NBA Mock Draft 2016: Projections for Top Point Guard Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2016

Kris Dunn is the best point guard in the 2016 class.
Kris Dunn is the best point guard in the 2016 class.Chris Szagola/Associated Press

One has to only take a passing glance at the NBA playoffs to understand the importance of the point guard position.

Those point guards left alive? Kyrie Irving, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.

Indeed, hitting point guard well in the draft is the key to success in the Association these days in large part thanks to the guys mentioned above, including a unanimous MVP. It just so happens the 2016 class offers an interesting slate of names at the spot, too.

Below, let's take a look at an updated mock and then focus on some of the purest point guard prospects in the class. Others might fall into the classification based on system fit, but the players regardless of system get the look here.

2016 NBA Mock Draft

1.Philadelphia 76ersF Ben Simmons, LSU
2.Los Angeles LakersSF Brandon Ingram, Duke
3.Boston Celtics (via BKN)PF Dragan Bender, Croatia
4.Phoenix SunsSG Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
5.Minnesota TimberwolvesSF Jaylen Brown, California
6.New Orleans PelicansSG Jamal Murray, Kentucky
7.Denver Nuggets (via NYK)C Jakob Poeltl, Utah
8.Sacramento KingsPG Kris Dunn, Providence
9.Toronto RaptorsPF Henry Ellenson, Marquette
10.Milwaukee BucksC Thon Maker, Orangeville Prep
11.Orlando MagicPF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
12.Utah JazzF Marquese Chriss, Washington
13.Phoenix Suns (via WAS)C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
14.Chicago BullsSG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
15.Denver Nuggets (via HOU)G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
16.Boston Celtics (via DAL)SG Timothe Luwawu, France
17.Memphis GrizzliesPG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
18.Detroit PistonsSG Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
19.Denver Nuggets (via POR) G Caris LeVert, Michigan
20.Indiana PacersPF Brice Johnson, North Carolina
21.Atlanta HawksC Diamond Stone, Maryland
22.Charlotte HornetsPF Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
23.Boston CelticsF Paul Zipser, Germany
24.Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA)SG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
25.Los Angeles ClippersC Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
26.Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC)F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
27.Toronto RaptorsF Taurean Prince, Baylor
28.Phoenix Suns (via CLE)C Cheick Diallo, Kansas
29.San Antonio SpursPG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
30.Golden State WarriorsC Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV
Author's projections

Projections for Top Point Guard Prospects

8. Sacramento Kings: Kris Dunn, Providence

Providence's Kris Dunn gets hype like he's the top point guard in the class, and it's well earned.

Dunn started all four years with the Friars, ending his collegiate career on a high note thanks to averages of 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. And while he boasts a spotty jumper, Dunn has the size at 6'4" and 220 pounds to do everything else well.

For Dunn himself, it's all about his effectiveness on the defensive end of the court, as Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate captured:

Brett Dawson @BDawsonWrites

Kris Dunn says defense is his greatest strength: “I like to get after people. I like to get under people's skin.”

Dunn sounds like a guy by the name of Rajon Rondo, which is pretty interesting because Rondo himself might leave the Sacramento Kings this summer...opening up the Dunn-to-Sacramento pipeline.

Which makes perfect sense. Sacramento will start fresh at head coach and at least one position this offseason, so getting DeMarcus Cousins some help in the form of a high-upside prospect who can start right away like Dunn seems sensible enough.

15. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

The game continues to evolve, with Kentucky's Tyler Ulis perhaps ready to provide another reinforcement of the idea size as an important metric is dated.

Guys like Isaiah Thomas in Boston (5'9") have helped to silence size questions at point guard. Whispers around Ulis' size, though—he's 5'9" and 149 pounds—seem to hurt his stock.

And it probably shouldn't.

Ulis is one of the main reasons Jamal Murray looked so good last year. The point guard not only averaged 17.3 points per game but put up seven assists for good measure.

Rotoworld's Ed Isaacson explained the allure around Ulis best:

Ulis, the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, was the spark that kept the Kentucky offense going, and along with his leadership, Ulis showed a penchant for hitting big shots when the team needed them. Small, 5’9”, and quick, Ulis is a tremendous ballhandler with great control. He is a threat in the pick-and-roll where he can disappear behind a screen, and he has the space to knock down the jumper or try to get into the defense. 

A team in flux like the Denver Nuggets won't have a problem snatching Ulis out of his fall and developing him while using him as rotational depth.

With Emmanuel Mudiay still a mystery and D.J. Augustin heading to free agency and not much in the way of guard depth on the roster overall, Ulis wouldn't be a terrible pick, especially for a team with multiple picks in the round.

17. Memphis Grizzlies: Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

Not far behind the above names when it comes to point guards in the 2016 class is Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson, a jack-of-all trades type with three years of collegiate experience on his resume.

Jackson comes in at 6'1" and 194 pounds off a season in which he posted averages of 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Over his three years with the Fighting Irish, Jackson never dipped below 42 percent shooting from the field.

Like Dunn, when it comes to athleticism, Jackson hasn't had any problems turning heads as of late despite the season being over. NBA Draft captured one eye-popping instance:

NBA Draft @NBADraft

.@D_Jay24's unofficial 43.5" max vertical leap is 4th highest ever at the #DraftCombine 👀 https://t.co/NsyCS2aQAH

While not the most pro-ready point in the class, a team in need won't have a problem plucking Jackson off the board in the middle of the first round.

Look at a team like the Memphis Grizzlies, an organization needing to prepare itself for the potential loss of Mike Conley to free agency.

If Conley leaves, Jackson can step into the fold and learn as he goes. If Conley stays, Jackson has one heck of a mentor to help usher in the next generation of Grizzlies players as the current core continues to age. Either way, Jackson is great value at No. 17.

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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