College Pride Press January NBA Mock Draft

Our first NBA Mock Draft was such a huge success that we wanted to do another mock draft. Conference play has provided us with plenty of top match-ups. With each game we learn more and more about each player and their NBA potential. We have chatted with our writers all over the country for help on the players we don’t have a chance to watch a lot at our schools. The order of the picks was determined by record from last to first as of one week ago.

1.Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons

6’10 SF, LSU

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ben Simmons is the most dominant player in college basketball. He’s drawn comparisons to the likes of Lebron James and Magic Johnson. The 76ers are in need of a point guard with great vision and IQ to run their offense, but in Simmons, they would get a point forward, capable of doing both while also consistently grabbing double digit rebounds each game. At LSU, he has lifted the play of those around him by pounding the ball towards the paint and then passing it out. Ben Simmons can very well be the last piece needed for the 76ers to begin to become a formidable team in the NBA. -Cain Lever

 

2. Los Angeles Lakers- Brandon Ingram

6’9” SF, Duke University

The Lakers have been subpar this season, in the wake of the retirement season of Kobe Bryant. This is obviously a rebuilding year for the franchise. The future is a little brighter as the Lakers have had good stretches of play from guards Jordan Clarkson and last year’s First round pick D’Angelo Russell. Coach Byron Scott is also trying to figure out if PF Julius Randle should start or come off the bench. Brandon Ingram is a good fit for the Lakers. Wingspan, wingspan, wingspan, Ingram is all arms right now. He measured 6’9.5″ in shoes and a 7’3″ wingspan at the 2015 NIKE Hoop Summit. Ingram uses his length well to finish at the rim and is very efficient. He also has a good midrange game and his range extends to the NBA three point line. He uses his size and length to easily shoot over smaller defenders. Weaknesses coming into the draft would be that he needs to put on weight and get stronger so he can get better on the defensive end. His comparisons anetre to Kevin Durant and he sure does have that upside. Ingram will be an All-Star in this league and a force for years to come. –Adekale Ande

 

3. Boston Celtics (Brooklyn) – Dragan Bender

7’1” PF/C, Croatia

The Boston Celtics have put themselves in a great situation with three first rounders and a shot at the number one pick under the excellence of Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. Their trade with Brooklyn a couple years back landed them this possibility and they have room to experiment with a low-risk high-reward player in Dragan Bender. Bender is an extremely young prospect, just having turned 18 last November. His young age and raw ability could take time to develop as patience is key, but they ceiling is worth it. With a 7’2” wingspan and 9’3” standing reach, his long strides and length are reminiscent of the recently drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is the closest thing to Pau Gasol, as his work ethic is full of hustle and he plays hard defensively. His dribbling coordination paired with physical athleticism seen internationally in Israel make him a gem for a 7-footer. Bender shows his dual threat abilities as he wants to be able to face up from three point line or score posting up under the basket. His versatility is shown as he can play and guard the 3,4, and 5 in “small ball” lineups, similar to his role models of Nikola Mirotic and Dirk Nowitzki, who he has shown to be better defensively than. –Karam Hamada

4. Phoenix Suns- Jakob Poeltl

7’ Center, Utah

This was my first and toughest pick of the draft.  The Suns have a front court of Markieff Morris (who will not be on the roster at the end of the year), an aging Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic who is 30, and Alex Len who has trouble staying healthy. The rest of the team is guards and wing players. There is a clear need for a big man. Ben Simmons and Dragen Bender were both taken. There were the two premier big men in this draft. The next three bigs on my list were Jakob Poeltl, Henry Ellenson, and Skal Labissiere. Ellenson has been up and down this season so this might be seen as a reach at the number 5 pick. Skal Labissere has shown very small flashes at Kentucky but overall has been a mess. He is a project and I do not think Eric Bledsoe wants to work with a project big. That left me with the pick of Poeltl.

