2016 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Most Intriguing Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2016

Thon Maker is one of the 2016 draft's most intriguing names.
Thon Maker is one of the 2016 draft's most intriguing names.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The word intrigue might be the best possible way to describe the 2016 NBA draft class.

This class has it in droves, from just how great Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram can be to if Dragan Bender can fulfill the hype to what the ceiling happens to be for a guy like Thon Maker and many others.

Granted, folks will hear plenty about possible trades on the rumors market in the coming weeks. For shame, too, because building through the draft takes a backseat to free agency in the Association. 

In a way, though, this only adds to the intrigue of the event. After an updated mock draft, let's take a look at some of the most intriguing prospects to know.

2016 NBA Mock Draft

PickTeamPlayer
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)F Marquese Chriss, Washington
10.Milwaukee BucksC Thon Maker, Orangeville Prep
11.Orlando MagicPF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
12.Utah JazzF Henry Ellenson, Marquette
13.Phoenix Suns (via Washington)C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
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 Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
29.San Antonio SpursPG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
30.Golden State WarriorsC Zhou Qi, China
Author's projections

Most Intriguing Prospects

F Marquese Chriss, Washington

Marquese Chriss has more upside than most potential lottery picks.
Marquese Chriss has more upside than most potential lottery picks.Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to freshmen who had major seasons before going pro, few paid attention to Washington's Marquese Chriss compared to others.

Chriss hasn't needed long to capture the imagination of the NBA realm, though, not after averaging 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 35 percent from deep.

At 6'10" and 233 pounds, Chriss might be the freakiest athlete in the draft. It's odd, because he's already one of the best stretch forwards. The slow burn on his hype now has him looking like a lottery pick and so much more.

For example, Sports Illustrated's Andrew Sharp just marked Chriss No. 4 to the Phoenix Suns while writing the following:

He only began playing basketball five years ago, and he entered Washington as a relative unknown. When he declared, he was pegged as a mid-first round pick. Now he's being talked about in the five. He's likely the best athlete in the draft, with shooting touch out to three-point range, and all kinds of room to learn the game and grow. Does it make sense? On the one hand, this could very easily play out like another Stromile Swift situation. On the other hand, I loved Chriss as a late-lottery steal, and now, next to the rest of the lottery choices and all their questionable upside...why not roll the dice on a potential All-Star?

Chriss doesn't go that high in the above scenario, but the same reasons still have him looking like a top-10 pick.

It's Toronto at No. 9 here, in large part because the Raptors don't need much in the way of help anywhere else if they can convince DeMar DeRozn to stick around. The duo of Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson at power forward could use an upgrade, and unlike the rest of the depth chart there, Chriss has the upside of a dominant two-way starter.

Maybe the hype only continues and Chriss makes it into the top five. For now, though, he appears to have finally hit his head on a glass ceiling.

Prediction: Chriss goes ninth to Toronto.

C Thon Maker, Orangeville Prep

It doesn't get more intriguing than Thon Maker.

Originally difficult to tell if Maker would even qualify for the draft, now the Orangeville Prep prospect dominates the headlines because he's a 19-year old center already boasting a 7'1", 216-pound frame.

Size isn't the only thing, but it's the one thing coaches can't teach. And Maker needs plenty of coaching given his age, but he's already running the floor like a smaller player and shooting the ball well. Filling out his frame and seeing the court better as a passer will come with time.

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla touched on just a few of the positives around Maker:

It's not hard to see why most would suggest Maker as a lottery pick given what he could be in time. The majority of teams draft for upside, not immediate contributions, which makes Maker even more likely as a top pick.

Maker lands with the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 10 in the above scenario, slapping him on one of the most athletic rosters in the league. Already boasting Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, the Bucks only get more intimidating down the road if the young core develops well together over the years.

Call it the perfect intrigue pick for one of the league's most intriguing young teams.

Prediction: Maker goes 10th to Milwaukee.

SG Timothe Luwawu, France

When it comes to international prospects this year, few come close to the hype around Bender. 

Timothe Luwawu out of France attempted to at one point, but he's fallen a bit during the process despite being a nice situational stash pick for a forward-looking team.

Standing at 6'6" and 205 pounds, Luwawu heads to the pros with a solid deep shot and a reputation as one of the best defenders in the class.

As an ESPN.com scouting report detailed in February, these traits had Luwawu in the lottery conversation. "Luwawu's stock continues to hold pretty steady. His athleticism, length and defense are his calling cards. But his 15.5 points per game and 39 percent shooting from three-point range for Mega Leks have him in position to be a potential lottery pick."

Luwawu's stock has appeared to dip since then—in large part because there hasn't been much in the way of noise around his name—but it doesn't mean he's fallen off a cliff in the minds of NBA front offices.

In fact, such a mild path to the draft for Luwawu might be just what a team like the Boston Celtics wants. Boston isn't hurting at all in the backcourt, not with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and others holding it down, but the front office has an excess of picks and surely wouldn't mind stashing an upside player such as Luwawu.

A prospect who can help right away in a situational role but serves as the perfect stash, Luwawu is the perfect underrated pick for a Boston team looking for sustained success through the rebuilding method of its choosing.

Prediction: Luwawu goes 16th to Boston. 

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

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