Now that players have come into their own in the college basketball season, we will take a look at who is moving up and down in our latest mock draft.
1.aPhiladelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons SF/PF LSU
Ben Simmons continues to shine in Baton Rouge. As dominant as he has been, Simmons is still being held back by the talent disparity with the rest of his teammates. Philadelphia has been terrible this season, but their chemistry is starting to form, and they are staying in games now. Getting a face of the franchise player such as Simmons could transform them for losers, to a dominant, young team.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram SF Duke
Rumors have swirled that Los Angeles is going to go all in the duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I just cannot see either of these players leaving for this franchise in its current state. Ingram has drawn a lot of comparisons to Kevin Durant, so why not get a younger, cheaper option to groom into the same type of player. Ingram has been extremely efficient for a first year college player, and could be the capable scorer Los Angeles is dying to get. A core of Clarkson, Russell, Ingram, and Randle would be a great way to embrace the Kobeless future.
3. Boston Celtics: Dragan Bender PF International
Bender has not been wowing anyone with his play this season in Israel. Bender has not being able to see much playing time, but he still has a very desirable skill set one top lottery team will take a gamble on. With three first round picks in this draft, Boston has this luxury. Boston is trying to sign or trade for a superstar, and adding a highly touted prospect to their arsenal may help speed up this process.
4. Phoenix Suns: Kris Dunn Providence
Phoenix has no clear indication on how they want to build their franchise. Eric Bledsoe has not being able to play with any of the guards they have brought in to play alongside him, and Brandon Knight is not a great point guard to build around. Kris Dunn has all the potential to be an All-Star point guard in the league, that does everything asked of him on both ends of the court. A backcourt of Dunn and Booker could led the Suns back into relevance in the Western Conference.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ivan Rabb PF California
Let us be clear, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a star, but he needs a better partner in the frontcourt. Rabb is a great offensive and rebounding piece, but he needs some work on the defensive side of the ball. Having a mentor like Kevin Garnett and Towns showing him the ropes could help excel Rabb into a dominant player. A frontcourt of Towns, Dieng, and Rabb would be a great rotation for the young Wolves looking to breakout in the Western Conference.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaylen Brown SF California
Jaylen Brown is starting to fall down into the 5-10 range with his shooting struggles. Brown still has immense potential, but it may come with more work than many expected. New Orleans is just looking for talent to build around Anthony Davis with. Tyreke Evans still has another year on his current deal, so this would allow Brown to ease into his rookie season, and find his stroke at the next level, before he would likely be asked to become the starter.
7. Denver Nuggets: Furkan Korkmaz SG/SF International
Denver is looking to add as much talent to their roster as possible, and with the prospect at three-four first round picks, Korkmaz would be a great start to their draft. Korkmaz can do almost everything on the offensive end of the court, and does it at a high percentage. He does need work on the defensive end of the court, but this seems from lack of bulk, as he gets pushed around a lot. Korkmaz has the potential to be a franchise building piece, and Denver would be wise to add him to their perimeter threats.
8. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl C Utah
Milwaukee just signed John Henson to a four-year, $44 million deal this offseason, which I instantly hated. Henson is a good defensive center, but his offensive ability is severely limited. Poeltl brings a great game on both ends of the court. Poeltl makes Greg Monroe tradable. Poeltl can contribute on the same level as Monroe offensively, while greatly improving their interior defense. Milwaukee needs a better complement to Jabari Parker, Poeltl will shore up the defensive mishaps of Parker, who is improving, and occupy the interior to keep the shooters open, and the lanes open for the devastating attacks by Antetokounmpo.
9. Sacramento Kings: Jamal Murray PG/SG Kentucky
Jamal Murray has a lot of work to do to become dangerous at the next level. Murray has great scoring instincts, but his passing can leave you disappointed. Sacramento has seen great success from Rajon Rondo this season, but may not be willing to pay him a hefty salary this offseason, and Murray could be a much cheaper option to add to the core around DeMarcus Cousins. If Murray starts becoming a better playmaker, he could see himself move up the boards, but for now he is looking at the 8-12 range.
10. Orlando Magic: Stephen Zimmerman C UNLV
Orlando started the season off rocky, but quickly looked like a playoff caliber team, before slumping to their current state. The Magic need some help on their interior defense, and Zimmerman is flying up boards with his defensive ability. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but while he refines his game, he can step in and be a defensive monster.
