2016 NBA Mock Draft
2016 NBA Mock Draft
As the 2016 NBA Draft approaches CSNChicago.com will provide player profiles, feature articles and mock drafts, like this one from Bulls reporter Mark Strotman. Click through this mock and see if you agree or disagree with the picks.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, SF, LSU
Brandon Ingram may be a better fit with Philadelphia’s current cast of young frontcourt talent. But after three seasons with fewer than 20 wins, the franchise needs to select the best player available with the most potential. That’s Simmons, whose unique skill set gives him the chance to become a franchise player.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
Quite the consolation for the Lakers. Ingram will be a perfect fit for new head coach Luke Walton, giving them a long wing player with a silky outside shot to complement what Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell are doing in the backcourt, and Julius Randle is doing inside.
3. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Jaylen Brown, SF, California
The Celtics will make the first real decision of the draft, as Simmons and Ingram are all but guaranteed to be the first two picks off the board. Where Brown struggles with his shot, he’s an active slasher, has elite athleticism and would be able to come along slower than a usual No. 3 pick playing behind Jae Crowder.
4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
Phoenix has its backcourt set with Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, while Devin Booker proved to be a capable scorer on the wing in his rookie season. Alex Len has shown improvement, but there's still a void at the power forward position that couldn't be filled when Markieff Morris demanded a trade from the Suns. It just so happens that the best available player could fill that need. Bender is a long, talented stretch forward who can score in a variety of ways. He'll have to add weight - he's just 216 pounds - but has all the makings of a dynamic stretch forward.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
Ricky Rubio is signed through 2019 and the Timberwolves traded up last year to draft Tyus Jones. But the Dunn selection here makes all too much sense. He’s an experienced point guard with great defensive skills, both traits Tom Thibodeau looks for. Dunn would also allow Zach LaVine to play exclusively off the ball, where he proved last year to be much more valuable. A stretch forward here would also make sense, but Minnesota needs to continue shoring up a defense that ranked 27th in the NBA a year ago (and dead last the year before that).
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
The Pelicans roster could look far different a few years from now than it currently does. Eric Gordon and Norris Cole are free agents this offseason, and Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Toney Douglas have one year remaining on their deals. A backcourt shakeup is in the works, and adding a combination guard in Murray would be the start of something fresh. Murray was a phenomenal scorer for Kentucky, connecting on 41 percent of his triples and leading the Wildcats in scoring as a freshman. The Pellies need help defensively, but Murray’s upside is too great to pass up here.
7. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
The Nuggets’ young depth inside with Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne appears to have real potential to mix in with Kenneth Faried. Emmanuel Mudiay is the point guard of the future and Gary Harris took a big step forward in his second season on the wing. Adding a scorer like Hield to the mix would give them another wing talent to help Mudiay facilitate more and shoot less; Mudiay shot 36 percent on more than 13 FGA per game.
8. Sacramento Kings: Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette
DeMarcus Cousins added a 3-pointer to his arsenal this past season, making more triples (70) than he attempted in his first five seasons combined (69). But he hit on just 33 percent of his 210 attempts, and his value as the league’s most dominant post scorer took a hit at times because of it. Enter Ellenson, a power forward with range to score from anywhere on the floor to complement both Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein, the Kings’ first round pick a year ago.
9. Toronto Raptors (via Denver): Skal Labissiere, C, Kentucky
The Raptors have invested in Jonas Valanciunas, and Bismack Biyombo has priced himself out of Toronto with his outstanding performance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto is still very much a contender – assuming DeMar DeRozan re-signs – meaning they can take a flyer on a raw talent like Labissiere, who only averaged 15.8 minutes in his only season at Kentucky. He’s a fluid 7-footer whose game should be helped with more spacing in the NBA, and it gives the Raptors a rim protector on the second unit.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt
Michael Carter-Williams hasn't panned out the way the Bucks envisioned he would under Jason Kidd. They could draft his successor in Baldwin, a guard with excellent length and an outside shot. Milwaukee was dead last in 3-point attempts per game, and adding an efficient shooter in Baldwin would give the Bucks another option. Greivis Vasquez is also a free agent, so adding Baldwin would give them depth at the position.
