Now that are season previews have been released and preseason begun, I would like to provide everyone with a way to early 2016 mock draft to enjoy.
Being so early in the year, this mock will not be as detailed for explanations for each pick, but will have a short explanation, and mainly be a fun way to help you relax, and hopefully get excited for this upcoming season of college and professional basketball.
Draft order is based on our preseason power rankings, and when (Team Name) appears, the team in parenthesis currently owns the pick, via past trades.
1. Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons SF/PF Louisiana State University
Heading into the 2015-2016 season, Ben Simmons is debated with Skal Labissiere to be the best player in the draft. Philadelphia cannot afford to take another center in the top five, and Simmons would be filling a huge need on both ends of the court for Philadelphia. With no guards currently generating enough buzz for a top three selection, Simmons looks to be the pick, and with his ability to be a point-forward, he could help lead the 76ers out of the misery they are currently in.
2. Denver Nuggets- Skal Labissiere PF/C University of Kentucky
Denver is lacking exciting playmakers across the board, except at the point guard position. Labissiere has the potential to be a devastating two-way player, and his ability to play power forward or center gives the Nuggets flexibility with Jusuf Nurkic, who showed defensive potential during his rookie season. Labissiere would help rejuvenate the low-post offensive game, and bring another defender to the starting unit. With Denver likely to be one of the worst teams this year, they will be looking to add as much talent as possible in the 2016 draft.
3. Portland Trailblazers- Brandon Ingram SF Duke University
Losing LaMarcus Aldridge hurt during the offseason, but it did have its benefits. Portland will likely be a very bad team this year, after losing four of their five starters, and a few bench pieces. Portland did a good job of signing and trading for good talent, but none of those players look to be anything more than role players. Inserting Ingram, who can generate his own offense will help take the pressure off of Damian Lillard, and create a more balanced offensive attack. A top five pick could also help entice a big name free agent to come up to Rip City to join forces with Lillard and Ingram, as Portland will have a ton of cap room next offseason.
4. Brooklyn Nets(Boston)- Jaylen Brown SF University of California
I just feel bad for Brooklyn fans. Not only will you have to endure a bad season, but you do not own your draft pick, and it goes to divisional rival Boston. Boston finally can add a talent worth building around in Jaylen Brown. Brown will bring an offensive attack, with defensive potential. Boston is currently mediocre at the small forward position, so this would be a huge upgrade, and allow for Boston to continue their return to the top of the league.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves- Dragan Bender PF International
Minnesota currently has a log jam at almost every position, so this pick was a rather difficult to make. Nikola Pekovic is a prime contender to be traded, allowing for Towns to move to center, while Kevin Garnett can not play forever, and Gorgui Dieng might serve as a better player off the bench. Bender would give the Timberwolves an interesting stretch-four player for the future, who looks to have the skills to contribute immediately. With the selection of Bender, Minnesota could roll out a starting unit of Jones-LaVine-Wiggins-Bender-Towns, and as that unit develops it could become one of the best in basketball, that is if/when Rubio is traded.
6. New York Knicks(Toronto)- Jamal Murray PG/SG University of Kentucky
A star Canadian player to a franchise needing a star, well this is a basketball fairytale. Toronto needs to add some explosion to their back court and Murray would provide this. Although Lowry just received an extension, and DeRozan will need one shortly, Murray projects as a higher ceiling than both of these players, and would allow Toronto to bring Lowry off the bench for an electric sixth man, or trade him for more assets. Toronto wants to be in the sweepstakes for Kevin Durant, but their current roster will not appeal to him, but Murray could help change that.
7. Los Angeles Lakers(Philadelphia)- Kris Dunn PG Providence University
Now that we are out of the top five, the guard class can start be drafting without question marks to reaching for a player. Philadelphia desperately needs a point guard, their current rotation is pitiful. Dunn would bring in leadership, distribution, and scoring, something none of their current guards can all do effectively. With two more picks in the first round, Philadelphia will be able to build this team quickly and landing Simmons, Dunn, and future players will jump-start this team to a rising contender.
