Crazy to think we’re just a few days away from the 2016 NBA Draft considering we JUST watched a game seven. I do a mock draft every year, because it’s fun. And I like fun.
No credentials or claimed expertise I just watch a lot of ball and love to rattle off takes.
Oh, no trades because I don’t want to think that much.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons (SF/PF, LSU)
As much as Brandon Ingram seems like a better fit on paper due to Philly’s complete inability to shoot; when you pick number one, you pick based on your board, not need. All indications are that Simmons is Philly’s guy and has been for a couple years now despite his refusal to work out for them (I mean, if you’re Simmons, why would you work out for anyone?). He’s 6’ 10” with legit point guard skills and plus athleticism. Even if the shot never really comes, he’s going to be a star.
Alternate: Brandon Ingram
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram (SF, Duke)
The Lakers will choose whomever the Sixers don’t between Simmons and Ingram (as funny as the Bender rumors may be, they’re silly. If the Lakers really want Bender they can trade back up or out of this pick. Simmons/Ingram are too valuable around the league to just not take one of them). This is a nice scenario for them because given their current young core, Ingram appears to be the better fit. If D’Angelo Russell is your PG of the future using a top-2 pick on Simmons is a bit repetitive. If Ingram were to go to Philly you have to wonder if L.A. has a trade in place for this pick.
Alternate: Dragan Bender
3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender (PF, Israel)
There are at least four prospects being linked to the Celtics here, as well as a million trade rumors. If they hold their pick, Bender is both the best fit for their roster and best value. His size, versatility, and shooting/passing skill would immediately improve their offense if he were to play in the NBA right away (and if not, who cares?). If not Bender, look for athletic swingman Jaylen Brown to go here. I just can’t justify mocking another guard to Boston. I want it to be Bender. I think it will be Bender. Please Danny Ainge, pick Bender so I don’t have to go on another bender.
Alternate: Jaylen Brown
4. Phoenix Suns – Jaylen Brown (SF, California)
Phoenix is likely praying that Bender is still available here. High-upside bigs like Marquese Chriss and Deyonta Davis make sense to pair next to Alex Len, but the best players on the board here are all guards and wings. Jaylen Brown would be a nice compliment to sharpshooter Devin Booker on the wing and can certainly play the 4 spot in small-ball lineups. Bledsoe-Knight-Booker-Brown-Len is an intriguing core. They could go with a big here, but they also pick #13 and the board implies there will be much better post talent than wing talent available at that point.
Alternate: Marquese Chriss
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn (PG, Providence)
This selection would signify the impending end of the Ricky Rubio era in Minnesota, and a changing of the guards of sorts under Thibs (or as much of a changing of the guards as you can have with guys like Towns and Wiggins in tow). Dunn’s physicality on defense and playmaking ability should make him effective from day one, but of course his long-term success will be tied directly to the improvement of his jumper.
Alternate: Jamal Murray
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Jamal Murray (SG, Kentucky)
Gotta think the Pelicans will look to add some punch to the backcourt here. Dunn would help a team that doesn’t really have a pure PG, but a shooter would also be nice. Looking at Hield or Murray, the former is the better ballhandler right now but Murray is 19. I simply like Murray more, but it’s a toss-up.
Alternate: Buddy Hield
7. Denver Nuggets – Marquese Chriss (PF, Washington)
A shooter to pair next to Emmanuel Mudiay (i.e. Buddy Hield) would be nice, but so would an athletic big seeing as Kenneth Faried’s time in Denver appears to be coming to an end. Many are mocking Chriss as high as #3 to Boston. He’s the most athletic forward in the class but isn’t ready to play in an NBA game right now (needs LBs and some serious coaching). This would be a mutually beneficial pick. Also keep an eye on the skilled Henry Ellenson and rim-protecting savant Deyonta Davis (one of my favorite prospects in this class).
Alternate: Buddy Hield
8. Sacramento Kings – Deyonta Davis (PF, Michigan State)
Davis is likely going somewhere in that 7-12 range. He’s physically strong and his 7’ 2” wingspan will allow him to be a great rim protector. He’s got athleticism and is great at running the floor. The offensive game will take time but he’s ready to play next to DeMarcus Cousins and improve this team right now. If Hield is still on the board here, like in this mock, he’s an obvious option and would widely be viewed as the best player available.
