Hoops Hub’s 2016 NBA Mock Draft

With the NBA Draft just a few days away now, Mark Chajkowski and I (Tony Romanello) have put together our 2016 Mock Draft. Mark and I alternated picks with me doing the odd numbered picks and Mark doing the even picks. Below are the results of our mock draft.

1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, PF, LSU

The Sixers announced a few days ago that they will be taking Simmons with the first overall pick. Simmons is top ranked prospect in the draft according to most scouts and sites, including ours. He has the highest ceiling and is probably the most NBA ready of any player in the draft and the Sixers are still on the side of taking the best available player. The Sixers have already discussed moving Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid could be a good fit next to Simmons. – Tony Romanello

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke

So this is an easy one for the Lakers. They need a small forward of the future, and who better to bring into Luke Walton’s system than a long, athletic, versatile shooter. I’m not sure his ceiling is as high as Ben Simmons, but I could see him being a 20+ point per game guy on a good team. Please don’t do anything stupid, Jim. – Mark Chajkowski

3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Celtics traded this pick on draft night for someone who can contribute right away. But if they do keep the pick, I think they go with Bender. Bender has a unique skill set and has one of the higher upsides in the draft, and he’s at a position of need for the Celtics. – Tony Romanello

4. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington

So number four in the draft is where it really gets interesting. In the past, there have been some very big reaches at four (Aaron Gordon, Triston Thompson, Cody Zeller, Dion Waiters, Tyrus Thomas were all taken there in the last decade) but this is a spot that teams often panic with. There are always a top two or three (besides in 2014) and after that teams are left to choose between the next seven or so guys, and teams have often reached for athleticism and physical skill.  The Suns need a forward, and although Jaylen Brown may have a case here, it’s hard to bet against Chriss’s upside. He’s a great athlete, and and a promising jump shooter and a great shot blocker. Rebounding is a major concern with him, but I think that with his size and athleticism that should be easily correctable. He has a ton of promise, and the Suns don’t need him to be great off the bat (not that being good from day one is ever a bad thing). Overall, he’s an interesting prospect for a team who should be swinging for the fences right now. – Mark Chajkowski

5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky

The Timberwolves are looking to add another promising young talent to their already exciting core. The T-Wolves could use some shooting in-between Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins and Murray is one of the best shooters and pure scorers in the draft. Murray does have some questions marks on defense, but with Wiggins and Rubio, who’s a bigger guard at 6’4″, his weaknesses can be hidden a bit. Buddy Hield could also be the pick here as well but either way, the Wolves will be adding another promising young prospect to their core. – Tony Romanello

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

Assuming that Eric Gordon leaves in free agency, the Pelicans could use some shooting at the guard positon. Between Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday (assuming he’s ever healthy) they have enough ballhandling, but they lack a shooter to put on the weakside of an Evans-Davis pick and roll. I think he could be a bit of a reach at six, but the Pelicans need to start winning and aren’t really looking for a huge project right now. They should take an instant-impact guy, and while Buddy’s defense could use some work before he’s ready for big NBA minutes, he’s their best option.– Mark Chajkowski

7. Denver Nuggets – Jaylen Brown, SF, California

The Nuggets are chalk full of interesting young players on their roster like Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic and even Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, who are 26 and 27 years old. So they could go a couple different ways with their picks (3 in the first round). I think they go with Jaylen Brown with their first pick. Brown has an NBA ready body and will offer some versatility, as he can play the 3 and some small ball 4 and will be able to guard multiple positions. His lack of shooting is a worry for the already poor shooting Nuggets but we’ve seen poor shooters in college learn to shoot in the league, a la Kawhi Leonard. – Tony Romanello

8. Sacramento Kings – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

Yay the Kings don’t have to re-sign Rondo. This would be a great move for the Kings, as they could bring Dunn along slowly next to Darren Collison. And also, they don’t have to bring Rondo back! Win-win. Overall, I really like Kris Dunn. He’s a great athlete, he’s big enough that he can switch between guard positions. Dunn is also a great passer (although he does throw some risky passer), and while he can improve in the pick and roll, he’s been great in isolation and in the open court. I don’t know that he’ll ever be a great shooter either, but I think he could be a great floor general and defender one day. – Mark Chajkowski

