2016 NBA Mock Draft, Post-Lottery Edition: Who Goes No. 1 Overall to 76ers?
The Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock and will spend the next month trying to figure out whether Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons is the better fit.
With the lottery order finally set, the mock-draft process is much easier as team needs enter the equation. The Los Angeles Lakers are among the big winners. They had a chance of losing their pick if it fell out of the top three but were saved by landing at No. 2. They have the easy choice on draft night: take whomever Philly passes on between Ingram and Simmons.
With Washington's top-nine-protected pick falling to 13th, the Phoenix Suns landed two picks in the lottery and have a golden opportunity to fill the vacancy at power forward left by Markieff Morris.
There are plenty of questions left to answer over the next month. Whom will the Boston Celtics take at No. 3? Will the Celts keep that pick or trade it for a veteran? How high will projects Cheick Diallo and Skal Labissiere go?
With the draft order set and the NBA combine finished, this mock draft changes from simply ranking the prospects in terms of NBA potential to predicting where each player will land.
Special thanks to B/R College Basketball Lead Writer C.J. Moore for collaborating on this piece.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons (LSU, PF, Freshman)
The Philadelphia 76ers have a tough decision at No. 1 between Simmons and Ingram. They need shooting and perimeter scorers, and already appear set in the frontcourt with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, so Ingram makes more sense on paper.
But at No. 1, the goal is to land a potential superstar, and Simmons is the best bet in this draft. Not often does someone come along with his playmaking ability in a 6'10", 240-pound frame. He's a point forward who is a matchup nightmare.
The questions about how hard he plays, whether he'll ever be able to shoot and why he didn't win as a freshman at LSU are valid, but he already rebounds, passes and handles the ball at an elite level. He'll get better coaching in the NBA, and it's too early to rule out the possibility that he can become an adequate shooter.
As for the roster, if Simmons hits, that just gives the 76ers another asset. They'll need to eventually do some wheeling and dealing, but they're not yet at the point where they should worry about how all the pieces fit. Just get the best pieces now, and they'll be in a more favorable position to trade for needs down the road.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram (Duke, SF, Freshman)
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the easiest spot of the draft. There is a clear consensus who the top two prospects are, and they don't have to make the decision on whom to take.
While they should be happy with either Ingram or Simmons, the former is the better fit for how the roster is currently constructed. D'Angelo Russell and Simmons are both players who like to dominate the ball. They made it work as high school teammates at Montverde Academy, but Ingram would be a better complement to Russell in the NBA.
Ingram thrived at Duke as both a spot-up shooter and a guy who could get his own off the bounce. He needs to add weight to his frame, but he's stronger than he looks. Players who go through the Duke program are also typically well-prepared to play right away in the league.
If the Lakers re-sign Jordan Clarkson this summer, they'd have a promising young core to build around with him, Russell, Ingram and Julius Randle.
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Buddy Hield (SG, Oklahoma, Senior)
There isn't a no-brainer answer once Simmons and Ingram are off the board. That's why the Boston Celtics should go with the surest thing who also happens to fill a need.
Since 1994, only two other college players hit more threes in a season than Buddy Hield did this past year, per Sports-Reference.com, one of whom was Stephen Curry. During the 2015-16 regular season, the Celtics ranked No. 11 in three-point attempts but No. 28 in three-point percentage.
The 22-year-old Hield gives Boston an immediate shot-maker without any real red flags. He doesn't offer superstar upside on paper, but the fact he's viewed as a safe, convincing bet could go a long way in a draft with so much uncertainty.
4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender (Croatia, PF, 1997)
Though Providence's Kris Dunn and Kentucky's Jamal Murray will be enticing, there just isn't anywhere for them to play in the Phoenix Suns backcourt.
On the other hand, the Phoenix frontcourt lacks depth and young players with upside. Dragan Bender is viewed as a project, but his 7'1" size, shooting stroke (he shot 36.2 percent from three this past season, per RealGM) and passing IQ fuel unique versatility.
The Suns should also have the option of bringing him over right away, as his buyout with Maccabi Tel Aviv isn't believed to be prohibitive, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Considering Phoenix ended the year with Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic at power forward—both of whom are unrestricted free agents this offseason—Bender could actually see considerable playing time as a rookie in the Valley of the Sun.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jamal Murray (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Minnesota Timberwolves will likely be looking at Jamal Murray and Kris Dunn at No. 5. But with Ricky Rubio still there and Dunn being another poor-shooting ball-handler, Murray is clearly the better fit.
