Now that we have the official list of players in the draft, we gathered a group of writers and did a mock draft. The picks were randomly assigned to writers and they were put in the GM’s chair for a few minutes.
1.Philadelphia 76ers-Ben Simmons
Sam Hinkie signed on as the general manager of the Sixers on May 14th, 2013. Roughly two months into his tenure, he dealt the Sixers’s lone All-Star, Jrue Holiday, on draft night, for the rights to Nerlens Noel, and a future first round pick (Elfrid Payton, traded for Dario Saric). This was the beginning of what is now known as the “Tanking Era.” Players and picks were viewed as assets, therefore making everyone expendable. The goal was to collect as many assets as possible, then develop the existing assets or move them to accumulate high-level talent. This demanded seemingly perpetual losing to maximize the potential of acquiring the top pick in the draft, a possible franchise-changing asset. Though Hinkie was scrutinized for his strategy, and eventually run out of town, his questionable moves finally netted Sixers brass a top draft selection. Three years of hardship and shameful losses later, the Sixers finally have the opportunity to bring in a possible franchise-changer, Ben Simmons.
Simmons has the handles and speed of a point guard, the striking ability and athleticism of a small forward, post moves and the size of a power forward. His basketball IQ and ability to create for his teammates are second-to-none. Though LSU severely underperformed this season, the 19-year-old player out of Australia put on a clinic nearly every night throughout the season, proving he’s been worthy of the numerous years of praise he’s received leading up to the draft. Many wonder whether he will ever develop a jumper, due to only three attempted 3-pointers on the CBB season. Concerns of his willingness to shoot from deep are legitimate, but his fluid stroke and ability to strike to the basket suggest he will find success in the NBA from long-range when bigger defenders force him to attempt more looks from outside. -Adam Gross
Pro Comparison: Lamar Odom/Draymond Green
2. Los Angeles Lakers-Brandon Ingram
The Lakers have, quite possibly, the easiest pick in the past few drafts at the #2 slot. With the consensus being that there is quite a drop after the first two prospects, it is widely expected that the Lakers will end up with Ingram, assuming the Sixers take Simmons. That is not a bad consolation prize, and I think Ingram has a chance to be a real star in a league where players of his style and build (Paul George, Kevin Durant, etc.) are really excelling.
Ingram was one of the better pure scorers in college basketball last year, averaging 17.3 PPG while shooting 41% from beyond the arc. He constantly impressed me with his ability to not only get his own shot but to hit tough shots over defenders. His length is very impressive, and it gives him the potential to become a solid defender in the NBA as well. He also is a solid rebounder, averaging almost seven per game at Duke.
There are some things that give me reservations about Ingram. It has been said over and over again, but 196 pounds isn’t going to get it done in the beast that is the NBA. If he doesn’t put on muscle, he could struggle going against grown men. Also, Ingram needs to get better at making those better around him. He only averaged 2.0 assists per game last year despite the amount of attention he attracted from double teams. He needs to avoid becoming a “black hole” in the NBA and focus on being more than just a scorer.
Overall, the Lakers will have very little discussion involving their #2 overall pick. They will pick Simmons or Ingram, and I believe either one will vastly improve a roster that is devoid of talent and desperately needs a new star entering into the post Kobe Bryant era.-Zach Beeler
Pro Comparison: Kevin Durant
3. Boston Celtics- Jaylen Brown
I think that this is one of the most interesting selections in the entire draft. The Boston Celtics have accumulated a ton of picks over the last few years, and even though they were one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this past season, they have the third pick in this year’s draft thanks to the blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets from a few years ago. With one of the best young coaches in the entire league in Brad Stevens, the Boston Celtics have a fantastic foundation to build upon to launch an assault on the upper echelon of the Association.
The Celtics have plenty of roster flexibility, but they do not have what someone would call a bonafide superstar to rely upon. What this pick came down to for me was the “unknown” of Dragan Bender versus the “known” of a player like Jaylen Brown. Keeping that in mind, I thought that Brown is the better fit for the Celtics as they look to take the next step as a franchise.
