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Sam Smith's (Very Early) 2016 Mock Draft
Sam Smith takes an early look at the upcoming draft and where players may go
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By Sam Smith | 5.18.2016 | 9:30 a.m.
Let the bidding, trading and speculation begin.
The order for the NBA draft is set with the results of the draft lottery Tuesday that gave the Philadelphia 76ers, who had the league’s poorest record, the No. 1 overall selection. The Los Angeles Lakers received No. 2 and the Boston Celtics No. 3.
The Bulls, with the lowest odds to receive a higher draft pick among the lottery teams, will draft No. 14.
Philadelphia general manager Bryan Colangelo indicated the 76ers will keep the top pick, who is expected to be versatile LSU small forward Ben Simmons. Though teams are loath to declare their intentions this early, it makes sense for the 76ers to retain the pick. The same with the Lakers at No. 2, who likely will select Duke small forward Brandon Ingram. Both are talented players, but not the super talents who would seemingly yield an All-Star type player in trade given they are freshmen.
After those two selections, the potential of the next group of players is said to drop off some. Which could make for some intriguing trade scenarios since several teams have multiple first round draft picks, including the Celtics at No. 3. Boston has all but said it would like to trade the pick and perhaps several others for a veteran player.
Similar scenarios are said to exist with the Denver Nuggets, who have the Nos. 7, 15 and 19 first round picks, Phoenix with Nos. 4, 13 and 28 and Toronto with Nos. 9 and 27. The 76ers also have selections No. 24 and 26. In addition, the Minnesota Timberwolves with pick No. 5 are said to be in the market for a veteran under new coach Tom Thibodeau. However, point guard Ricky Rubio is somewhat out of favor in Minnesota, which could lead to the Timberwolves opting for a highly regarded point guard, like Providence’s Kris Dunn.
Here’s an early look at a potential first round:
1. Philadelphia 76ers:
Ben Simmons, LSU, 6-9, 240, small forward. With their hodge podge of big men and Simmons with star potential with his ball handling and passing, he’s an obvious choice even as some executives favor Ingram for his shooting. Simmons isn’t a good shooter.
2. Los Angeles Lakers:
Brandon Ingram, Duke, 6-9, 200, small forward. They’re always in more of a hurry than other teams and always could trade. But they don’t have a small forward among their young players. His star potential seems too risky to waste. They’ll go big in free agency with Kobe Bryant’s salary off the books. DeMar DeRozan has been rumored and always Kevin Durant, but Russell Westbrook’s 2017 free agency often is mentioned since he attended UCLA.
3. Boston Celtics:
Jamal Murray, Kentucky, 6-4, 200, shooting guard. They could use shooting, as most can. But they’re anxious to trade, most believe. They supposedly offered multiple picks last year to try to get Justise Winslow and have more to offer this year. They’ll likely be out there with various offers that include players as they likely don’t want to add yet another young player.
4. Phoenix Suns:
Dragan Bender, Croatia, 7-0, 220, power forward. They pretty much need everything but point guards, and they’ll probably look to trade some of those. So they’ll figure to be in business perhaps with a player and that No. 13 pick, which isn’t a bad package. The quick development of New York’s Kristaps Porzingis has the European market up again. He’s not Porzingis, but said to be more like former Bull Toni Kukoc with all around exceptional skills. A good piece for a developing team.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves:
Kris Dunn, Providence, 6-4, 220, point guard. Most everyone figures new coach/president Thibodeau will want a veteran. But they can do that in free agency. With uncertainly surrounding Rubio and Zach LaVine regarded more as a shooting guard, Dunn could be a strong future fit as the pros see him as the top point prospect in the draft.
6. New Orleans Pelicans:
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 6-5, 212, shooting guard. Eric Gordon is a free agent, however little he played, anyway, and they could use space shooting to open the floor for Anthony Davis. He’s one of the biggest names in college ball, and they can use the star attention.
7. Denver Nuggets:
Jaylen Brown, California, 6-7, 222, shooting guard. A mostly young team that believes it needs a veteran and likely would deal a few of their three No. 1s. Plus, the rumors have been they might part with Kenneth Faried to sweeten a deal. If they stick with the pick, Brown makes sense to go with their athletic rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
8. Sacramento Kings:
Jakob Poeltl, Utah, 7-1, 240, center. They’ll be another likely looking to trade the pick as they’re—once again—determined to be a playoff team. But maybe it’s time to begin to prepare post-Boogie. Will they hang onto DeMarcus Cousins with another losing season? Poeltl is the anti-Cousins as a defender who’ll hustle and not shoot.
9. Toronto Raptors:
Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey, 6-7, 180, shooting guard. They are an international city, after all. He’s said to be a big time shooter with good size and the rumors have been they may not want to meet DeMar DeRozan’s supposedly maximum salary demands. He’s young, so not surprisingly didn’t play much for his team. But is said to have all the tools.
