Now that the NBA season has come to a close with the Cleveland Cavaliers being crowned World Champions, called it, it is time to fully delve into the offseason. Or is it? The 2016 draft is tonight, and is looking like it could be a very solid class with a mix of young guys with superb athleticism, as well as great shooters and skill players. I’m projecting the top ten picks of the draft, based on team needs and what is being heard in the media, and I think this should be a pretty accurate list. Here we go!
1st Overall Pick, Philadelphia 76ers: Early in the year Ben Simmons was hailed as being the next big thing in the NBA. From Australia to LSU, many believed Simmons would destroy the SEC and lead Louisiana State into the tournament; unfortunately, this is not what happened. While Simmons’ play was strong, as the season continued, the losses kept piling up and some began questioning how valuable Simmons was to a team. Regardless of this, Simmons continued to stun with his numbers (19 points, 12 boards, and five assists) and his draft stock rose eventually sitting him at the top pick in the draft. I definitely feel that Simmons, with his NBA-ready body, will be able to help this struggling Sixers team immediately; meaning a few more wins. I also think that Simmons will be a great player in this League, but am not fully sold on the LeBron James comparison.
2nd Overall Pick, Los Angeles Lakers: While some have debated who the Lakers should pick second, I think the choice is a simple one. Brandon Ingram of Duke should be heading to the City of Angels after tomorrow. With a slight frame and a lack of muscle, some might worry that Ingram just doesn’t have the body to be effective as a pro, I disagree. Ingram averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, and one assist in 34 minutes per game at Duke and with one of the best jump shots in the entire draft class, I think Ingram’s future is as bright as the lights in the Staples Center. I expect Ingram to make a strong case for ROTY, and shock some people with his hidden strength and shifty moves.
3rd Overall Pick, Boston Celtics: First off, Celtics GM Danny Ainge needs a round of applause for making a respectable playoff run in the same season they get a top three pick, here’s to you Boston. The Celtics are a team that is pretty strong at all positions, with an All-Star PG in Thomas, an All-Defensive first team SG in Avery Bradley, two strong small forwards that is. The Celtic frontcourt is not as strong as it could be, and while I have faith in Jared Sullinger, I think that it would be wise for Boston to target PF Dragan Bender. Bender has drawn comparisons to Latvian-Sensation Kristaps Porzingis, in his year with Tel Aviv overseas, Bender averaged six points, five boards, and over two blocks per 36 minutes. Bender is very smart and has a solid shooting touch, and I believe this will be a great pick for Boston, if they keep it rather than trading it for someone who can immediately help this team.
4th Overall Pick, Phoenix Suns: With no need for any guards this draft, I think the Suns should be targeting a forward they can develop for a few years while they rebuild. I believe PF Marquese Chriss out of Washington is the right guy. Averaging 14 points, five rebounds, and nearly two blocks, Chriss definitely has some potential and skill to shine on this roster in a few years. Expect to see Chriss having a solid rookie year on a Phoenix team he will help get better.
5th Overall Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves: I think this is one of the easier picks of the Draft, as long as this player is still on the boards by Minnesota’s fifth pick. Jamal Murray out of Kentucky is my pick at this time, and I’ll tell you why. A guy who has told his coach he wants to play for the Timberwolves and a guy who adds some much needed shooting to this young team, made 79-100 threes in a workout, Murray would bring a lot to Minnesota. A guy who can play the point or the two guard, Murray is flexible in his play and will have a strong rookie campaign. Murray averaged 20 points, two assists, and five rebounds in his Freshman year with the Wildcats.
6th Overall Pick, New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield is the best selection for the Pelicans, if he’s still available, at this six spot. Perhaps the best pure shooter in the draft, Hield had a phenomenal season at Oklahoma (25 points, five boards, and two assists) leading his team into the tourney with great play all season, earning him the Player of the Year Award. Better yet, I think Hield’s ability to be an effective spot-up shooter will fit in extremely well with Pelicans star Anthony Davis who will have someone to pass to when he gets doubled in the post. While I expect to see Hield having a solid rookie year, I do fear that his smaller frame of 6’4″ could prove to be an issue for him as he is not a good ball-handler and a switch to the point would be unlikely for him.
7th Overall Pick, Denver Nuggets: With a very solid young team already, I think the 2016 NBA draft is just another great opportunity for Denver to continue their respective rebuild. I also believe that picking Jaylen Brown from Cal at this point would be a great move for the Nuggets. Though Brown is reported to have had some bad interviews with potential GM’s, I believe his ability is something too good to be passed up on. Brown averaged 14 points, five boards, and two assists at Cal while showcasing some elite athleticism as well. Pair him up with Mudiay as the Nuggets SF, and this team would be scary in the open court. Granted Brown needs a lot of work on his jump shot, I think he will surprise some with a serious run at ROTY.
8th Overall Pick, Sacramento Kings: The Kings have one of the worst management in the NBA, period, so I can’t really say what their going to do at this point, but I know what they should do. I believe the Kings need to move Rondo this offseason, making room for Kris Dunn with this pick. Dunn is one of the few players who can start for a few NBA teams right now, and if the Kings get him with this pick, I expect him to be starting at some point in the year. Dunn averaged 16 points, over six assists, and five rebounds in his senior year at Providence; a strong point guard who knows how to control a game and defend, averaged almost three steals his senior year, Dunn is one of the best players in the Draft. Trust and believe that Dunn will have a good Rookie campaign, and know that he could very well be picked earlier in the draft.
9th Overall Pick, Toronto Raptors: The Raptors made it to the Eastern Conference finals this year, so I honestly don’t expect them to hold onto this pick, but if they do, they should read this to see who to draft. The Raptors need a PF for sure, while Patrick Patterson is solid I just don’t see him as the future of the Toronto frontcourt; Henry Ellenson on the other hand definitely could be. The Freshman from Marquette had a great year, averaging 17 points, about 10 rebounds, and nearly two assists, Ellenson really showed his ability to play. I think that with time, Ellenson could be a very good player in the NBA and the Raptors would be making the right move with this pick.
10th Overall Pick, Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are in talks of moving Greg Monroe after a disappointing year. If this happens, I think the Bucks should hold onto their pick and take Jakob Poetl out of Utah with number 10. Poetl showed the NCAA that he could be a versatile big man that can even get it off the glass and move a bit; averaging 17 points, nine boards, and two assists, Poetl is going to be a good player in some time. I also think that he will provide a bit more size to an already lengthy Bucks roster, along with some offensive polish.
That’s my top ten for the 2016 NBA Draft, now we just have to wait to see how accurate it is come tonight. In other news, welcome to NY Derrick Rose.