Jaylen Brown is still extremely young, he doesn’t turn 20 until October 24th, and still has plenty of room to develop. Brown already goes strong to the hoop, drawing an average of 7 fouls every 40 minutes (Thanks to Ken Pomeroy at kenpom.com for that and other stats). The problem is that he only shot 65% from the Free Throw Line and 29% from 3 Point Land. He also turns the ball over at a higher rate than he assists, which concerning considering he used 31% of Cal’s possessions this past year. Even with these questions, I think that Brown’s foundation makes him one of the most exciting prospects in the entire draft. -Duncan Hensley
Pro Comparison: Jimmy Butler
4. Phoenix Suns- Dragan Bender
The Phoenix Suns are an absolute mess. There is a reason the Suns have the number 4 pick this year. Two years ago they tried to build a killer trio with Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe, and Goran Dragic. Bledsoe is the only one remaining on the roster as that combination only produced one playoff berth. Last season Phoenix struggled at basically every position as Bledsoe struggled to get any help.
Phoenix nailed their first round pick last year selected shooting guard Devin Booker. Booker and Bledsoe make up a deadly backcourt to build on. In the frontcourt, the Suns have been a trainwreck. Alex Len has been slowed by injuries and has not developed into the dominate force everyone expected. After trading both of the Morris twins, the Suns will look to begin a new chapter at the power forward by drafting Bender. They do not have a power forward under contract next year so Bender was the clear option.
Dragan Bender is a mystery man from Croatia. He hopes to replicate the meteoric rise and popularity that fellow European Kristaps Porzingis had his rookie year. Bender is a fantastic mix of size and skill. His jump shot is very good and can stretch out to three point range. He is very versatile in the way that he can score. He needs to continue to get stronger to compete with NBA big men. The main difference between Kristaps and Dragan is that Dragan will me more of a force off the dribble. Porzingis has a more developed post game but Dragan has a better handle of the ball and can be utilized as a slasher and driver. –Brad Kreppel
Pro Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
5. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jamal Murray
When I was picked to be the GM of the Timberwolves for this pick I was extremely excited. The Timberwolves are just a few years away from being a serious contender in this league. The Wolves have great young core with two building blocks in Karl Towns and Andrew Wiggins and the human pogo stick in Zach Lavine. The one missing ingredient to this team is a lethal shooter from deep.
I drafted Jamal Murray from Kentucky because he is an amazing playmaker and scorer. Murray was the nation’s leading scorer for a player under the age of 20. He started the whole year as an 18 year old so he has plenty of time to develop. Murray can become a top guard in the league with his combination of driving ability and deadly shooting. He shot 41% from deep in his only season at Kentucky. I fully expect Ricky Rubio to be on the trade market as the Timberwolves will look to open up some opportunities for Murray to grow and develop. The T-Wolves have great bigs and great slashers but no one to really spread the court. Murray will spread the floor and open up more space in the paint for everyone. If Jamal Murray can improve his consistency and his distributing the Timberwolves will be a deadly team in 2 years. –Chris Garcia
Pro Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
6. New Orleans Pelicans- Kris Dunn
The Pelicans definitely have a good group of guards on their roster as of now. Eric Gordon is an upcoming free agent, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans both only have one year left on their deals with New Orleans, the Pelicans could use this pick to get a younger guy, that wouldn’t require as much money. We could compare Kris to Devin Harris by his build and athletic ability.
Kris is a point guard with great size and speed. His speed allows him to get past defenders, and get to the basket with ease. This first step helps him excel in a pull up jumper and drawing in defenders to dish it off. As a junior at Providence he lead the nation in assists for a majority of the season, proving he can create shots for teammates and give them the ball when they are open. He has ideal size when it comes to a NBA point guard that runs and jumps well. His great jumping ability allows him to make contested shots at the rim. His 2.8 steals per game, which was 4th in the nation, shows his improvement on the defensive end over the past few years.
Some things that do drawback on Dunn’s draft stock is his turnover numbers, and inability to stay healthy for long periods of time. He sometimes will get out of control on his drives to the basket and turn the ball. His passing off the pick and roll is sub par, which leads to some TOs. This is especially important in the NBA since the pick and roll is so popular. His first two years of college he only played 29 games, so his health in the NBA is worrisome.