Jakob Poeltl is an athletic big man who is great on the defensive end. He can come in and defend almost all positions and protect the rim. Offensively he has improved a ton from last season as he now averages close to 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He is more of a silent player but in the end he puts up some impressive scoring numbers. He will be a great addition to the Suns who have struggled when Alex Len has been injured.

He will be a great fit defensively for the Suns as they have given up the second most points per game in the NBA this season. Poeltl will stabilize the defense without giving up anything on the offensive end. If Poeltl reaches his ceiling he will be an All-Star player providing great value on both ends of the court.–Bradley Kreppel

 

5. New Orleans Pelicans- Kris Dunn

6’3” PG, Providence College

Building around Anthony Davis has been the Pelican’s top priority, but they have failed at doing so. The roster is a mess, and the 2016 draft is their opportunity to take a step in the right direction. Kris Dunn is a no-brainer at this spot. Dunn has single-handedly brought Providence into relevancy this season, posting 17.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 6.3 boards, per game. Dunn has proven his ability to run an offense, leading the NCAA in assist percentage this season (49.3), as well as last season (50.0). He has good size for a point guard, allowing him to get to the basket at will. He is also a very strong defender, ranking second in the NCAA in steal percentage (5.9). His shooting could use some work, but nonetheless has posted a solid effective field goal percentage this season (52.4%). This is an easy choice for New Orleans, and should certainly help the team’s overall progression. -Adam Gross

6.Denver Nuggets- Jaylen Brown

6’7” SF, Cal-Berkeley

In my last mock I took Brown to the Nuggets as well. I just think he fits so well that it is a no brainer if he is available at that pick. He has dynamic athleticism and is tough enough to take the ball to the rim with no fear of getting blocked or fouled. Along with that, he has a lot of potential defensively and could potentially become a good two-way player for the future. His jump shot could be better, but when you play for a living that facet of the game tends to improve. This would be a slam dunk pick for the Nuggets. –Zach Beeler

 

7. Minnesota Timberwolves- Skal Labissiere

6’11” C, Kentucky

Since the start of the season, Skal Labissiere has not played near the level that many college scouts believed he could play at, but the name of the game for Skal is potential, and this 6’11” forward has a whole lot of it. Skal has a smooth jumper and has quicker feet than most centers and forwards. As he fills out into his frame, he can also become a great rebounder and defensive threat in the NBA. Although he may not produce right away for the Timberwolves, Skal can eventually become a great front court partner with Karl Anthony-Towns. –Cain Lever

8. Milwaukee Bucks- Furkan Korkmaz

6’7” SG, Turkey

Milwaukee while not having the best season: definitely has young talent to lead the team for years to come, but there is one thing missing. Milwaukee is great need of a natural born shooter and scorer and Furkan Korkmaz is there guy. He is a dream player for any coach because of his offensive ability to score at will. He rarely struggles to create a scoring option for himself or others. He is a sharp shooter with a high percentage from beyond the three-point arc. Korkmaz averaged nearly 50% from three in the latest U19 World Championships and he did so while taking smart shots within the system. NBA Scouts and Coaches are worried about his strength and athleticism and other physical characteristics because he is a European player and they don’t have the same training regimen as the NBA. If I were the Bucks front office I would take a gamble with this kid because he has experience and he is leading his Turkish club in scoring (25.3 ppg) and they could sure need it now. –Adekale Ande

9.Portland Trailblazers – Cheick Diallo

6’9” PF, Kansas

After the departure of four of their 2014-15 starters, the Blazers have found themselves in a whole down low, but their backcourt has shined in the emergence of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Portland will be looking to replace the size and energy down low from long-time Blazer Lamarcus Aldridge. They will look for potential as they are not necessarily looking to win right now and pick the most NBA ready, but instead they will pick the player with the highest ceiling available and that is Cheick Diallo. Although he has not played much under Bill Self at Kansas this season yet, he is already showing how he can make a huge impact on the next level defensively. Diallo is a high energy guy who can run the court and get on the offensive glass, which the NBA desperately looks for nowadays. His undersized height for his position is countered by his long wingspan and physical endurance and ability. He has shown to expand his game with mid-range jumpers, which causes trouble for several defenders as his offense is still very raw. A good NBA comparison would be to Tristan Thompson, and possibly Kenneth Faried, as they have both shown to translate well to the next level with their physical strength and abilities even though being undersized.

