NBA Mock Draft 2016: 1st-Round Predictions, Breakdown of Top Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2016

Ben Simmons is the top prospect in a deep 2016 class.
Ben Simmons is the top prospect in a deep 2016 class.Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It seems each year folks get to hear about how deep an NBA draft class is.

This is obviously the case with the 2016 class as well, the one with Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons as the headline acts and random upside monsters such as Thon Maker and Deyonta Davis throughout.

But this class—on paper—does look deeper than most. The NBA is beginning to see its ripple effect of influence come back to it, meaning more versatile players at every position. No top guard finds himself limited to just one role, and no center is merely a guy with shot-blocking skills who can't shoot.

It's a deep, deep class starting right at the top, so let's target the area after an updated mock.

2016 NBA Mock Draft

1.Philadelphia 76ersF Ben Simmons, LSU
2.Los Angeles LakersSF Brandon Ingram, Duke
3.Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn)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 New York)C Jakob Poeltl, Utah
8.Sacramento KingsPG Kris Dunn, Providence
9.Toronto Raptors (via Denver)PF 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 Washington)C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
14.Chicago BullsG Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
15.Denver Nuggets (via Houston)SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
16.Boston Celtics (via Dallas)SG Timothe Luwawu, France
17.Memphis GrizzliesPG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
18.Detroit PistonsSG Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
19.Denver Nuggets (via Portland)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 Miami)G Malik Beasley, Florida State
25.Los Angeles ClippersC Cheick Diallo, Kansas
26.Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
27.Toronto RaptorsF Taurean Prince, Baylor
28.Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland)C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
29.San Antonio SpursPG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
30.Golden State WarriorsC Zhou Qi, China
Author's projections

Breakdown of Top Prospects

The top belongs to Simmons and Ingram without any doubt whatsoever, which is why teams that missed out on the top two slots such as the Boston Celtics seem like such unpredictable elements now.

Folks should know all about Ingram, the Duke freshman who poured in averages of 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep. He's only limited by fit at the next level, which isn't a knock at all because he can shoot from anywhere on the floor.

It's Simmons who actually gets more of a knock in this area. He went for a slash line of 19.2/11.8/4.8 in his lone year at LSU, but his ranged shooting leaves something for him to work on after only shooting 33 percent from deep.

As Complex's Max Rappaport points out, though, Simmons wins in a big way when it comes to upside: 

max @MaxOnTwitter

Not saying Ben Simmons is at all the prospect LeBron was (pls dont @ me) but is it fair to say he's as good if not > a playmaker as '03 LBJ?

Speaking of upside, the guy those aforementioned Celtics grab with the third pick might have the biggest potential of all.

The name Dragan Bender could be a household moniker before long. A star overseas, Bender will remind many of New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis because he's 7'1" and 216 pounds with one of the best shots in the entire draft.

On the topic of upside, though, one can't fail to mention Jaylen Brown out of California. The owner of a 14.6/5.4/2.0 slash line, the NBA will find it hard not to fall in love with what he could be given his explosive ability to slash with a pro-ready frame at 6'7" and 223 pounds.

Even better, it sounds like he's been improving on weak areas during the predraft process, according to ESPN.com's Marc J. Spears:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

Jaylen Brown was in "great shape" & "super explosive" doing "Dame workout" for MIL, TOR & PHI today, shot ball better than expected, source.

Teams have plenty of options in the other direction, though, thanks to prospects such as Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Kentucky's Jamal Murray.

Hield might be the most pro-ready player in the class after averaging 25 points per game with the Sooners and becoming a household name while ripping through the NCAA tournament. The knock, though, is he put in four years at the college level and won't blossom much past what he already has.

Such a status is dynamite for a team that considers itself a contender, though, which is why Murray falls into the same category. Murray only played one year with the Wildcats, but he averaged 20 points and 5.2 rebounds while doing literally everything great. The only knock is size (6'5", 207 lbs), which limits the amount of perceived upside.

The one thing every prospect mentioned so far touts in droves? Versatility.

It's the same story for Providence guard Kris Dunn, who goes to the Sacramento Kings in the above mock as something of a pro-ready Rajon Rondo replacement, should the veteran leave.

A four-year player with the Friars, Dunn hit on a wicked 16.4/5.3/6.2 slash line last year. He'll struggle at times with his jumper, a la Rondo, but is arguably the best two-way player in the class, as The Vertical's Mike Schmitz pointed out:

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

Safe to say Kris Dunn is one of, if not the best, on ball defenders in the draft. Super impressive in person vs other NBA players.

One cannot mention the top prospects in the class without highlighting Marquette's Henry Ellenson.

An elite offensive force underneath the basket, Ellenson doesn't get the attention he deserves compared to the other names. 

How's this sound? Ellenson comes in at 7'0" and 242 pounds and averaged 17 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 29 percent from deep over the course of his freshman year with the Golden Eagles

Ellenson is probably the best example of just how deep this class is and the versatility alongside it. 

The NBA continues to evolve and has shaped this class to what it is. Now the class has arrived and is ready to give back, so fans of every team need to go into the draft armed to the teeth with the essentials.

Rest assured each team is well on the way to such a status.

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

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.