Despite turnovers, and health issues this would be a great pick that would contribute right away. His size and shooting will help him as he enters the league and is still feeling it out. He is a scorer, but compliments that this great passing as well. For a team that doesn’t know what their star guards will do the next two years, Dunn would be a safe pick to fill in a spot if one of them do choose to leave NOLA. -Gibson Archer
Pro Comparison: Rajon Rondo
7. Denver Nuggets- Buddy Hield
The Denver Nuggets have one of the most intriguing situations in all of basketball. They have a few players who they feel could really develop into stars led by Nikola Jokic. But they also have players who have fully reached their potential, like Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. With a case like this, it’s tough to choose whether to look to the future or try to win now. I believe they should and will go with the latter.
The Denver Nuggets need to move some pieces to prepare for the future and that begins with moving Faried and Gallinari. That’s where Buddy Hield slides right in. With a player like Hield, he’s a great perimeter defender but he can also shoot the lights out when he’s really feeling it. He also has all the intangibles needed to get to the rim and be a solid starter in the NBA. Hield fits in perfectly with the new prototypical “three and D” type wing player. Look for him to be able to make an impact quick as his 4 years of experience will go a long way. -Matthew Ferreira
Pro Comparison: Khris Middleton and Wesley Matthews
8. Sacramento Kings – Marquese Chriss
Marquese Chriss is an athletic big that has the ability to become a solid modern stretch four with the Kings. Chriss is good at using his athletic ability to get open, has shown promise in catch and shoot situations and with his size and quick reflexes makes nice looks in face-up isolations.
He is an exciting young prospect that can become a long term solution at the four position for the Kings. As he fills into his body, he will become a weapon alongside both Willie Cauley-Stein and DeMarcus Cousins (if Cousins continues to develop his passing skills). If the Kings want to put a stretch four into their system next year, they will have to look to free agency but if the Kings are willing to be patient, Chriss is a long term solution that could become a great fit.
Chriss is also a native Californian who has expressed interest in playing for a team so close to home, and playing for the Kings would also give Chriss the chance to play alongside his favorite NBA player, Rudy Gay. -Cole Bollinger
Pro Comparison: Amar’e Stoudemire
9. Toronto Raptors- Deyonta Davis
Coming off an appearance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors have the talent to build around to continue into next season. It gives them the option to take a little bit of a risk with a player that has a lot of potential. Deyonta Davis is raw offensively, but has the capability to become a high level defender at the NBA level with his 6′ 9” 240 pound frame along with a 7’2” wingspan.
Adding more post depth is just what the Raptors need to go along with one of the top backcourts in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Davis could have the capability to play alongside Jonas Valanciunas in a role he would not be expected to score a lot right away. With the build and athleticism of Davis the Raptors could be adding a huge piece to a team that aims at reaching the NBA Finals next year.-Sam Boger
Pro Comparison: Bismack Biyombo
10. Milwaukee Bucks- Domantas Sabonis
The Bucks do have decent forwards on the team such as Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and possibly Kris Middleton (if they decide to put him there), but with the 9th pick this year, they should go for some insurance for a big man and take the best player available: Domantas Sabonis.
At 6-10, 240 pounds, he can give the Bucks size but also versatility. He has an excellent post game and that can help spread the floor as well. Adding Sabonis with guys like Parker, Middleton, and Carter-Williams can really make the bucks a dangerous shooting team with a young core. Not only that but with the versatility of their players, they can be a threat to the Cavs in the east as soon as this year with this pick.
Taking Sabonis could make the Bucks like the Warriors: a team that can win with shooting as well as post game. I love this pick for the Bucks and it’s not a huge risk but could be a very high reward. They also don’t need to rely on him to be the center of the franchise. They can use him as a building block to be a great role player, which Sabonis can easily become. -Jake Solovy
Pro Comparison: Chris Bosh
11. Orlando Magic – Henry Ellenson
Ellenson is another power forward in this draft with a ton of upside. He possess great versatility, the ideal height and length to play power forward in the league, and could be utilized as a small-ball Center in some lineups.
