Now that the 2015-16 NBA season is over, it’s time to focus on the offseason, specifically the rookie draft coming up Thursday.
The event, like always, will bring plenty of entertainment. It’s not a terribly deep crop of prospects this year, but there are definitely enough future rotation players about which to get excited. Some teams may even make franchise-altering trades, as well.
Let’s evaluate who each team will select in the first round. Then, we’ll unpack some of the projected fits in the late lottery.
|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 Buddy Hield, Oklahoma|
|6||New Orleans Pelicans||PG Kris Dunn, Providence|
|7||Denver Nuggets (via New York)||PG/SG Jamal Murray, Kentucky|
|8||Sacramento Kings||F Marquese Chriss, Washington|
|9||Toronto Raptors (via Denver)||PF/C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky|
|10||Milwaukee Bucks||C Jakob Poeltl, Utah|
|11||Orlando Magic||SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey|
|12||Utah Jazz||G/F Timothe Luwawu, France|
|13||Phoenix Suns (via Washington)||PF/C Deyonta Davis, Michigan State|
|14||Chicago Bulls||G Malik Beasley, Florida State|
|15||Denver Nuggets (via Houston)||F Henry Ellenson, Marquette|
|16||Boston Celtics (via Dallas)||SG/SF Denzel Valentine, Michigan State|
|17||Memphis Grizzlies||G Dejounte Murray, Washington|
|18||Detroit Pistons||PG Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame|
|19||Denver Nuggets (via Portland)||F Taurean Prince, Baylor|
|20||Indiana Pacers||F Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga|
|21||Atlanta Hawks||PF/C Cheick Diallo, Kansas|
|22||Charlotte Hornets||PF/C Thon Maker, Australia|
|23||Boston Celtics||G Caris LeVert, Michigan|
|24||Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami)||PG Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt|
|25||Los Angeles Clippers||PF Brice Johnson, North Carolina|
|26||Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)||G Malachi Richardson, Syracuse|
|27||Toronto Raptors||SG/SF DeAndre' Bembry, St. Joseph's|
|28||Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland)||C Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV|
|29||San Antonio Spurs||C Ante Zizic, Croatia|
|30||Golden State Warriors||SG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia|
|Mock draft predictions belong to author|
Predictions for Late-Lottery Talents
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
On paper, Milwaukee's biggest need is at point guard. Michael Carter-Williams just isn’t the long-term answer there for the team, with his lack of shooting and high-turnover play. However, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd recently announced that Giannis Antetokounmpo will be taking over as the full-time 1 next season, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, via ESPN.com.
The Bucks don’t have any glaring holes on their roster. Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe is a strong four-player core on which to build.
Milwaukee will have to go with the best prospect available here, and that’s Utah’s Jakob Poeltl. Sure, he and Monroe both play center, but Monroe’s game may not be the best long-term fit next to his young, springy teammates.
Poeltl, unlike Monroe, is great at running the floor in transition, and also seems to care more and impact the game more on defense. His mid-range jumper has shown potential and he also projects as a slightly lower-maintenance player on offense that would fit better with the Bucks’ budding young studs.
This pick by Milwaukee to go with the best available player should set up the Bucks for a trade of Monroe.
11. Orlando Magic: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
The Magic may have the fewest needs of any non-playoff team. They have young talent at all the positions, including Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.
One thing they do need is shooting, particularly floor spacing. The squad ranked 23rd in made three-pointers per game last season and was a respectable 15th in accuracy, but opponents often packed the paint and dared most of their players to shoot from distance. Orlando has plenty of athletic penetrators, but the offense struggled frequently because of that lack of spacing.
That’s why Furkan Korkmaz could fit pretty well with the team. The 18-year-old swingman claims he is 203 centimeters (6’8”) without shoes and still growing, per The Vertical’s Jonathan Givony, and he possesses a sweet shooting stroke. If the team isn’t able to keep Fournier in restricted free agency, he could end up being his long-term replacement at shooting guard, possibly next to 2015 lottery pick Hezonja.
Korkmaz desperately needs to add weight to his 180-pound frame, but Orlando has enough capable defensive players around him to hide him, if necessary.
13. Phoenix Suns: Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State
The Suns do not need a guard. With Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker taking the majority of minutes there, it’s obvious the team needs to look at the other three positions in the draft.
With those three guys also doing the heavy lifting on offense, the smart pick for Phoenix is a defensive-minded forward or center to help improve upon the third-most points it allowed per game last year. Enter Deyonta Davis.
The 6’11”, 237-pound Michigan State freshman’s main draw as a prospect is his ability to protect the rim. He’s also more than capable of sprinting down the floor for easy transition buckets, which should fit the Suns’ perennially high-octane offense.
There’s potentially a problem with Davis’ fit next to Alex Len long-term, as both play more like centers, but Davis has shown the ability to occasionally hit mid-range jumpers. That speaks well toward his ability to play power forward next to Len at center in the future.