2016 NBA Mock Draft
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Round of applause for Jerry Colangelo, who gets to step over the blood, sweat, and losses that former GM Sam Hinkie labored over and pick a potential franchise altering gem at the top of the draft. Enter Ben Simmons, the 6’10” Aussie who wowed (and frustrated) fans and opponents alike at LSU. His jumper is a myth, like Bigfoot (seriously, watch the tape: dude wants no parts of shooting outside of 8 feet), but the rest of the game- athleticism, speed, power, court vision- are all bonafide. Detractors will point at his LSU team missing the postseason and his effort seeming to wane, but 1) his squad at LSU stunk and 2) the man may not have gave a damn about playing for free in the NCAA, and I can’t blame him. Ingrams may be a better fit with the interior heavy roster in Philly, but Simmon’s all-around game (19 ppg, 11 rpg, 5 apg in college) is simply too tempting to pass up.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Simmons was the consensus #1 pick for most of the season, but the tantalizing talents of Brandon Ingram has to give the Sixers brass something to think about. Fuck it; the Lakers will happily add the 6’9” sharpshooter to their core of young talent. When the name “Kevin Durant” is tossed around as your comparison, you’re good money. The 6’9” wing with a 7’3” wingspan can stroke it from deep, elevate over defenders from midrange, and has the handle to get to the rim.
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
Danny Ainge is still striving to restore the championship feeling from ‘08, and right now is burning up the phones trying to trade the 3 pick and players to acquire a bonafide star like Jimmy Butler. Even if Ainge’s plan falls through, Dragan Bender may be a step in the right direction. While he's not as massive as 7’3” Kristaps Porzingis, or as experienced (Porzingis was 22 last year, Bender is a baby at 18), he's long, mobile, and has a beautiful shooting stroke. Bender is only 19, a couple of years from reaching his potential, which doesn't really fit the timeline of the playoff worthy Celtics. But versatility is the name of the game, and having a big man who can block shots AND contain shifty ball handlers AND hit jumpers can unlock all types of good shit for Celtics wizard coach Brad Stevens.
Note: Marquese Chriss SHOULD be the pick here, but leave it to Danny Ainge to piss it away.
4. Phoenix Suns
Suns rebuild, Take III. With all-star caliber Eric Bledsoe, microwave scorer Brandon Knight, and sniper Devin Booker, Phoenix has....something. Sometimes you gotta say fuck it and swing from the heels, and that's where Marquese Chriss comes in. The 6’10” uber-athlete has as much upside as anyone in this draft, but late risers always make teams leery. Scared money don't make money, though, and the Suns GM has been outthinking himself for the last couple of season. Chriss can attack off the dribble, the jumper looks lush, crash the offensive boards, and if you put the ball in the same area code as the rim, the slithery athlete is catching the lob. Devin Booker was the sliver of sunshine in the Suns’ gloom & doom last season, and Chriss can get the franchise back into the spotlight for the right reasons.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
First Andrew Wiggins on the wing. Then the beast that is Karl Anthony-Towns locked down the paint. As fun as Zach LaVine is, as effective as Ricky Rubio is, for the Wolves to make that Leap into being real deal, they need to join the three point revolution. Enter Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield. The flashy combo guard would probably struggle to run an NBA offense, but playing off of Rubio, Wiggins, and KAT, there's little doubt that the 6’5” flamethrower with NBA range can fill it up. New Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau is notoriously averse to rookies, so it bears watching how they mesh.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is on the clock. After taking the league by storm with his eye-popping potential his first two years, injuries once again laid him low, capping off a disappointing 2016 season. The Pelicans need an infusion of talent and some long term answers, and Kris Dunn fits the bill. The 22 year old guard from Providence has the size and the game to play off of incumbent Jrue Holiday or take some minutes at the point when Jrue gets hurt (and yeah, Jrue WILL get hurt). 6’4” with a 6’9” wingspan, Dunn can do it all on the court, a blend of speed, strength, and shooting that can plug in and immediately help on the court while setting the Pels up long term.