The only team to finish with fewer made three-pointers than Minnesota this season was the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile, the Kentucky flamethrower lit up the nets for 113 threes on 40.8 percent shooting from deep.
Murray seems like an ideal complement to Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, considering his ability to knock down jumpers off movement, screens and spot-ups. He should help stretch the floor and generate offense without needing dribbles to do so.
The 19-year-old might even work as a sixth-man shot-maker off the bench, although Zach LaVine could fill that role as well.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn (Providence, PG, Junior)
The New Orleans Pelicans could view Kris Dunn as both the top available prospect and a long-term upgrade at the point.
He may even be a contender for 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year.
The New Orleans Pelicans could add Dunn, let Eric Gordon walk in free agency and move Jrue Holiday to either shooting guard or sixth man.
The thought of Dunn running pick-and-rolls with Anthony Davis sounds flat-out scary. The Providence product is a dazzling playmaker off ball screens, penetration and transition. He also has the chance to become one of the NBA's tougher defensive point guards.
California's Jaylen Brown also deserves a look here, but Dunn's floor ultimately appears higher. He's the safer option with plenty of upside to offer.
7. Denver Nuggets (via Knicks): Jaylen Brown (California, SF, Freshman)
The Denver Nuggets could use athleticism on the wing, and Jaylen Brown makes sense for that roster. At this point in the draft, he's also the guy with the most upside.
Scouts are mixed on their assessment of Brown, according to ESPN.com's Chad Ford. He has all of the physical tools and athleticism to play on the NBA wing, but he needs to make strides on the mental side of the game and as a shooter. He was turnover-prone, and his shot selection was questionable at times during his one season at California.
The most intriguing thing is Brown's potential to fill multiple positions. He played a lot of power forward at California, and at 6'7", he could log some small-ball 4 in the NBA.
8. Sacramento Kings: Marquese Chriss (Washington, PF, Freshman)
Once the top seven are off the board, things get murky late in the lottery. It's a good opportunity for a team such as the Sacramento Kings to swing for the fences.
Marquese Chriss just may be the most athletic first-round big man. The fact his jumper also looks clean is another plus.
He's not particularly strong under the boards (5.4 per game), while his 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes highlight limited defensive IQ. But if you're the Kings, you're taking a chance on his offensive versatility coming together and his feel for the game turning around.
The Kings aren't finding a new immediate starter at any position with the No. 8 slot, anyway. Chriss is all about long-term potential and upside, but he also carries some risk as well.
9. Toronto Raptors (via Nuggets): Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga, PF, Sophomore)
Domantas Sabonis was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball and would add some scoring punch to the Toronto frontcourt.
Sabonis can play either frontcourt spot, and he helped himself a lot this past year by adding a jump shot and improving as a face-up scorer. He already was a natural in the post, where, like his father (former Portland Trail Blazers star Arvydas Sabonis), he has textbook footwork and a high basketball IQ.
The big Lithuanian is further behind on the defensive end and isn't much of a shot-blocker, but he was one of the best rebounders in college basketball. Considering his genes and college production—he averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore—it's hard to imagine Sabonis will be anything less than a solid rotation player in the league.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt, PG, Junior)
Point guard is the one spot where the Milwaukee Bucks don't seem set for the future. Michael Carter-Williams hasn't shown enough to lock up that spot, and he has just one year left on his contract to prove he's worthy. While the Bucks seem set on using Giannis Antetokounmpo as their primary ball-handler next season, per Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel, he's too versatile to only fill one role.
Wade Baldwin IV could be a fantastic backup and/or wingman to the Greek Freak. He is a boom-or-bust candidate, but of the point guards left on the board at this point, he also has the best chance of becoming a legitimate NBA starter. Plus, the Bucks typically value positional size on the perimeter, and Baldwin, who measured 6'4" with a 6'11 ¼" wingspan at the combine, fits the bill.
Baldwin had his moments at Vanderbilt where he looked like a big-time NBA prospect. He's a large, athletic guard who can shoot and is dangerous when he gets driving downhill. He is not as quick laterally, and both his defense and ability as a floor leader are question marks as well.
