Written by Kevin O’Connor at SB Nation.com
There’s only one day to go before Adam Silver announces Ben Simmons as the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. What will follow is a tidal wave of hype from each team’s fan base proclaiming their team’s draft pick as the league’s next superstar (or the next draft bust).
But here’s a lesson from last year’s draft: Don’t overreact, or one year from now you’ll risk looking like the Knicks fans who booed Kristaps Porzingis.
That goes for this mock, too. It’s just a mock and not the final results from Thursday night. Trades will be made, so the order will change, rendering most projections useless. That’s just the truth.
But it is fun to speculate, isn’t it? This mock does at least represent the range where players could go, and some potential landing spots if the draft order stays relatively steady.
If you’re looking for more information on every player available Thursday night, please check out my draft guide. It has 160 pages with 100 full-page scouting reports of my own analysis, with team-by-team previews, multiple mock drafts, articles and much more. Brian Scalabrine uses it, and so should you.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, F, LSU
It won’t be easy for the Sixers to integrate Simmons, but with the right moves it could work in a beautiful way. Simmons-Embiid pick-and-rolls could someday give nightmares to the rest of the NBA.
2. L.A. Lakers – Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
The Lakers reportedly would’ve targeted Ingram had they landed the first pick. Who knows if that’s actually true, but Ingram does fit in with the current construction of their roster. His ability to space the floor could help offset the rest of the team’s shooting issues.
3. Boston Celtics – Jaylen Brown, F, California
Brown almost has it all. He’s a tremendous athlete who enters the league ready to be a versatile defender and he’s a good ball handler who can both bully or finesse his way to the rim. But he needs to improve his jumper and his decision making to elevate his game to the next level.
4. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
Chriss’ upside is off the charts, just like his versatility. He looks like he’s bouncing off a trampoline when he jumps. At 6’9, he can also space the floor. He might actually remind Suns fans a little bit of Amar’e Stoudemire.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Dragan Bender, F, Croatia
A front court of Karl-Anthony Towns and Bender could be one of the most deadly and versatile in the NBA. Bender’s ability as a 7-footer to switch on defense, protect the rim, pass, handle and shoot is ridiculous. He’s a safe pick with the upside to be special if he’s utilized correctly. The Timberwolves might be the most feared team in the league if they nail this pick.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
Anthony Davis needs a point guard like Dunn, who can create off the dribble with ease and serve as a go-to scorer at the end of shot clocks. Plus, he defends well and is a high-character person.
7. Denver Nuggets – Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
This is an odd spot for the Nuggets. They don’t exactly need a guard, but Murray is arguably the best player available at this spot. And you should never draft for need in the NBA. He could actually be a solid fit next to Emmanuel Mudiay, who could highlight Murray’s shooting while hiding his defense.
8. Sacramento Kings – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
DeMarcus Cousins is the best player on the Kings, but they need a face-of-the-franchise personality, an ambassador, and that’s what Hield can provide. Oh, and he’s also a ridiculously skilled shooter, so that’s a nice bonus too.
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