NBA Mock Draft 2016: ESPN's Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton's Latest Top-10 Scenario

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2016

LSU's Ben Simmons, left, looks for an opening on Kentucky's Alex Poythress during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 94-77. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets aren't recovering from their acquisition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett anytime soon. They won't own their own first-round pick until 2019, as the Celtics have pick-swap rights next season and get Brooklyn's unprotected selection again in 2018.  

After a 21-61 mess of a season, the Nets are facing their absolute worst-case scenario: giving the Celtics the No. 1 overall pick and a chance at a superstar. The Celtics have a 15.6 percent chance of winning next Tuesday's pingpong drawing, and they'll fall no lower than the sixth overall selection. 

Historically, the difference between the No. 1 pick and No. 6 pick is about 14 win shares over a player's first five seasons, according to a Reddit user's NBA draft trade value chart. In this draft, it may be more. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the only true surefire potential stars in the 2016 class, which is understandably a little shallow after the historically great 2015 group. The difference here between No. 1 and No. 6 could be the difference between a multi-time All-Star and a seventh man.

Heading into the draft lottery, ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton and Chad Ford are examining the ramifications of each team winning the first overall pick. Here's a look at Boston's best-case—and Brooklyn's worst-case—scenario.

Ford/Pelton Top 10
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Boston CelticsBen SimmonsSF/PFLSU
2Utah JazzBrandon IngramSFDuke
3Philadelphia 76ersJamal MurrayPG/SGKentucky
4Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers)Kris DunnPGProvidence
5Phoenix SunsDragan BenderPF/CCroatia
6Minnesota TimberwolvesBuddy HieldSGOklahoma
7New Orleans PelicansHenry EllensonPF/CMarquette
8Denver NuggetsMarquese ChrissPFWashington
9Sacramento KingsSkal LabissierePF/CKentucky
10Toronto RaptorsFurkan KorkmazSGTurkey
ESPN.com

1. Boston Celtics - Ben Simmons, SF/PF, LSU

Simmons is the best prospect in this class. You won't hear anything different from me during this entire process. He's also a strong fit for Boston, where he could alleviate some of Isaiah Thomas' disturbing duties and play for one of the half-dozen best coaches in basketball in Brad Stevens.

The Celtics helped turn Jae Crowder into a decent three-point shooter and made Evan Turner a basketball player—imagine what they'd do with Simmons.

Still, this is one team spot where considering Ingram would make sense. Lessening the burden on Thomas feels like a good thing on paper, but we saw what happened when he played more off the ball in Phoenix. Thomas' size becomes a real detriment, and he lacks focus at times when he's not the primary ball-handler.

The Celtics also have a need for a crunch-time scorer who isn't 5'9". They've been enamored with Kevin Durant since before he even left Texas; Ingram is the closest Durant facsimile we've seen since his arrival. If Danny Ainge doesn't think he can lure KD away from Oklahoma City this summer, Ingram is a real possibility here.

 

2. Utah Jazz - Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke

This is really a no-brainer. Whoever winds up picking No. 2 will select whoever is left of Simmons and Ingram.

This scenario also falls into the highly implausible. The Jazz have a 1.5 percent chance of landing anywhere in the top three. While it would be amusing to consider the possibility of what this would mean for a team that desperately needs a star like Ingram to take the next step, it isn't happening. It's the "what if a No. 16 seed beats a No. 1" of draft lottery scenarios.

 

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Kentucky
4. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) - Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

The Sixers are simultaneous winners and losers in this scenario. For the third straight year, they fall short of winning the lottery after tanking a regular season. Yet again, they miss out on a player who could fundamentally change their rebuilding effort.

But by virtue of the Lakers dropping to No. 4, Philly also gets two top-five picks to add to the asset cupboard. Murray is a no-brainer selection at No. 3, adding scoring punch and floor spacing to a roster filled with young giants. He's also a way better ball-handler than he got to show at Kentucky and may wind up playing point guard at the next level.

If you're looking to pick a little bit at the Dunn selection, that's where you begin. Keeping Murray off the ball drops his potential down a peg. He's probably better in the long term in a secondary, Brandon Roy-esque role, while Dunn is a traditional point guard in most senses. The Providence product doesn't shoot nearly well enough for an off-ball role.

The problem here is finding a better fit. Dragan Bender would just add another lanky big man to a roster that is already banking on Dario Saric's arrival. Jaylen Brown is too raw, Denzel Valentine is too big of a reach, and the Buddy Hield hype is starting to die down a bit. The Sixers may consider dealing the No. 4 pick for a youngish veteran wing over making the selection.

 

5. Phoenix Suns - Dragan Bender, PF/C, Croatia

Falling to No. 5 couldn't have worked out better for the Suns, who land an ideal fit in Bender. After trading the disgruntled Markieff Morris at the trade deadline, Phoenix needs a power forward who can stretch the floor. Bender isn't worthy of the Kristaps Porzingis comparisons he'll generate—Porzingod was much farther along in his development—but he's one of a handful of players in this class with true star potential.

Workouts will be paramount in keeping Bender's draft stock high. He's been a bit of a disappointment for Maccabi Tel Aviv this season, with the teenager understandably playing inconsistent basketball. Teams are going to want to see smooth fundamentals on his jumper and confirmation of his basketball intelligence in head-to-head drills.

“To become NBA-ready I need to improve all the things in my game and try to put them on a higher level, try to put them on an NBA level," Bender told Jonathan Givony of The Vertical. "It’s really hard to achieve those levels, but I'm really working hard to do it. Those little things are separating me from those players playing in the NBA.”

If Bender's workouts prove unsatisfactory, Henry Ellenson could get a look in this slot. He was a victim of playing most of his games on a forgettable Marquette team, but there are some Kevin Love aspects to his game. He's a better athlete than you'd expect, has a solid three-point stroke and flashed the occasional high-IQ pass out of the post.

For now, Bender's potential wins out. 

 

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