Alternate: Buddy Hield
9. Toronto Raptors – Jakob Poeltl (C, Utah)
EVERYONE is mocking this pick, and it makes a lot of sense. Bismack probably played his way into a huge contract with another team, and the Raptors will want to replace him instantly and remain competitive. Poeltl has size, skill, and better feet than he gets credit for. He’s ready to step into an NBA rotation right away.
Alternate: Buddy Hield
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Buddy Hield (SG, Indiana)
I’m going against the grain by having Hield fall this far. Most of my reasoning comes down to a pick-by-pick basis where I see better matches, but I must admit I’m not quite as high on him as others seem to be. He can shoot, and find his shot. He’s also improved drastically as a defender and ballhandler. But I still think he’s going to struggle against more athletic guys. Will he be anything more than a catch and shoot guy? He’d be a great value for the Bucks here though and they need a shooter.
Alternate: Henry Ellenson
11. Orlando Magic – Domanatas Sabonis (PF, Gonzaga)
A strong and skilled big guy who can play either spot, Sabonis didn’t go to the combine or do many workouts, implying that someone in the lottery virtually guaranteed they’ll take him. Perhaps Orlando covets a more fluid athlete to put next to Vucevic, but I’m not entirely sure Vucevic is part of this team’s future.
Alternate: Skal Labissiere
12. Utah Jazz – Timothe Luwawu (SG/SF, France)
I don’t believe Utah picking a ballhandler (like Wade Baldwin) here. It’s too early to give up on Exum, and Gordon Hayward does a lot of the creating for this offense anyways. The best prospects at this point aren’t ballhandlers. Timothe Luwawu is a long wing with plus-athleticism. He’s got to get better defensively but there’s nothing physically that suggests he can’t. Is he a bit repetitive on this roster? Maybe. But he’s a better prospect than any of the ballhandlers available.
Alternate: Wade Baldwin
13. Phoenix Suns – Henry Ellenson (PF, Marquette)
Ellenson would probably be a top five pick if he was quicker on his feet. There are legit concerns about his ability to switch on defense and while he’s not a picture perfect fit next to Alex Len, he’s a skilled offensive player who can shoot and easily one of the two or three best guys available. I have the Suns going wing at #4, so a big makes sense here.
Alternate: Taurean Prince
14. Chicago Bulls – Skal Labissiere (C, Kentucky)
The Bulls are perhaps in for the most interesting offseason in the league. What do they do? Do they completely blow it up after a hugely disappointing season or do they still believe they’re just a player or two away from winning in the East. Joakim Noah is as good as gone. If Jimmy Butler is still in Chicago and the team picks here, a developmental big who can shoot and protect the rim would be ideal. Skal did not have a good freshman season but this time one year ago many thought he was a surefire top 3 pick. He’s going to be a really good player once he gains some weight and tightens up his mental game. In fact, I think he’s a top 5 best prospect in this draft. Back concerns, though.
Alternate: Malachi Richardson
15. Denver Nuggets – Furkan Korkmaz (SG/SF, Turkey)
Furkan can shoot, which is exactly what Denver will be looking for here if they go big at #7. And the Nuggets will need to stash at least one of their three first-rounders overseas for a year or two.
Alternate: Dejounte Murray
16. Boston Celtics – Malik Beasley (SG, Florida State)
You figure the Celtics are looking into multiple trades and draft-and-stash players, but Beasley is intriguing here. This may seem like a reach but Beasley would probably be a lottery pick if he didn’t injure his leg pretty severely. He’s a great athlete and a knockdown shooter. Projects as a great 3-n-D wing and his ballhandling problems aren’t an issue seeing as he’ll be a bench guy you can easily pair with two other guards. I LOVE him as a potential Celtic.
Alternate: Ante Zizic
17. Memphis Grizzlies – Wade Baldwin (PG/SG, Vanderbilt)
This would be a great situation for Memphis regardless of whether or not Mike Conley is back. Baldwin is a true combo guard with length and a very good shooter. He could realistically go as high as #8 to Sacramento, so this presents great value.
Alternate: Dejounte Murray
18. Detroit Pistons – Taurean Prince (SF, Baylor)
A nice combo-forward who plays with toughness and can also drill threes. He’ll be able to guard the 3 or 4 in the league. Not the best fit on the Pistons current roster but he’s versatile enough to find a spot anywhere.
