NBA Mock Draft 2016: Providence’s Kris Dunn goes in top 3 to Pelicans

NBA Mock Draft Round 1 1. Boston Celtics Ben Simmons, SF, LSU: With the Celtics winning the lottery in this iteration of the mock draft, they are the lucky team that gets to choose between Simmons and Ingram. Do the floor-spacing starved Celts go with a big shooter in Ingram, or a more versatile weapon in Simmons? They’ll undoubtedly be thrilled to have the choice, but I’ve gone with Simmons here as Brad Stevens tends to value guys like this heavily. Also, the Celtics’ superb defense and development system would seem tailor made to get the best out of the Australian forward who has potential on that end, but nothing in the way of production. Still though, this one will come all the way down to the wire and come down to how each player interviews with teams. 2. Los Angeles Lakers Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke: Not a change here in the lottery, as the Lakers get lucky and stay at No. 2. Ingram is the perfect fit for them, and he’d possibly be the pick even if they ended up at No. 1. Ingram is a year younger than Simmons, can space the floor in lineups with Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson on the floor, and can possibly become an all-star to build around on the wing next to D’Angelo Russell. That would be one heck of a creative duo at the 2 and 3 spots, so the Lakers would be ecstatic to end up in this situation. 3. New Orleans Pelicans Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: The Pelicans get lucky here and bump down some teams to jump into the lottery. The problem with projecting their pick at this point though is that no one knows who the general manager that will be making it is going to be. Will Dell Demps keep the job? Will Mickey Loomis step into a larger role? Will it be someone different? It’s just about impossible to say at this point. If it’s Demps, it’s almost impossible to imagine this pick being Croatian Dragan Bender, given that he’s still a bit of a project at this stage. Instead, I think they would go with more of a ready-made contributor and snatch up a player like Kris Dunn, who could team well with Anthony Davis both on the offensive and defensive ends. Until we news otherwise on Demps’ job, let’s go with that idea. 4. Philadelphia 76ers Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky: Undoubtedly, the Sixers here are the biggest losers of this draft projection, falling from No. 1 to No. 4. In his history as a general manager, Bryan Colangelo has never shied away from international players or from young, inexperienced wings with potential. But given that the Sixers’ front court is full, let’s shoot them a two-guard who can help them space the floor in Murray. The Kentucky product hit 40 percent of his 3s and has some potential still as a ball-handler and passer that he didn’t get to show last season due to Kentucky’s lack of spacing around him. He’d be a nice consolation prize. 5. Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender, PF, Israel: Bender is going to be a bit beholden to pre-draft workouts as some teams just haven’t gotten a chance to see him play well this year for Maccabi in Israel due to the limited amount of time he’s received. Still, the 18-year-old has more upside than anyone in this draft outside of Ingram and Simmons, meaning he’d be an excellent piece for the Suns to grab here. He’d also fit on the roster as a 4 man next to Tyson Chandler or Alex Len for the foreseeable future. 6. Minnesota Timberwolves Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma: The Wolves already have their center, wing and point guard of the future, knocking them out of the running for some guys here. Let’s give them a floor-spacer in between Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins in Hield though. Hield hit 46 percent of his 3-pointers this season and was basically the co-national player of the year with Denzel Valentine. He’ll hit shots consistently, and his size would be helped as the versatile Wiggins and Rubio could provide defensive versatility next to him. 7. Denver Nuggets Jaylen Brown, SG, California: This is an upside pick all the way for the Nuggets. Brown has the perfect frame and athleticism for the NBA, he just still needs to improve as a shooter and with his ball-skills. It’s also worth noting the Nuggets could really use a bigger wing to pair with Gary Harris and Will Barton in order to allow for some defensive versatility throughout the backcourt and perimeter. The Nuggets also have three first round picks, and can afford to take a bit of a gamble on Brown’s upside versus his production at Cal this season. 8. Sacramento Kings Timothe Luwawu, SG, France: The Kings have needs in the backcourt this season, although their offseason really will hinge on whether or not they decide to make a move with DeMarcus Cousins and who they hire as coach. With that being still up in the air, it’s tough to say who they’ll look at in terms of a pick. Let’s go with Luwawu here, as the Kings could use a bit of defense and athleticism on the wing. Luwawu has that, plus at least has the potential to shoot it from deep 9. Toronto Raptors Henry Ellenson, PF-C, Marquette: The Raptors could use some help on the wing or some depth inside given their free agency situation. Ellenson is a nice fit here as a guy who can stretch the floor and also play in the mid-post in the same way that Luis Scola did this season. He’ll need some work defensively, but it’s possible Ellenson could help next season on a team that will likely want to contend again in 2016-17. 