Lakers would be happy to keep LSU's Simmons in purple and gold
POSTED: May 27, 2016 3:53 PM ET
Duke guard Brandon Ingram could be a better fit for the offensively-challenged Philadelphia 76ers over LSU's Ben Simmons.
The first NBA.com mock draft after the full 2016 Draft order was set after Tuesday's 2016 NBA Draft Lottery, and after 57 players withdrew as early-entry candidates by the May 26 deadline to stay in school, based on conversations with executives and scouts:
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Brandon Ingram | Duke | SF | 6-9 | 200
Draft Lottery: Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram from Duke University speaks with NBATV's Kristen Ledlow.
Philadelphia's need for scoring gives Ingram the edge over Ben Simmons in what many teams consider a close call for who goes No. 1. Ingram was smooth as a freshman, with enough ball-handling skills to create his own shot on the perimeter or play above the rim when he moves inside. Even with rough patches in his transition to college, the NBA finds it easy to envision a small forward with great size who will need to get stronger as he gets older. Ingram does not turn 19 until September, just before training camp. "You can't expect anything out of him next year," a GM said. "He's so weak it's crazy."
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Ben Simmons | LSU | PF | 6-10 | 245
While Julius Randle just averaged 10.2 rebounds in his first full season, Simmons' versatile offensive game allows him to fit almost anywhere. And if the 76ers pick Simmons, Ingram is a great fit for Los Angeles. The increased public visibility once Simmons reached college, as opposed to simply being tracked by the NBA from his native Australia to high school in Florida, was followed by the inevitable backlash. But Simmons was the consensus No. 1 at the start of the season and held the spot as his LSU one-and-done ended with the Tigers missing the NCAA tournament and saying they would not accept an invitation to one of the smaller postseason events. There are concerns about an attitude that comes across as, in the words of one GM, prima donna.
3. Boston Celtics
Dragan Bender | Israel | PF | 7-1 | 220
For all the talk about the possibility of the 76ers and/or Lakers making deals, the Celtics are probably the best candidate of all as a team pushing to get in position for a long playoff run now. The obvious need of adding outside shooting, especially behind the arc, puts Buddy Hield in the mix for the top three. But some teams think Bender has a chance to be great and one GM said he could easily see the Croatian becoming the best player in the draft in time. Bender is not Kristaps Porzingis no matter how many people want to make the comparison -- Bender is a better distributor, Porzingis has better range -- but the offense is very intriguing.
4. Phoenix Suns
Jaylen Brown | California | SF | 6-7 | 220
Draft Lottery: Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown from the University of California, Berkeley speaks with NBATV's Kristen Ledlow.
It's easy to see the Suns considering several different directions here. Brown has the kind of elite athleticism that translates into a great open-court player, a good rebounder for a wing and the potential to be a high-level defender, all with good size for a small forward. That package came through even as he shared time with Ivan Rabb, a possible lottery pick before deciding to return to school, and Tyrone Wallace, who should get drafted. Brown was the Pacific 12 Conference Freshman of the Year.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Buddy Hield | Oklahoma | SG | 6-4 | 215
Draft Lottery: Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma University speaks with NBATV's Kristen Ledlow.
The first pick by new head of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau could be a potential defensive standout like Kris Dunn to fit the style of new coach Tom Thibodeau. But upgrading the 3-point game is a Minnesota priority, and that's Hield. Think he'd get some open looks playing with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins? One of the stars of the college game in 2015-16, Hield is a versatile and explosive threat who can score in transition or as a catch-and-shoot guy in half-court sets. He gets to the rim and creates on the perimeter, with the added benefit of four seasons in a major program and being 22 years old. In short, Hield will be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Jakob Poeltl | Utah | C | 7-0 | 235
New Orleans has to go center somewhere this offseason, whether the draft, trade or free agency. Poeltl has the chance to put Austria on the NBA map after two seasons on the college fast track from unheralded recruit to possibly the first half of the lottery. Playing for former NBA big man Larry Krystkowiak at Utah, Poeltl showed he can be a bruising inside presence, especially on defense while appearing not only able to handle the contact but enjoying the chance to initiate it. He has been working to develop an offensive game, the area where his lack of experience most showed, but is the kind of worker who will put in the time to get better.
7. Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray | Kentucky | SG-PG | 6-5 | 200
The latest installment of the recent Canadian influx into the NBA is the 2016 version of D'Angelo Russell, lacking great athleticism while projecting as a versatile guard with good size and natural instincts as a passer but also the scoring ability to play off the ball. Murray is more shooting guard than point guard. He shot 40.8 behind the arc as part of a big second half that included 11 consecutive games with at least 20 points. His work as a ball handler needs to get much better, though -- Murray had more turnovers (84) than assists (79).
8. Sacramento Kings
Kris Dunn | Providence | PG | 6-4 | 205
Draft Combine: Kris Dunn
Providence's Kris Dunn speaks at the NBA Draft Combine.
The decision to return for his junior season took Dunn from possible lottery pick in 2015 to an automatic for the top 10 barring an unexpected development. Some teams talked about him as a possibility for No. 3 based on defense and maturity, but he is a very good fit in Sacramento. Even if Rajon Rondo re-signs, it's not like he will be around for many years. And if Rondo does not return, Dunn could possibly move right into the opening lineup at age 22 and more developed physically and emotionally than most from the draft class. "He's good enough to start for a good team as a rookie," an executive said.
9. Toronto Raptors
Henry Ellenson | Marquette | PF-C | 6-10 | 230
Having a lottery pick, thanks to a trade with the Knicks, while playing in a conference final is house money. The Raptors have a veteran roster that would allow Skal Labissiere or Timothe Luwawu to develop mostly behind the scenes, and general manager Masai Ujiri is a risk taker in a way that could push him to Labissiere. But Ellenson is a big man who has the mobility to handle an up-tempo system as well as the strength to play physical. That makes for the potential a very good draft follow up for the state of Wisconsin a year after Frank Kaminsky went ninth and Sam Dekker went 18th.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Deyonta Davis | Michigan State | PF | 6-10 |240
His college coach, Tom Izzo, raved about Davis' high ceiling, with the supporting evidence of a freshman continuing to improve while being held back by persistent foul trouble early in the season. Though not much of an offensive threat now, especially beyond the paint, Davis showed the potential to develop a perimeter game. Rebounding and blocking shots has driven the rise from late-first round in January into solid lottery territory.
11. Orlando Magic
Skal Labissiere | Kentucky | C-PF | 7-0 | 220
Skal Labissiere Interview
NBA.com writer Scott Howard-Cooper talks with 2016 draft prospect Skal Labissiere.
High-risk, high-reward. Labissiere was the second-best prospect at worst at the start of the season, and No. 1 in the eyes of some execs, and had a bad start that caused his draft stock to plummet. His skills are not the issue. "Does he love to play?" one general manager said. "That's the question." An encouraging finish to the season helped, but teams will want to see desire in the individual workouts.
12. Utah Jazz
Timothe Luwawu | Serbia | SG-SF | 6-7 | 205
Luwawu made his big move last year playing in his native France, then built on that in 2015-16 against tougher competition with a varied offensive game of scoring and passing. His size would be an asset in the backcourt, with enough athleticism that he won't be a liability on defense against smaller, quicker shooting guards. With little experience before this season other than the lesser French leagues, not even as part of the national teams at a junior level, he has had to ease concerns about the jump in competition.
13. Phoenix Suns
Marquese Chriss | Washington | PF | 6-9 | 235
Chriss surprised even himself in coming so far so fast as a freshman, using advanced athleticism and a decent perimeter game to charge up draft boards. Teams like to see a prospect trending up, and that's Chriss in a big way. But he is not a good rebounder for a power forward and he fouled out in 15 of 34 games.
