Remember March Madness, the NCAA tournament. Yes, it was pretty exciting the way it finished with that last shot by Villanova. What’s more difficult to remember is the elite star from those games who is about to step into the NBA. Heck, there may not even have been a future NBA starter on the all-tournament team.
Yes, welcome to the 2016 NBA draft, which will be conducted Thursday in New York City. You’re taking whom?
Sure, there are some players with intriguing talent. And there always are a few players who emerge as surprise exceptions in the NBA because the college game, for the most part, is too coach controlled and often badly. So some players excel in the pros despite doing less in college.
But looking at this draft class, headed by a player who could not even get his team into the 68-team tournament, it’s difficult to find the stars of tomorrow.
LSU’s Ben Simmons is expected to be the No. 1 selection, though he apparently has declined to work out for anyone as he may be asking the Hall of Fame to waive its five-year waiting period for enshrinement. Duke’s Brandon Ingram is the rest of the 1-2 entry, though mostly you hear it will take some time as he’s about 15 years old.
Buddy Hield can shoot, but is not too big and not too good with the dribble. Kris Dunn can run a team, but what about his shot? Jamal Murray can shoot, but can he run a team? Questions, questions, questions.
With Simmons and Ingram expected to be the first two picks, it’s yet another so called wing draft with the top players mostly small forwards, though some who don’t shoot that well and others who don’t dribble or pass. There’s then the overload of smallish power forwards, which was the label hung on Draymond Green. This draft is probably weakest at point guard with three, perhaps four point guards who figure to go in the first round. But there are a few Isaiah Thomas types. He went 60th and became an All-Star.
It doesn’t look like one of those drafts everyone will look back on as changing the league, like 1984, 1992 and 2003. But there is some talent there; it’s just about finding it.
Here’s a look at this draft by position:
It’s the weakest position in this draft, though some see Dunn and Murray as special pros.
1. Jamal Murray, Kentucky, 6-4, 200
He may be more suited to shooting guard, but then it might be tough to even get to five point guards if I leave him out. A better shooter but probably could play point in this scoring point guard era.
2. Kris Dunn, Providence, 6-4, 220
Considered the closest to pro pure point guard with scoring guard abilities. Though he’s had some shoulder injury issues.
3. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, 6-1, 193
A junior, which makes him a wily veteran in these drafts. Has good all around abilities. Smallish, but not among the smallest and with that toughness teams like.
4. Wade Baldwin. Vanderbilt, 6-4, 202
He was likened to Spencer Dinwiddie on one of key internet draft sites. The Bulls just picked up Dinwiddie for Cameron Bairstow, who rarely played. That doesn’t sound like first round material.
5. Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, 5-9, 150
Every pro guy says they are impressed with him and then add the dreaded but of being small, no really, really small. But the Chicago kid can really, really run a team and is really, really a great competitor. So he won’t be an All-Star. Well, they said that about Isaiah, too.
There’s no next Ray Allen here. Or Klay Thompson. Actually, not a great position for this draft, either. Help! There are some good shooters, but not so much the take your breath away types. Thompson went 11th in 2011 right after Jimmer Fredette.
1. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 6-4, 214
Looked like the best shooter in college. Another Ben Gordon type? Remember, Ben could really shoot it and didn’t do much else, which some say is the question with Hield.
2. Malachi Richardson, Syracuse, 6-6, 200
Sort of began to run out of names after Hield. Some can handle and pass, some shoot, but just decently, like Richardson. He’s the right size and can make plays, but he can be streaky.
3. Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey, 6-7, 180
More of a classic shooter, but thin and young players coming from overseas generally need more time to fit in and find a spot.
4. DeJounte Murray, Washington, 6-5, 175
A lot of good stuff about him, but, well, he doesn’t shoot all that great for a shooting guard. At least yet. Has that Jamal Crawford handle and elusiveness to get to the basket. Which is something.
5. Timothe Luwawu, France, 6-7, 205
The right size and speed and regarded for his defense and hustle, but why do they have to have shooting in the position name? He needs some improvement there, but has a decent stroke.