11. Toronto Raptors: Deyonta Davis PF Michigan State
Deyonta Davis is starting to fly up draft boards in the past few weeks. Toronto’s weakest spot would be their interior defense, and with Cleveland having the bruisers of Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov, Toronto needs to add some of their own to compete for the Eastern Conference crown. With David they would get a good defensive forward with a rising offensive attack. The luxury of two lottery picks could help promote the Raptors into Eastern Conference favorites for the 2016-2017 season.
12. Washington Wizards: Diamond Stone C Maryland
Diamond Stone is starting to get consistent playing time at Maryland, and he has emerged as a dominant offensive center. Washington has many holes on their roster, but none as big as their frontcourt, which has been pitiful at times. Marcin Gortat still has a few years of decent basketball in him, but the likes of Stone do not come around often for playoff caliber teams like Washington, so they need to capitalize on this blessing.
13. Utah Jazz: Buddy Hield SG Oklahoma
Hield is only going to continue to move up draft boards with his dominant play. I wanted to put him higher, but I could not see the need for his skill set. Luckily for Utah, Hield is exactly what they need. Hield has become an extremely accurate scorer, capable of taking over games, and that is something Utah has not seen in awhile. A backcourt of Exum and Hield, to go along with Hayward, Favors, and Gobert could make Utah a dangerous team in the West.
14. Charlotte Hornets: Brice Johnson PF North Carolina
I think this is a little high for Johnson, but he would be a great fit in the Hornets system. Charlotte only has five players on active contracts for next season, and Jeremy Lin has a player option. Johnson is reminding a lot of people of Taj Gibson. Both are good in the paint, rebound, and play defense. Having these type of role players are crucial to payoff runs, so adding this caliber player could help get this franchise in the right direction.
15. Denver Nuggets: Henry Ellenson PF Marquette
Denver has quite a few stretch fives, but their power forward position could use some work. Ellenson still has some work on getting confidence in his game and limiting his turnovers. Playing behind Faried will allow Ellenson to continue to grow into his body, and improve his stroke. As stated before, Denver is looking to add talent, and Ellenson is a good developmental piece.
16. Denver Nuggets: Caris LeVert SG Michigan
Denver continues to add capable scorers to their roster. Not only can LeVert become a deadly scorer at the next level, he also is a great defender, due to his length and speed. The only thing LeVert from moving up draft boards and mock drafts is his inability to stay healthy. With three-four draft picks, Denver has a bigger luxury to roll the dice on LeVert, and improve their backcourt depth.
17. Detroit Pistons: Domantas Sabonis PF Gonzaga
Detroit has to make a decision on Ersan Ilyasova this offseason, who has a team option for $8.4 million. Sabonis is not the stretch four that Ilyasova is, but he does have a good jumper, and would be a much cheaper option to build alongside Andre Drummond. Detroit could also look to add a point guard(Baldwin, Jackson, or Trimble) to replace Jennings, and improve their depth at the position.
18. Indiana Pacers: Wade Baldwin IV PG/SG Vanderbilt
George Hill is not getting any younger, or going to develop into anything more. Baldwin has the defensive ability Frank Vogel loves, with a dynamic offensive game. Baldwin is a great three point shooter, starting to become a good playmaker, and willing to attack the boards. George Hill still has another year on his deal after this season, so Indiana can groom Baldwin for a season before making him the permanent starter.
19. Boston Celtics: Denzel Valentine SG/SF Michigan State
This is a luxury pick for the Boston Celtics. Jae Crowder has emerged as a rising player at his position, but James Young has not looked to be a capable NBA player, and Valentine could serve to be a better back-up. Valentine can stretch the floor, is a playmaker, rebounds, and is a capable defender, something Boston can use as they look to cement themselves as Eastern Conference contenders.
20. Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Beasley SG Florida State
Philadelphia needs to start addressing their backcourt, which needs a lot of help. Beasley is shooting 51.4% from the field, 40.7% from three, and 84.0% from the free throw line. He is exactly what is needed to help eliminate the scoring pressures from Okafor and Simmons. Beasley has the prototypical size and length to become a star at the next level, and with Brett Brown as his coach, Beasley will have a great chance at success.