9. Toronto Raptors – Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State

The Raptors are in need of a big man after having Luis Scola be their backup power forward and Bismack Biyombo most likely on his way out of town to cash in on his impressive post season. Davis is a good rim protector, a solid rebounder and has shown some ability to knock down mid-range jumpers. Measuring in at 6’10.5″ and weighing in at almost 240 with a 7’2.5″ wingspan, he will have the ability to play the four as well as some five, giving the Raptors some more lineup flexibility. – Tony Romanello

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Wade Baldwin IV, PG/SG, Vanderbilt

This kid is going to be good. He’s big, long, athletic, and he knocked down over 40% of his threes last year. Baldwin had the second quickest lane agility time, and the seventh fastest 3/4 court sprint at the combine. He can reasonably guard two or three positions, and Kidd’s high pressure defensive system will suit him well. He also fits well into the long, athletic mold of the team that Milwaukee is building. He was a very good spot up shooter in college, which is good because Giannis will be running the point for periods of time. – Mark Chajkowski

11. Orlando Magic – Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky

The Orlando Magic are in need of a big man that can play next to Nikola Vucevic. And although Skal Labissiere had a disappointing freshman season at Kentucky, he’s still an intriguing prospect and his skill set could be a nice fit next to Vucevic and their other bigs. Labissiere is a good shot blocker, averaging 4.2 blocks per 40 minutes, and has a promising looking jumper that could expand out to three-point range. He could be a big that can protect the rim and stretch the floor that NBA teams are looking for these days. – Tony Romanello

12. Atlanta Hawks – Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah

When I saw that Atlanta acquired the 12th pick I was pretty excited. I wanted to see what would happen if Denzel Valentine got to develop in this wing friendly, Spursian system where his playmaking and shooting could be brought to the forefront while mitigating his lack of athletic ability. But then reports said the Hawks wanted Poeltl.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a Jakob Poeltl fan. He put up pretty good numbers, but he played in a four out system built around him. He’s not a great post player, he can’t protect the rim, he isn’t a great athlete and he can’t shoot. I get he hustles and has soft hands but I just don’t think he’ll ever be more than a role player. I remember watching Okafor vs Kaminsky in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and I just said to myself “Shit, there is no way this guy is going to be even competent at any facet of defense in the NBA for a long time” (back then I thought my Lakers were going to take him). But I got the same feeling watching Poeltl get absolutely obliterated by Sabonis. He couldn’t hang with the guy. He’s definitely a project, and there’s no way he can play in a defensive scheme that Atlanta played in the regular season, which required a lot of movement and showing from their bigs. – Mark Chajkowski

13. Phoenix Suns – Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

Although the Suns took another power forward with their pick at number four, I think they go will Ellenson at 13. Ellenson has the ability to play the four and five, so he’ll be able to play next to Chriss (if that is who they take) as well as Alex Len and Tyson Chandler. Ellenson is good playmaker for his position, a solid rebounder and has the potential to become a stretch big as he has a promising jumper. – Tony Romanello

14. Chicago Bulls – Thon Maker, PF/C, Australia

Player A B C D E
Height 7’0.75″ 6’10.25″  6’11.5″ 7’0″ 6’11”
Wingspan 7’3″ 7’4.5″  7’7″ 7’4.25″ 7’6″
Weight 216 240  227  257 250
Max Vertical 36.5″ 36.5″  31.5″ 34″ 30.5″
3/4 Court Sprint (seconds) 3.33  3.14  3.54 3.27  3.27
Lane Agility (seconds) 11.12  11.21 11.83  11.67  12.03

Player A is Thon Maker

Player B is Dwight Howard

Player C is Hassan Whiteside

Player D is Greg Oden

Player E is DeAndre Jordan

 

Overall, I can’t figure out why more people don’t like this guy. He isn’t big, but neither are a lot of guys when they enter the league. He weighs the same that Kevin Garnett did in high school, and ten pounds more than Nerlens Noel did. He can always add weight, and there’s a legitimate belief that he could have three point range. I get he didn’t play in college, but would you rather he pull an Andre Drummond  who signed late and had an awful year at Connecticut? He’s one of the most athletic seven footers we have ever seen, and the concern with him isn’t about his free throws it’s whether or not he’s going to be a great ballhandler and perimeter player. If the Bulls are actually going to rebuild, having him and Portis as your bigs would be a great start. I think this guy is a home run and I’m baffled more people don’t feel that way.– Mark Chajkowski

