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Mock Draft 2.0: Simmons too unique for 76ers to pass on

Ingram an ideal fit for the Lakers, while Washington's Marquese Chriss continues to soar into the top of the lottery

POSTED: Jun 15, 2016 2:58 AM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper


The mock draft after the three-day adidas Eurocamp ended Sunday and the deadline for international players to withdraw passed Monday, based on conversations with numerous front offices.

> Complete coverage of 2016 NBA Draft

1. Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons | LSU | PF | 6-10 | 245

NBA Rooks: Meet Ben Simmons

Draft Prospect Ben Simmons is working hard for his shot at the NBA

While some teams still believe Brandon Ingram is the best fit for a team desperate for scoring and perimeter shooting, the consensus is that Philadelphia has to, and will, go Simmons. Concerns about his maturity, in contrast to Ingram as a focused and tireless worker, are offset by the bottom line that Simmons is too unique of a talent to pass up. That would be the case whether or not the 76ers trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel to break up what is already a crowded situation at power forward and center. Teams that won 10 games generally cannot be driven by position need.

2. L.A. Lakers

Brandon Ingram | Duke | SF | 6-9 | 200

NBA Rooks: Meet Brandon Ingram

Draft Prospect Brandon Ingram is working hard for his shot at the NBA.

This is the consolation prize? Ingram is an ideal fit for the Lakers, more than Simmons because Simmons needs to run the offense to be most effective, a scenario that would reduce D'Angelo Russell's role. Ingram is a small forward when L.A. has a hole there and Ingram is offense, with the ability to score off the dribble or from the perimeter, when L.A. finished last in points and shooting. He does not turn 19 until September, but carries himself well for a young player.

3. Boston Celtics

Dragan Bender | Israel | PF | 7-1 | 220

For all the talk about the possibility of the 76ers making trades, the Celtics are probably the best candidate of all as a team pushing to get in position for a long playoff run now. Veterans are more appealing than prospects. If they stay, though, the need for 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 see the Croatian becoming the best player in the draft in time. Bender is not another 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

Marquese Chriss | Washington | PF | 6-9 | 235

Prospect Profile: Marquese Chriss

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Marquese Chriss.

The rocket-ship ride the second half of his freshman season took Chriss into the first round and then into the lottery and now all the way into the conversation for top three. "He's got some Amar'e (Stoudemire), some Shawn Kemp," one front-office veteran said. That athleticism and physical presence, plus the potential to step outside and shoot with decent range. But Chriss is not a good rebounder for a power forward and fouled out in 15 of 34 games.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Kris Dunn | Providence | PG | 6-4 | 205

NBA Rooks: Meet Kris Dunn

Draft prospect Kris Dunn takes us back to his hometown of New London, Connecticut.

The first draft choice by head of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau is a statement about the direction under coach Tom Thibodeau, with the addition of a big, mature point guard who should become an immediate physical presence on defense. Dunn is 22 and more developed than most in the draft class and, in the words of one general manager, "He's good enough to start for a good team as a rookie." The question is whether the team with a pressing need for 3-point shooting can leave Buddy Hield on the board.

6. New Orleans Pelicans

Jamal Murray | Kentucky | SG-PG | 6-5 | 200

NBA Rooks: Meet Jamal Murray

Draft Prospect Jamal Murray is working hard for his shot at the NBA.

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, although there is some belief he could handle a starting role as the primary distributor. 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).

7. Denver Nuggets

Buddy Hield | Oklahoma | SG | 6-4 | 215

After Dark: Buddy Hield

Rick Fox sits down with NBA Draft Prospect Buddy Hield, recent graduate of Oklahoma University.

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. And the Nuggets finished 26th in 3-point percentage.

8. Sacramento Kings

Jaylen Brown | California | SF | 6-7 | 220

Prospect Profile: Jaylen Brown

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Jaylen Brown.

Sacramento is lining up possibilities to trade down if each of their three or four realistic targets are off the board, but there is very little chance all will be gone. The Kings will likely spend No. 8, not deal it, if Brown -- or Hield, Murray or Dunn in the backcourt -- are still available. The Brown outcome would lead management to consider a Rudy Gay trade later in the offseason, if not outright putting Gay on the trade block with a successor in place.

9. Toronto Raptors

Jakob Poeltl | Utah | C | 7-0 | 235

College Highlights: Jakob Poeltl

Watch some highlights and see why Jakob Poeltl has been rated as a NBA draft prospect.