10. Milwaukee Bucks Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State: The Bucks tend to like longer, athletic players. However, with O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez as free agents, the Bucks are losing quite a bit in the way of creation from their backcourt. Valentine was arguably the most effective weapon on that end of the the floor in college basketball this season, hitting well over 40 percent of his 3s and creating a ton of looks with his superb passing ability. He’d be a great fit for the Bucks’ roster as currently constructed. 11. Orlando Magic Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah: Poeltl is the faller here that shows the 2016 Draft will depend entirely on how the lottery shakes out. There’s really very little in the way of difference in the players from No. 3 to No. 11 in this draft before a bit of a tier drop off. Poeltl is the No. 7 player on my board, and would represent terrific value for a Magic team that could use a bit of a defensive backup with Nik Vucevic to start his career, followed by simply just another option inside for their variety of forwards. Poeltl works well in that regard. 12. Utah Jazz Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga: The Jazz could continue to accumulate depth inside, and Sabonis would be a really nice fit for them as a player who could theoretically play next to either Derrick Favors or Rudy Gobert due to his mobility and potential to shoot. Throughout the latter stages of the season, Sabonis began to show off an 18-footer that could really bode well for his NBA hopes, as he’s already a tough finisher inside and a physical rebounder. 13. Phoenix Suns Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State: Davis is going to be all about upside for some team. This year, he was quite productive in limited minutes both in a scoring and rebounding capacity. He also has showed off the mechanics of a free-flowing jumper. Most importantly though, he was stout defensively against quite a few different types of forwards, plus also was able to show potential as a rim protector. He’s probably not ready to play in the NBA right now, but the upside is there for someone to take a shot. 14. Chicago Bulls Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky: Ulis just fits Chicago at this point, and that’s even beyond it being his home town. He fits the roster, as he’d provide a steady hand with Derrick Rose. He fits the Fred Holberg offense, given his terrific play in the pick-and-roll and passing acumen. He fits the mentality of the roster, as a tough, hard-nosed kid who’s had to work for everything he’s ever gotten. Basically, this is just the right team at the right time for Ulis. 15. Denver Nuggets Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey: Korkmaz is an interesting prospect for a front office that knows Europe well. They’ve likely seen Korkmaz dozens of times, and have his scouting report down to a T. Basically, Korkmaz is a bouncy athlete who also can shoot from deep and has a nice feel for the game at 6-8. He’s going to need to put on a lot of weight and improve defensively, but the Turkish prospect is one of the best players in the world at his age group of 18. 16. Boston Celtics Wade Baldwin IV, SG, Vanderbilt: Sure, the Celtics don’t need another guard. But with a million picks in this draft, it’s inevitable that they’re going to end up with one somewhere. Let’s go with a high-upside one in Baldwin, given that the team can afford to take a few risks. Baldwin can shoot the ball, can attack the rim, and he has solid defensive potential due to a 6-10 wingspan. He needs to learn to run a team and his ball-handling is still a slight question, but if he can get those things down he could be a really nice post-lottery pick. 17. Memphis Grizzlies Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky: The Grizzlies are a tough team to call, as they could either be in the midst of a near full-scale rebuild, or could be continuing to try to contend with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in tow. Having said that though, the team tends not to play rookies as it is, so taking a flier on a guy like Labissiere makes a ton of sense given that they can afford to toss him in the D-League and take it slow. He’d also be closer to home when in Memphis, given his familiarity with the city after getting there from Haiti. 18. Detroit Pistons Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington: If there’s one thing Stan Van Gundy can’t get enough of, it’s stretch fours next to a true center. As we’ve seen in the playoffs, Marcus Morris is likely best suited to a bench role, and Tobias Harris is more of a combo than a true 4. Chriss would provide a highly-athletic, high-upside player to take a shot on, as his jumper is quite sound for an 18-year-old and his explosiveness could bode well for star potential down the road. Plus, his weakness on the glass would be covered a bit by Drummonds dominance there. 