–Karam Hamada

10. Sacramento Kings- Jamal Murray

6’5” Guard, Kentucky

The Sacramento Kings will be at a crossroads this offseason as they will decide whether to trade Demarcus Cousins and rebuild with George Karl’s system or keep Cousins and build around him. Rajon Rondo has bounced back in his first season in Sacramento to be a leader and help out Demarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Rondo is 29 and has struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout the past couple seasons. Willie Cauley-Stein has helped the defense with his versatility so the 3-5 positions are really all accounted for in the future.  Rondo and McLemore have been the main guards in the lineup but could use some help. In comes Jamal Murray.

 

Jamal Murray has been playing men older than him for his entire high school career including playing on Team Canada. He is very mature and developed for being just 18. He is a natural scorer who can score at every level. He will be a perfect fit to the Kings because he can play on or off the ball. With a ball dominant forward like Demarcus Cousins this will be extremely valuable. Murray can play either guard spot as well with very good size and skill set.

 

Murray has been a very good scorer at Kentucky but has struggled with consistency at times. When his shot is falling he wants the create with every possession they have but when he is having an off night he must force up shots due to the lack of scoring help around him at Kentucky. As Murray grows he will become more consistent with every facet of his game and will be a star in the league. I would put an NBA comparison as Klay Thompson with his hot and cold shooting but a natural knack for scoring.

 

The Kings can pair Murray and Ben McLemore in the backcourt for the future and have great success. The Kings need one more piece to push them over the edge and Murray will be able to take scoring pressure off of Cousins. -Bradley Kreppel

 

11. Toronto Raptors- Ivan Rabb

6’9” PF, Cal- Berkeley

The Toronto Raptors are undoubtedly one of the most athletic teams in the NBA, making Ivan Rabb, possibly the most athletic big in the draft, an obvious selection here. Rabb had a lot of hype surrounding him when coming out of high school, grading out as ESPN’s 8th best recruit in the 2015 class. Though Cal has severely underperformed this season, Rabb has proven why he was valued so highly. He is a lengthy, athletic power forward, who is a very strong rim protector, and possesses a solid mid-range jumper. At just 18 years old, he still needs to put on some size and develop more post moves, but still has plenty of time to do so. By drafting Rabb, the Raptors are investing in a potential star that won’t make a massive immediate impact in the NBA. If the Raptors can properly maximize the potential behind a Valanciunas-Rabb duo, Toronto could very well have the best front court in the NBA.

-Adam Gross

 

12. Washington Wizards- Henry Ellenson

6’10” PF, Marquette University

The Wizards are currently going through a disappointing season considering their young talent, and will be looking for a big to go alongside young guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. Henry Ellenson could very well be that guy. Although Ellenson lacks elite athleticism, he makes up for it with high basketball IQ and a solid jump shot. He is a very smooth player, and looks especially developed around the rim. However, he can also step out and hit some jump shots as well. If Ellenson can extend his shooting ability to the three point line, he could be a deadly stretch four in the NBA.-Zach Beeler

 

13. Charlotte Hornets- Domantas Sabonis

6’11” C, Gonzaga

This Gonzaga big man may not be as athletic as some of the other forwards in this draft; however, he still finds a way to drop 18 points and grab 11 rebounds each game. The Hornets can use Sabonis as a low scoring threat in their offense and they can rely on him to crash the glass every time a shot goes up. -Cain Lever

 