11. Orlando Magic: Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State
Orlando’s frontcourt boasts offensive threats in Nikola Vucevic, Ersan Ilyasova and Aaron Gordon. But it’s lacking defensively, which is where Davis excels. At 6-foot-10, he’s mobile enough to stay with defenders on pick and rolls and athletic enough to average 1.8 blocks per game. He’s still a project, but on a young Magic team that could lose impending free agents Jason Smith, Andrew Nicholson and/or Dewayne Dedmon, he makes sense here.
12. Utah Jazz: Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington
Utah nearly made the playoffs a year ago, and their only impending free agent is Trevor Booker. And where they’re set on post bigs in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, adding a versatile athlete such as Chriss would balance the frontcourt. He could come along slowly behind Gobert, Favors and Trey Lyles, and when called upon would add a more perimeter-oriented forward the Jazz were lacking at times. Utah will get back point guard Dante Exum and shooting guard Alec Burks, two young guards lost to injury a year ago, allowing them to add frontcourt depth here.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor
After adding Bender with the third pick, the Suns opt for a senior in Prince. Phoenix has added offensive minded wings in each of the last two drafts with T.J. Warren and Devin Booker. And with P.J. Tucker set to hit free agency next season Prince gives them a defensive-minded wing who also showed some promise from beyond the arc.
14. Chicago Bulls: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
The Bulls were able to steal Bobby Portis with the No. 22 pick a year ago, and they grab another steal here in Poeltl. With Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol both expected to leave via free agency, there’s a gaping hole at center. The Bulls are set at power forward with Portis, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, and adding Poeltl would give them a post presence they sorely lacked a year ago. Poeltl, at 7-foot-1, was a nightmare in the paint for opposing defenses and has an improving midrange game. The Bulls would gladly scoop him up at the end of the lottery.
15. Denver Nuggets (via Houston): Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
Denver continues to improve its backcourt after selecting Hield at No. 7 by adding the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. D.J. Augustin is a free agent and Jameer Nelson is 34 years old, making the guard position behind Emmanuel Mudiay a need looking forward. Ulis stands below 5-foot-9, but his defensive spark would be a warm welcome to a Nuggets team that ranked 24th in defensive efficiency a year ago.
16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas): Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga
The Celtics will have plenty of moving pieces in the frontcourt the next few seasons, and selecting Sabonis here would help some of that decision-making. He's not the defender or rim protector Boston could use (Al Horford, anyone?) but his polished offensive game would allow him to contribute sooner than later.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
Mike Conley’s free agency will loom large in Memphis, but Mario Chalmers, Ray McCallum and Jordan Farmar are also on the market following a season riddled by injury in unprecedented fashion. The Grizzlies need plenty of help, and they could get their Conley replacement in Jackson, an undersized point guard who does a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. If he can improve his outside shooting the Grizzlies will have their point guard of the future.
18. Detroit Pistons: Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State
While he could ultimately be selected much sooner than this, Valentine staying in Michigan would be an excellent fit. He’d slot in behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, allow Stanley Johnson to stay at small forward, his more natural position, and let the Pistons move on from the disaster that has been Jodie Meeks and his $20 million deal. Valentine doesn’t have eye-popping measurables, and he’s already 22, but he’s a sure thing who possesses an excellent all-around game. He’ll fit in perfectly with Stan Van Gundy’s group.
19. Denver Nuggets (via Portland): Timothe Luwawu
This draft class' best international prospect after Bender, Luwawu possesses a classic three-and-D skill set that NBA teams are coveting more than ever. The Nuggets could opt for a wing player to go with Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton and Wilson Chandler, where Luwawu wouldn't be asked to contribute much in his first few seasons. But they'd gladly take him here, as some projections have the Frenchman going as early as the late lottery.
