2016 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Landing Spots of Top Prospects

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2016

Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) handles the ball against Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) during the first half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We're just days away from the start of the NBA Draft Combine, which tips off Wednesday in Chicago. 

The NBA invited more than 70 players to work out at the combine, including a number of college players who have yet to sign with agents. These prospects will have until May 25 to decide whether to officially enter the draft or withdraw and return to school. 

As we head into the combine, here's a look at where the top prospects stand with an early mock draft:

NBA Mock Draft
1.Philadelphia 76ersBrandon IngramFDuke
2.Los Angeles LakersBen SimmonsFLSU
3.Boston Celtics (via BKN)Henry EllensonF/CMarquette
4.Phoenix SunsDragan BenderF/CCroatia
5.Minnesota TimberwolvesJamal MurrayGKentucky
6.New Orleans PelicansKris DunnPGProvidence
7.Denver Nuggets (via NYK)Jaylen BrownG/FCalifornia
8.Sacramento KingsBuddy HieldGOklahoma
9.Toronto Raptors (via DEN)Jakob PoeltlCUtah
10.Milwaukee BucksMarquese ChrissFWashington
11.Orlando MagicTimothe LuwawuGFrance
12.Utah JazzSkal LabissiereF/CKentucky
13.Phoenix Suns (via WAS)Furkan KorkmazG/FTurkey
14.Chicago BullsTyler UlisPGKentucky
15.Denver Nuggets (via HOU)Demetrius JacksonGNotre Dame
16.Boston Celtics (via DAL)Denzel ValentineG/FMichigan State
17.Memphis GrizzliesDomantas SabonisFGonzaga
18.Detroit PistonsDeyonta DavisF/CMichigan State
19.Denver Nuggets (via POR)Wade Baldwin IVGVanderbilt
20.Indiana PacersDamian JonesCVanderbilt
21.Atlanta HawksBrice JohnsonFNorth Carolina
22.Charlotte HornetsTaurean PrinceGBaylor
23.Boston CelticsDejounte MurrayPGWashington
24.Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA)DeAndre' BembryGSt. Joseph's
25.Los Angeles ClippersAnte ZizicCCroatia
26.Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC)Patrick McCawGUNLV
27.Toronto RaptorsMelo TrimblePGMaryland
28.Phoenix Suns (via CLE)Stephen ZimmermanCUNLV
29.San Antonio SpursMalcolm BrogdonGVirginia
30.Golden State WarriorsThon MakerCOrangeville Prep

Notable Selections

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Brandon Ingram

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The combine should have presented scouts with the opportunity to compare Duke's Brandon Ingram and LSU's Ben Simmons, but Simmons intends to skip the event

This is common for top prospects—Karl-Anthony Towns skipped the combine last year, for example—but it could impact how Simmons is viewed because of his unique circumstances. 

After a sloppy season at LSU, which culminated in the team deciding to skip the postseason tournaments, there are some lingering concerns about Simmons' effort and competitiveness. He could have put these concerns to rest with a strong showing at the combine.

Ultimately, Simmons is too talented to fall far on draft day, but his decision to skip the combine could be another factor to help swing the Philadelphia 76ers' decision at No. 1 in favor of the equally talented Ingram. 

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4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Croatian player Dragen Bender (C-top) throws the ball during a Winner League match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem on March 21, 2016.

Dragan Bender's name is not yet well known beyond hardco
THOMAS COEX/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are loaded with young talent at the guard positions, led by 2015 first-round selection Devin Booker. But they need to come out of this draft with a talented big man to help ease the losses of Marcus and Markieff Morris over the past year.

The ideal addition could be Croatian big man Dragan Bender. 

Bender is listed at 7'0" by NBADraft.net, giving him the size to play in the post. But he also has the athleticism to play on the perimeter, making him an ideal big man for today's NBA game. 

USA Today's Derek Bodner reported that Bender's athleticism allowed him to regularly match up with ball-handlers on the perimeter while playing in Israel—a defensive skill that few NBA big men outside of Anthony Davis possess.

Obviously, there are questions about Bender's ability to transition from the competition in Israel to the NBA, but a rebuilding team such as the Suns may be willing to swing for the fences and hope for a Kristaps Porzingis-like performance from Bender.

8. Sacramento Kings: Buddy Hield

Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) shoots over Villanova Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) in the first half  in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert De
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings have their big men in place with DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. Now they need to find their perimeter players to complete the rebuilding process.

With all the attention Cousins demands in the paint, Sacramento could be an ideal landing spot for Buddy Hield and his dangerous three-point shot.

Hield lacks the quickness to create his own shot at the NBA level with the same consistency he did at Oklahoma, but in Sacramento, Cousins receives so much attention that it often creates open looks on the perimeter for spot-up shooters.

Sacramento lacked the consistent shooters last season to take advantage, which allowed opponents to further collapse and defend Cousins down low. In fact, Hield hit more threes in 37 games at Oklahoma last season (147) than Omri Casspi, the Kings' leader in threes, hit in 69 games (112).