The Commodores barely made the NCAA tournament this past season, and with a roster that included two first-round prospects, they were one of the most disappointing teams in college basketball. That shouldn't necessarily damage Baldwin's stock in the eyes of Milwaukee, though.
11. Orlando Magic: Denzel Valentine (Michigan State, PG/SG/SF, Senior)
The Magic should be ready to compete for a playoff spot next season, and it makes sense to add a rotation player in the lottery who strengthens an area of weakness.
The biggest gap in the Orlando backcourt is three-point shooting, and Denzel Valentine is one of the top shooters in the draft. He also can play either guard spot and would fit nicely alongside Elfrid Payton or Victor Oladipo. If Evan Fournier signs elsewhere as a restricted free agent this summer, Valentine would help fill the void he leaves.
In addition to his playmaking abilities and high basketball IQ, Valentine will be a terrific addition to any team's culture. Similar to Draymond Green, he grew into one of the best leaders in college basketball while at Michigan State. He's the type who is going to embrace whatever role he's given and handle it like a veteran.
12. Utah Jazz: Jakob Poeltl (Utah, C, Sophomore)
The Jazz are in a position to take the best player available at this point in the draft. By grabbing Utah's Jakob Poeltl, this is a pick the fanbase can get behind.
Poeltl can play either frontcourt spot, and his greatest value right now is as a versatile defender. He has the quickness to guard out on the perimeter, and while he didn't put up big-time shot-blocking numbers for the Utes, he was an effective rim protector who altered a lot of shots.
The Austrian could have come out after his freshman season and likely would have been a first-round pick, but he moved into the lottery by drastically improving his back-to-the-basket game as a sophomore.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards): Henry Ellenson (Marquette, PF, Freshman)
After shipping Markieff Morris to Washington at the trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns' biggest need heading into the offseason is at power forward. So why not throw two lottery picks at the problem, especially if Henry Ellenson is still on the board?
Ellenson actually has a similar game to that of Morris, assuming he eventually becomes a more consistent outside shooter. His shooting stroke looks good, but he made only 30 of 104 threes as a freshman at Marquette.
Ellenson appears to be one of the one-and-done prospects most ready to contribute right away. His rebounding (9.7 per game) should translate, and he's one of the best passing big men in the draft. Plus, at 6'11 ½" and 242 pounds, he's big enough for a team to put him into an NBA game right now and not worry too much about him getting pushed around.
Maybe he holds down the 4 spot while Bender gets his NBA sea legs as a combo forward.
14. Chicago Bulls: Malik Beasley (Florida State, SG, Freshman)
The Chicago Bulls don't typically draft to fill specific needs, but with Malik Beasley on the board and the team lacking backcourt depth, this is a match.
Beasley just may be the most explosive 2-guard who goes in the first round. Though still a year or two away from becoming a reliable everyday contributor, he'd be able to inject some burst off the bench into Chicago's rotation.
At this stage, Beasley's game ultimately revolves around sniffing out transition opportunities and knocking down spot-up threes (38.7 percent from deep). However, he has flashed glimpses of pull-up scoring and floaters in the mid-range.
Beasley competes and should be able to defend for the Bulls sooner rather than later.
15. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Skal Labissiere (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman)
Between the draft's lack of star power and their three first-round picks, the Denver Nuggets should be looking to gamble.
Skal Labissiere may be boom-or-bust, but having already landed a top-10 prospect in Jaylen Brown, Denver can afford to roll the dice here, especially without any other obvious answers left on the board.
Though the Nuggets already have a handful of bigs, this is about collecting assets. Labissiere won't have much to offer as a rookie, anyway.
A 7-footer with bounce and sweet shooting touch, he still offers untapped long-term potential. There isn't any question that Labissiere is a major talent. If the Denver coaching staff can help him tap into his upside, the organization gets real value here in the mid-first round.
16. Boston Celtics (via Mavericks): Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey, SG/SF, 1997)
It seems unlikely the Boston Celtics add all three of their upcoming first-round picks to their 2016-17 payroll. Furkan Korkmaz does now have a $2 million buyout clause in his contract with Anadolu Efes, according Jonathan Givony of The Vertical. But the Celtics might wight want to let him develop abroad for another year, given that he's 18 years old and played just 12.1 minutes per game this past season, according to RealGM.
Behind Buddy Hield, Korkmaz just may be the next-best shooter in the draft. Seeing as the Celtics ranked No. 28 this year in three-point percentage, it makes perfect sense for them to add both Hield and Korkmaz, especially if the latter doesn't have to come over right away.