14. Orlando Magic- Buddy Hield

6’4” SG, University of Oklahoma

I highly doubt Buddy Hield will drop to the 14th pick, but if he is still on the board why not pick him up. That is what the Orlando Magic are thinking with this pick. With Hield the Magic are getting a natural born scorer and a smart basketball player. He is a high volume scorer with a well-rounded skill set. Hield is a good athlete with a long wingspan and powerful. Buddy also is a graceful athlete who is extremely fluid and can get off the ground with ease. There might be some concerns with his height at his position but he’s been proving scouts wrong, especially with his 46 point performance against Kansas in Triple overtime. The Magic will be getting a 4-year senior which mean he’s a leader and highly respected in the locker room. He has the potential to be a great six man in this league with comparison to Jodie Meeks and Eric Gordon. A great fundamental pick for this franchise. –Adekale Ande

 

15. Utah Jazz – Timothé Luwawu

6’7” SG/SF, France

The Jazz have been a middle of the pack team the last few years and are looking for someone to finally get them the edge they have been seeking. With Trey Burke running the point for their future and their front court packed with Gobert and Favors, their weakness has tended to be shown with their wings. This wing out of France will do a great job filling in that role for the time being. Luwawu is a solid athlete with great size for a backcourt player, drawing comparisons to Thabo Sefolosha. He’s a natural scorer who can change the game with his streaky shooting. However, he can always provide help on the glass for his size and has the potential to be a great defender.–Karam Hamada

 

16. Denver Nuggets- Dwayne Bacon

6’7” SG, Florida State

There was not much thought needed for this pick. The Denver Nuggets have a bunch of solid players but other than Emmanuel Mudiay there is not a ton of upside on the roster. The Nuggets drafted Gary Harris with hopes of him becoming an All-Star shooting guard but he has struggled making the transition to the NBA. The Nuggets will want to find a running mate to pair with Mudiay and Dwayne Bacon will be that second guard to build on. Bacon came into Florida State as a top recruit and has played fantastically as a freshman. He has risen way up on the draft boards with his 17 points and 5 rebounds per game. He has great size for a 2 guard at 6’7”. My NBA comparison is Klay Thompson. They are the same size and play a similar style game.  Bacon and Mudiay will be a backcourt that the team can build upon with them combining for a dangerous mix of athleticism and finesse. -Bradley Kreppel

 

17. Memphis Grizzlies-Wade Baldwin

6’3” PG, Vanderbilt University

Since 2010, Memphis has been in what’s known as the “Grit and Grind” era. The name was derived from their high-pressure, defensive style of basketball. Guys like Tony Allen and Marc Gasol perfectly exemplify what it means to be a Grizzly. Wade Baldwin’s style is nearly taylor-made for the Memphis Grizzlies. The sophomore point guard out of Vanderbilt is one of the best defensive players in college. His athleticism, quick feet, size, and knack for the game gives him the ability to lock down opposing guards. He is also hitting shots from the perimeter at a 45.7% clip, making him one of the best outside shooters in the NCAA. Memphis has struggled to find a guy that can play their gritty style of defense while consistently hitting outside shots, which should make Baldwin one of the Grizzlies’s top draft candidates.-Adam Gross

18. Detroit Pistons- Damian Jones

7’ C, Vanderbilt University

This one is a bit of a gamble that I really think could pay off for the Pistons. Jones plays mostly center for the Commodores, but is still learning to become a more polished player. If he can develop his jump shot to spread the floor with Andre Drummond underneath the rim, the Pistons will have a deadly pair of seven footers, each with their own style. Jones is also a good rebounder, and is developing as a defender. This pick may be a bit of a risk on Jones’ potential, but I believe it to be high and the Pistons should consider Jones if he is on the board. –Zach Beeler

 

19. Boston Celtics-Melo Trimble

6’4” PG, Maryland

Melo Trimble is easily one of the best point guards in this draft. Since his freshman season, his scoring has dipped slightly, but his shot selection and field goal percentage have improved. Along with that, Trimble’s assist numbers have gone up. The Celtics can use his scoring and facilitating abilities to improve their offense. He brings the floor spacing that Marcus Smart lacks and the height that Isaiah Thomas lacks to an offense in need of a primary ball handler. –Cain Lever

