Of the many factors contributing to the madness besieging the month of March yet again, the upcoming NBA draft is one of the major bullet points.
Much in the way of the NBA's future revealed itself on Selection Sunday, where those players such as, say, Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith and LSU's Ben Simmons, missed out on the Big Dance and saw notable careers mostly conclude (though the former isn't done running roughshod on the NIT just yet).
Now would be a great time for Association observers to brush up on the who, how and why of the potential 2016 draft class, and especially on those guys who will still suit up for the Big Dance.
Below, let's take a look at a mock draft with a projected order and the selections based on team need and, more importantly, prospect value—a tricky thing that is sure to change in the coming weeks.
2016 NBA Mock Draft
|1.||Philadelphia 76ers||F Ben Simmons, LSU|
|2.||Los Angeles Lakers||SG Buddy Hield, Oklahoma|
|3.||Phoenix Suns||SF Jaylen Brown, California|
|4.||Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)||PF Dragan Bender, Turkey|
|5.||Minnesota Timberwolves||PF/C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky|
|6.||New Orleans Pelicans||PG Kris Dunn, Providence|
|7.||Sacramento Kings||SG Jamal Murray, Kentucky|
|8.||Toronto Raptors (from New York)||PF Henry Ellenson, Marquette|
|9.||Denver Nuggets||SF Brandon Ingram, Duke|
|10.||Orlando Magic||PF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State|
|11.||Milwaukee Bucks||C Jakob Poeltl, Utah|
|12.||Phoenix Suns (from Washington)||PG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt|
|13.||Utah Jazz||SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey|
|14.||Chicago Bulls||PF Ivan Rabb, California|
|15.||Boston Celtics (from Dallas)||SG Timothe Luwawu, France|
|16.||Denver Nuggets (from Houston)||C Diamond Stone, Maryland|
|17.||Detroit Pistons||SG Denzel Valentine, Michigan State|
|18.||Denver Nuggets (from Portland)||PG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame|
|19.||Indiana Pacers||SF Taurean Prince, Baylor|
|20.||Atlanta Hawks||C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt|
|21.||Charlotte Hornets||SG Grayson Allen, Duke|
|22.||Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami)||PF Brice Johnson, North Carolina|
|23.||Memphis Grizzlies||SG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia|
|24.||Boston Celtics||PF Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga|
|25.||Los Angeles Clippers||C Cheick Diallo, Kansas|
|26.||Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City)||F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida|
|27.||Toronto Raptors||F Paul Zipser, Germany|
|28.||Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland)||G Caris LeVert, Michigan|
|29.||San Antonio Spurs||PG Melo Trimble, Maryland|
|30.||Golden State Warriors||C Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV|
Top Prospects in NCAA Tournament
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
With Simmons out of the picture, though likely still the top pick, the bracket is all about Oklahoma's Buddy Hield.
Believe it or not, Hield doesn't get enough NBA attention. He's a senior, so some like to knock the whole age factor, but this is a guy who stands at 6'4" and 214 pounds with averages of 25.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Not impressed? Hield shoots a ridiculous 49.6 percent from the floor this year and 46.4 percent from deep. He's a total package who can translate quickly as a scorer at the next level.
The senior plans on putting on a show in the bracket, too, as captured by the Associated Press' Cliff Brunt:
Just go out there and compete as hard as you can and leave it on the floor. You can't get a game back. It's going to be heartbreaking that I won't be playing any more college games (after the tournament), but you just go out there and compete and have fun, and have no regrets when you leave the court.
Said tournament run includes potential meetups with Duke, Baylor and Oregon, among others—quite the attention-gaining stretch if Hield continues to play like, well, himself.
Rest assured teams like the Los Angeles Lakers will have a close eye on him. The Lakers have D'Angelo Russell running the point, but they could let the best man win at shooting guard by pitting Hield against Jordan Clarkson and addressing other issues in free agency.
3. Phoenix Suns: Jaylen Brown, SF, California
Jaylen Brown might be the most polarizing player ready to enter the draft.
To some, Brown is a can't-miss prospect with great size who's playing an ideal position. To others, he's a struggling shooter who hasn't shown enough as a complete package to warrant the growing hype.
So which is it? A freshman, Brown comes in with prototypical size at 6'7" and 225 pounds with a gigantic wingspan. Good on the defensive end of the court, his 15 points per game and 30 percent conversion rate from deep on the other end has some shying away.
Perhaps a comment by Bill Simmons summed up the situation best:
Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
Wish Jaylen Brown would stay at Cal for 2nd year but can't blame him for coming out. He's so raw offensively but everyone wants wings now.2016-3-12 17:39:34
Already in the top-10 conversation thanks to play that has improved as the season has gone on, Brown now has a chance to boost his stock even higher in a South Region boasting Maryland, Villanova and Kansas.
Given the way the board falls here, the Phoenix Suns won't hesitate to pull the trigger. It's easy—Brown slots incredibly well at small forward next to Devin Booker, the high-upside shooter who needs a complement next to him to make the rotation work.
Brown is the guy, though many teams could say so. Phoenix has to hope he doesn't boost his stock in tournament play too much.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
The dreaded age factor comes into play with Providence's Kris Dunn, who figures to take his talent to the pros this year now that he's 21 years old (turns 22 on March 18).
Not that the junior isn't ready. Dunn has perfect size at 6'4" and 220 pounds and displayed a fun balance of scoring and leading with his averages of 16.0 points and 6.4 assists per game this year.
The Big East Conference compiled a few of Dunn's most notable moments after he took home some notable hardware:
BIG EAST Conference @BIGEAST
Congratulations to Kris Dunn (@PCFriarsmbb) on earning the 2015-16 #BIGEASThoops Player of the Year Award. https://t.co/TyMTG0r3rp2016-3-9 21:23:58
It all meshes into one must-have package for NBA teams that don't mind a court general who can also score at an elite clip. Smacked in a brutal region with North Carolina, Kentucky, Xavier and more, Providence's leader certainly finds himself in a stock-boosting situation.
With so much star power in the class, Dunn makes his way to No. 6 here with the New Orleans Pelicans. Eric Gordon's fate with the team isn't easy to discern, and the Pelicans have to be tired of the Norris Cole-Jrue Holiday game at the point.
Dunn has the upside of a starter right away, which will give the Pelicans some serious flexibility moving forward in how they want to continue to build the roster around Anthony Davis.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.