Ranking the Best Pure Scorers Available in 2016 NBA Draft

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 22, 2015

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17:  Jamal Murray #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives against Matt Jones #13 of the Duke Blue Devils during the Champions Classic at the United Center on November 17, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Kentucky defeated Duke 74-63. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2016 NBA draft could produce a handful of fine scoring options. Ironically, our projected No. 1 pick, LSU's Ben Simmons, isn't one of them, considering his game is predicated on facilitating, transition chances and finishing. 

To qualify as a pure scorer in our book, the prospect must demonstrate an advanced one-on-one scoring attack when the game slows down in the half court. These are typically strong isolation players capable of generating offense out of nothing.

I ranked my top five based on current scoring production and NBA potential, which is ultimately fueled by physical tools, athleticism and ball skills.

5. Melo Trimble, Maryland, PG, Sophomore

Points per game: 16.0

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Though labeled a point guard, Trimble is a scoring machine at heart. And unless he really breaks through and emerges as a starting NBA floor general, his likely calling card in the pros is sparking a lineup with offense off the bench. 

He was one of five freshmen since 1995 to make 200 free throws in a season (Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon were three others), per Sports-Reference.com. Confident, fearless and shifty, Trimble puts heavy pressure on the defense and has a knack for drawing contact. 

However, it's his pull-up jump shot that ultimately allows him to take over stretches. We recently saw it during the second half of Maryland's win over North Carolina on December 1—Trimble became unguardable with the ability to stop and pop off ball screens, crafty dribbles or transition opportunities from any spot on the floor. 

He's quickly established a convincing shooting stroke out to the arc. After making 1.7 threes per game at a 41.2 percent clip in 2014-15, he's been accurate so far as a sophomore (38.1 percent). 

While Trimble continues to make strides as a facilitator, size (6'3", 6'2" wingspan) and athletic limitations could cloud his upside at the NBA level. But his ball skills and jumper are just too sharp. 

Trimble should draw first-round looks outside the lottery from teams searching for backcourt depth and firepower. 

4. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, PG, Junior

Points per game: 16.9

Robert Franklin/Associated Press

Comparisons to Eric Bledsoe seem appropriate. Jackson, who packs similar size (6'1"), strength (198-pound frame) and explosive athleticism, can score both on and off the ball.

While he's capable of skying above the rim for poster finishes, it's Jackson's perimeter arsenal that drives his scoring ability. 

He's developed a terrific pull-up game, which he puts to use off screens and transition opportunities (53.2 percent on two-point jumpers last year, 50 percent so far this season, per Hoop-Math.com). Jackson is particularly dangerous out of pick-and-roll situations, where he can slice to the rack or stop and pop off the bounce from mid-to-long range. 

He's been accurate behind the arc since coming to Notre Dame, having hit the 40-percent mark in each of his first two years and starting his junior season 16-of-41 (39 percent).

Jackson is still looking to develop further as a facilitator and playmaker, but a potent blend of burst and shot-making should power his draft stock into lottery territory.

3. Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey, SG

Points per game: 5.1 (15.4 per 40 minutes)

At 18 years old, he's only getting 13.1 minutes with Anadolu Efes, but over the years, scouts have seen Korkmaz cook during FIBA junior events. Just this past summer, he averaged 16.1 points at the Under-18 European Championships and 22.6 points per 40 minutes in the Under-19 World Championships. 

Korkmaz, a 6'7" 2-guard or wing, possesses effortless leaping ability that translates to highlights and easy buckets in transition. Though not particularly strong, he packs plenty of shake-and-bake in his shoulders and showtime bounce at the rim.

Still, it's his perimeter game that should ultimately hold the most value in the pros. In 33 games dating back to 2013 (four FIBA tournaments), Korkmaz has averaged 2.5 three-point makes on 38.6 percent shooting from deep. This season, despite limited chances to build any rhythm, he's 20-of-41 from three. 

With a tight handle, Korkmaz also uses crossovers, behind-the-back-dribbles and hesitation to lose defenders and create the separation he needs to deliver a pull-up or step-back jumper. 

We might see Trimble and Jackson getting NBA buckets before the Turkish teenager, but long term, there is greater upside tied to Korkmaz's superior size, high-flying athleticism and unteachable scoring instincts.

2. Jamal Murray, Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman 

Points per game: 17.1

Dec 19, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) drives around Ohio State Buckeyes forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) during the second half at Barclays Center. Ohio State Buckeyes won 74-67. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TOD
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

After erupting for 30 points in April's Nike Hoop Summit and taking it to (much older) opponents at the Pan American Games over the summer, Murray has unsurprisingly jumped out as Kentucky's leading scorer. 

He went for 33 points in 34 minutes against Ohio State on Saturday in a game in which Murray received little support (rest of Kentucky scored 34 points). He's the type of microwave guard capable of heating up and scoring in bunches, thanks to some glowing confidence, unlimited range and the ability to make contested or unorthodox looks. 

Murray relies on skills over athleticism and speed.

A terrific handle is behind his nifty shot creativity. Meanwhile, with 27 three-point makes through 11 games, he's dangerous with the jumper, which he can get into by running off screens, pulling up or stepping back off the dribble. And though not explosive around the basket, he's a threat to knock down runners and floaters or improvise acrobatically at the rim. 

There may be some questions as to whether Murray projects as an NBA 1 or 2, but there aren't any regarding his core strength. He's a scorer from either backcourt position.

1. Brandon Ingram, Duke, SF, Freshman

Points per game: 14.9

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 15:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils brings the ball up the court against the Georgia Southern Eagles during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 15, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Ge
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The team that selects Ingram will be hoping to land a future go-to option its offense can feature. 

Having just turned 18 over the summer, we might not be talking about next season's NBA Rookie of the Year favorite. But with a 7'3" wingspan and smooth athleticism, along with an advanced face-up scoring attack from out to 25 feet away, the 6'9" freshman projects long term as a mismatch scorer on the wing. 

He's starting to find a rhythm following a relatively slow start. Ingram, who's averaged 22 points over Duke's last four games, has burned defenses with the jumper and off-the-dribble game, where we've seen him handle the ball, attack closeouts and lanes or separate into pull-ups, fallaways or runners.

With 22 buckets made at the rim, 21 on two-point jumpers and 16 from downtown, according to Hoop-Math.com, Ingram has flashed the ability and potential to generate offense from all three levels.

At this stage, he looks like the only real threat to Simmons as the No. 1 pick. He'll need a few years to build his body and continue developing fundamentally, but Ingram appears to be the next big scoring 3 in line behind Andrew Wiggins and Giannis Antetokounmpo.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.