7. Denver Nuggets (via Knicks)
The Nuggets are coming. Emmanuel Mudiay showed flashes of being special last year, and big man Nikola Jokic was low key dominant as a rookie. Jaylen Brown can be that wing to put it all together for Denver. Having a long, athletic, multi-skilled forward can push a bad team to good and a good team to great. The 6’7” Brown gets out in transition, has a relentless motor, and as needed in today's NBA, has the body and 6’11” wingspan to slide down to the 4 in small lineups. Adding Brown to Mudiay, 6’8” Wilson Chandler, 6’8” Kenneth Faried, 6’9” Jakarr Sampson, and 6’10” Danilo Gallinari would give Denver obscene length and the ability to cause match-up nightmares.
8. Sacramento Kings
Boogie Cousins is in hell. His front office is incompetent, his roster is mismatched, and entering his seventh season, he's on his sixth coach. Kentucky's Jamal Murray here will help alleviate some of the weight on Boogie’s broad shoulders. Now let's be clear, what Sacramento SHOULD do (get Rondo out of there and draft Wade Baldwin or Demetrius Jackson) won't happen. Murray gives Sacramento a combo guard with size who can shoot the blood outta the ball. I'm not as high as some on Murray; the list of big time college shooters who fizzle in the big boy league because they're simply not fast enough or big enough is long, and Murray won't blow anyone away with his athleticism. Murray basically shares a scouting report on Nik Stauskas, and we know how that turned out (it turns out, Nik is a bum).
9. Toronto Raptors (via Denver via Knicks)
Goddamn, the Raps-Knicks Bargnani trade is the gift that keeps on giving. The Eastern Conference Finalist Raptors gotta cash out DeMar DeRozan, and high energy-but-limited big man Bismack Biyombo played himself out of Toronto’s price range in the playoffs. Never fear, Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis is ready. The 6’11” pogo stick dunks everything around the rim. He's proven he can get out and contain smalls on the perimeter and has terrific timing to snuff out shots around the rim. Davis is still only 19 and has all the room in the world to grow, while being able to help Toronto right now (as much as you can help an Eastern conference sacrificial lamb: Cleveland got the East on lock until Bron retires).
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee got too cute with the Greg Monroe signing, Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Alphabet shoot like they have feet for hands, and the promising young team unraveled. Skal Labissiere here will set Milwaukee back on the right track. Don't let the shitty numbers at Kentucky fool you, Skal has NBA goods. The legit 7 foot leaper from Haiti (DraftExpress lists his vertical as 35 inches) has to bulk up, but the 20 year old will give shot blocking and the ability to score out to the three point line that no other Milwaukee big can provide. He'll get pushed around until his body fills out, but Labissiere is an investment worth making.
11. Orlando Magic
The Magic traded talented swingman Tobias Harris for a few months of Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, both now free agents. Bad move. Drafting 6’7” Nic Batum-like Timothe Luwawu? Good move. The kid has the skills to be a lockdown defender and is an improving offensive threat. Plus he can do stuff like this:
12. Utah Jazz
The Jazz are two deep and young at every position already, a pleasant issue to have. If anything, another point guard would be ideal hear; long armed Wade Baldwin from Vanderbilt would fit like a glove. The second best point prospect behind Dunn, he could back up Dante Exum or run beside him in a two PG backcourt. Either way, Trey Burke hasn't been the answer. (It'd be dope if Utah moved the pick and Alec Burks for Jeff Teague).
13. Phoenix Suns (Via Wizards)
With Chriss already in the fold, and plenty of guards ready to rock, it couldn't hurt to add more firepower on the wing. At 6’8”, Taurean Prince can fly and has the look of a prototypical “3 & D” NBA swingman.