The Magic already have some talented bigs on their roster, but Ellenson is too good to pass up at number 11. He has the chance to be a big time player on down the road. Ellenson will be able to stretch the floor while also being a capable rebounder. His pro comparison speaks for itself. – Cole Bollinger
Pro Comparison: Kevin Love
12. Utah Jazz- Denzel Valentine
The Utah Jazz are on the right track to success as they merely missed the playoffs last season. With a young and talented core of Gobert, Hayward, Exum, and Favors there seems to be a small missing piece and that is the two guard spot. Valentine provides consistency to the Jazz, he is a can’t miss player. 2nd in player of the year voting he is a sure thing for at least a solid rotation player for ten years.
As the Jazz are looking to make the playoffs right away, they must get consistency out of their role players. Valentine can attribute that from the jump of his rookie season. The only problem I see with this pick is the Alec Burks and Rodney Hood very much would play the same role, although I would still take Denzel Valentine with this pick if I am the GM I’m looking to move Alec Burks hefty contract for a back up big who can stay compliment Favors and Goberts game from a bench role. –Noah Croak
Pro Comparison: Evan Turner, Lance Stephenson
13. Phoenix Suns- Skal Labissiere
Skal Labissiere, along with Dragan Bender, are probably two of the riskiest players to draft this year. For Skal, the upside is there. He has the talents, he’s shown the ability, and he’s given us a taste of his full potential when he wants to. But he seems to be one of the toughest kids to coach. At Kentucky, John Calipari had a hard time with him because his drive just did not seem to be there. But if you’re the Suns, a roll of the dice might just be what it takes to become a playoff team once again.
The Suns have decent players scattered all throughout the lineup with Bledsoe and Knight, but what makes this pick make so much sense is Tyson Chandler. Skal needs a mentor and no one fits the bill better than Chandler. Tyson has been a leader ever since he stepped foot on a court and he has the ability to help Labissiere out tremendously. And the best part, Labissiere can play right alongside Alex Len to really solidify that second unit. Skal has the upside, now it’s up to him to develop into the player he can become. –MF
Pro Comparison: Kelly Olynyk
14. Chicago Bulls- Demetrius Jackson
The Bulls are put in a very difficult spot with the 14 pick. A team with a very uncertain future can go in many directions. However I believe they should go with Jackson and take this route: Build around Butler.
Jimmy Butler is a proven All-Star with all the qualities to being that franchise player for the Bulls and only 26 years old, still has a very bright future. He also takes great leadership. For example, he said it’s his fault the Bulls missed the playoffs this year and stepped up. This is something the Bulls should want to keep, not trade. Instead, they should trade Derrick Rose who had a decent year for the Bulls but doesn’t seem to have the potential to get back to his former self. So I think, the Bulls should trade Rose for a solid young forward or another draft pick to get another young star to replace Pau Gasol or Joakim Noah in that F/C position. Hence, take Jackson to be the new point guard.
Jackson is a decent shooter but also has a nice driving game. We all remembered the great Derrick Rose and Jackson, who has similarities to Rose, can turn into a very dangerous player. He can give the Bulls a good all around point guard to replace Rose and should fit nicely into Hoiberg’s system. -JS
Pro Comparison: Raymond Felton
15. Denver Nuggets- Cheick Diallo
While everyone around the Association is falling in love with the potential of the Minnesota Timberwolves and rightly so, I think that with some smart drafting and shrewd pickups the Nuggets could be a similar up-and-coming team in the Western Conference. With Emmanuel Mudiay running the point and All-Rookie Team Member Nikola Jokic in the post, the Nuggets have two pillars to help develop this team. The earlier selection of Buddy Hield at #7 overall allows Denver to be a little more risky with no glaring needs in their Starting 5.
This is where one of the most exciting and talented prospects in the entire draft fits in- Cheick Diallo. Few players in the NBA posses a similar body and athleticism to Diallo, and I think that wherever he lands he will be able to have an immediate impact on his team. I, like many college basketball fans, was very disappointed in his lack of playing time during his time at Kansas, and I do not think we will never the full story of that situation. Diallo was a DNP in 11 of Kansas’ 38 games this past season (6 of those were by Coach’s Decision).