The position of the draft with Simmons and Ingram. Though Simmons has that unique talent in handling the ball and passing, his shooting is considered questionable. Would you pass on him, regarded publicly as the top talent, for a developing Ingram with more skills? Tune in Thursday.
1. Ben Simmons, LSU, 6-9, 240
You hate to make the Royce White comparison because of all the other issues, but he is similar with that size and the ability to run a team like a guard. But do you turn your team over to a freshman? And in this NBA you better be able to shoot. He hasn’t shown much of that yet. Ladies and gentlemen, your No. 1 pick?
2. Brandon Ingram, Duke, 6-9, 200
Athletic, skilled with fluid movements, and then he disappeared at times in the tournament with a lack of strength. You have to be patient, and fans don’t want to be with No. 1 or 2 picks.
3. Jaylen Brown, California, 6-7, 222
Some see him as a shooting guard, though, again, some shooting inconsistencies. More a wing player and strong finisher, though opinions differ among scouts of his effectiveness for the NBA.
4. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, 6-6, 210
Pros like those rising ceilings in the draft, and his won’t be as he will be more what you see now. Which is pretty good; not an athlete, but a shot maker, clever and skilled who can step in with an NBA team more quickly.
5. Taurean Prince, Baylor, 6-7, 220
More a defensive player with open court abilities who’ll need to improve his shooting. But not by that much and if he does his energy becomes a big plus.
The next most talent in this draft with a varied group and perhaps the most depth of any of the positions for this draft
1. Marquese Chriss, Washington, 6-10, 233
There’s always a guy who rockets up the draft boards, and he’s been this year’s. He’s drawn the athletic comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemore before the apostrophe and Tyrus Thomas before the acting out. Has that vaulted ceiling the pros love in their new acquisitions.
2. Dragan Bender, Croatia, 7-0, 220
Everyone will want to make him another Porzingis, but he’s more skilled with the ball like a Toni Kukoc type. But, again, teams don’t turn the ball over to guys like this too quickly and he could have to learn to be a corner three-point shooter.
3. Henry Ellenson, Marquette, 6-11, 242
Not particularly athletic, though the Brian Scalabrine comparison on some draft boards was a low blow. Good handle with the ball and can make plays and shots with enough mobility and size to help a team.
4. Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, 7-0, 215
One of those raw athlete types who need development. Needs to put on weight and get experience, but has that sky high ceiling.
5. Cheick Diallo, Kansas, 6-9, 220
Might be the advertisement for players actually playing at the predraft camp. Wasn’t much considered a first round pick until his energy and enthusiasm was electric. Others like Deyonta Davis and Brice Johnson have been generally regarded higher, but Diallo made an impression in Chicago.
This could be a good area for the Bulls as there are several promising big men, if not many who look like dominating starters. But in a small man’s basketball world these days there are several guys who will play in the NBA for awhile.
1. Jakob Poeltl, Utah, 7-1, 240
He’ll run the floor and shows good coordination, if not an overwhelming offensive game. But there are more inside big men in this draft than usual. Especially as so many of the big kids want to become shooters these days.
2. Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga, 6-10, 240
The son of the great Hall of Fame center doesn’t have his dad’s uncanny skills. But he’s a worker with inside scoring potential.
3. Diamond Stone, Maryland, 6-10, 255
More the so called old school guy with the inside game. A bit small but with a big wingspan. More below the rim, but with a physical presence.
4. Thon Maker, Australia, 7-0, 220
Sort of the mystery big man of the draft. He showed impressively at some camps and then NBA scouts lost track of him as he dropped in and out all over the globe. Has good skills and size, but essentially a high schooler.
5. Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, 6-11, 245
Recently had surgery for a torn pectoral, but it’s not considered a problem for starting next season. Nice touch and a worker with good size, but doesn’t produce as much as it seems he should. Croatian Ivica Zubac and Stephen Zimmerman from UNLV will get looks.