10. Milwaukee Bucks:
Henry Ellenson, Marquette, 6-11, 242, power forward: Local favorite? It’s more than that as he has size and nice skills and probably makes it easier for them to trade Greg Monroe, who ended up going to the bench after a big free agent signing.
11. Orlando Magic:
Wade Baldwin, Vanderbilt, 6-4, 202, point guard. Another team that likely will look to trade the pick—who exactly is trading for all these lottery picks?—as they are desperate for veteran help with their young team. After the first seven or eight players, it’s the usual “eye of the beholder” as one team can have a player slotted 10 and another the same player 20. He’s generally been rated lower, but perhaps a more traditional point guard to go with Elfrid Payton.
12. Utah Jazz:
Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga, 6-10, 240, power forward. They’ve been desperate for a point guard, but they should have Dante Exum returning from injury. Sabonis is a multi talented player who could fit in around their big guys.
13. Phoenix Suns:
Brice Johnson, North Carolina, 6-10, 210, power forward. Also with three picks and that excess at point guard and Tyson Chandler not quite a fit with Alex Len coming on. So they could prove to be very active. Johnson is a more ready to play senior who plays hard and is athletic and could fit in more quickly.
Dejounte Murray, Washington, 6-5, 175, shooting guard. The speculation has been the Bulls will look for a point guard, and there are some available, like Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson and Baldwin could still be on the board along with Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis, a natural point guard but small. I don’t expect a major trade to move up in the lottery, though you never know with so many teams in the market. My view remains the Bulls most need shooting and athleticism, and he’s got a lot of both, though he is thin. There are comparisons to a young Jamal Crawford and not just because they come from the same area. The Bulls could use that sort of Crawford ball handling and basket attacking with their perimeter shooters of Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic.
15. Denver Nuggets:
Deyonta Davis, Michigan State, 6-10, 237, power forward. If they do want to include Faried in a trade, he would be a reasonable replacement.
16. Boston Celtics:
Malik Beasley, Florida State, 6-4, 190, shooting guard. They have plenty of guys at all positions, but as we say these days you can always use shooting.
17. Memphis Grizzlies:
Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, 6-1, 193, point guard. Just in case they can’t retain free agent Mike Conley. Though they may be closing in on a complete rebuild.
18. Detroit Pistons:
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, 6-6, 210, small forward. They’ve got the starting lineup, and now they need the bench. He’s not the great athlete, but ready to play, smart, a good shooter and leader. And staying home?
19. Denver Nuggets:
Marquese Chriss, Washington, 6-10, 233, power forward. More of a project who came fast as a freshman with good skills to perhaps be a stretch four at some point.
20: Indiana Pacers:
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, 5-10, 150, point guard. They sure need a point guard. You don’t get great ones this far down in the draft, though the pros agree he’s the best pure point guard in the draft. But the 5-10 measurement is with shoes. With lifts? His height scares teams away, but it did with Isaiah Thomas, too.
21. Atlanta Hawks:
Timothe Luwawu, France, 6-7, 205, small forward. They already have one as he’s in the Thabo Sefolosha mold, but they like to spread the floor with shooters and he’s shot well overseas.
22. Charlotte Hornets:
Taurean Prince, Baylor, Baylor, 6-7, 220. They now favor the long shooting and defense game and he should be a fit in that.
23. Boston Celtics:
Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV, 7-0, 235. A versatile big man who isn’t quite ready, but they have several of those as well.
24. Philadelphia 76ers:
Cheick Diallo, Kansas, 6-9, 220, power forward. Didn’t play much in college, but has impressed in post season workouts and stock has gone up with game and character.
25. Los Angeles Clippers:
Gary Payton II, Oregon State, 6-3, 185. Reputation of unable to shoot and compared to Rajon Rondo, who did pretty well under Doc Rivers. And this kid doesn’t seem to complain as much.
26. Philadelphia 76ers:
Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, 7-0, 215, center. If they have all those picks may as well take a chance on a guy not ready but with many talents.
27. Toronto Raptors:
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, 6-11, 245, center. Could use some backup size.
28. Phoenix Suns:
Malachi Richardson, Syracuse, 6-6, 200, shooting guard. Devin Booker is their future at shooting guard, but out West you always need more scoring.
29. San Antonio Spurs:
Anthony Barber, North Carolina State, 6-3, 175, point guard. Their bench let them down against the Thunder and it hurt losing Cory Joseph. So perhaps a replacement.
30. Golden State Warriors:
Thon Maker, Australia, 7-0, 220, center. He’s a long term project, but with abilities as sort of a straight from high school type through international exceptions.