Alternate: Cheick Diallo
19. Denver Nuggets – Cheick Diallo (PF/C, Kansas)
Saved himself with some impressive workouts after a disappointing season. He could still go in the lottery. He’s a very good athlete with quick feet and a 7’ 4” wingspan, which makes him valuable defensively. Zero post game. His offense is transition dunks and putbacks. But if you’re drafting Cheick, you know you’re getting a raw guy. Denver can make a luxury pick here.
Alternate: DeAndre Bembry
20. Indiana Pacers – Tyler Ulis (PG, Kentucky)
Great burst, a nice shot, pesky defense, and UNREAL floor general ability. Ulis would be a homerun top 5 pick if he were even 6’ 2”. He’s not though, and that’ll likely limit him to a reserve role. Regardless, I think he’s in for a long career and a Pacers team likely moving on from George Hill could use all the point help they can get.
Alternate: Demetrius Jackson
21. Atlanta Hawks – Ante Zizic (C, Croatia)
Not a guy who’s going to wow you with his skill and athleticism. More of a throwback type center. Rebounds, finishes at rim, doesn’t get moved in paint. Physically strong. Ready to play in NBA right away and it’s fair to think he’s going to develop at least a bit considering he’s just 19. Atlanta’s likely to be without Al Horford next year.
Alternate: Damian Jones
22. Charlotte Hornets – Dejounte Murray (PG/SG, Washington)
6′ 5″ combo guard with a 6′ 10″ wingspan and legit playmaking skills, even if he needs to tighten up his decision making. Wows with some of the passes he makes, though he doesn’t do it consistently enough right now. Great athlete but needs to add weight and improve shot (and shot selection). Not ready to help a team right now but a high upside pick Charlotte can afford to make if there’s no one here they think will improve them immediately.
Alternate: Malachi RIchardson
23. Boston Celtics – Thon Maker (PF/C, Sudan)
Draft him, stash him. A huge mystery. YEARS from being ready, but he’s 7′ 2″ with ballhandling skills and good feet. I doubt the Celtics use all three of their firsts, but if they do, they’re one of the few teams that can actually justify using one on Thon.
Alternate: Patrick McCaw
24. Philadelphia 76ers – Demetrius Jackson (PG, Notre Dame)
Jackson is one of the best players still on the board and Philly simply needs talent on its perimeter. You wish he was bigger, but he’s an outstanding athlete and very good distributor. If the shot continues to improve I wouldn’t rule him out as an NBA starter in a couple years.
Alternate: Malcolm Brogdon
25. Los Angeles Clippers – Malachi Richardson (SG/SF, Syracuse)
It’s rare to see a player’s stock improve so much over a two week span. Richardson has a 7′ 0″ wingspan and is a knockdown three-point shooter. He doesn’t have the athleticism to ever be much more than a shooter off the bench but, whatever, it’s the 25th pick and a contender like the Clippers need someone with one undeniable skill as opposed to a high-risk, high-reward guy.
Alternate: Denzel Valentine
26. Philadelphia 76ers – DeAndre Bembry (SF, St. Joe’s)
Yet another Sixers draft pick. Bembry is a wing who’s developed an all-around game, though his jumper isn’t there yet. Could even play a point forward role.
Alternate: Juan Hernangomez
27. Toronto Raptors – Patrick McCaw (SG, UNLV)
Needs to add weight before he can step into an NBA game but McCaw is a long, athletic shooter and a GREAT defender. If the Raptors go big at #9 they need to address the wing here.
Alternate: Denzel Valentine
28. Phoenix Suns – Juan Hernangomez (PF, Spain)
Probably a draft-n-stash guy until he improves his footwork defensively, which very well may never happen. But he’s a floor stretching big who can bang inside a bit. NBA teams like that.
Alternate: Brice Johnson
29. San Antonio Spurs – Denzel Valentine (SG, Michigan State)
Recent concerns over Valentine’s long-term longevity due to degenerative knee issues have probably dropped him out of the lottery, though some team could still take the risk. He’s a great ballhandler and distributor, a shooter, and can guard any perimeter spot. If you’re the Spurs and you even get 2 decent years out of him, that’s a steal this late.
Alternate: Gary Payton Jr.
30. Golden State Warriors – Zhou Qi (C, China)
Warriors could use a rim protector ready from day 1 but I think they’ll go with a guy they can stash. Qi needs to get stronger but he has a 7′ 8″ wingspan and moves like a small forward. Stash him overseas for a few years.
Alternate: Chinanu Onuaku
A crapshoot, as always.
