Coming off their best season ever, being able to pick in the top ten is certainly a luxury for a franchise such as this. Therefore with a veteran roster, I think they could very well take a long-term prospect that could develop while they continue to win and Chriss would apply. He still is very raw, will probably need some seasoning in the D-League and had trouble staying out of foul trouble but he is a terrific athlete, quite possibly the top athlete in this draft, and showed some potential for a jumper with range out to the perimeter.

10. Bucks - Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
Milwaukee Bucks (2016 - Pres)After a surprising 2014-15, the Bucks were certainly disappointing this past season as they fell to 12th in the Eastern Conference and one of the more disappointing players was Greg Monroe, who was an expensive addition last offseason. Considering that Monroe could end up on the trading block, I think that a guy like Poeltl could be in the mix at the tenth selection. He should be able to contribute right away defensively, the area where Monroe struggles the most, because he is not afraid of contact down low. He is still raw on the offensive end, however.

11. Magic - Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
Orlando Magic (2011 - Pres)Amid high expectations for his rookie season after being one of the most highly touted recruits, it is pretty safe to say that Labissiere's time in Lexington was a disappointment. He never seemed to get fully comfortable until late in the season and while there is no question that he is a highly skilled player, he needs to build his confidence. That said, folks are optimistic after his promising workout in Chicago. They've got a good player development coach in Frank Vogel and they still have to work out their frontcourt so Labissiere could be worth a shot.

12. Jazz - Timothe Luwawu, G/F, France
Utah Jazz (2017 - Pres)The Jazz have themselves a pretty young team with a number of talented pieces but I could see them taking another shot on a young Euro player in the hopes that he could turn into something really good. This Frenchman is not ready to contribute right away considering he lacks experience against quality competition but he is an intriguing three-and-D player with his plus size and athleticism. Luwawu looks like he could play either the two or the three but he does need to work on his ball-handling and he can be a little too reliant on his jumper.

13. Suns (from Wizards) - Deyonta Davis, F/C, Michigan State
Even as this past season was a fiasco for the Suns, they do have some pieces in the mix. What they do lack is a power forward after Markieff Morris got dealt to the Wizards and I could see them targeting that position early in this draft, perhaps even a project like Davis. You don't see too many one-and-done guys in East Lansing but that's what we got here. Davis had his moments with the Spartans but they weren't strung together. He has got the tools to be a quality rim protector while also having a nice offensive game but he needs polish.

14. Bulls - Domantas Sabonis, F/C, Gonzaga
Chicago Bulls (1967 - Pres)After arguably his worst season as a pro in which he came off as a poor fit in Fred Hoiberg's offensive schemes, it looks like Joakim Noah's time in Chicago is quickly coming to an end. That means that the Bulls could very well look to take a big with the 14th pick and Sabonis seems like a guy that would fit into what Hoiberg likes to do. Now Sabonis' offensive game is still a work in progress (although his improving jumper is intriguing) but he's a good passer while also being a tough and physical competitor in the paint.

15. Nuggets (from Rockets) - Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
Denver Nuggets (2004 - 2008)If they keep all of their picks, looks for the Nuggets to take at least one guy they can stash overseas considering how young their roster is. Korkmaz would certainly apply as he is only 18 years old and not ready to step onto an NBA court this fall considering he lacks experience against quality competition. He has got himself a nice offensive game with one of the top perimeter shots in this draft, something that will always come in handy on an NBA roster.

16. Celtics (from Mavericks) - Taurean Prince, F, Baylor
Boston Celtics (1977 - 1996)Prince reminds me of a couple of guys that have played key roles for this Boston team over the past couple of seasons, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder. Considering that Turner is a free agent this offseason, bringing in a similar player to help fill that void would make sense. Prince played out his four years in Waco so the ceiling isn't that high but he is a very good defender that can guard multiple positions. He also can knock down a three or two.

17. Grizzlies - Malik Beasley, G, Florida State
Memphis Grizzlies (2005 - Pres)I did say in the last mock draft that I expect the Grizzlies to take a point guard with their first selection but considering that they could use an upgrade at shooting guard, now it just seems like they'll go backcourt with this selection. And it's been a while since the team has had multiple threats to knock down threes and fortunately for them, that's where Beasley steps in. Beasley's biggest strength is his outside jumper as he has nice form and showed he could hit some big shots right away with the Seminoles. He is a little thin but he does put in effort on the defensive end and that is always nice.

18. Pistons - Demetrius Jackson, G, Notre Dame
Detroit Pistons (2006 - Pres)Reggie Jackson may be entrenched at the point for the Pistons and rightfully so, quite frankly, but they could really use a quality backup behind him. Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons will have their options thanks to a number of solid point guards in this draft but Jackson would likely be too good of a value at this juncture. Jackson has the ideal size for an NBA point guard and he has the desired athleticism for the position as well, but he can also knock down an open jumper so you could feasibly play him off the ball.

19. Nuggets (from POR) - Wade Baldwin, G, Vanderbilt
Denver Nuggets (2004 - 2008)The Nuggets have so many first round picks that they have the flexibility to do a number of things, including taking another point guard that could develop behind Emmanuel Mudiay. Baldwin may not be a natural point, although his size and length are intriguing for the position, but he is a very solid defender and is good at hitting shots from the outside, something that the Nuggets could surely use more of. You could also play him at the two if you wanted. He would seem to me to be a pretty good value selection with the 19th pick.

