Bulls

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.

Why the Bulls should bet on potential and draft Jaren Jackson Jr.

Why the Bulls should bet on potential and draft Jaren Jackson Jr.

Previous making the case for: Deandre Ayton | Luka Doncic | Mo Bamba | Marvin Bagley | Michael Porter Jr.

The modern NBA center is transforming. Last season 12 centers (as listed by Basketball Reference) made 50 or more 3-pointers, up from 10 players in 2016-17. The year before that, in 2015-16, five players accomplished that feat. Four players did it in 2014-15, three did it in 2013-14, and from 1990 to 2012 only Mehmet Okur (five times), Channing Frye (three times) and Byron Mullens (once) accomplished it.

Many of the names on that list, however, don’t exactly cut it on the other end. Sure, players like Joel Embiid, Al Horford and Marc Gasol are elite defenders. But repeat 50+ club members also include Karl-Anthony Towns, Marreese Speights, Kelly Olynyk, DeMarcus Cousins and Pero Antic. In other words, players Rudy Gobert won’t have to worry about contending with for Defensive Player of the Year.

But that former list – the Embiid, Horford, Gasol one – could add another member to it in the coming years. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. was a rarity in college basketball this past season. He became the fifth player since 1992 to compile 35 or more 3-pointers and 100 or more blocks in a single season. Jackson had 38 and 106, respectively, and he accomplished those numbers in 764 minutes; the other four players on the list averaged 1,082 minutes, and the next fewest was Eddie Griffin’s 979 minutes in 2000-01.

Staying on those minutes, Jackson averaged 21.8 per game. That was decidedly fewer per game than Carter (26.9), Bamba (30.2), Ayton (33.5) and Bagley (33.9). We’ll get to why those minutes might be an issue, but for now it’s a reason to not be scared off by his lack of raw numbers (10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks).

Jackson’s block percentage (14.2%) ranked fourth in the country. That was higher than Bamba’s 12.9%, despite Bamba tallying 3.7 blocks per game. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Jackson was elite as a rim protector. He ranked in the 99th percentile in defensive possessions around the rim, allowing a mere 0.405 PPP. To put that number in context, freshmen Joel Embiid (0.844), Karl-Anthony Towns (0.8) and Myles Turner (0.667) weren’t even close. This past season Bamba allowed a whopping 1.088 PPP in that area, ranking in the 33rd percentile nationally.

Jackson plays bigger than the 236 pounds he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine. Here’s where we tell you he’ll need to add muscle like all 18-year-olds entering the NBA (oh, he’s also the youngest first-round prospect in the class). But defending the interior shouldn’t be a problem; his defensive rebounding rate wasn’t spectacular (19.8%), but the Spartans were a solid rebounding team as a whole – 76th nationally – so Jackson didn’t need to be great for the Spartans to succeed.

Jackson is going to defend at a high level, and in five years he’ll likely be known more for his defense than his offense. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have potential on that end of the floor. He ranked in the 91st percentile in points per possession (shooting 51 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep helps), doing his most damage in the post (1.22 PPP, 98th percentile) and on jumpers, which were almost exclusively 3-point attempts (1.09 PPP, 81st). He was even a plus on pick-and-rolls, averaging 1.11 on a limited 27-possession sample size.

But not all 3-pointers are created equally. Consider that Jackson did almost all of his damage beyond the arc from the top of the key. He went 21-for-42 from straightaway, according to Synergy Sports, an absurd percentage on that many attempts. From all other areas he went 17-for-54. But in the pick-and-roll era, Jackson’s ability to pop out to the top of the key after setting a screen, and his confidence to take and make those shots, is priceless.

He needs polish on both ends. That seems like the easy way out, and a generic statement that could be made for all these prospects. But so much of his game is still raw; again, there’s a reason he played just 54 percent of all available minutes, and tallied 15 minutes in the Spartan’s NCAA Tournament loss to Syracuse.

He committed 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes (Bamba committed 4.3, for reference) and he shot just 48 percent on non-dunks inside 6 feet. His post numbers were good because he is nearly 7 feet tall and was always one of the most talented players on the floor. It’ll get tougher at the next level, and he’ll need to improve his feel around the rim as well as his post moves.

It doesn’t appear likely at this point, but there’s still a chance Jackson could fall to the Bulls at 7. We’ll safely assume Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic will be off the board. If Michael Porter’s medicals check out he should go in the top 5, and the other three selections could be Marvin Bagley, Mo Bamba and Trae Young. Young is certainly the least likely of the bunch, but it only takes one team to fall in love with his potential. Orlando at No. 6 is a natural fit.

If he is there at No. 7, he needs to be the Bulls pick. Admittedly this would be less of a decision than some of the other picks we’ll get to in the coming weeks. Allowing Lauri Markkanen to roam the wings while Jackson set picks for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine would improve the offense drastically. And putting an elite rim protector next to Markkanen only covers up the latter’s weaknesses and, thus, makes him a better player.