14. Chicago Bulls
Furkan Korkmaz | Turkey | SG | 6-7 | 185
Korkmaz is a scoring threat beyond the 3-point line and also a talented and willing passer, a nice combination for someone with good size for a shooting guard with the chance to keep growing. He needs to add bulk more than height, but is still only 18 and could fill out in time. And if he doesn't get stronger, Korkmaz could still make a big contribution as a shooter and facilitator.
15. Denver Nuggets
Domantas Sabonis | Gonzaga | PF | 6-10 | 230
The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis was an intriguing prospect a year ago, in the same lottery territory at 2016, before returning for his sophomore season. Domantas moves well for a big and plays hard, a combination that produces good results on the boards. He does not have much of an offensive game, especially beyond close range.
16. Boston Celtics
Denzel Valentine | Michigan State | SG | 6-6 | 225
Draft Combine: Denzel Valentine
NBA Draft Prospect Denzel Valentine speaks to the media at the Draft Combine.
The important part of the Final Four team in 2014-15 had a nice climb up draft boards last season with more experience and a larger role for an elite program. Valentine earned that centerpiece spot as 22-year-old senior who is smart and versatile. He shot 44.4 percent behind the arc and also easily leading the team in assists, a testament to his ability to become a secondary ball handler in the pros as well as score.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Demetrius Jackson | Notre Dame | PG | 6-1 | 195
Memphis needs depth at point guard even if Mike Conley re-signs. Jackson has speed to play in the open court, leaping ability to play above the rim and a quick first step to create an opening. The physical advantages are especially important because he does have great size. He gives Notre Dame the chance to send a point guard into the first round for the second year in a row (after Jerian Grant went 19th last June).
18. Detroit Pistons
Damian Jones | Vanderbilt | C | 7-0 | 250
Detroit needs offense in general and especially 3-point threats, but there is no obvious answer here in the land of backup big men. Jones turns 21 the week after the draft, is more developed than many others in the class and could play behind Andre Drummond. Jones has NBA size and athleticism, the makings of being able to play up in an up-tempo system or a power game and become a shot blocker. The offense needs work.
19. Denver Nuggets
Ivica Zubac | Croatia | C | 7-0 | 240
And so begins the run of draft-and-stash players with the perfect candidate, a team making its third pick of the opening round. Zubac has an opportunity to become a solid player on both ends, with a good chance he would stay in Europe at least one more season to continue to develop. He will only be 19 at the time of the draft, yet already has good size along with excellent mobility and good hands that will allow him to play in transition.
20. Indiana Pacers
Wade Baldwin IV | Vanderbilt | PG | 6-3 | 195
Draft Combine: Wade Baldwin IV
Vanderbilt's Wade Baldwin speaks at the NBA Draft Combine.
The improbable rise from under-the-radar college recruit to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team has taken him all the way to the edge of the lottery, and possibly into the top 14 with good workouts, after the sophomore campaign. He is a fiery, emotional leader who tries to take control, even as a freshman. With the extra attention from defenses, though, he went from 43.9 percent overall to 42.7 and from 43.9 percent behind the arc to 40.6.
21. Atlanta Hawks
Diamond Stone | Maryland | C | 6-10 | 250
Stone built a case for the teens, and was in the lottery conversation earlier in the season, despite a relatively limited role early as a part-time starter who averaged 22.6 minutes. He turned 19 on Feb. 10 and already has NBA size as a true center, while also moving well with a large frame. That is the obvious selling point. Meanwhile, his defense is improving.
22. Charlotte Hornets
Brice Johnson | North Carolina | PF | 6-10 | 230
Draft: Brice Johnson
Brice Johnson from the University of North Carolina speaks with NBATV's Kristen Ledlow.
