NBA Mock Draft 2016: 1st-Round Predictions and Wild-Card Prospects to Watch

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2016

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 09:  Skal Labissiere #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats defends the shot of Charles Mann #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on February 9, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the 2016 NBA draft inches closer, the first-round picture is starting to become clear. After the combine and individual workouts, most players have separated themselves into tiers, and we have a rough idea of where they'll fall on draft day. 

But there are wild cards in every draft class. Players who generate a wide range of opinions due to various factors can throw a wrench into a draft by coming off the board far earlier than expected, or falling further than anticipated on draft day. 

Here's a look at a few wild-card prospects who could shake up the first round, along with a full first-round projection.

NBA Mock Draft
1.Philadelphia 76ersBen SimmonsFLSU
2.Los Angeles LakersBrandon IngramFDuke
3.Boston Celtics (via BKN)Jamal MurrayGKentucky
4.Phoenix SunsDragan BenderF/CCroatia
5.Minnesota TimberwolvesMarquese ChrissFWashington
6.New Orleans PelicansKris DunnPGProvidence
7.Denver Nuggets (via NYK)Jaylen BrownFCalifornia
8.Sacramento KingsBuddy HieldGOklahoma
9.Toronto Raptors (via DEN)Jakob PoeltlCUtah
10.Milwaukee BucksHenry EllensonF/CMarquette
11.Orlando MagicDeyonta DavisF/CMichigan State
12.Utah JazzSkal LabissiereF/CKentucky
13.Phoenix Suns (via WAS)Taurean PrinceG/FBaylor
14.Chicago BullsWade Baldwin IVGVanderbilt
15.Denver Nuggets (via HOU)Furkan KorkmazG/FTurkey
16.Boston Celtics (via DAL)Domantas SabonisFGonzaga
17.Memphis GrizzliesDejounte MurrayGWashington
18.Detroit PistonsDenzel ValentineG/FMichigan State
19.Denver Nuggets (via POR)Ivica ZubacCCroatia
20.Indiana PacersTimothe LuwawuG/FFrance
21.Atlanta HawksDamian JonesCVanderbilt
22.Charlotte HornetsBrice JohnsonFNorth Carolina
23.Boston CelticsAnte ZizicCCroatia
24.Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA)Malik BeasleyGFlorida State
25.Los Angeles ClippersMalachi RichardsonGSyracuse
26.Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC)Demetrius JacksonGNotre Dame
27.Toronto RaptorsCheick DialloFKansas
28.Phoenix Suns (via CLE)Thon MakerCAustralia
29.San Antonio SpursTyler UlisPGKentucky
30.Golden State WarriorsBen BentilPFProvidence

Dejounte Murray, G, Washington

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

ESPN.com's Chad Ford recently reported that Washington freshman Dejounte Murray had established himself as the third-best point guard in this draft class. But opinions on where Murray will fall in the draft still vary greatly. 

The 6'5" Murray has impressive size for the position, but his lack of an outside shot may concern teams given the direction NBA offenses are going in this era of basketball. 

Murray took 3.5 three-point shots per game at Washington, but shot a woeful 28.8 percent. 

While Murray may have the overall skill set teams covet at point guard, he is a work in progress. It may be difficult for a team selecting near the top of the draft to bring him aboard unless it has another point guard capable of playing big minutes to allow the coaching staff to ease Murray into the NBA game. 

If the Memphis Grizzlies are able to re-sign Mike Conley, Murray could be an ideal target for them in the first round to groom behind the veteran point guard. 

Thon Maker, C, Australia

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Thon Maker is most well-known for being the first player to jump straight to the pros from high school since the league adjusted their rules to require players to be one year removed from high school.

Maker, who attended high school in Canada, technically completed his high school graduation requirements in 2015, which forced the NBA to allow him into the draft despite the fact that he remained in school taking elective classes this past school year. 

As should be expected of a high school prospect, Maker is one of the most raw athletes in this draft class. But his combination of height and athleticism is enticing, and it could force a team to reach based on his upside. 

In his latest mock draft, Ford even suggested that Maker could be in consideration as high as No. 10 overall. 

Maker could interest one of the teams with multiple first-round picks such as the Phoenix Suns. There would be minimal pressure to play Maker immediately on a young roster like the Suns. 

Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky

Dec 3, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Skal Labissiere (1) blocks the shot of UCLA Bruins guard Aaron Holiday (3) during the first half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Height is always a wild card in the NBA draft, especially when combined with athleticism. 

With his smooth athleticism and 7'2 ½" wingspan, it's easy to imagine Kentucky's Skal Labissiere playing an Anthony Davis-like role in the future. However, his slight frame may limit his ability to make an impact immediately. 

Despite measuring 6'10 ½" at the NBA combine, Labissiere weighed in at just 216 pounds. If asked to play in the post next season, Labissiere will get tossed around, even by lesser talents. 

A team with some proven big men already in place—such as the Utah Jazz—may be the best fit for a developing player like Labissiere to transition into the NBA game. 


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