20. Indiana Pacers: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
Not even 19 years old, Korkmaz is a sharpshooter who has excelled overseas scoring the ball. He's still a few years away from contributing, but that will work for a Pacers team attempting to push a quicker pace. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles could be free agents in 2017 (both have player options for 2018), which could be the time Korkmaz is ready to contribute.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington
The Hawks have decisions to make on Kent Bazemore, a free agent this offseason, as well as point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder, free agents following next season. It's unknown who they'll stick with, but grabbing a talent like Murray this late in the first round could help make that decision easier. The combo guard excelled in his lone season at Washington, and may have been a lottery pick had he stayed in school an additional year. Still, there's plenty to like about his game and he could be ready to step into a larger role if and when Teague or Schroder walks.
22. Charlotte Hornets: Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
The Hornets were one of the NBA's biggest surprises offensively this season, finishing ninth in efficiency after ranking third to last in 2015. Still, Jeremy Lamb regressed in his fourth season and midseason acquisition Courtney Lee is a free agent. The Hornets will get a do-over on their P.J. Hairston selection by going with Beasley, a player similar in stature who was much more efficient as a scorer for the Seminoles. He may not be ready to play major minutes right away but he has the skill set to be a plus contributor on a team looking to identify with offense.
23. Boston Celtics: Cheick Diallo, SF, Kansas
It's unlikely Boston keeps all three of its first round picks. Since we aren't doing trades here, taking a flyer on a project with upside seems like the likely move after selecting Brown and Sabonis. Diallo was a victim of the NCAA Clearinghouse rules and really lost his only season in Lawrence. But a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine, as well as his 7-foot-4 wingspan make him an intriguing prospect. Once he develops an outside game he could be a force on the wing.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami): Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
The Sixers are much farther along defensively than they are when they've got the ball. But most of that comes from forward Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington. Brett Brown's group could still use a defensive standout on the perimeter, and that's exactly what McCaw provides.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina
Another year, another abysmal performance from the Clippers' bench. Doc Rivers would do well to hit on this pick to provide a capable contributor for his group, and the senior Johnson is a player with a high enough floor to fulfill that. He's still a bit raw offensively for a senior, but his athleticism and shot-blocking ability make him someone whose skill set fits in at the next level. Working alongside Blake Griffin could do wonders for his development.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City): Thon Makaer, C, Orangeville Prep
This one just feels right. Though Sam Hinkie is gone, the Sixers are still years away from contending. At the tail end of the first round, why not take a chance on a relatively unknown prospect with a unique skill set and limitless upside? Maker, a 19-year-old making the jump from preps to the pros, features great length, athleticism and fluidity to his game. He needs plenty of polish, but he’ll get all the run he can handle in Philadelphia. If the Sixers hit on Maker, to go with Simmons at No. 1, it could be a franchise-altering draft.
27. Toronto Raptors: Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
The Raptors may want to keep all the cap space they can to re-sign DeMar DeRozan this offseason, which is why selecting a player like Zizic who can be stashed overseas for a year or two makes sense. Zizic is a 19-year-old with the ability to run in transition and finish inside. Once his basketball intelligence catches up to his physical tools he could be a contributor.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland): Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
Alex Len blossomed this past season and proved he can man the middle for the Suns moving forward. And though Tyson Chandler is under contract for three more seasons (at $13 million per year) the Suns could bring along Stone slowly. Stone's ability to work in the post should make him someone who can come off the bench and provide points, but his height may prevent him from ever becoming a great rebounder or defender. Still, his talent (Stone was a five-star recruit out of high school) and potential make him a solid risk with Phoenix's third first-round pick.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Zhou Qi, C, China
One of the most intriguing prospects at the Combine earlier this month, Qi's ability to shoot from deep, block shots and run the floor should have him hear his name called in the first round. And what better team to select him than the one known for developing international players? With Tim Duncan's future in doubt, the Spurs could add to their frontcourt depth with Qi.
30. Golden State Warriors: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
Andrew Bogut will be 32 when his contract is up next season, and Festus Ezeli is waiting in the wings to become the team's full-time eventual starter. The Warriors could select another Vanderbilt center in Jones to back up Ezeli if Bogut doesn't re-sign. Only 20 years old and standing nearly 7-feet with shoes on, a team could fall in love with Jones before the Warriors have the chance to take him.