8. Orlando Magic- Jakob Poeltl C University of Utah
Orlando is on the final cusp on rebuilding, and this will likely be their last bad-to-mediocre season. Jakob Poeltl brings defensive flair to their frontcourt unit, and although Nikola Vucevic is a good young center, is inability to defend is hurting the development of the team. With Poeltl in tow, Orlando can knock off their biggest weakness, and become a playoff contender the following season. Things are looking up for Orlando basketball, and Poeltl can contribute to those things.
9. Sacramento Kings- Malik Newman SG Mississippi State University
I think Sacramento will end up trading up in the 2016 draft, for either Jamal Murray or Kris Dunn. Newman brings a capable scorer to the team, but their biggest need is an electric point guard, in a conference full of them. WIth that being said, Newman may need some developing, and would likely come off the bench his rookie season, before moving to either shooting guard or small forward to provide scoring for Sacramento.
10. Charlotte Hornets- Henry Ellenson C Marquette University
Al Jefferson is not getting any younger, and is also going to be a free agent, Frank Kaminsky is a role player, so adding Ellenson would be a no brainer for the Charlotte Hornets. Ellenson gives the Hornets a dominating interior presence, and a player they can build around for the next decade. With this draft being dominated by bigs, it would be wise for Charlotte to select the one they desperately need.
11. Detroit Pistons- Cheick Diallo PF/C University of Kansas
Detroit is in a position to draft the best player available. Diallo is a very raw offensive prospect, who will need to add weight and strength to be able to contend down-low at the next level. However, his offensive game is not what has people raving over him. Diallo has amazing defensive potential, as his ability to read players and time shots will lead to him being a dominant shot blocker. With Detroit having a roster without a dominant need, Diallo can come in bring defensive to the low-post, and then continue to add to his offensive arsenal, and be a very good addition for the Detroit Pistons.
12. Phoenix Suns- Diamond Stone C University of Maryland
I know what you are thinking, they just signed Tyson Chandler to a four-year deal. Well I do not think Chandler will be there for the entirety of that contract, as he just turning 33. Stone also has a lot of room to develop, and a mentor like Chandler could only help develop Stone into a potential two-way star. Depending on how his first season goes at Maryland, Stone could see his draft stock rise, but for now many have him pegged in the 10-14 range.
13. Boston Celtics- Zhou Qi C International
Boston has an assortment of talent across the board, but their biggest need, and the one thing holding them back, is their team not having a rim protector. Qi is a monstrous prospect with a height of 7’2. Qi is not without faults, as he needs to add strength for his position, as well as improving his rebounding skills, but Boston has plenty of rebounders so this would not be as big as a flag earlier on. On offense, Qi is a very smart basketball player, can handle the ball, and should be able to improve his range to the three-point line. With the potential to be a stretch five, and a dominant rim protector, Boston can not pass this chance up.
14. Indiana Pacers- Furkan Korkmaz SG International
Indiana needs to start adding more offense to their team if they want to compete for championships. We all know defense wins championship, but lacking offensive fire power will never let you advance to the championship. Korkmaz is a dream for most coaches. Korkmaz can hit almost any shot (great from three-point range), does not struggle finding his own shot, and has a very high basketball IQ. His weakness is his developing defensive game. Korkmaz is improving and under a coach like Frank Vogel, the process would go more smoothly. With George, Ellis, Korkmaz, and Turner, Indiana would have a great core to build around, that has scoring potential, as well as defensive potential.
15. Dallas Mavericks(Boston)- Caris LeVert PG/SG University of Michigan
With filling their two biggest needs earlier in this draft, Boston has the option to just add the best player available. Although they added another combo guard this past draft, we do not know if Danny AInge is working a trade with someone to unload their log jam at the guard positions. LeVert also has a better developed game than some of his counterparts in Boston, which should help him flourish in Boston. With so many draft picks to work with, Boston just keeps adding the best talent available, and can worry about what to do with them later.