A year from now, it would be nice to bring over an athletic shot-maker who spent the year competing against grown men in the Euroleague.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Malachi Richardson (Syracuse, SG, Freshman)
This is an aggressive projection for Malachi Richardson, but scouts seem confident he's moved into the first round. Now that he's in that conversation, the rise could be on.
At the combine, Richardson met with the Memphis Grizzlies, per Syracuse.com's Mike Waters, who could use some offense and upside at the 2-guard position.
Memphis isn't likely to find someone this late in the first round who will offer much as a rookie, anyway. It might as well aim high on a raw but talented 20-year-old shooter who still has enormous room for growth.
Richardson has the chance to become a steal if he can sharpen his shot selection and mid-range game over the next few seasons. He may have some Devin Booker in him.
18. Detroit Pistons: Deyonta Davis (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)
At No. 18, there aren't any obvious immediate solutions on the board. That's fine, as the Detroit Pistons shouldn't necessarily be looking to fill a need in the starting lineup for the 2016-17 season anyway.
However, they could always use a little more depth up front, and it wouldn't hurt to have a young power forward in the developmental workshop.
Deyonta Davis needs time, but his physical tools, bounce and coordination suggest he's an eventual NBA fit. A defensive-minded big, Davis offers both rim protection and versatility to switch in pick-and-roll coverage.
And though his post game and jumper lack polish, in a worst-case scenario, he's a big who efficiently finishes around the rim, cleans the glass and defends.
19. Denver Nuggets (via Blazers): Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame, PG, Junior)
Other than Emmanuel Mudiay, Jameer Nelson is the only point guard under contract in Denver next season. (Gary Harris can spend some time at the spot but is more of a 2.)
Demetrius Jackson looks like the top ball-handler on the board and potentially a fitting complement to Mudiay, who is a playmaker with a weak jumper and high turnover rate.
Jackson isn't a flashy setup man, but he's a proven shooter who takes care of the ball. He also happens to be the most explosive leaper of any first-round guard.
I'm not sure he's a starter at the pro level, but Jackson sure looks the part of an NBA player. And the Nuggets could use another one to handle the ball off the bench.
20. Indiana Pacers: DeAndre' Bembry (Saint Joseph's, SF, Junior)
DeAndre' Bembry could be the top prospect left on the board here.
He was terrific scrimmaging at the NBA combine, particularly on Thursday, when Pacers president Larry Bird parked himself right behind the basket. Indiana could be losing Solomon Hill in free agency, and though the team lacks bigs, there aren't any standout options at No. 20.
A point-wing with tremendous passing instincts, two-point scoring ability and athleticism, Bembry offers unique versatility. Paul George may be the ideal small forward for him to develop behind early in his career.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Taurean Prince (Baylor, SF/PF, Senior)
Taurean Prince gives the Atlanta Hawks versatility on the wing and some insurance with Kent Bazemore entering free agency.
He may even give Atlanta the option of playing a small-ball 4, given his 6'8" size and 220-pound frame. Prince stretches the floor with a good-looking three-point stroke, but he's also physical enough to bang for buckets or score over his shoulder in the post.
While Bazemore may leave this summer, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Scott and Kyle Korver will be entering the final year of their deals.
Prince could have a big role in Atlanta by the start of the 2017-18 season.
22. Charlotte Hornets: Timothe Luwawu (France, SG/SF, 1995)
Nicolas Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams will each be entering free agency. Adding a wing here should be a priority for the Charlotte Hornets, especially if they need to restock.
Timothe Luwawu has some kinks to work out, but it's easy to become enamored by his athleticism and much-improved shooting stroke.
Ideally, the Hornets keep Batum and allow him to mentor the fellow Frenchman, who happens to offer similar three-and-D versatility.
Luwawu also just turned 21 years old, so he isn't a baby. And he's coming off a highly-productive year overseas, where he averaged 14.6 points, according to RealGM.
23. Boston Celtics: Cheick Diallo (Kansas, PF/C, Freshman)
Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge were sitting courtside during Cheick Diallo's monster first game at the NBA Draft Combine, where he scored 18 points and blocked four shots in a showcase of energy and activity.
The Boston Celtics don't have a player like Diallo, whose athleticism and motor translate to above-the-rim finishing, rim protection and offensive rebounds. He makes plays without needing any run to him.