1. Boston Celtics – Malcolm Brogdon (SG, Virginia)
Great defender and playmaker probably ready to step into a rotation right away, but his long-term success will depend on improving his jumper.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Damian Jones (PF/C, Vanderbilt)
Borderline first-round talent. Never showed much at Vandy but he’s a seven-footer with great feet and vertical athleticism. High-upside pick.
3. Los Angeles Clippers – Brice Johnson (PF, North Carolina)
Good athleticism, GREAT rebounder, more skilled offensively than he gets credit for. But he needs to get stronger to have a chance as a backup big.
4. Phoenix Suns – Ben Bentil (PF, Providence)
I like Bentil more than most due his skill as stretch-4 but he really doesn’t give you much beyond nice touch inside the arc.
5. Boston Celtics – Ivica Zubac (C, Croatia)
Stash him. 7′ 1″ 19 year-old with an NBA body. If he never develops anything or keeps getting hurt, *Terrence Howard voice* whatever mayne.
6. Milwaukee Bucks – Chinanu Onuaku (C, Louisville)
A STEAL this late. Explosive, long athlete who’s going to be a good rim protector and finisher.
7. Houston Rockets – A.J. Hammons – (C, Purdue)
7′ 0″ with a J.
8. Milwaukee Bucks – Caris LeVert (SG/SF, Michigan)
Continues to hurt his foot which is scary but he’s a shooter with great length and underrated handling ability.
9. New Orleans Pelicans – Stephen Zimmerman (C, UNLV)
Shot blocker with decent touch.
10. New Orleans Pelicans – Michael Gbinije (SG, Syracuse)
24 years old already but he can shoot and hold his own defensively on the wing.
11. Orlando Magic – Sheldon McClellan (SG, Miami)
Great athlete with a scorer’s mentality but will need to change his mindset. Will be unplayably inefficient in league if he doesn’t.
12. Utah Jazz – Diamond Stone (C, Maryland)
High-upside pick this late due his strength down low and underrated post skills, but he can’t really move which limits him in the current NBA. Could be a bully big off bench though.
13. Houston Rockets – Guerschon Yabusele (PF, France)
Stretch-4 with great athleticism but he’s short and doesn’t show anything defensively.
14. Atlanta Hawks – Isaiah Whitehead (SG, Seton Hall)
Not efficient AT ALL but he improved every year in college, so maybe a good system like the one in Atlanta can make an NBA-level combo guard out of him.
15. Boston Celtics – Isaia Cordinier (SG, France)
Draft-n-stash athletic wing.
16. Dallas Mavericks – Gary Payton II (PG, Oregon State)
If he could shoot at even a slightly below average level he’s probably a lottery pick.
17. Orlando Magic – Pascal Siakam (PF, New Mexico State)
Skilled big with limited upside who probably would’ve benefited from another year at the college level.
18. Chicago Bulls – Georges Niang (SF/PF, Iowa State)
Doesn’t really project any plus-NBA skill but I just don’t see a player who was as good as he was in college going undrafted. Hoiberg connection.
19. Detroit Pistons – Rade Zagorac (SF, Serbia)
Stash stretch big.
20. Indiana Pacers – Kay Felder (PG, Oakland)
Great athlete but he’s only 5′ 9″.
21. Boston Celtics – Mathias Lessort (PF, France)
Stash another one for the Celtics if they somehow hold their picks.
22. Utah Jazz – Georgios Papagiannis (C, Greece)
The coolest last name of the draft actually projects as a decent rim protector. A steal this late.
23. Denver Nuggets – Wayne Selden (SG, Kansas)
Shooter with length, could become a playable 3-n-D guy.
24. Atlanta Hawks – Marcus Paige (PG, North Carolina)
Good one-on-one scorer but he’s going to have a tough time with NBA athletes.
25. Brooklyn Nets – Joel Bolomboy (PF, Weber State)
One of my favorite sleepers. He can hit the boards hard.
26. Denver Nuggets – Jake Layman (SF, Maryland)
27. Memphis Grizzlies – Anthony “Cat” Barber (PG, NC State)
It’s a crapshoot this late but Cat has always found a way to be productive.
28. Boston Celtics – Dorian Finney-Smith (SF, Florida)
LOVE him as a defensive sleeper due to his length and refined skills on that end.
29. Sacramento Kings – Jarrod Uthoff (PF, Iowa)
30. Utah Jazz – Daniel Hamilton (SG/SF, UCONN)