14. Chicago Bulls
Poor Jimmy Butler. Pau Gasol is old as shit, Joakim Noah is as good as gone, so the front court needs help. 7’1” Jakob Poeltl is NBA ready. I'm not that high on him personally, but there's no denying his above average mobility. He won't step out and has to get used to NBA physicality. The Bulls could definitely upgrade the backup (and maybe eventually starting) PG situation by tabbing Demetrius Jackson here, but I see them drafting the heir to Will Perdue’s, Luke Longly’s, and Bill Wennington’s legacy.
15. Denver Nuggets (via Houston)
With Mudiay, Jokic, Nurkic, Gallinari, and Faried, Denver is primed to be special. UNLV’s Pat McCaw provides help at both guard spots by channeling the spirit of Jamal Crawford, and at 6’7”, can play some small forward.
16. Boston Celtics (via Mavericks)
Boston jacked up its last two mid/late first round picks with James Young and Terry Rozier. Ainge gets it right this time, grabbing skilled wing from St. Joseph’s, DeAndre Bembry.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
A team in desperate need of shot creation takes Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson here, both for his eye popping athleticism, his nose for scoring and as insurance against Mike Conley leaving. The kid can flat out FLY.
18. Detroit Pistons
Stan Van Gundy rolls the dice on potentially game changing stretch four, Thon Maker. The rail thin Maker is a boom-or-bust type who's shown range and handle. He may be too raw for the Pistons timeline.
19. Denver Nuggets (via Blazers)
I'd love to see Michigan State's Denzel Valentine here: he makes up for his lack of athleticism with good size (6’7”) and excellent shooting and court vision. His injury issues have him tumbling down draft boards.
20. Indiana Pacers
Florida St’s Malik Beasley gives Indiana some legitimate size at the SG spot and another shooter and a nice young perimeter tandem when paired with Joseph Young.
21. Atlanta Hawks
Al Horford may be out the door, and Tiago Splitter may no longer exist. Big man Chinanu Onuaku from Louisville may be a bit of a reach this high, but he can board, he can bang, and he can run.
22. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets need more perimeter firepower and more interior muscle. German small forward Paul Zipser would be nice here, but that’s a reach. Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones can score with the best of them, but may not be the defender they need. Let's go Zipser.
23. Boston Celtics
With Amir Johnson a free agent, Jordan Mickey undersized, and Jared Sullinger fat, Cheick Diallo of Kansas fits the bill as a rebounding, shot blocking mobile “modern” center.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via Heat via Cavaliers)
Those 35 big men need someone to shoot, right? 6’6” Syracuse frosh Malachi Richardson was a late riser, but nothing wrong with taking a chance on a jumper as pretty as his late in the first round.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Marquette’s Henry Ellenson here because Doc Rivers is a damn fool. No, the 7 footer can really score the ball, he just defends like his feet are tied into 2 cast iron skillets.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder via Nuggets via Cavaliers)
Fuck it, if it works for Isaiah Thomas, it can work for Oakland’s Kay Felder. Sixers need a dynamic playmaker, and even though he's only 5’10”, having a 44” vertical and averaging 25 & 9 in college shows he can hang.
27. Toronto Raptors
Even with centers like Ante Zizic and Ivica Zubac available, I'll reach again for Texas Longhorn Prince Ibeh. He's huge, agile, and strong, but raw as hell offensively. Seriously, though, his post ups look like some sort of conniption fit.
28. Phoenix Suns
7’2” jump shooting big man from China Zhou Qi because why the hell not? He's skilled, I'll give him that.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis has the pedigree, the smarts, and the motor. He also has t-rex arms and fits a very limited NBA role. So he's basically Tyler Hansbrough with less inbreeding. Perfect for San Antonio.
30. Golden State Warriors
Bogut can't play big minutes and Ezeli is most likely gone as a free agent. The Warriors can draft Croatian big man Ante Zizic to be their 17 mpg big of the future.