If teams fall in love with Bamba’s length, Young’s shooting and Porter’s health, Jackson could be waiting when the Bulls pick at No. 7. He isn’t the wing the front office covets, but he is a two-way player with immense upside.

Wichita State's Landry Shamet could give Bulls backcourt versatility they desperately need

landryshamet.png
USA TODAY

Wichita State's Landry Shamet could give Bulls backcourt versatility they desperately need

The Bulls are in need of talent. That much is clear after a 27-win campaign in which they finished ranked 28th in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They’ll add a pair of prospects next month, with two selections in the first round, and presumably take the next step in their rebuild. Talent is important, that can’t be overstated. The Bulls should stick to their board and take the best player available nine out of 10 times.

But as much as the Bulls need an influx of talent, versatility in the backcourt might be a close second. And while there isn’t really any player at No. 7 that would fit that bill – they could reach for Collin Sexton – there are a number of versatile guards, in a class dominated at the top by bigs, who could be there when the Bulls are on the clock at No. 22.

Meet Wichita State guard Landry Shamet. That classic NBA buzzword “versatile” is thrown around more often than ever before. The idea that a player can play multiple positions, can defend 1-3 or has the potential to learn two spots at the next level. Then there’s Shamet. He’s actually done it.

He arrived in Wichita as a shooting guard, the Shockers’ highest-rated recruit in nine years. A broken foot cost him all but three games of his freshman season, but he returned in 2016 and made an immediate impact, including a shift to point guard midway through the season; the move went seamlessly, as he led the Shockers in assists (3.3) and was 14th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.00). He matched Kentucky freshman point guard DeAaron Fox in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, scoring 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting in a loss.

He remained at point guard in his sophomore season and dominated, earning an honorable mention All-American nod while leading the team in points (14.9) assists (5.2), and 3-pointers (2.6) per game for a Shockers team ranked in the top 25 all year, and as high as No. 3 in December.

He had the ball in his hands plenty at Wichita State, but his shooting hardly suffered. A point guard in name, his shooting may be his best attribute. In his final two seasons Shamet shot 44.1 percent from deep on 354 attempts. He was the nation’s best spot-up shooter when Greg Marshall used him off the ball, and made multiple 3-pointers in 23 of 32 games.

His versatility can best be explained as such: He was the only player in the country – and just the 13th since 1992 – to average at least five assists, 2.5 3-pointers per game and shoot 44 percent from deep. The 6-foot-5 guard brings shooting, facilitating and length defensively to the table. It’s no cliché.

“I feel like I can step in and do whatever a coach needs me to do, whether it’s playing on the ball being a facilitator/playmaker/initiating offense, or a guy you’ve got to honor off the ball (as) a spot-up shooter,” Shamet said Friday at the NBA Draft Combine.

He struggled shooting in the 5-on-5 scrimmages over the two-day span, but also noted that he accomplished his main goal of defending well. His 6-foot-7 wingspan will be looked down upon in an era where measurements mean more than ever, but he also had a 39-inch max vertical (12th best) and a 3.11 three-quarters court sprint (10th best).

He admitted he’s more athletic than some give him credit for – as his vertical would suggest – but that his game is more “cerebral” and making the right decisions.

“I feel like I have a high IQ, a cerebral player,” he said. “I’m not going to wow you with crossing people up and doing things that a lot of the guys in the limelight do all the time. I feel like I’m a solid player, pretty steady across the board.”

It’s a skill set the Bulls could use. His numbers and measurements look similar to Denzel Valentine, who has drawn mixed reviews in two NBA seasons and is really the closest thing the Bulls have to a “versatile” guard; Valentine was one of 21 players with 140+ 3-pointers and 240+ assists, 12 of whom were All-Stars.

Shamet also has seven inches of vertical leap and a quicker sprint as far as Combine times are concerned, and he’s a more natural fit as a point guard than Valentine. Shamet said two players whose games he studies include Malcolm Brogdon, a less-than-flashy guard who won 2017 Rookie of the Year making just about every correct play. Brogdon possesses the same sneaky athleticism – ask LeBron James – has shot 40 percent from deep in two NBA seasons and has a 2.62 A/TO ratio.

“You don’t want to step out of your comfort zone and be somebody you’re not, so out here I’m trying to be me, be solid, (and) make the right play all the time,” he said. “I don’t rely on my athleticism, I like to think the game. So I try to just be myself.”

Kris Dunn is cemented as a point guard for the Bulls’ future, and the front office sang Cameron Payne’s praises at season’s end, though he’ll be a free agent after next season. But Dunn, Payne and Jerian Grant combined to shoot 33.6 percent from deep, and even Payne’s 38.5 percent shooting came in a limited, 25-game span.

Shamet wouldn’t be a home-run pick, and certainly not a sexy one. Those picks have burned the Bulls in the past with players like Tony Snell, Doug McDermott and even Valentine. Shamet is 21 years old and has had two major foot surgeries. But the skill set is one the Bulls have needed for some time. And in a draft where the Bulls will be searching for talent, adding a player who fits the bill as a team need as well makes sense.