2016 NBA Draft: Mark Schanowski's Mock Draft 2.0

2016 NBA Draft: Mark Schanowski's Mock Draft 2.0

As we move closer to the NBA Draft, here's another look at how things might fall in the first round with more lottery teams making their intentions known and several players dropping back because of injury concerns.

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, F, LSU

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has a relationship with the Simmons family from his years coaching in Australia. Plus, the versatile 6-foot-10 forward might be the only player in this draft with superstar potential, making it an easy choice for the 76ers.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, F, Duke

L.A. needs scoring punch in the frontcourt, and the 6-foot-9 Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant by some scouts. Should fit in well with the uptempo style preferred by new head coach Luke Walton.

3. Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown, G/F, California

Danny Ainge is having a tough time deciding between Brown, Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield, but the athletic Brown has the chance to be a dynamic offensive talent, while Murray and Hield are more of the spot-up shooter mold. Guess here is that Ainge will go for the home-run pick.

4. Phoenix Suns: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

Hield is probably the best pure shooter in the draft, and the Suns could use another floor spacer to play off the point guard duo of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

Tom Thibodeau's first pick as head of basketball operations could be a defense-first point guard who could complement and eventually replace incumbent starter Ricky Rubio. Not exactly a position of need, but Dunn is the best player on the board.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky

Murray might be a little undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA, but there's no question about his ability to create his own shot. This is a position of need for the Pels with Eric Gordon most likely leaving in free agency.

7. Denver Nuggets: Dragan Bender, F, Croatia

With three picks in Round 1, Denver can afford to roll the dice on the skilled 7-foot-0 teenager who scouts say is not nearly as good a prospect as the Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis.

8. Sacramento Kings: Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt

Baldwin is one of the late risers in this year's draft. Scouts love his size and defensive potential at 6-foot-4, with a 6-foot-11 wing span. With last year's starter Rajon Rondo likely leaving in free agency, the Kings get the chance to draft the next version of Rondo in the rangy Baldwin.

9. Toronto Raptors: Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington

Toronto has been looking to upgrade the power forward spot for the last two years. Chriss is one of the youngest players in the draft, with the highest ceiling among the power forwards still on the board.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah

Milwaukee could use another big man to complement their collection of athletic wing players. Free agent Greg Monroe is likely available in a trade after a disappointing first season in Beer City.

11. Orlando Magic: Skal Labissiere, F, Kentucky

Labissiere has a good shooting touch at nearly seven feet tall and impressed teams in workouts. He's painfully thin, which means he'll need a lot of extra work in an NBA weight room, but the Magic like his long-term potential.

12. Utah Jazz: Domantas Sabonis, F, Gonzaga

Sabonis refused to workout with teams below No. 12, leading a lot of scouts to think he's already received a promise from the Jazz. He could back up both Rudy Gobert and Derrek Favors in Utah.

13. Phoenix Suns: Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

With their second pick in the first round, the Suns can go for a stretch power forward like Ellenson, who also can score in the post. Ellenson showed he has range to the NBA 3-point line during individual workouts.

14. Chicago Bulls: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame

With the future of Derrick Rose in Chicago very much up in the air, the front office needs to get serious about finding the heir apparent at point guard. Jackson is a scoring point guard in the mold of Toronto All Star Kyle Lowry and helped Notre Dame reach the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons.

15. Denver Nuggets: Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State

Projected as a lottery pick in many mock drafts, Valentine is now dealing with medical questions about the health of his knees. Still, the Big Ten Player of the Year has a unique skill set and tremendous court vision. Could be tremendous value for the Nuggets at this spot.

16. Boston Celtics: Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State

Make it two straight Spartans off the board in the middle of Round 1. Davis didn't play a lot during his one season in East Lansing, but his shot-blocking ability and offensive potential make him an attractive prospect.

17. Memphis Grizzlies: Timothe Luwawu, F, France

Memphis was looking to draft a point guard to protect against Mike Conley's upcoming free agency, but with Baldwin and Jackson off the board, the Grizzlies can address a need for some youth at the wing spots with the explosive athlete from France.

18. Detroit Pistons: Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse

Detroit could use another reliable guard off the bench to play behind Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Richardson burst on to NBA scouts' radar after a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.

19. Denver Nuggets: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey

Scouts says Korkmaz is a smooth, athletic wing scorer in the mold of Mario Hezonja, who the Magic took with their top pick last season. Don't be surprised if the Nuggets look to move this pick with so many young players already on the roster.

20. Indiana Pacers: Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas

Diallo didn't play much in his one season at Kansas, but showed a lot of potential at the NBA Draft combine. The Pacers have had a lot of turnover on their frontline in recent years, and Ian Mahinmi could be leaving in free agency.

21. Atlanta Hawks: Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor

Atlanta could lose versatile wing Kent Bazemore in free agency after losing Demarre Carroll a year ago. Small forward is a position of need, and the athletic Prince showed well in workouts.

22. Charlotte Hornets: Malik Beasley, SG/SF, Florida State

Charlotte needs to fortify the wing spots with Nic Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams all free agents. Beasley is coming off a strong season in the ACC, and scouts like his aggressiveness on the offensive end.

23. Boston Celtics: Ante Zizic, C, Croatia

Ainge will look to trade out of this pick, but if he can't find a taker, Zizic might be the best big man prospect out of the international draft-and-stash pool.

24. Philadelphia 76ers: DeAndre Bembry, SG/SF, St. Joe's

The Sixers could go in a number of directions with so many needs, so why not take a local Philly product like Bembry? He showed very well at the combine and has the versatility to play both wing spots off the bench.