15. Denver Nuggets – Timothe Luwawu, SG, France

With their second first round pick, I think the Nuggets go with French wing Timothe Luwawu. Luwawu offers nice size at the two at 6’7″ and could play some three. He’s lengthy and athletic and has a nice looking jumper and will have some defensive versatility. – Tony Romanello

16. Boston Celtics – Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga

The Celtics have a rebounding problem. They finished a respectable 18th in rebounding rate this year, not an awful mark by any means, but that’s before you consider Amir Johnson may not be back and David Lee is already gone. Not that either are terrible, irreplaceable losses, but they were two of the top three players in the team in rebounding rate. Even if they add Bender, I think a front line of Bender, Olynyk, Zeller, and Sullinger isn’t great. Adding Sabonis doesn’t put them over the top, but he does offer them quite a bit. He was fourth in the country in total rebounds this year, his field goal percentage at the rim was over seventy percent, and he showed off a range on his jumper we haven’t before seen. On top of that he has decent foot speed and hit 76% from the line. I get he isn’t explosive or have long arms, and he did play in the WCC, but his motor, basketball IQ, and shooting should make him at least a role player. I see him being a guy Stevens can put on the back end of the rotation from day 1, and that’s actually pretty solid value at sixteen. – Mark Chajkowski

17. Memphis Grizzlies – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse

The Grizzlies are reportedly really high on Richardson and have promised to pick him at 17. Richardson is good at getting his own shot and has nice scoring instincts. Although his shooting numbers aren’t overly impressive (37.0% FG, 35.3% 3P, 72.0% FT), he does have a good mechanics on his jumper and scouts think he has potential as a shooter. He may be more of a project player right now, but he could end up being a nice player down the road.– Tony Romanello

18. Detroit Pistons – Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State

I really like Denzel Valentine’s game. I get he isn’t a great athlete, but he does almost everything well and just seems to have a great understanding of the game. Stan Van Gundy has done his best to surround Jackson and Drummond with long wings who can shoot and are athletic, I think he needs to add another playmaker. Harris and Morris can realistically man the three or four, and Johnson can probably play all the way from shooting guard to power forward in a pinch. KCP is a shooting guard who’s good enough defensively to slide down to to the three, and I think Valentine can play the two or the point. They don’t have a backup point guard or shooting guard right now (sorry Jodie Meeks) and they really lack a secondary playmaker. Valentine can shoot the lights out and has shown the ability to take the reigns of the offense. I think it would be beneficial to start him out as like your seventh or eighth man, and that’s where Detroit could really use someone right now. I think he’s a really safe pick and his ability to be a rotation guy from the get-go will be big for a guy who’s the coach and president of the team. – Mark Chajkowski

19. Denver Nuggets – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame

I’m, personally, a big fan of Jackson’s game. He’s extremely athletic as he had tied for the highest standing vertical at the combine at 37.5 inches and had the second highest max vertical at 43.5 inches. Although his shooting numbers dropped a little bit from last season, he shot 38.1 percent from three in his college career on 349 attempts and has experience playing off ball after playing with Jerian Grant for his first two college seasons so he’ll have the ability to play with Emmanuel Mudiay. – Tony Romanello

20. Indiana Pacers – Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor

Since, for whatever reason, Larry Bird didn’t think Solomon Hill was worth $2.3 million dollars at the beginning of the year (technically he’s right though because he’s actually worth $7-9 million) Solomon Hill will be able to test free agency this year. And the Pacers need another forward. Prince is billed as a three and d combo forward, which is pretty much what every team trying to play uptempo basketball wants. He could slot into the four next to George, handle the more physical forward, hit a lot of corner threes and make some great athletic plays in transition. He’s the type of guy Larry wants, and I can’t see Bird passing on him. – Mark Chajkowski

21. Atlanta Hawks – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia

The Hawks may lose center Al Horford to free agency this offseason and although we have them taking Poeltl with their newly acquired 12th pick, they could also still use a backup still and could take a chance on Ante Zizic. Croatian big man Ante Zizic put up solid numbers overseas this year, averaging 14.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 54 games across all leagues, according to Real GM. He’s a good athlete and is a high energy player that fits into the modern NBA. – Tony Romanello