Even without the game tape, I think Diallo’s performance in the Combine and team workouts will make a GM and Front Office fall in love with him. With the concerns of lack of playing time and refined basketball skills, Diallo will fall out of the Top 10 and will be drafted somewhere between 12-18. Diallo’s 56.9% Effective Field Goal % (eFG), and 11.8% Block Percentage will make the gamble that whatever team takes on him worth it. -DH
Pro Comparison: Kenneth Faried
16. Boston Celtics-Jakob Poeltl
Want to give a shout out to writer Duncan Hensley who had the Celtics number 3 pick and selecting Jaylen Brown from California. With the Celtics already drafting a wing, their focus turns to beefing up down low. Don’t get me wrong here Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are solid bigs but with Amir Johnson’s contract up and no other key frontcourt players on the team they need to use a pick or two down low.
I was completely shocked when Poeltl was available at 16. He is the biggest steal in this draft in my mind. He game is so complete, great size, great post moves, can use both hand, and great with the pick and roll. One thing I look at when analyzing bigs are how they move on the court and he has a lot of mobility for his size. Brad Stevens wants the Celtics to be a fast past team so Poeltl will be able to play at that quicker pace. Once he adds a little more weight and improves his defense he will be a solid starter. -CG
Pro Comparison: Jonas Valanciunas
17. Memphis Grizzlies- Wade Baldwin IV
The Memphis Grizzlies will be in a very tough spot this offseason. Point guard Mike Conley has been a leader and great scorer for them but he is a free agent this summer. With rumors of the Spurs attempting to court Conley the Grizzlies better make plans to play without Conley next season. Wade Baldwin is a small reach at this pick but with the lack of point guards after Kris Dunn there are no other clear options.
Baldwin had a up and down senior year for the Commodores who majorly underachieved last season. Baldwin and Damian Jones were supposed to be the unstoppable pick and roll combination but instead struggled in the SEC and completely missed the NCAA tournament. Despite the team’s underachievement, Baldwin continued to show his hard nosed style point guard play. He isn’t the quickest point guard but makes that up with toughness and strength. He is very tough to stop once he gets rolling to the rim. Baldwin’s outside jumper did show some signs of improvement last season as he was able to knock down some deep shots to make defense respect him from distance. I project his jumper to continue to develop into a threat during his NBA career. His toughness and strength should make him an above average defender at the next level.
This is a perfect match for the Memphis Grizzlies who have a reputation for having tough hard nosed players. Baldwin’s experience playing with a skilled big man like Jones will help his transition to playing with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. -BK
Pro Comparison: Chauncey Billups
18. Detroit Pistons- Tyler Ulis
The Pistons are emerging and are slowly becoming an Eastern contender once again. The Pistons front line is pretty formidable, so picking up a guard could help them out. A quick point guard like Ulis could allow the Pistons to get a true point guard and let Reggie Jackson play some SG. The Pistons probably have to decide between drafting the best available player or try to get someone that fits. They are use to drafting lottery picks that they needed to develop but then became important parts to their success. Detroit really doesn’t need another big man to sit the bench behind Drummond, so that’s where Ulis slides in. The Pistons could use some bench production, and more specifically the backup point guard.
Ulis is a true PG that defines what a floor general is. You could compare him to Nate Robinson, but not quite as athletic. His effort, speed, and heart makes up for his lack of size. He is extremely fast with the ball in his hands and really pushes the tempo. Tyler maybe a pass-first guard, but he can shoot from the outside, and his quick release allows him to shoot it over bigger defenders. He is like a coach on the court, too. When he gets out on the court he has the ability to change a game with his defense, pressure, and quickness.
Tyler Ulis is a great guard, but his height brings up concerns. It really affects a lot of things on both offense and defense. He will need to create his own shots better and be more consistent when shooting. His size also hurts him when battling against bigger point guards. He will need to get stronger, to compete with guys taller than him.