16. Utah Jazz- Demetrius Jackson PG University of Notre Dame
Trey Burke has just not worked out for Utah. Burke is not a bad role player, or even backup point guard, but his inability to consistently put the ball in the basket is holding Utah back from greater things. Adding Jackson, who has the range from all over the court and good point guard instincts will allow Utah to be able to take the next step. With a starting five of Jackson-Exum-Hayward-Favors-Gobert, Utah would have so much potential on both ends of the court, and could be a contender sooner rather than later.
17. Toronto Raptors- Damian Jones PF/C Vanderbilt University
Toronto needs some tenacity in their interior defense. Jonas Valanciunas is a great offensive center, but his lack of development on the defensive side of the ball is hurting the potential for this team. Damian Jones is not a very developed offensive player, but he has shown the potential to be a good rebounder and interior defender at the next level, and both of those things are desperately needed in Toronto. Jones reminds me a lot of Tristian Thompson, and all there is rumors of Toronto wanting Thompson, Jones provides a much cheaper option with the same potential. WIth the additions of Murray and Jones, Toronto would be filling their two biggest needs, and cementing themselves as contenders and not pretenders.
18. Washington Wizards- Nigel Hayes SF/PF University of Wisconsin
The poor man’s Draymond Green is how you will see most people talk about Nigel Hayes. Although this is not a far off, Green has the ability to play the four, while Hayes will just be too small for this at the next level. With that said, Hayes is developing faster than anyone could have expected. He has learned how to use his athleticism, beautiful stroke, and range to become a consistent offensive threat. Although Hayes may never be a star at the next level, he would provide the same type of energy to the team Green does for Golden State, and that passion is something needed in Washington.
19. Milwaukee Bucks- Isaiah Briscoe PG/SG University of Kentucky
With the frontcourt set, small forward and shooting guard position set, we are left with the point guard position. Michael Carter-Williams is not a bad floor general, but his inability to stretch the floor could be a crucial flaw, which holds back Milwaukee in the future. Briscoe has a knack for scoring, and with ability to play either guard position, Briscoe can jumpstart to offense off of the bench, and once William’s deal is set to expire, Milwaukee will have more leverage, and could look to trade Williams for future assets. With Milwaukee’s core so young, adding another talented scorer will help continue their rise to contenders.
20. Miami Heat(Philadelphia)- Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk SG University of Kansas
Philadelphia needs to start building the backcourt, even if it is a developmental pick. Mykhailiuk was rather disappointing last season at Kansas when he saw limited floor action. Mykhailiuk is scheduled to see more playing time this season, and will likely wow some people with his scoring abilities and athleticism. Mykhailiuk has the potential to be a lottery selection, but until he begins to wow people this season, I think his draft stock is in the 18-20 range. With his ability to play either guard position, Philadelphia would have another great building piece for their future.
21. Atlanta Hawks- Troy Williams SF University of Indiana
Every team loses a key player in the offseason to a team willing to overpay for their skill set. Atlanta can now acquire another project in the face of Troy Williams, whose game is quite similar to that of former Hawk, DeMarre Carroll. Williams can be a streaky shooter, but with the roster full of other developed offensive threats, Williams would not need to be an instant contributor, but provide perimeter defense for this squad. Although Williams will need time to develop, a patient Atlanta team could become a real winner of this draft with a selection of Williams.
22. New Orleans Pelicans- Jake Layman SF University of Maryland
Layman’s draft stock is all over the place from the twenties until forties in many mocks. Layman reminds me a lot of Frank Kaminsky in the fact his game will not grow much once he is in the NBA. This may seem like a silly reason to have him go to a rising playoff contender in New Orleans, but their bench is so void of a consistent threat, Layman would be a great addition for his offensive ability. On the defensive side of the ball, Layman is not a bad defender, but at the NBA level he might be too slow for perimeter players, and too small for the four position, and this could be seen as a liability issue. Even with this flaw, New Orleans has plenty of defensive players on the bench who could cover for him, and then Layman provides the needed offensive spark New Orleans needs off their bench.
23. Chicago Bulls- Malik Pope SF San Diego State University
Mike Dunleavy is not getting any younger, coming off another surgery, and Chicago has no clear back-up for this position. With a new coach in Fred Hoiberg, Tony Snell may actually be given consistent playing time, and able to flourish and make this need less noticeable, but currently the lack of a true small forward is hurting the Chicago Bulls. Pope is not an immediate answer for the position, but he plays good defense, above average shooter, and has a great frame to be a dominant forward for the Bull’s in the future.
