Blakely's 2016 NBA Mock Draft 3.0
Blakely's 2016 NBA Mock Draft 3.0
By A. Sherrod Blakely
CHICAGO – Like most NBA combines, there were some players who performances opened a few more eyes while others left NBA executives shaking their heads.
Regardless, both players and league executives came away with a much better feel and understanding of how this year’s draft process would likely play out.
Many of the executives I spoke with placed versatility and shot-making at or near the top of their wish-list from a skills standpoint.
Meanwhile, players tried their best to balance what teams were looking for while not getting too far from doing what they do best.
“If you hadn’t done good stuff, you wouldn’t be here,” one league executive said was his advice to draft hopefuls. “All we want is for you to do what you do, only better and more consistent. Obviously that’s easier said than done.”
Here’s a look at my latest Mock Draft based on observations as well as conversations with several league executives in attendance at the NBA combine in Chicago this week.
1. Minnesota – Ben Simmons, F, LSU
I know, the last 3 number one picks all on the same roster. Nobody has that kind of luck, right? This would solidify their frontcourt for the next decade and then some.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
Out goes the Kevin Durant comparisons, in comes ‘the next Kobe’ talk. Can’t we just be content with Brandon Ingram being, you know, Brandon Ingram.
3. BOSTON (from Brooklyn) – JAYLEN BROWN, F, CAL
Had really good interview with the Celtics during the combine. Looking at his game, listening to him speak, would be a solid pick on and off the court for Boston. But taking Dragan Bender will be awfully tempting.
4. Philadelphia – Kris Dunn, G, Providence College
To show this is not your Tank-a-palooza Sixers anymore, they take a guard who not only fits a need, but gives them some much-needed leadership for a talented but extremely young core of players.
5. Phoenix – Henry Ellenson, F, Marquette
Extremely skilled big man, Ellenson’s offensive skillset makes him a slim favorite at this spot over Croatian big man Dragan Bender.
6. New Orleans – Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
He fits a need, best player on the board, this seems like a no-brainer for the Pelicans to snatch up Murray here.
7. Denver (from New York) – Dragan Bender, F/C, International
Nuggets add a player whose talents do more to impact winning than stand out on their own.
8. Sacramento – Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Best shooter in the draft who is a high-profile player, two qualities this Kings franchise wanted to add with this pick.
9. Toronto (from Denver) -- Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
This is a bit high for him, but as we go through the workout circuit you will see Labissiere continue to climb draft boards because of his immense potential.
10. Milwaukee -- Jakob Poeltl, F/C, Utah
The Bucks are long on length, but could use a player with Poelt's defensive acumen in the middle.
11. Orlando – Denzel Valentine, G/F, Michigan State
Showed tremendous versatility this past season, concerns exist about his athleticism but there’s a growing number of execs who believe his high basketball I.Q. will allow him to overcome his physical deficiencies at this level.
12. Utah -- Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, International
The Jazz will go international once again with their first round pick, adding one of the more athletic international players in the draft who can play – and defend – multiple positions.
13. Phoenix (from Washington) – Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
Another player whose interviews with teams in Chicago helped his cause, teams are slowly becoming less concerned about his maturity. Now the alarming rate that he picks up fouls? That’s another story.
14. Chicago -- Furkan Korkmaz, G, International
Decent shooter, runs the floor well and is at his best in transition. His style of play seems an ideal fit for head coach Fred Hoiberg’s system.
15. Denver (from Houston) -- Domantas Sabonis, F, Gonzaga
Excellent footwork around the basket should help him score in the NBA, but he will be challenged defensively.
16. Boston (from Dallas) – Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State
Toughness is the one character trait it seems all kids from Michigan State come into the NBA possessing, and Davis is no exception. He’s young and very raw, but his instincts defensively will keep him on the floor which will give his game offensively time to catch up.
17. Memphis -- Wade Baldwin IV, G, Vanderbilt
Enhanced his value as a combo guard by measuring slightly taller (6-4) than expected at the combine, in addition to having a wingspan of 6-11.25.
18. Detroit -- Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas
Played well in both games at the combine, got great feedback which made his decision to stay in the draft an easy one.
19. Denver (from Portland) -- Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
High-energy player who can knock down 3s, Beasley gives the Nuggets what should be a much-needed burst of energy off the bench.
20. Indiana – Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
Despite his lithe frame (5-10, 149 pounds), the Pacers roll the dice that the littlest man in the draft can come up big for them going forward.
21. Atlanta -- Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor
There are few teams and players in this draft that seem to be a better fit than the Hawks and Prince who was one of the more underrated small forwards in college basketball last season.
22. Charlotte -- Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
Hornets pleasantly surprised that Jackson is still on the board after being passed over by Indiana who will be seeking a playmaker in the first round.
23. Boston – Ante Zizic, PF/C, International
The Celtics go with an international big man in the first round but not the one many predicted (Dragan Bender). Zizic is an intriguing prospect due to him being a high-energy player with great length (7-3 wingspan) and the kind of bulk (254 pounds) that will allow him to hold his own if on the floor with most NBA centers.
24. Philadelphia (from Miami) -- DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph’s
Was one of the better all-around players at the combine, Bembry is gradually cementing a spot for himself in the first round.
25. Los Angeles Clippers -- Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV
Doc Rivers and the Clippers need to add depth in the frontcourt. At this point in the draft, Zimmerman is probably the best player to help them sooner rather than later.
26. Philadelphia (from Oklahoma City) -- Ivica Zubac, C, International
Can there ever be too many bigs in Philly?
27. Toronto -- Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse
With DeMar DeRozan’s uncertain future (he plans to test the free agent waters this summer), Raptors add a young, promising wing who is most likely a couple years away from being able to contribute in a meaningful way.
28. Phoenix (from Cleveland) -- Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
There will be times when the Suns might actually have to play some half court basketball. A player with Stone’s scoring ability in the post would help out a lot.
29. San Antonio -- Thon Maker, F, International
A pick based largely on potential, Maker will use upcoming workouts to show that he's a more fundamentally sound player than those mixtapes that made him a YouTube sensation a couple years ago.
30. Golden State -- Juan Hernangomez, F, International
Quality pick to end the first round, Hernangomez plays with the kind of high motor that should create a seamless fit with the Warriors.