Overall, while at Kentucky Ulis continued to show his immense work ethic and huge heart. He never gives us and has that never-say-die attitude. With a coach like Stan Van Gundy, I think Ulis could excel and end up being a great asset off the bench. His work ethic alone should be enough to keep him in the league, and some offensive development could make him a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.-GA
Pro Comparison: Isaiah Thomas
19. Denver Nuggets- Furkan Korkmaz
The Denver Nuggets have one of the best home court advantages in the entire league. With the altitude being so high, they have the advantage to run their opponents out of the gym and play at a very fast pace. A few years ago, they had one of the more prolific offenses in the NBA, led by the talents of Ty Lawson. They need to get back to this level of play as soon as possible. Furkan Korkmaz has the skills needed to be able to run just like the Denver offense should be doing.
Furkan Korkmaz, a Turkish player, presents risks just like any other international player but his upside is present. He can run with the best of them because of his ability to do three key things: shoot, pass, and get in the lane. But of course with all strengths comes weakness. He isn’t a strong ball handler, has trouble finishing in traffic, and he is a below average defender. But at this stage in the draft, he might be one of the best scorers left and that’s exactly how they like them up in Denver. -MF
Player Comparison: Evan Fournier
20. Indiana Pacers- Brice Johnson
The Pacers have a few different directions they could go with this pick. They have long needed a point guard, and scoring from the SG position has always been tough for them. However, new coach Nate McMillan said last week that he sees promising second year player Miles Turner as the long term center, which leaves a void at PF. I think that Brice Johnson could be a great fit for the Pacers in that role.
Johnson impressed a lot last year with his energy on the court, as it would have been easy for him to simply rely on his athleticism. And athleticism he does have, as it looks like he is going to hit his head on the rim each time he dunks. This allows him to be a naturally elite rebounder, and he was a double double machine last year at UNC. This rebounding ability also earns him a lot of put backs, and he figures to get a lot of his scoring from this method in the NBA.
Going off of that, I don’t know if Johnson can ever be a traditional back-to-basket PF as he simply doesn’t have the frame for it. He has added some muscle, but he needs to hit the gym hard in order to keep up his rebounding dominance. Also, he sometimes struggles on the defensive end. If he can improve his defensive instincts, he and Turner could be quite the defensive pairing for years to come as Johnson just screams potential in terms of him being a shot-blocking monster.
As I said, the Pacers could go a lot of directions here. However, I think Larry Bird will value the maturity and athleticism of Johnson and take him at #20. – ZB
Pro Comparison: Taj Gibson
21. Atlanta Hawks- Timothe Luwawu
For the 2nd straight straight year, the Atlanta Hawks were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers and crashed out of the playoffs. Now this offseason once again presents some decisions for Coach Bud and the Front Office, as they decide about the Free Agency of Kent Bazemore and Al Horford and the future of the Point Guard position between Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder. Couple these decisions with Kyle Korver’s skillset clearly in decline, the Hawks time near the top of the Eastern Conference could be coming to a premature end. This puts even more pressure on this pick to not only develop, but be someone the Hawks can rely on for future seasons.
One of the hot international prospects in this year’s draft, I was surprised Luwawu was still available at 21. He has developed a lot in the past season, really focusing on his shot. He is extremely long, a wingspan of 6’11”, and his experience this past year playing the “Pack-line” Defense (think Virginia) will make his transition as a NBA wing a little smoother. His passing ability is strong which I think will fit will in Bud’s offense. His greatest weakness is his ball-handling, but I think that he can develop that skill as he comes to the league. Given the propensity for the Popovich coaching tree to gravitate to European prospects, I think that the Hawks would sprint to the podium if Luwawu is available at 21. While they are both Frenchmen, I think that Luwawu’s game compares favorably to Nicolas Batum and at worst the Hawks would get a “3 and D” rotational player to fit into their team. – DH
Pro Comparison: Nicolas Batum
22. Charlotte Hornets-Tareun Prince
The Hornets surprised a lot of people this year making the playoffs and almost took down the Heat in the first round and forced seven games. They have a great young core to work with and Prince would be a great fit for the roster.
Besides Kidd-Gilchrist, no forward really stands out as a solid go-to guy and may also lose some players via free-agency so with the need of a forward, Prince can come in handy if he falls to number 22. This kid is a proven leader and it showed during Baylor’s run in March. So with a young group of guys, a leader like Prince could be valued. For his talent, he is very quick and has a decent jump shot but needs to work on ball handling more. Especially in the NBA, you’ve got to protect the basketball but other than this flaw, he’s a pretty safe pick.