20. Pacers - Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State
Indiana Pacers (2006 - Pres)Valentine is probably a player that should go higher than pick 20 but regardless, he would be a good fit for what the Pacers are looking to do offensively which is involve more playmaking and perimeter shooting. Valentine may not have the highest ceiling considering he is already 22 but he showed during his days at Michigan State a versatile game despite the fact that he isn't particularly big or athletic. He is a pretty good passer thanks to plus vision and he can knock it down from outside. Valentine is the kind of guy you love to have on playoff teams.

21. Hawks - Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse
Atlanta Hawks (2016 - Pres)Richardson, the hero of the Orange's epic comeback victory over Virginia in the Elite Eight, is probably a reach at this point of the draft but there has been some buzz with him of late so it could be feasible that he go here. He wasn't a particularly productive player at Syracuse but was a very streaky shooter but he has got the measurables and the athleticism to be a productive wing player in the NBA. Kyle Korver isn't getting any younger so the Hawks could be looking to add more depth to the wing positions.

22. Hornets - Brice Johnson, F, North Carolina
Charlotte Hornets (1989 - 2002)Johnson is a four-year guy so he should be able to play right away after finishing off his UNC career with a brilliant senior campaign. He showed some scoring ability and some better-than-advertised ability on the glass and he should be able to dig out a nice NBA career. One would presume that Tar Heel icon Michael Jordan would be familiar him, particularly since he played just up I-85. The Hornets could very well have a hole to fill in the frontcourt if Al Jefferson leaves in free agency and he would help provide even more spacing.

23. Celtics - Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
Boston Celtics (1977 - 1996)This should be a draft-and-stash selection for Danny Ainge considering how many picks they have in this draft (unless they do some wheeling and dealing). Zizic is only 19 and thus there is no need to bring him over right away. The potential for him is there considering he is tough, has good hands, is athletic and can run the floor pretty well. He does play hard and with some time, he could turn into a useful NBA player. However, he does need to show that his game is more than just hustle and energy.

24. 76ers (from MIA via BOS) - Tyler Ulis, G, Kentucky
Philadelphia 76ers (2016 - Pres)Sooner or later, the 76ers have to address a pathetic backcourt. Pathetic may be too strong considering that Ish Smith played relatively well late in the season for them but ultimately, he's not a long-term answer at the point. Ulis may be too small to regularly start at the next level (dude is only 5-9) but he does a great job of taking care of the basketball and is seemingly never afraid to push the ball up the court. The Colangelos have long been proponents of uptempo basketball and that should fit Ulis very well.

25. Clippers - DeAndre' Bembry, F, Saint Joseph's
Los Angeles Clippers (2016 - Pres)The Clippers could really use more depth on the wing and one of their bigger positions of need has to be at small forward as they failed to get consistent play from there last season. One of the guys they could target is Bembry, who has been on the rise after a strong performance at the draft combine. He may not be much of a shooter but he is a versatile player, one that could even play a little point forward, and he can do a whole bunch of things on both side of the ball.

26. 76ers (from OKC via CLE & DEN) - Thon Maker, F/C, Sudan
Philadelphia 76ers (2016 - Pres)Even with a roster as barren as Philadelphia has, they should look to take a chance on a potential draft-and-stash guy with a high ceiling and quite frankly, nobody may be more of an unknown than Maker. His mixtapes are certainly fun but he is tremendously raw and definitely a few years away. Maker has got the athleticism and the skills to make it look like he can be an NBA player but who really knows? But for a team that has only one season above .500 in the past decade, why not take a chance?

27. Raptors - Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas
Toronto Raptors (1996 - 2006)The Raptors don't have a ton of needs and have an experienced roster so they could take a flier on some higher-upside guys, Diallo included. Diallo wasn't able to get a whole lot of playing time for a solid Kansas team but he has got nice size (although he may be stuck in between positions), a terrific wingspan, and he has the potential to make a big impact on defense and on the boards. He likely will have to hit up the D-League but this late in the first round, that's fine.

28. Suns (from CLE via BOS) - Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia
Phoenix Suns (2014 - Pres)Phoenix already has one Eastern European center in the mix in Alex Len so why not take another with the 28th selection. Zubac is only 19 years old and another season over in Europe would only be helpful for his development but he has got the size and mobility to do some good things in the paint and in transition. He also has got the skill to make some plays down low on the offensive end of the court while also being useful defensively to boot.

29. Spurs - Jarrod Uthoff, F, Iowa
San Antonio Spurs (1977 - 1989)Just by watching the way Uthoff played with the Hawkeyes, one could get the inclination that he would be a good fit for a team like the Spurs. He has great size for a forward but he is not particularly athletic and since he is already 23, his ceiling may not be all that high. Uthoff did show off some nice offensive skills this season thanks to a very solid jump shot and he should be able to contribute working on the glass as well.

30. Warriors - Pascal Siakam, F, New Mexico State
San Francisco Warriors (1970 - 1971)As they look well on the path of winning back-to-back NBA championships, the Warriors could go a couple of potential directions with this selection. They could take a shot in the dark at somebody who may not be able to play right away but could turn into a steal or they could take a guy more suited to playing right away. If it is the later, then Siakam makes sense as another forward to add to the mix. He plays hard and should be a good defender thanks to his effort and his length and athleticism. His offensive game can be a little over the place.

For more mocks, check out the NBA mock database at WalterFootball.com.

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