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 has become what one executive described as a poor man's Pau Gasol, with passing skills, the ability to play inside and a good feel for the game despite a relative lack of experience. He has been working to become a better scorer, but is the kind of worker who will put in the time to get better.

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Skal Labissiere | Kentucky | C-PF | 7-0 | 220

Future of the Assist: Skal Labissière

Draft prospect Skal Labissière describes his dramatic journey from Haiti to the doorstep of the NBA.

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 talent is not the issue. "Does he love to play?" one exec wondered. "That's the question." An encouraging finish to the season helped. Labissiere has so many raw skills that he becomes so tempting at this stage, and John Hammond is the same general manager who has been rewarded for once taking a player with so much to prove, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

11. Orlando Magic

Deyonta Davis | Michigan State | PF | 6-10 | 240

Prospect Profile: Deyonta Davis

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Deyonta Davis.

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.

12. Utah Jazz

Henry Ellenson | Marquette | PF-C | 6-10 | 230

Prospect Profile: Henry Ellenson

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Henry Ellenson.

Ellenson is a big man with mobility to handle an up-tempo system and strength to play physical, a versatility on offense in particular that would fit well as a counter to the defense of the starting center, Rudy Gobert. Utah, improving on defense, would be making gains on offense by adding Ellenson's shooting after Trey Lyles and Rodney Hood in previous drafts.

13. Phoenix Suns

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.

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, a superstar in Europe before seven seasons with the Trail Blazers, was an intriguing prospect a year ago, in the same lottery territory as 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

Prospect Profile: Denzel Valentine

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Denzel Valentine.

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. He could easily break into the lottery and maybe even the top 12. Valentine earned the centerpiece spot at Michigan State as a 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

Prospect Profile: Demetrius Jackson

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Demetrius Jackson.

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

Prospect Profile: Damian Jones

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Damian Jones.

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

The run of draft-and-stash players begins with the perfect candidate and 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 is only 19, 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

Prospect Profile: Wade Baldwin

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Wade Baldwin.

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

Prospect Profile: Diamond Stone

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Diamond Stone.

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

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.

23. Boston Celtics

Cheick Diallo | Kansas | PF | 6-9 | 220

Prospect Profile: Cheick Diallo

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Cheick Diallo.

The Mali native who attended high school in New York state 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 D-League time -- more likely a team making its third pick.

24. Philadelphia 76ers

Malachi Richardson | Syracuse | SG-SF | 6-6 | 200

Draft Combine: Malachi Richardson

Syracuse draftee Malachi Richardson speaks at the NBA Draft Combine.

A versatile scorer who had especially big games in the tournament as part of Syracuse's unexpected run from No. 10 seed to the Final Four. That would have looked good no matter what, but was particularly noteworthy for a freshman on that big stage for the first time. The postseason combined with good workouts in the weeks leading to the draft had Richardson climbing with the possibility he could continue to rise before June 23. The teens are a possibility.

25. L.A. Clippers

Taurean Prince | Baylor | SF | 6-7 | 215

Prospect Profile: Taurean Prince

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Taurean Prince.

The same player who began high school as 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 left Baylor as one of the top seniors in the nation and a 3D prospect on the wing -- 3-pointers and defense, although he did drop from 39.5 percent behind the arc in 2014-15 to 36.1 last season.

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 either 24 or 26 is almost surely ticketed for a trade or a draft-and-stash. 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 picked 35th by the 76ers last year and traded the same night to the Knicks.

27. Toronto Raptors

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 threes.

28. Phoenix Suns

Petr Cornelie | France | PF | 6-11 | 220

Cornelie felt especially good about his Phoenix workout and the Suns are making their third pick of the opening round of a soft draft, a good spot to take a prospect with a chance to develop into something more overseas. That's Cornelie. He needs to get stronger but has mobility, good hands and the range to become a pick-and-pop specialist.

29. San Antonio Spurs

Brice Johnson | North Carolina | PF | 6-10 | 230

Prospect Profile: Brice Johnson

Get to know NBA Draft prospect Brice Johnson.

He coasts with frustrating regularity, enough to become the difference between first-round talent and second-round reality. Johnson has good scoring instincts, the experience of four seasons on Tobacco Road and good size at power forward along with the leaping ability that won two high school state high-jump championships in South Carolina.

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 is 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 has to bulk up, but someone will probably invest a weightlifting regiment and patience near the end of the first round or the start of the second for a 7-2 prospect with agility. Golden State is looking for cap flexibility heading into free agency, increasing the chances of picking a player to stay overseas.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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