At 22, the risk isn’t that high and Prince is a pretty solid all around player and could be a huge gain for this team if he lands in their lap. -JS
Pro Comparison: DeMarre Carroll
23. Boston Celtics- Thon Maker
Thon Maker is the one complete mystery man in this draft. He has the measurables and the flashy mixtapes but he has never played in a game above the high school level. Maker is also very old for his grade at 19 years old. He is almost an entire year older than Indiana’s Thomas Bryant who will be entering his sophomore year in college. Thon is such an intriguing prospect because of some of the skills he shows in the limited games he has played. He has shown the ability to post up, block shots, and shoot three pointers at a very high rate. The seven footer even won a three point contest as part of an All-Star game in Toronto. If Maker can develop his offensive game and put on some muscle he could be one of the best players to come out of this draft. Thon will be a project big for Brad Steven’s to develop. With so many draft picks in their pocket it would be very smart for the Celtics to grab someone that has unlimited potential. –CG
Pro Comparison: Serge Ibaka
24. Philadelphia 76ers- Malik Beasley
Vying for the top selection means having to play with blatant holes in your lineup. Inserting Ben Simmons will almost certainly boost the success of the team, but lacking a backcourt with the ability to shoot from deep could severely affect the growth of the young lineup. Enter Florida St. freshman, Malik Beasley.
Entering the CBB season, Malik Beasley (28th on ESPN’s 2015 Top 100 Recruits) wasn’t viewed as highly as fellow Seminole guard, Dwayne Bacon (14th on ESPN’s 2015 Top 100 Recruits). Fortunately for the Seminoles, both guards found success on the court, with Beasley even gaining the upper-hand on Bacon with his advanced scoring ability and athleticism. Beasley possesses less-than-ideal size for the 2-spot at 6’5”, but makes up for it with his ability to get to the rim with ease. Beasley’s knack for scoring is exactly what the Sixers need, as Philly sat 29th in field goal percentage at 43.1%. Beasley’s 54.1% effective field goal percentage (according to Sports Reference) and 38.7% 3-point percentage will drastically improve the Sixers’s scoring totals. Many are suspect of Beasley’s ability to guard the 2 with his lack of size (6’7” wingspan), but letting a defensive-minded coach like Brett Brown mold the raw talents of Beasley should boost his ability with his back to the basket. Giving Simmons a running-mate that can consistently hit from deep will help the Sixers space the ball on the offensive side, while conforming to the new 3-point shooting trend in the NBA. –AG
Pro Comparison: Eric Gordon
25. Los Angeles Clippers- Deandre Bembry
As the Clippers season came to an end solely because of devastating injuries to their core players. The future looks bright but this offseason there is a glaring weakness they need wings, wings who can contribute from the start. They get this with Deandre Bembry as he is a veteran college player who can play minutes from day one. All small forwards for them will be free agents or possibly retiring, (Paul Pierce who is 50-50 on returning.)
Deandre’s game is far from perfect as he gets a lot of steals and blocks but needs to work on one on one defense and not picking up fouls right away. He must improve his three point shot and work on his motor of keeping the same sense of energy on both sides of the floor. Deandre understands angles and that is not something you can teach. This pick seems like a no brainer for the Clippers and they do not need to wait years for him to be able to contribute. –NC
Pro Comparison: Andre Iguodala
26. Philadelphia 76ers- Dejounte Murray
The Sixers are in a position where they can fully utilize their three first-round selections, and draft for potential, rather than immediate need. I fully expect Philadelphia to acquire a veteran point guard in free agency, meaning that Dejounte Murray would see the entirety of his minutes coming off the bench. This would allow Murray to develop his skills before facing serious minutes.
Murray and Ben Simmons don’t exactly comprise the perfect pair. Simmons thrives with a point guard who can play off-the-ball, and is capable of hitting outside shots with consistency. Dejounte Murray doesn’t fit that mold. Murray is a big-bodied floor general at 6’5” (6’10” wingspan, according to ESPN) who had an inconsistent outside stroke his freshman year at Washington (28.8% from outside). So why did I select Murray over other guards with a consistent stroke? To gain the most value from the pick.
