The college basketball season is over. Now the fun begins. Let's pick a new home for these college players.
The degree of talent of this year's prospects is a sharp comparison. After the first five picks in the lottery, the incoming players are a giant mystery.
There's also a large number of international prospects hoping to make their way to the States to play basketball in the NBA.
Intrigue is high this year in the NBA draft, and the debate of who will go No. 1 will rage on until the end of the season. Take a look at the mock draft and where these prospects will land.
|NBA Mock Draft|
|1||Philadelphia 76ers||Ben Simmons||SF||LSU|
|2||Los Angeles Lakers||Brandon Ingram||SF||Duke|
|3||Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn)||Dragan Bender||C||Croatia|
|4||Phoenix Suns||Jaylen Brown||SF||Cal|
|5||Minnesota Timberwolves||Buddy Hield||SG||Oklahoma|
|6||New Orleans Pelicans||Jamal Murray||SG||Kentucky|
|7||Denver Nuggets (via NYK)||Timothe Luwawu||SF||France|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Kris Dunn||PG||Providence|
|9||Toronto Raptors (via Denver)||Marquese Chriss||PF||Washington|
|10||Orlando Magic||Jakob Poeltl||C||Utah|
|11||Milwaukee Bucks||Skal Labissiere||PF/C||Kentucky|
|12||Chicago Bulls||Demetrius Jackson||PG||Notre Dame|
|13||Phoenix Suns (via Washington)||Denzel Valentine||SF||Mich. State|
|14||Houston Rockets||Deyonta Davis||PF||Mich. State|
|15||Utah Jazz||Ivan Rabb||PF||Cal|
|16||Boston Celtics (via Dallas)||Domantas Sabonis||PF||Gonzaga|
|17||Memphis Grizzlies||Tyler Ulis||PG||Kentucky|
|18||Denver Nuggets (via Portland)||Furkan Korkmaz||SG||Turkey|
|19||Indiana Pacers||Damian Jones||C||Vanderbilt|
|20||Detroit Pistons||Taurean Prince||SF||Baylor|
|21||Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami)||Juan Hernangomez||SF||Spain|
|22||Charlotte Hornets||Malik Beasley||SG||Florida St.|
|23||Boston Celtics||Diamond Stone||C||Maryland|
|24||Atlanta Hawks||Melo Trimble||PG||Maryland|
|25||Los Angeles Clippers||DeAndre' Bembry||SF||St. Joe's|
|26||Toronto Raptors||Wade Baldwin||PG||Vanderbilt|
|27||Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)||Stephen Zimmerman Jr.||C||UNLV|
|28||Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland)||Zhou Qi||C||China|
|29||San Antonio Spurs||Ivica Zubac||C||Croatia|
|30||Golden State Warriors||Brice Johnson||C||UNC|
Ben Simmons Remains No. 1 For Now
It's understandable why that is. Ingram played in the NCAA tournament, while Simmons didn't. And when Ingram played in the tournament, he played well, averaging 23 points and just over six rebounds per game.
When it comes to game tape on the biggest stage, Ingram has more than Simmons. But in terms of immediate impact and value at both ends, Simmons is the best prospect right now, and will stay that way for a while.
Once the combine rolls around, all of that could change. Simmons' three-point shooting could sway the Sixers (again, we're presuming the 70-loss Sixers are taking the first pick) to go with the immediate scoring boost of Ingram.
Sharp feels Ingram is simply the better overall prospect:
He's a much better scorer than Ben Simmons, he's a more fluid athlete, and given his freakish length, he should turn into a better defender. Simmons, for his part, is a fascinating player whose NBA position remains unclear. It will be fun to see how he evolves. But let's be clear: Ingram's not the choice because his fit in the NBA is simpler than Simmons. It's not because of how the NBA is played now, or how valuable wings are. He's just a better prospect.
The difference between Ingram and Simmons is the Aussie makes those around him better. His all-around talent wasn't displayed at LSU, but put him around Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, and the Sixers are going to be this year's version of the Minnesota Timberwolves: the most exciting young team in the league.
Buddy Hield Is the Missing Piece in Minnesota
Let's talk about that aforementioned exciting young team in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves are still a year away from taking the next step in the Western Conference, but there's some serious potential there. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are as exciting a duo as there is in the NBA, and they will present matchup nightmares for years to come.
However, Minnesota needs one more piece to take that leap. The Wolves need a scorer. They need someone who can play in the backcourt with Ricky Rubio and make threes while also possessing an ability to attack the basket.
Enter Buddy Hield, as Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress noted:
Hield's evolution from a raw and wild freshman who averaged 7.8 points per game and shot 24 percent from 3-point range to the best player in college basketball is an incredible story of work ethic, character and determination. He was hoping to enter last year's draft, but was deterred by the feedback he received from NBA teams, which indicated he was, at best, a mid-second-round pick. Now he is expected to be drafted in the lottery in June and may have solidified his standing in the 5-10 range.
But it's important not to go overboard with his NCAA tournament play. As we've seen in the past, strong tournament performances don't always translate into great NBA careers. After all, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Napier, Luke Hancock, Kyle Singler and Wayne Ellington are five of the last seven players to be named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
The difference between those five and the other two winners of the award – Anthony Davis and Kemba Walker – is that like Hield, Davis and Walker had already cemented themselves as lottery picks before the tournament.
Imagine this team for a moment. The pass-first Rubio will continue to evolve into one of the better facilitators in the league. Putting a young shooter like Hield in the backcourt with Rubio will improve with Rubio's assist numbers. He's been itching to get above the eight-assist mark, and adding Hield for three-point purposes will work.
Wiggins and Towns could also use someone to take the pressure off them. With two stars in the making who can already create their own shot and dominate their respective positions, getting Hield allows Minnesota to stretch the floor and create better opportunities for both of its superstars.
The Wolves are not far off from being a playoff team. Between head coach Flip Saunders' sudden passing and trying to build a foundation, Minnesota seems like the team to shock a lot of people next year. The addition of Hield would be the last piece of the puzzle for a revival in Minnesota.