20. Indiana Pacers- Stephen Zimmerman

7’0” C, UNLV

The one component that is keeping the Indiana Pacers from dominating the East is a legitimate big. Stephen Zimmerman can be the answer to their prayers. Stephen is freakishly athletic for a 7 ft. big man. He is capable of backing you down with his great footwork or spacing the floor with his ability to knock down a mid-range jumper. Although he is just a freshman, scouts love his NBA ready size and body. His biggest weakness is that he tends to settle too much for his jump shot instead of posting up. He draws comparisons to All-Star PF LaMarcus Aldridge. Zimmerman should be a solid role player in the league. It just make sense for Indiana to pick him at 20. –Adekale Ande

21. Boston Celtics (Dallas) – Denzel Valentine

6’5” Guard, Michigan State

Boston is looking for permanent help in the backcourt to pair with their budding star in Isiah Thomas and reliable talents in Avery Bradley and the young Marcus Smart. Their best bet for their future to pair with their top pick, which is most likely Dragan Bender, is a player who has looked like the best player in college basketball this year. A constant triple double threat, putting up numbers that draw memories of another memorable Spartan in Magic Johnson. His high IQ paired with his size that allows him to guard multiple positions effectively draw comparisons to a the shining Warriors star of Draymond Green. He can shoot the long ball and passes like no other, approaching the game in all different facets. He could be the next big thing as he transitions to the NBA. –Karam Hamada

22. Toronto Raptors- Wayne Selden Jr.

6’5” SG, Kansas

The Raptors already took Ivan Rabb as their project center to backup Jonas Valanciunas. Now they will look for some insurance in case DeMar DeRozan leaves via free agency this summer. Selden is a solid combination of upside and yet a less risky pick than others. He can still improve his game but he will be able to come to the NBA and contribute right away. His experience at Kansas will be beneficial for his transition. Selden is able to score in a variety of ways whether it be shooting deep or driving to the rim. Selden has the strength to get into the paint and finish through contact. He has been playing fantastic this year but is still underrated with the multitude of stars on Kansas.

If the Raptors are able to retain DeRozan, Selden will be able to come off the bench and provide some quality guard depth behind DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. This is a high floor, high ceiling pick by the Raptors that likely will not be labeled as a bust. Selden will be a nice complement to the less developed higher upside pick of Ivan Rabb. -Bradley Kreppel

23. Atlanta Hawks – Caris LeVert

6’6” Guard, Michigan

Atlanta is just looking to fill in the gaps to finally make them a true contender for the title as Mike Budenholzer’s work in Atlanta has already proven extremely phenomenal as he continues to win without a true superstar. With depth at every position, Caris LeVert is a player who can help the backcourt take the next step.as Kyle Korver continues to age. With already young successful talent in Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway, Caris is a shooting guard who has shoot the ball effectively and can run the ball down the court. He draws great comparisons to Jamal Crawford and Jeremy Lamb as his length and quick release make him impossible to stop when hot. He has the physical quickness to get open and has the ability to be a good defender. His weaknesses come in his mid-range game, but under a mentor like Korver, he should not have to worry about that for long.–Karam Hamada

24. Philadelphia 76ers- Demetrius Jackson

6’1” PG, Notre Dame

I have always been a big Jackson fan, and think he fits well into the 76ers future. At some point they have to start trying to win, and there is no reason Jackson can’t be their point guard of the future. He has elite athleticism with a lot of burst of the dribble, and is a good shooter as well. On the defensive side, he is a pest that will pressure the ball handler into more than one mistake a game. Although his height (or there lack of) may bring about some reservations, his style and athleticism should allow him to compensate for it well. –Zach Beeler

 