He's still rough around the edges, but Boston shouldn't be expecting to land any NBA-ready contributors with its third pick of the draft.
Diallo is a long-term upside play who'll likely spend next year building his reps in the NBA Development League, following the path the Celtics used for Jordan Mickey this past year.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Dejounte Murray (Washington, PG/SG, Freshman)
Dejounte Murray's draft stock should benefit from a weak field and guard-needy teams in the 20s.
He's turnover-prone and struggles with shooting, but he also poured in 16.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. Inefficiency will be an issue early during his career, but Philadelphia's uptempo pace should suit his strengths.
Murray is at his best in the open floor, where he can change direction and slice through gaps into layups and difficult runners. He'll need to mature, but Murray is an upside player, and there aren't too many of those left late in Round 1.
Everyone currently in the Philadelphia 76ers backcourt ultimately seems expendable, so Murray is certainly worth the look.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson (North Carolina, PF, Senior)
Brice Johnson would seem like an easy fit in Lob City, given his bounce and above-the-rim presence. His role in the pros will be playing only to his strengths: energy, finishing and rebounding.
That should ultimately attract the Los Angeles Clippers, who currently list Branden Dawson as their backup power forward.
He'd go higher if he offered rim protection or shooting, but at the same time, Johnson has strong value late in the first round of a weaker draft.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyler Ulis (Kentucky, PG, Sophomore)
Nobody needs backcourt help more than the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, there aren't any showtime guards available this late.
However, Tyler Ulis is still on the board, and given the lack of stability this team has had at the point, his high IQ and leadership could hold some extra value.
Ulis ultimately projects more as a backup ball-handler, and the Sixers would ideally find a way to land a starter in free agency. But Ullis still projects as an asset with a terrific feel for managing an offense and making the necessary reads.
27. Toronto Raptors: Thon Maker (Sudan, PF, 1997)
One of the biggest draft-day questions is whether a general manager will make a first-round gamble on Thon Maker.
At the moment, I'm pegging Masai Ujiri as the man who pulls the trigger. The Toronto Raptors need help at power forward, and without any can't-miss options at No. 27, this is a good spot for Ujiri to take a chance with his second Round 1 selection.
Maker offers 7'1" size, bounce and a terrific motor. He projects as an energizer, though, not a scorer. Still, as long as he can manage to physically hold his own down low (just 225 pounds, according to DraftExpress), he should be capable of carving out a supporting NBA role.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Cavaliers): Ivica Zubac (Croatia, C, 1997)
Tyson Chandler wasn't the answer for the Phoenix Suns at center. Meanwhile, Alex Len is coming along but slowly, considering he's entering year No. 4 and has yet to average double digits in scoring.
It could be time to start developing a new anchor in the middle. Ivica Zubac, 7'1", 265 pounds, according to DraftExpress, has established himself as one of the top young bigs overseas.
Ineligibility limited him to just scrimmages the past four months after he'd moved from Cibona to Mega Leks. But he's scored at least 10 points in each of the three games since his return, according to RealGM.
Zubac is a monster with soft hands and nimble footwork. At the very least, he should be able to compete for a backup center role in the pros.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Ante Zizic (Croatia, C, 1997)
It wouldn't be the first time the San Antonio Spurs looked overseas for talent. Ante Zizic is one of the most productive international draft prospects in the field. And he possesses one of those motors that work at every level.
His calling card in the pros: hustling, running the floor and crashing the boards. He puts himself in position to pick up easy buckets.
With Tim Duncan's career nearing the end and Boban Marjanovic's awaiting the Spurs' qualifying offer, Zizic seems like a reasonable late-first target for the Spurs.
30. Golden State Warriors: Ben Bentil (Providence, PF, Sophomore)
Ben Bentil was another standout at the NBA combine after an enormous year at Providence, where Kris Dunn's star power overshadowed his 21.1 points per game.
The Golden State Warriors will likely just be going with whomever they like who falls to them at No. 30. And that could easily be Bentil, who would potentially fill a need with Marreese Speights, Harrison Barnes and James Michael McAdoo entering free agency.
The Warriors could also look overseas at Spain's Juan Hernangomez, France's Petr Cornelie, China's Zhou Qi or France's Guerschon Yabusele. But Bentil's production and fit as an inside-out stretch big could be too enticing this late in the draft.