19. Denver Nuggets Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain: Hernangomez is having something of a historic season for such a young player in the ACB. Few players his age in the league’s history have been able to put up near 10 points and six rebounds per game to go with an above-average PER and true-shooting percentage. He’s tough, he defends different positions, he can shoot, and he’s just productive. That’s the kind of guy most teams are looking for in this NBA at the 4 spot. 20. Indiana Pacers Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina: The Pacers tend to go with college players versus the international route, and could really use some help inside given their lack of depth there currently. This might be a slight reach for Johnson, but the kid should be ready to play a bit earlier than most rookies and could provide some nice minutes for them next season due to his rebounding acumen and ability to score. 21. Atlanta Hawks Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor: With Al Horford and Kent Bazemore free agents, it makes sense to take a versatile frontcourt player like Prince who could help them in more ways than one early on. Prince is a tough, long player who likely fits best at the 3 in the NBA due to his shooting and defense, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play some small ball 4 like he did in college for Baylor. He’ll have a bit of a defensive adjustment from the Baylor zone, but he’s got a real shot as a 3-and-D type. 22. Charlotte Hornets Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame: It’s tough to imagine Jeremy Lin not declining his player option after the rebound season he’s had in Charlotte, so it might make sense to get some insurance in case he leaves. Jackson is a tough, athletic slasher who can shoot both on the move and off the catch. He’s also experienced in two point guard systems, although a backcourt with he and Kemba Walker could be quite small. Still, getting more stability in the guards makes sense. 23. Boston Celtics Ante Zizic, C, Croatia: All Zizic has done to this point in his career is produce. The 6-11 center is currently leading the Adriatic League in rebounding and putting up 13 points and eight boards per game on a 69 true-shooting percentage and 23 PER. Those numbers are ridiculous for a 19-year-old, and he’ll have a good shot to go in the first round of this draft. 24. Philadelphia 76ers Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State: The Sixers could use a lot of solid guard play, so let’s start with Beasley. Beasley is a high-end shot-maker who can hit 3s, attack closeouts, and knock down shots both off the dribble or off the catch. That’s what the 76ers need at the 2-guard spot: someone with creativity who can also make shots. Also: don’t sleep on Beasley’s explosiveness either. He can get up and dunk when necessary, and finishes well around the rim. 25. Los Angeles Clippers DeAndre’ Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph’s: Bembry is the kind of solid, complete player who could get some run early in his career, which would be nice for the Clippers as they continue to try to contend for a title. The key for him will be finding the semblance of a jump shot, as he already is a creative slasher, good passer, solid rebounder, and tough defender on the wing. Without the jump shot though, it might throw off some of the things he wants to do offensively. 26. Philadelphia 76ers Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington: Murray isn’t necessarily a guy I’m a huge fan of, given that he’s turnover prone and can’t shoot. However, plenty of people around the league like him and think that he could continue to really grow into his game. He has tremendous size for the point guard position, and could represent a nice long-term asset for the 76ers at a spot of need. 27. Toronto Raptors Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia: Zubac hasn’t necessarily had a lost season, but it also probably hasn’t gone as planned given that he’s had to move around to three teams due to financial difficulties and playing time issues. It’s resulted in him playing a very low number of minutes overall this season. Still though, Zubac is 7-1, has good hands, solid touch, and nice footwork. It’s the exact kind of framework you’d want to work with for a big-bodied center inside. 28. Phoenix Suns Thon Maker, C, Australia: This is the exact kind of team that should be in the market for Maker: a team with multiple first round picks who can bring him along slowly and possibly even stash him in the D-League for two years. The Suns are an example. The Celtics work. The Nuggets could make sense. The 76ers have enough picks. Here, let’s go with the Suns as a landing spot, and they’ll be the team that buys a lottery ticket on Maker’s skill set. 29. San Antonio Spurs Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia: This continues to be a match made in heaven. Brogdon has the exact kind of skill set that would translate well to the Spurs scheme as a guy who runs off of screens and hits open shots. There is a bit of a concern on his jump shot translating to the NBA due to how flat it is, but that kink can be ironed out. Throw in the fact that he was the best perimeter defender in college hoops this year, and it’s easy to see why a smart team could take him even in round one despite being 23. 30. Golden State Warriors Diamond Stone, C, Maryland: Stone is someone many scouts are high on due to his touch around the basket and length. I’m not sold at this point though, as he’s a relatively slow athlete who doesn’t rebound or defend at this stage. He needs to go to the right place to find success in the NBA, and one place like that could be the Warriors. They’d throw him in the D-League for a couple of years, help him work on his body and unlock some athleticism, and see what happens. It would be a nice shot to take with the last pick in Round 1.


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