24. Memphis Grizzlies- Tim Quarterman PG/SG Louisiana State University
Quarterman is generating a lot of buzz for himself heading into the season, and will likely warrant a higher selection in a few months, but for now, Memphis gets the talented guard. With the potential of Mike Conley leaving this upcoming free agency, Memphis may need to look for a replacement. Quarterman is devastating on the offensive side of the ball, and is also a willing passer. On the defensive side of the ball, Quarterman is long, athletic, and stingy. With all of these attributes it is easy to see why he will likely fly up draft boards, but for now Memphis gets a unique prospect, who could help replace Conley if necessary.
25. Houston Rockets(Denver)- Domantas Sabonis PF Gonzaga University
Although Denver is rebuilding and looking for the most bang for their buck, and Sabonis looks to have less upside than some players still on the board, Sabonis can generate the offensive spark needed in Denver, as well as stretch the floor. Sabonis is a very intelligent player, allowing to keep his teammates involved, as well as being a great defender and rebounder. His addition in Denver would bring a new mind-set to the team, one that should help speed up their return to relevance.
26. Los Angeles Clippers- Justin Jackson SG/SF University of North Carolina
Jackson is a pure offensive player. He has so many ways he can attack the defense, either by attacking the baskets, mid-range, or even from three. Jackson still needs to add some strength to his body before becoming an immediate contributor at the next level, and his lack of defensive ability can be a cause for concern, although adding strength could help this weakness. Being a title contender, Los Angeles is looking for ways to improve their depth, and Jackson would provide a nice offensive flare for the bench.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder(Philadelphia)- Timothe Luwawu SG/SF International
Luwawu is an interesting prospect for most teams to consider. Luwawu did declare for the 2015 NBA Draft, but pulled his name shortly before the draft, as he slipped from first round considerations. Luwawu would still need a year or two to develop so this pick would be a draft-and-stash, which is something Philadelphia is looking for as they still want to be in rebuilding mode. Adding another two-way prospect to the backcourt will help Philadelphia become a well-rounded team when they decide to stop the tanking process, and come back as a young, talented team on the rise.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers(Phoenix)- Aleksandar Vezenkov SF/PF International
Vezenkov is an interesting prospect, as he is most known for his work from beyond the arc. Although this could be concerning, Vezenkov has a very good shooting form, with a high release, which does not allow for his shots to be contested very easily. He is also a very good team player, and willing passer, always looking to find an open teammate. Vezenkov is a very limited defender on the perimeter due to his lack of mobility and slow feet. On the interior, Vezenkov is very stingy and does not give up very easily. With a lack of backup forwards, Phoenix could look to add a good offensive piece for the future, and either choose to bring him over right away, or let him develop for another season in Europe.
29. San Antonio Spurs- Chinanu Onuaku PF/C University of Louisville
A very raw prospect going forward, and although he does have the potential to be a higher draft pick, in the mock we will have him going based off his current talents. Onuaku is a very good on the defensive side of the ball, whether this be rebounding, interior defense, or shot blocking, Onuaku is great at all of these things. However, he is still raw on both ends of the court, and he will need a season or two before he can actually contribute anything meaningful on the offensive side of the ball. With the Spurs in no rush to add a contributor, Onuaku would be able to learn in one of the best organizations in sports, and therefore increase his chances of being successful.
30. Golden State Warriors- Kennedy Meeks C University of North Carolina
Golden State needs to add some better interior depth to their team if they want to continue being contenders in the Western Conference. Meeks is a good late first round pick, who can step into a backup role and flourish. Meeks can provide defense, rebounding, and clean-up on the offensive side of the ball. With Andrew Bogut getting to the end of his career and Festus Ezeli not looking like anything than a mediocre role player, Meeks will provide cheap, defensive center for the Warrior’s bench. With the combination of Meeks and Ezeli off the bench it will be hard for the rest of the Western Conference to match the depth of Golden State.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17