25. Chicago Bulls- Greyson Allen

6’4” SG, Duke

With Derrick Rose’s decline and Jimmy Butler’s ascension, the Bulls are in need of a guard capable of shooting the three point shot efficiently to help space the floor and create a deadly backcourt alongside Butler. Grayson Allen is a player who doesn’t need the ball in his hands during each offensive possession. He is capable of creating his shot and making catch-and-shoot baskets as well. In his first year as a starter, Allen has seen major improvements in both his points per game (4.4 to 20.5) and his assists per game (0.4 to 3.6). Allen will only get better as he plays more games and will prove to be a great pick for this Bulls team. –Cain Lever

26. Los Angeles Clippers- Justin Jackson

6’8” SF, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Clippers have been seriously lacking at the SF position for years. Justin Jackson is a smart and great fit at this pick. He is a long and fluid athlete with solid length/wingspan for his position. A versatile player with the ability to play and defend multiple positions. He creates a nice mix of scoring and excellent court vision/passing.  His offensive game be described as smooth and polished. NBA scouts love his size for the small forward position. He tends sometimes to be tentative when shooting and he needs to be more explosive while attacking the basket. These are some things he will be able to work on at the next level. An excellent fit and safe pick for the Clippers. –Adekale Ande

27. Philadelphia 76ers- Guerschon Yabusele

6’8” PF, International

Simply put, the Sixers don’t have enough roster spots to draft and develop three players in the first round. This results in Philadelphia looking for an overseas project. Yabusele is a power forward out of France. He possesses great athleticism and a solid 6’8” 240 lb. frame, which allows him to play a physical style of basketball. Though he is short for the power forward spot, he uses his body and toughness to hold his down defensively. His overall offensive skills need some refinement, but has flashed some real potential while playing for SPO Rouen and representing the U20 French team at the 2015 Adidas Eurocamp. This pick gives Philly some flexibility, which, thus far, has been a key part of their rebuild.-Adam Gross

28. Phoenix Suns- Brice Johnson

6’9” PF, North Carolina

I drafted Jakob Poeltl to the Sun earlier in this draft so I wanted to compliment the low risk pick of Poeltl with more of a raw athlete. Brice Johnson is a pure athlete who has developed his skills throughout his 4 years at North Carolina. He is 6’9” and will likely be a 3 or 4 at the NBA level. He is a riskier pick because of his lack of a jump shot. NBA teams have fallen in love with power forwards that can stretch the floor and shoot three pointers but Johnson has not taken a long distance shot in his collegiate career. He does have exceptional rebounding skills and has been hauling in rebounds since he got on campus.

He will be a unique player who can be successful in the right system. Phoenix will allow Johnson to develop his game while he plays a role in the rotation but he will need to carve out a niche in order to remain in an NBA rotation. His upside is huge but it is a risky pick. With 2 first round selections the Suns can afford to take a raw athlete in hopes of finding and niche and putting him in the best situations to succeed. -Bradley Kreppel

29. San Antonio Spurs-Devin Robinson

6’7” SF, University of Florida

The Spurs have developed their homegrown talent to the tune of five titles in the last 17 years. They draft by their own rules and nobody doubts their methods. I suspect that they will go with another foreign prospect, but with a shallow international pool, their next best interest would be to go best player available. Devin Robinson possesses off-the-chart athleticism and an incredible wingspan (6’11.5”), which, in turn, gives him the potential to be a lockdown defender. Though his shooting and handles need some serious refinement, San Antonio’s coaching staff is capable of significantly improving his offensive game- just look at Kawhi Leonard. It’s always very difficult to decipher the Spurs’s methods of drafting, but I think both sides could really benefit from this selection. -Adam Gross

30. Golden State Warriors- Troy Williams

6’7” SF, Indiana University

The Warriors have an embarrassment of riches and are among the NBA’s elite without question. However, I think that Troy Williams’ athleticism and energy could be a big time asset for the reigning champs. Troy is a slasher and finishes with authority at the rim. With Curry to pass him the ball and space the floor, this could be a perfect fit. Although he could use some development as a shooter and especially as a defender, Williams’ athleticism and potential make the risk worth it for a team that doesn’t necessarily need an immediate game changer. –Zach Beeler

 

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