The NBA draft lottery finally paid off for the Philadelphia 76ers, who will choose first overall. Most experts (including us) see them taking LSU star Ben Simmons. This isn’t thought of as a great draft in terms of overall talent, however, there are bound to be some diamonds in the rough. The 76ers also hold picks 24 and 26, so they will be looking to make a big leap with this year’s crop of youngsters. The Nuggets must also see a lot of potential in this year’s draft with three picks in the first round.
The 2016 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 23rd, so we still have just a few weeks to go. Players will have a chance to improve their draft stock through workouts with various teams. After taking into account team needs and prospect rankings, I have come up with my first mock. Let’s get started!
Pick No. 1: Philadelphia 76ers
If there is one sure-fire pick in this NBA mock draft, it is Ben Simmons to the Philadelphia 76ers with the first overall selection. The 76ers’ pursuit of a franchise player in recent years has bordered on farcical, but they finally managed to tank their way to the top pick, and it looks like the versatile forward from LSU will be their guy.
Pick No. 2: LA Lakers
With Kobe Bryant’s career officially over, the Lakers are going to need to find someone who can score and defend at a high level. Ingram may not step into Bryant’s role as the Lakers’ shooting guard, but the 6-foot-9 forward could make the Lakers a better team on both ends of the floor on day one.
Pick No. 3: Boston Celtics
The third pick is where the 2016 NBA Draft should get interesting. The Celtics might end up trading this pick, but if they opt for the best available player, then the Croatian 7-footer could be their best bet.
Pick No. 4: Phoenix Suns
Jaylen Brown probably isn’t the best player in this year’s draft, but it’s possible that he could have the most upside. Brown is extremely athletic and could develop into a match-up nightmare at shooting guard or small forward.
Pick No. 5: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are another team that could really use some scoring, and Jamal Murray is one of the top scorers and shooters in this year’s draft.
Pick No. 6: New Orleans Pelicans
Kris Dunn is another exceptionally talented guard who could easily go in the top five. The New Orleans Pelicans almost certainly will not let him fall farther than No. 6 overall though, as he is a perfect fit for them at point guard.
Pick No. 7: Denver Nuggets
Buddy Hield may not be the best scorer in this year’s draft, but he might just be the best three-point shooter. Hield hit on better than 45 percent of his shots from beyond the arc last season.
Pick No. 8: Sacramento Kings
Marquese Chriss is an intriguing athlete who could eventually turn into a decent outside shooter from the power forward position. However, there is a better-than-decent chance that the Sacramento Kings will end up trading this pick to find a better value.
Pick No. 9: Toronto Raptors
Henry Ellenson will need some time to develop, but in a few years he could turn into a dangerous weapon at power forward if he improves his shooting.
Pick No. 10: Milwaukee Bucks
Jakob Poeltl would be an ideal pick for the guard-heavy Milwaukee Bucks because he will not only give them a solid defensive presence at center, but he could also become a decent weapon on offense as well.
Pick No. 11: Orlando Magic
Drafting Taurean Prince with the 11th pick might be a stretch, but the Magic might just like this 6-foot-10 forward’s shooting and rebounding ability enough to take a chance.
Pick No. 12: Utah Jazz
While a lot of picks made in the middle of the first round are based on potential, Domantas Sabonis is one player who should be able to help the Jazz immediately thanks to his advanced scoring and rebounding ability down low.
Pick No. 13: Phoenix Suns
Skal Labissiere could eventually become a major weapon thanks to his ability to block shots and shoot from the outside, but he may need some seasoning in the D-League.
Pick No. 14: Chicago Bulls
Deyonta Davis is another player that could use some time to develop, but his defensive ability (particularly as a shot blocker) could get him on the court early in Chicago.
Pick No. 15: Denver Nuggets
Denver has three picks in the first round and might take a chance on someone with major upside here. Malachi Richardson seems to fit that description, particularly since he put his considerable talent for scoring on display while helping to carry Syracuse to the Final Four as a freshman.
Pick No. 16: Boston Celtics
Denzel Valentine was among the most talented scorers in the nation as a senior at Michigan State last season, but Boston will also his passing and rebounding ability.
Pick No. 17: Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies could really use a longer guard to pair with Mike Conley, and Wade Baldwin fits that bill perfectly.
Pick No. 18: Detroit Pistons
Standing only 5-foot-9, Tyler Ulis might spend his career coming off the bench, but his skill as a point guard and a shooter make him a nice option for the Detroit Pistons here.
Pick No. 19: Denver Nuggets
If the Nuggets do use their first two picks on a pair of guards, look for them to look for a shot-blocking big man like Damian Jones with their third choice.
Pick No. 20: Indiana Pacers
Brice Johnson is an extremely versatile athlete who could help the Indiana Pacers in a lot of different ways. Johnson could also be a steal with the 20th pick.
Pick No. 21: Atlanta Hawks
DeAndre Bembery has a diverse skill set and could help the Atlanta Hawks on both sides of the floor.
Pick No. 22: Charlotte Hornets
Michael Jordan may be hoping that his fellow UNC alum Brice Johnson will fall to the Charlotte Hornets here but, assuming Johnson is unavailable, look for them to take a talented shooting guard like Malik Beasley.
Pick No. 23: Boston Celtics
The Celtics may go after another big man here–particularly if they end up trading the No. 3 pick–and Ante Zizic may be the best available.
Pick No. 24: Philadelphia 76ers
Timothy Luwawu probably has the talent to go much higher in this year’s draft, so if he is still available, then the 76ers might just select this top-notch shooter as a value pick.
Pick No. 25: LA Clippers
Pairing Petr Corneli with Blake Griffin could turn the Clippers offense into a nightmare for opposing defenses, as Corneli’s three-point shooting could really open things up for Griffin down low.
Pick No. 26: Philadelphia 76ers
If the 76ers do snag Luwawu with the 24th pick, expect them to address their need at point guard here. Demetrius Jackson from Notre Dame would be an excellent option, if he is still available.
Pick No. 27: Toronto Raptors
This late in the draft, the Toronto Raptors won’t be looking for immediate help. Instead, they will most likely take a chance on a project like shot-blocking big man Cheick Diallo.
Pick No. 28: Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns may have greater needs than shooting guard, but Patrick McCaw’s versatility and size may prove too intriguing to pass on.
Pick No. 29: San Antonio Spurs
Considering the uncertainty surrounding Tim Duncan’s future, the San Antonio Spurs will almost certainly look for a big man here. Chinanu Onuaku has the scoring, rebounding, and shot-blocking ability to help fill the void that Duncan may soon leave.
Pick No. 30: Golden State Warriors
The 2016 Golden State Warriors are one of the greatest teams in NBA history, so they obviously don’t have any dire needs right now. But a 6-foot-9 forward who can shoot the three-ball like Juan Hernangomez would certainly make for a nice addition.
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