With the NBA playoffs in full swing, it’s time for the teams who didn’t make it this far to turn their focus to the upcoming NBA draft. In this segment, I’ll focus on the top five picks in the 2016 NBA Draft. This isn’t an exceptionally strong draft, but there is still some serious talent that could develop into star players.
The big names of the draft are Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield, and Jamal Murray. However, as usual, some foreign players haven’t been getting the same attention as the college basketball stars, but may have more success in the Association.
Let’s jump right into the mock draft:
Pick 1. The Philadelphia 76ers select Brandon Ingram
It feels like the Sixers have just been collecting general talent forever now, so I think it’s time the process comes to a screeching halt. Instead of taking Ben Simmons, who may (or may not) become the best overall player out of this year’s draft class, the Sixers will take the safer pick. Brandon Ingram stands at 6-9 and has great skills, especially on offense. Ingram has no problem scoring the basketball, as he averaged 17.3 points per game in his lone season at Duke. He can finish at the rim on offense and protect the rim on defense. He’s skin and bones, but if he can bulk up a little bit, he can learn to be an effective NBA defender.
Bottom line, Ingram shoots lights out, 41 percent behind the arc in college, and has a knack for finding ways to score around the rim. He can play, and will greatly further the nightmare that they call “The Process” in Philly.
Pick 2. The Los Angeles Lakers select Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons has that “Wow” factor. He can hoop. The only thing that’s lacking in Simmons game is his outside shot, which drastically needs development. Other than that, he impacts the game greatly on both ends of the floor. His lone season at LSU painted a portrait of a frustrated kid who wasn’t used properly. In Los Angeles, with the spotlight on him, Simmons will flourish. The 6-10 forward can rebound as well as any big man in college; handle the ball like an experienced guard; and run the show like a point guard. He makes exquisite passes, which may be the most impressive part of his game. He sees things two and three steps before they happen. His game has tremendous flow. He’s a special talent, and with the right coaching, he will become a star in the NBA.
Pick 3. The Boston Celtics select Buddy Hield
Since the Celtics are already a playoff team, they don’t have to draft the best overall talent; instead they can afford to draft for specific needs. Hield is a great scorer and three-point shooter, and outside shooting is the Celtics’ biggest flaw at this point. Hield is one of college basketball’s best shooters, and the C’s are in need of one. They finished the regular season in the bottom tier of the NBA three-point shooting, and their perimeter shooting did not improve against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. It’s that simple: They need a shooter. See: Buddy Hield.
Pick 4. The Phoenix Suns select Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a top point guard in college basketball. A backcourt in Phoenix of Dunn and Devin Booker will give fans years of great ball movement. Dunn ran the show extremely well in Providence with partner in crime Ben Bentil. Dunn is a great ball handler who is extremely dangerous in the open floor and on the fast break. He can shoot the three ball and defend at an elite level. I believe he’s the third-best overall player in this draft behind Ingram and Simmons, and he will fit extremely well in Phoenix. Other than his explosive driving ability, Dunn shoots 37 percent from three and dishes dimes over 6 times per game. He has extremely active hands on defense: He averaged 2.5 steals per game at Providence last season. Phoenix will be a great destination for Dunn, who will try to accelerate the team’s development.
Pick 5. The Minnesota Timberwolves select Jakob Poeltl
Minnesota is a young, up-and-coming team, and the addition of a Jakob Poeltl to their frontcourt will add a hard working, hard nosed big man to play alongside already-star Karl Anthony-Towns. Poetl is a 7’1″ Center who runs the floor like a gazelle, but isn’t afraid to bang bodies in the post with anybody. He doesn’t back down from physicality, which is something ever coach wants in their 7-footer. He’s still a bit raw in his development, but time is something T-Wolves have in spades. Their frontcourt would boast two of the best young bigs in the NBA if they do indeed take Poeltl. He will be a very solid, physical big man for years to come.
We will have the rest of the first-round predictions soon, so stay tuned.