21. Chicago Bulls: Timothe Luwawu SG/SF International
Chicago needs to find some better help from the perimeter. Luwawu has developed into a deadly scorer from the perimeter, and Chicago is desperate for this type of player. Tony Snell has not been able to see the court consistently, E’Twaun Moore is a free agent, and Mike Dunleavy is not getting any younger, showing how thin the Bulls are on the perimeter. If the Bulls want to stay on course with the likes of Cleveland and Toronto they will need to start addressing one of their biggest holes in the past few seasons.
22. Boston Celtics: Cheick Diallo PF/C Kansas
Diallo has not been as impressive as many people thought he would be. Diallo reminds me a lot of Bismack Biyombo. Diallo does look to have a higher upside on the offensive end, but we will not know until we see Diallo in more action. Much like the Bender pick, Boston is just looking to accumulate talent, and Diallo was highly touted college recruit for a reason. He would be an enticing trade piece Boston could use to land the superstar they want.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Dwayne Bacon SG Florida State
Dwayne Bacon is starting to move up draft boards with his recent surge in play. He is shooting 46.3% from the field, but only 27.1% from three. Until the trade deadline passes, we will not know if the rumors of Atlanta looking for a total rebuild are true or not, so with that presumption, Atlanta goes wit a highly athletic scorer to add to their backcourt rotation. Bacon’s three point shooting will likely improve with a rise in his confidence. Atlanta could look to add a small forward, but this class is weaker at this position, Atlanta fills another hole.
24. Memphis Grizzlies: Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame
Memphis has seen a dramatic rise in their overall play. Memphis still has the possibility of Mike Conley leaving in free agency, and could look for a replacement for him. Jackson is a capable scorer, playmaker, and defender, much like Conley. If Memphis wants to save money this offseason, they could go with the younger Jackson, and use their cap space to improve their bench.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Dejounte Murray PG Washington
Murray is starting to have his name emerge as a one-and-done prospect. Shooting 40.1% from the field, and 29.3% from three. The good news for the Clippers is they do not need a starting point guard yet, but can groom Murray behind Paul. Murray has shown good playmaking ability at his early age, and learning behind Paul could make him into a deadly replacement when the time comes.
26. Toronto Raptors: Melo Trimble PG Maryland
Toronto signed Cory Joseph to a four-year, $28 million deal in the offseason, but they can look to groom a point guard behind Kyle Lowry, who will be on the wrong side of thirty when his contract expires. Trimble is a good playmaker, scorer, and defender. Trimble has shown the clutch ability many of us look for in guards, and having come off the bench could be a real advantage for the Raptors.
27. Phoenix Suns: Damian Jones C Vanderbilt
Damian Jones has not stepped up to the plate like many people expected him to. He is a good interior scorer, defender, and rebounder, but he is dreadful from the free throw line. Phoenix could use a younger, defensive center to add to their core. Jones may not be able to develop into a starter like many hoped, but he looks a lot like Tristan Thompson, who has carved a good niche in the league.
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Payton II PG Oregon State
The hard thing about Payton is he is already 23 years old. For a team like Philadelphia, this is not as big of a deal, and could look to scoop him up before he becomes a hot commodity in the second round. Payton attacks the rim effectively, but struggles from outside the arc(28.9%). He is a great defender, very good rebounding guard(8.0rpg), and capable playmaker. His maturity may help for how competitive his position is in the league, and make him a possible starter. It seems like the worst case for Payton is to be a backup in the league.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Wayne Selden SG Kansas
Wayne Seldon has finally emerged for Kansas after two seasons of taking the backseat to the other stars at Kansas. If Seldon continues to shoot 50.4 from the field, and 46.2% from three, Seldon could continue to rise up draft boards, but he will have to improve on his rebounding and playmaking ability if he wants to become more than just a role player at the next level.
30. Golden State Warriors: Zhou Qi C International
In recent weeks, Qi has seen his draft range expand from 15-40. Golden State is looking at the possibility of adding Kevin Durant in free agency. In order to make this possible blockbuster signing happen, Golden State will have to look at adding a cheap backup addition at the center position, or a draft-and-stash, and Qi fills both of these. Qi is a monster on the defensive end, averaging 9.68 rebounds per game and 3.5 blocks per game. The best option for Golden State would be to stash away the 19 year old to keep the cap space open, while he continues to develop his strength and offensive game.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17