Following Tuesday night's lottery, everyone at least has a fighting chance of projecting the 2016 NBA draft.
In an encouraging development for lottery opponents and anyone who already assembled a mock draft, the random selection process kept everything the same. The Philadelphia 76ers will pick first, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.
Even with the finalized order, this draft remains a challenging code to crack. Despite all the meteoric hype surrounding Ben Simmons last year, he's not the consensus top choice over Brandon Ingram. Those two are at least safe bets to play for the 76ers or Lakers in whichever order, but it's anyone's guess who the Celtics will snag next in a class without a clear third star.
Now that the lottery has decided picks No. 1-14, here's an updated mock draft and the latest outlook for top-pick candidates.
|2016 NBA Mock Draft|
|1.||Philadelphia 76ers||F Ben Simmons, LSU|
|2.||Los Angeles Lakers||SF Brandon Ingram, Duke|
|3.||Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn)||PF Dragan Bender, Croatia|
|4.||Phoenix Suns||SF Jaylen Brown, California|
|5.||Minnesota Timberwolves||SG Jamal Murray, Kentucky|
|6.||New Orleans Pelicans||SG Buddy Hield, Oklahoma|
|7.||Denver Nuggets (via New York)||PF Henry Ellenson, Marquette|
|8.||Sacramento Kings||PG Kris Dunn, Providence|
|9.||Toronto Raptors (via Denver)||C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky|
|10.||Milwaukee Bucks||C Jakob Poeltl, Utah|
|11.||Orlando Magic||PF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State|
|12.||Utah Jazz||PG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame|
|13.||Phoenix Suns (via Washington)||SG Timothe Luwawu, France|
|14.||Chicago Bulls||F Marquese Chriss, Washington|
|15.||Denver Nuggets (via Houston)||SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey|
|16.||Boston Celtics (via Dallas)||SG Denzel Valentine, Michigan State|
|17.||Memphis Grizzlies||PG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt|
|18.||Detroit Pistons||G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky|
|19.||Denver Nuggets (via Portland)||F Taurean Prince, Baylor|
|20.||Indiana Pacers||PF Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga|
|21.||Atlanta Hawks||C Diamond Stone, Maryland|
|22.||Charlotte Hornets||C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt|
|23.||Boston Celtics||C Ante Zizic, Cibona Zagreb|
|24.||Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami)||SG Malik Beasley, Florida State|
|25.||Los Angeles Clippers||PF Brice Johnson, North Carolina|
|26.||Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)||G Caris LeVert, Michigan|
|27.||Toronto Raptors||PG Melo Trimble, Maryland|
|28.||Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland)||SG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia|
|29.||San Antonio Spurs||F Juan Hernangomez, Spain|
|30.||Golden State Warriors||C Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV|
Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
Barring a substantial surprise, Ingram will now play in Philadelphia or Los Angeles this fall. Not perceived as a lottery pick when he entered Duke, he rose up draft boards by scoring at least 20 points in all three NCAA tournament games.
The 6'9" prospect registered 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game with a 55.2 true shooting percentage as a freshman. His lanky frame might have hindered his stock more in previous years, but scouts are now enamored by the 18-year-old's shooting stroke and 7'3" wingspan, per DraftExpress.
While Simmons checks off nearly every box, his questionable shooting range keeps Ingram in the No. 1 pick running. Per SI.com's Luke Winn, an anonymous NBA front office member described the Duke forward's perfect assortment of traits for the NBA's evolving style:
He's what teams are looking for right now, from a standpoint of how the game is becoming more position-less and focused on versatile skill sets. You can see it in the playoffs right now: Teams are cross-matching defensively, and the record for threes in a playoff game gets broken [by the Cleveland Cavaliers]. ... Ingram walks in the door with that combination of wingspan, shooting and ballhandling, so until the [NBA] trend shifts to something else, there's not going to be an issue with him fitting in.
Even if Ingram never lives up to the No. 1 or 2 billing, he'll become an important role player somewhere. That makes him better suited to avoid top billing over Simmons, who conversely carries a superstar ceiling.
The 76ers have spent years bottomed out with the main objective of drafting a superstar. Although Sam Hinkie no longer runs the organization, they should keep trusting the process and gamble on Simmons becoming that high-level phenom.
The Lakers—who would have surrendered their pick to the 76ers if it fell outside the top three—will have the draft's easiest decision. They should happily take whoever remains between Simmons and Ingram. New head coach Luke Walton will modernize an offense that was stuck in the stone ages under Byron Scott, and Ingram is the perfect perimeter player to engineer their adjustment.
Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
Buddy Hield didn't need to fret the lottery results too much. What NBA team can't use a ready-to-go scorer?
In his senior season with the Oklahoma Sooners, the shooting guard blossomed into college basketball's most buzz-worthy star. He produced 25.0 points per game with an NCAA-high 147 three-pointers made. Despite attempting 16.2 shots per contest, his 66.4 true shooting percentage ranked No. 17 in the nation.
This just in: shooting is a desirable trait. He's not the next Stephen Curry, but there's always room for someone who can create and make his own shots. As reported by ESPN.com's Chad Ford before the lottery, the Celtics are "tempted" by Hield and Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac "is absolutely in love" with him.
If true, Divac's affinity gives Hield a safety net at No. 8, but the Sooners star will likely avoid the tumultuous organization unless Sacramento trades up. At No. 3, Boston could instead take a younger shooter in Kentucky's Jamal Murray, but Croatian big man Dragan Bender makes even more sense for the undersized club.
Both in need of outside shooting, the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans make sense at No. 5 and 6, respectively. The 19-year-old Murray gets the slight edge into the top five, leaving the Pelicans a much-needed immediate upgrade to complement Anthony Davis.
Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
Kris Dunn also stayed in school for four years, but he didn't enjoy the same senior-season improvements as Hield. During his final year, the Providence point guard saw his shooting efficiency dip from his junior campaign while dishing out 1.3 fewer assists per contest.
However, there's no reason to sound the sirens, as he still averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 dimes, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. He'll also benefit from a weak draft class where he reigns supreme as the clear-cut top point guard. That status makes him an easy top-10 choice and potential top-five candidate.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman placed the 22-year-old among a "limited category of sure-thing options," labeling him a premier 2017 Rookie of the Year candidate. However, he also cautioned against Dunn's shaky shooting and decision-making.
Who will bite on the offensive playmaker and defensive menace? Even though the Celtics already have Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and 2015 first-round selection Terry Rozier, ESPN's Fran Fraschilla still sees them making room for another point guard:
By Fraschilla's evaluation, Dunn slipped far in this mock draft. That's why the Sacramento Kings will grab him at No. 8.
Multiple guys can make a case for going No. 3. Dunn just happens to fall to the bottom of a closely contested tier. He could go anywhere from No. 3-8, but the Timberwolves are his most realistic ticket into the top five.
Note: All advanced stats obtained from Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.