Murray has the highest ceiling of the remaining point guards, and could wind-up having the best career. This means that if Murray is able to reach his potential, the Sixers could either figure out how to fit Murray and Simmons on the court, or trade him for a large return. Murray is already an exceptional defender, and has a knack for getting to the basket. He uses his size to rebound at a high rate (6.0 per contest last season), and is a solid distributor (4.4 per contest). He isn’t a great shooter, but was willing to take outside shots, regardless (3.5 3PA per game). If Murray can clean up his stroke and add to his 170 pound frame, he could play a large role in the Sixers’s future core, or at least a valuable trade chip.-AG
Pro Comparison: Shaun Livingston
27. Toronto Raptors- Malachi Richardson
The Raptors are in prime spots in the draft coming off a nice playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Adding a scorer to the bench couldn’t hurt the Raptors. Malachi Richardson is a proven scorer with the ability to create his own shot, being a key player in leading Syracuse to the Final Four. His 6’6” 200 pound frame is ideal for a NBA wing to go along with the lengthy 7 foot wingspan.
The downfall to Richardson’s game would be his arid shot selection at times, which would lead to his less than ideal shooting percentages in college. However, when his shots are falling he is the guy the Raptors would want on their team that could bring a boost off the bench in the years to come. With some good coaching on shot selection and getting a lot of reps, Richardson could become a great wing scorer off the bench. It is not definite that he will be able to produce at the NBA level, but the Raptors are a team that can afford to take the risk with a promising player like Malachi Richardson. -SB
28. Phoenix Suns- Juan Hernangomez
Phoenix used their first two draft picks to beef up their rotation and give them some room to grow with those big guys. Hernangomez will be the pick here as a versatile forward who can be a draft and stash guy. After getting two lottery selections the Suns will not be looking for an immediate impact player with this third first round pick. Taking a draft and stash guy can give them some flexibility with their roster and cap space.-BK
Pro Comparison: Josh Smith
29. San Antonio Spurs – Petr Cornelie
The San Antonio Spurs are known for their foreign players, and Cornelie makes sense as a late first round pick. Cornelie plays above the rim with ease while also having a “stretch 4” element in his game. He plays with great confidence and maturity and also shows great potential defensively on the perimeter due to his quick feet and ability to switch on ball screens. This could be another draft pick we look back on in a few years and realize that the Spurs stole another quality role player. – CB
Pro Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
30. Golden State Warriors- Stephen Zimmerman
The Warriors don’t need much help as they broke the NBA record for best regular season ever at 73-9. Golden State is stacked at guard, so we are looking in the paint. Bogut is solid, but is injury prone and Ezeli and Varejao are becoming free agents. Drafting Zimmerman could give the Warriors a big post that rebounds and has a soft touch around the rim.
Zimmerman won’t blow you away with this athleticism, but his size makes up for that. He has a 7’3” wingspan which allows him to rebound well and block shots. The left handed big man, proved he has a good faceup game and has a good feel for the game in a whole. He definitely is not a back to the basket guy and could eventually shoot consistently from the outside which would work well this Kerr’s offense. Another piece of Zimmerman’s game is his passing ability. He can find open guys and gets them the ball when they need it. He doesn’t try to make the flashy play, which tells me he would be content being on the court to rebound, block shots, and pass the ball to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. His size really gives him the ability to be a two way player.
The biggest issue with Stephen is his consistency. That could have something to do with the laid-back personally he possesses. He won’t be ready to compete in games and it takes him a while to get on track. The strength and toughness are also concerns when it comes to the big Freshman out of UNLV.
All in all, the Warriors really don’t need a great player with their current roster. Now changes could come about, but they have the potential to draft a young, big guy that could really help them out down the road with some development. The mobile forward could really fit into the Warriors scheme and potentially thrive. He is comparable to Cole Aldrich, but more mobile. This draft pick won’t make or break Golden State. Picking him could end up being the steal of the draft. It is worth the risk, as the Warriors has enough options from the current roster that they will do just fine if he doesn’t pan out as planned right away. –GA
Pro Comparison: Chris Bosh