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson, F, North Carolina

Coming off a strong NCAA tournament, Johnson would give the Clippers a talented forward to add to their bench. Doc Rivers is still looking for more consistency on that second unit.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Juan Hernangomez, F, Spain

The Sixers don't want to add three more rookies to an already young roster, so barring a trade, look for Bryan Colangelo to take at least one future prospect who can stay in Europe to develop for another year or two.

27. Toronto Raptors: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt

With Bismack Biyombo ready to cash in after a strong playoff run, the Raptors need a center to back up Jonas Valanciunas. Jones has good size and played well against SEC competition.

28. Phoenix Suns: Ivica Zubac, C, Serbia

Another team with three first-round picks goes with a player they can leave in Europe until a roster spot comes open. The Knicks and Wizards are looking to trade into the first round, and this could be a possible spot.

29. San Antonio Spurs: Thon Maker, F, Australia

The international man of mystery in this year's draft. Intriguing size at 7-foot-1, but NBA scouts aren't sure what position he'll play. The Spurs can let him develop overseas for a couple years before bringing him over.

30. Golden State Warriors: Isaiah Cousins, SG, Oklahoma

What could the team that has everything possibly want? How about another shooter? Cousins played well as Buddy Hield's running mate at Oklahoma and could fit right in with Golden State's small-ball offense.

The Bulls also have a second-round pick (No. 48 overall). They could possibly pick up a developmental center like Purdue's A.J. Hammons, UNLV's Stephen Zimmerman or Chinese seven-footer Zhou Qi or maybe a wing shooter like Michigan's oft-injured Caris LeVert, Seton Hall's Isaiah Whitehead or Wichita State's Ron Baker.

And there’s always the possibility of the Bulls trying to make a trade to move up in Round 1. The Trib’s K.C. Johnson reported their interest in Providence point guard Kris Dunn, but it would take a major deal to move into the top five. Look for a lot of trade activity around the league on draft night.

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend


Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler was absent from the scoresheet of the All-Star Game, unless you count a “DNP-Coaches’ Decision” as activity. Whether due to the All-Star festivities of the weekend or even the grinding minutes he plays under Tom Thibodeau, it wasn’t truly surprising to see him want to have a night off of sorts.

But what was mildly surprising was the reflection he displayed on Saturday at All-Star Media Day in reference to his time with the Chicago Bulls. Usually, Butler’s armor is up because of his feelings surrounding his draft-night departure.

“I learned a lot in Chicago,” Butler said. “Just all through the season and life in general. What to do, what not to do and how to adapt to any situation that you’ve been in. I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. I have a ways to go in that.”

It’s clear he’s still grasping the weight of his words as the best player on a team, or at least, the player whose words impact everything around him.

“A people pleaser? No, I just didn’t say much,” Butler said. “Now I just don’t care. I never talked whenever I was in the league at an early age. It really didn’t matter, nothing I did was gonna make or break us when it comes to losing a game. Now it does and I have a lot to say. Half the time it’s not the right time or right way to say it but it’s okay.”

Whether it was the battles with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg or the internal struggles in the Bulls’ locker room through his ascension from bench warmer to rotation player to impact player to now, a legitimate star, he’s modifying his approach—just a tad.

“I’ve never been the best player on my own team. I was in Tomball,” he joked, in reference to his beginnings in small town Texas. “I wasn’t in junior college. At Marquette I wasn’t. I’m probably not now. In Chicago I wasn’t. You just pick up on it, watch others and learn.”

He admitted to writing in a journal and reading self-help books now that he’s in Minnesota. The novel he’s reading now, “Faith, Forward, Future” is authored by Chad Veach, a Los Angeles pastor and the subtitle of the book says “Moving past your disappointments, delays and destructive thinking.”

Whether he started the book following a slow start with the Timberwolves in November, where his nightly numbers looked like one of a high-level role player, he took some self-evaluation before leading the charge since, playing like an MVP candidate with 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 49 percent shooting since the start of December.

“It’s relatively new. Yeah, basketball is still basketball but it’s hard when somebody else is coming in and roles change overnight,” Butler said. “You gotta see where you fit in with the group. At the end of the day you gotta win. I didn’t feel the way I was playing was our best opportunity to win games.”

Bringing along the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns being a fellow All-Star for the first time, has been a process.

“I’ve never actually had to be a leader,” Butler said. “I just always done what I was supposed to do, didn’t say much and played hard. Now you know, everybody wants to call someone a leader.”

He disputes taking a softer hand, especially as Towns and Wiggins seem to struggle with sustaining concentration at critical moments. The Timberwolves won’t be able to make those mistakes during the playoffs, but he’s being more selective with his words.

“I’m not soft,” he said. “If I see something wrong, I speak on it. If you don’t like it, oh well. You’ll get over it.”

One thing he could take a bird’s eye view of was the aftermath of LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s comments to the “Uninterrupted”, where they were criticized by cable news hosts for speaking out against President Donald Trump.

No stranger to criticism, Butler would likely have the same approach if he dipped his toes into that arena.

“I like it. You got the right to say what you want and you speak on what you think is right,” Butler said. “Good for them. And they are magnified in a very big way. They embrace it and they’re doing the right thing, I’m all for it.”

And if the day comes where he doesn’t stick to sports, Butler’s directness and lack of diplomacy would certainly cause an interesting reaction.

“I don’t care. Whatever I believe in, I believe in,” Butler said. “Everybody else does it. You see everybody on Twitter and the Internet doing it and saying what they want to say. We just have a different job than the person to our left and right.”

Well, not quite a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Butler.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment


Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”