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 76ers||Ben Simmons||F||LSU|
|2.||Los Angeles Lakers||Brandon Ingram||F||Duke|
|3.||Boston Celtics (via BKN)||Jamal Murray||G||Kentucky|
|4.||Phoenix Suns||Dragan Bender||F/C||Croatia|
|5.||Minnesota Timberwolves||Marquese Chriss||F||Washington|
|6.||New Orleans Pelicans||Kris Dunn||PG||Providence|
|7.||Denver Nuggets (via NYK)||Jaylen Brown||F||California|
|8.||Sacramento Kings||Buddy Hield||G||Oklahoma|
|9.||Toronto Raptors (via DEN)||Jakob Poeltl||C||Utah|
|10.||Milwaukee Bucks||Henry Ellenson||F/C||Marquette|
|11.||Orlando Magic||Deyonta Davis||F/C||Michigan State|
|12.||Utah Jazz||Skal Labissiere||F/C||Kentucky|
|13.||Phoenix Suns (via WAS)||Taurean Prince||G/F||Baylor|
|14.||Chicago Bulls||Wade Baldwin IV||G||Vanderbilt|
|15.||Denver Nuggets (via HOU)||Furkan Korkmaz||G/F||Turkey|
|16.||Boston Celtics (via DAL)||Domantas Sabonis||F||Gonzaga|
|17.||Memphis Grizzlies||Dejounte Murray||G||Washington|
|18.||Detroit Pistons||Denzel Valentine||G/F||Michigan State|
|19.||Denver Nuggets (via POR)||Ivica Zubac||C||Croatia|
|20.||Indiana Pacers||Timothe Luwawu||G/F||France|
|21.||Atlanta Hawks||Damian Jones||C||Vanderbilt|
|22.||Charlotte Hornets||Brice Johnson||F||North Carolina|
|23.||Boston Celtics||Ante Zizic||C||Croatia|
|24.||Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA)||Malik Beasley||G||Florida State|
|25.||Los Angeles Clippers||Malachi Richardson||G||Syracuse|
|26.||Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC)||Demetrius Jackson||G||Notre Dame|
|27.||Toronto Raptors||Cheick Diallo||F||Kansas|
|28.||Phoenix Suns (via CLE)||Thon Maker||C||Australia|
|29.||San Antonio Spurs||Tyler Ulis||PG||Kentucky|
|30.||Golden State Warriors||Ben Bentil||PF||Providence|
Dejounte Murray, G, Washington
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
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
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.