He coasts with frustrating regularity, enough to possibly, though not likely, be the difference between first-round talent and second-round reality. He has good scoring instincts, the experience of four seasons on Tobacco Road and good height for the position along with the leaping ability that helped him win two high school state high-jump championships in South Carolina.
23. Boston Celtics
Ante Zizic | Croatia | C | 6-11 | 240
A high-energy player with nice athleticism for a big, he runs the floor well and handles the contact of playing inside. His offensive game is still limited, though. Zizic is 19, making him an ideal draft-and-stash pick for the end of the first round. With his intensity and with time, he could become a contributor for an NBA team.
24. Philadelphia 76ers
Tyler Ulis | Kentucky | PG | 5-9 | 160
Yeah, the height. But Ulis is such a great leader that Kentucky's John Calipari called him the best floor general he has ever coached, a list that includes Derrick Rose, John Wall and Brandon Knight. Ulis was also third in the nation in assist-to-turnover two seasons ago and first in the SEC in 2015-16. NBA teams liked him as a freshman and then really liked him this season in an expanded role after Andrew Harrison went to the pros along with two other members of the Wildcats backcourt.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Stephen Zimmerman | UNLV | C | 7-0 | 235
Size plus the ability to play in transition plus a nice touch from the perimeter plus the potential to defend both big-man spots. It's easy to see Zimmerman moving back up, after previously being in the lottery mix. The question is whether he will convince front offices he can play a physical style as well, at least on defense and go after contact rather than rely entirely on finesse. It didn't help that his freshman season was dotted by nagging injuries, illness and a coaching change.
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Juan Hernangomez | Spain | PF-SF | 6-9 | 220
The 76ers don't want a third rookie along with two possible redshirt rookies, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, so one of the picks in the 20s is almost surely ticketed for a trade or a player to remain overseas. (If they deal No. 1, everything changes.) Hernangomez has used a season of good production to greatly help his chances of making the first round. His experience -- 20 years old now, 21 for the start of training camp -- shows. He is a good athlete who runs the floor well, plays above the rim and can score in a variety of ways. His brother Willy was the No. 35 pick by the 76ers last year and traded the same night to the Knicks.
27. Toronto Raptors
Taurean Prince | Baylor | SF | 6-7 | 215
The same player who began high school at a 5-9 guard and left as a 6-7 center has made similar strides in college, even if not on the growth chart. Prince will leave Baylor as one of the top seniors in the nation as a 3D prospect on the wing -- three-pointers and defense, although he did drop from 39.5 percent behind the arc in 2014-15 to 36.1 last season.
28. Phoenix Suns
Cheick Diallo | Kansas | PF | 6-9 | 220
The Mali native who attended high school in New York had a very choppy freshman season at Kansas, from missing two exhibitions and five games as the NCAA sorted through eligibility issues to undependable play once he was cleared. There were stretches when just staying on the court was a challenge, and he averaged 7.5 minutes. But athleticism, size and potential on defense makes him a very intriguing prospect. While it would not be a surprise if he dropped out of the first round, some team will be lured by the physical tools to invest intensive coaching and a lot of NBA D-League time.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray | Washington | PG-SG | 6-5 |170
He excels in transition, whether pushing the ball himself or running the wing and staying in attack mode. That is comes through at 170 pounds is especially appealing to front offices that expect him to fill out and get stronger. Poor shooting is the problem. Murray made just 41.6 percent of his attempts overall and 28.8 percent of his 3s.
30. Golden State Warriors
Zhou Qi | China | C | 7-2 | 210
Zhou said he can make a smooth transition to the United States even if it not in a city with a large Chinese population, so ending up in the Bay Area would simply be a bonus. Similarly, it would not be a marketing move by the Warriors. (Like they need one.) Zhou needs to bulk up, but someone will probably invest a weightlifting regiment and patience around the end of the first round or the start of the second for a 7-2 prospect with agility. Chances are good Golden State, looking for cap flexibility heading into free agency, will pick a player to stay overseas, whether Zhou or someone else.
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