2016 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Top Prospects in NCAA Tournament

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2016

Oklahoma's Buddy Hield is one of the top NBA prospects to watch in the Big Dance.
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield is one of the top NBA prospects to watch in the Big Dance.Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

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 76ersF Ben Simmons, LSU
2. Los Angeles LakersSG Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
3. Phoenix SunsSF Jaylen Brown, California
4. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)PF Dragan Bender, Turkey
5. Minnesota TimberwolvesPF/C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
6. New Orleans PelicansPG Kris Dunn, Providence
7. Sacramento KingsSG Jamal Murray, Kentucky
8. Toronto Raptors (from New York)PF Henry Ellenson, Marquette
9. Denver NuggetsSF Brandon Ingram, Duke
10. Orlando MagicPF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
11. Milwaukee BucksC Jakob Poeltl, Utah
12. Phoenix Suns (from Washington)PG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
13. Utah JazzSG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
14. Chicago BullsPF Ivan Rabb, California
15. Boston Celtics (from Dallas)SG Timothe Luwawu, France
16. Denver Nuggets (from Houston)C Diamond Stone, Maryland
17. Detroit PistonsSG Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
18. Denver Nuggets (from Portland)PG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
19. Indiana PacersSF Taurean Prince, Baylor
20. Atlanta HawksC Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
21. Charlotte HornetsSG Grayson Allen, Duke
22. Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami)PF Brice Johnson, North Carolina
23. Memphis GrizzliesSG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
24. Boston CelticsPF Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
25. Los Angeles ClippersC Cheick Diallo, Kansas
26. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City)F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
27. Toronto RaptorsF Paul Zipser, Germany
28. Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland)G Caris LeVert, Michigan
29. San Antonio SpursPG Melo Trimble, Maryland
30.Golden State WarriorsC Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV
Author's opinion.


Top Prospects in NCAA Tournament

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

Buddy Hield has it all for NBA teams in need.
Buddy Hield has it all for NBA teams in need.Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

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 othersquite 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

While raw, NBA scouts will have a close eye on Jaylen Brown's progression in the tournament.
While raw, NBA scouts will have a close eye on Jaylen Brown's progression in the tournament.Ben Margot/Associated Press

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:

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

Kris Dunn can boost his stock by digging Providence out of a major hole.
Kris Dunn can boost his stock by digging Providence out of a major hole.Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

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:

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.

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