22. Charlotte Hornets – Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey

This kid can flat out score. I’m not going to pretend to know a ton about him, but from videos online to writeups it seems as though he is a good shooter from all areas, he has a really fluent handle, and he’s great running off screens and still squaring up to the basket. He can shoot over most shooting guards, and he’s going to have to bulk up and become a better defender, but he’s also an above average athlete, so the defense might come with more time and a bulkier frame. All and all I think it’s a low risk, high reward prospect. – Mark Chajkowski

23. Boston Celtics – DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph’s

The Celtics will likely be in the market for a wing in the draft with Evan Turner entering free agency. And DeAnde Bembry may be a perfect replacement for Turner. Bembry is a great playmaker and is a versatile player that can do a lot on the court, which his stat line from this past season shows as he averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He does struggle as an outside shooter but his overall game should fit nicely into the Celtics roster. – Tony Romanello

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington

Philly could really use a point guard or two. I’m not sure that Murray is the guy to come in from day 1 and remedy the 76ers’ point guard woes, but he’s better than all the point guards not named Ish Smith the Sixers have had in the past couple years. He has great size, and he uses it well to get into the lane and rack up steals. His shooting is poor, he isn’t always engaged on defense, and he’s a bit turnover prone, but overall he could be an intruiging long-term prospect. – Mark Chajkowski

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas

The Clippers have a need for a big man to come off the bench and give them some solid minutes when DeAndre Jordan takes a break. Diallo may have had a disappointing season at Kansas but he still has value to NBA teams. He has a great motor and really gets after it when he’s on the court. He’s a good rebounder and finishes around the rim fairly well. He’s also a good rim protector and may have the ability to switch on screens in the NBA as he is a good athlete. – Tony Romanello

26. Philadelphia 76ers – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State

I think Malik Beasley is kind of being overlooked. He can shoot, he’s a solid ballhandler in the open court, a smart passer and a good good athlete. He has a high basketball IQ, moves well with and without the ball, and really plays within himself. I think he can be a solid role player at the next level, and he’s definitely worth a late first round pick. – Mark Chajkowski

27. Toronto Raptors – Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt

The Raptors are most likely going to be losing Bismack Biyombo to free agency this offseason and will be looking to add a backup center. Damian Jones has great size, coming in at 6’11.5” in shoes and just under 244 pounds with a 7’3.75” wingspan at the combine. He’s also a good athlete, recording the third highest standing vertical at the combine at 36 inches and recorded the highest max vertical of any player listed as a center at the combine at 37 inches. – Tony Romanello

28. Phoenix Suns – Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan

So there aren’t a lot of wing prospects left on the board, and we already have the Suns taking two big men this draft, so we’ll talk about a long shot I like a lot. LeVert is a 6’7″ wing who can also dribble and has very high basketball IQ.  He’s been injured a lot, and he isn’t very strong for his size, but I think that best case scenario he could be a Khris Middleton type guy.  Obviously that’s a high ceiling he probably won’t reach, but even a role player who can handle and shoot at 28 is pretty rare.  I would pull the trigger -Mark Chajkowski

29. San Antonio Spurs – Juan Hernangomez, SF/PF, Spain

Most of the Spurs front court are either entering free agency or are getting to the end of their careers so they could be looking to add a player there. Hernangomez is a versatile player that will likely be able to play both forward spots and can score in a variety of ways. He can spot up on the perimeter (shot a respectable 35.8% from three this season, via DraftExpress) and is solid in the pick and roll. He would give the Spurs a versatile player to bring off the bench to give their veteran bigs a breather. – Tony Romanello

30. Golden State Warriors – Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina

I really like that in the last two years the Warriors have drafted athletic big men with high upside. Looney might be good one day, and while I’m not sure McAdoo will ever be a solid NBA guy, I think they should grab another big.  Varejao, Speights, and Ezeli are free agents, and Bogut has only one year left on his deal, so this might be the time to look for a cheap rotation guy.  Brice Johnson could realistically play in a high pressure/switch defense and be the roll guy off screens.  He still isn’t a good defender, but he’s one hell of an athlete and he can be taught.  I like the risk versus reward here. -Mark Chajkowski

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