The first 2016 NBA Mock Draft we did was way back on Dec. 13, 2015. Over a half year later, our top five picks from that time look similar. Here's what it looked like 12 days before Christmas.
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons, F, LSU
2. LA Lakers - Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
3. New Orleans Pelicans - Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
4. Boston Celtics - Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
5. Sacramento Kings - Jaylen Brown, SF, Cal
Interesting that Ingram was not the lock at No. 2 that he is now and that Murray was held in such high regard. Murray has received plenty of buzz in the weeks in between the draft lottery and now, and that's mostly because John Calipari has been selling him Billy Mays-style, but Murray was very good at Kentucky. He's a top-five talent in this draft and we have him going to Minnesota at No. 5 in our final mock until the ridiculously-early 2017 one we pump out six months from now.
Happy draft week!
1. Philadelphia 76ers:Ben Simmons, SF, LSU: Simmons and the Sixers ruined everyone's fun on Tuesday when it became a lock that he's going No. 1. So much for drama, but the Sixersdon't need any more of that.
2. Los Angeles Lakers:Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke:ESPN's Chad Ford recently floated the idea that the Lakers are not in love with Ingram at No. 2. He also said that they want to pick up another pick in the top five. Really hard to believe that this impatient franchise would want to build around teens/twenty-somethings. If the Lakers are going to make a trade it'll involvethem getting out of the draft altogether.
3. Boston Celtics:Jaylen Brown, SF, California: Another Worldwide Leader employee, Ryen Russillo, tweeted out Tuesday that the Celtics are having a tough time finding a team to play ball with when it comes to the No. 3 pick. If it's just the No. 3 pick, I tend to agree. But if it's the No. 3 pick, Avery Bradley and, say, next year's Nets pick then Danny Ainge should be able to get just about anyone.
4. Phoenix Suns:Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia: Everyone’s screaming that Bender is the next Kristaps Porzingis simply because Porzingis is the last international lottery pick that we saw. It’s 2016, but still – no one has a clue on whether or not European players will work out. Total crapshoot.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves:Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky: Great shooters are in vogue right now thanks to the Splash Bros. in Golden State, but getting two guys who can shoot like that on the same team is Sasquatch-like rare. Minnesota could use a shooter so it might be a good fit.
6. New Orleans Pelicans:Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: The Pelicans are still searching for that second star to place next to Anthony Davis. Dunn has been vocal about where he doesn’t want to play (Boston and Phoenix) but he seems to have a liking for the Big Easy.
7. Denver Nuggets:Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma: The sharp-shooting Hield would fit in nicely with Danilo Gallinari, Emmanuel Mudiay and Kenneth Faried. Hield is the type of player who should be able to contribute right away and the Nuggets could potentially land in the postseason next year.
8. Sacramento Kings:Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington: Chriss has sky-rocketed up draft boards in the past few months and it’s easy to understand why. At 6-foot-10, he might be the most athletic player in this year’s draft as he runs the floor like a guard.
9. Toronto Raptors:Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky: John Calipari is hyping him up, but that’s what John Calipari does with former Kentucky guys. Labissiere was highly unimpressive in his one season with the Wildcats, but he’s certainly not done growing as a player.
10. Milwaukee Bucks:Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette: Ellenson is compared to Brian Scalabrine and Brian Cardinal (two white guys) on NBADraft.net. This is because Ellenson is also white and looks like a Scalabrine/Cardinal love child.
11. Orlando Magic:Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah: Poeltl is another player who runs the floor extremely well for a man his size (7-foot-1) but that basically describes all big men in the NBA these days. There’s a reason guys like Kendrick Perkins can’t get big contracts.
12. Utah Jazz:Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State: Davis looked limited at Michigan State as he rarely left the paint but he’s shown he can step back and hit outside jumpers during workouts. The Jazz are guard-heavy so expect them to go with size.
13. Phoenix Suns:Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga: Everyone hopes this works out as Domantas’ dad, Arvydas, was a pleasure to watch. The guy passed out of the post like no other. The big concern with Domantas is his lack of athleticism.
14. Chicago Bulls:Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina: The Bulls could wind up going with a guard if they are to trade away Jimmy Butler and/or Derrick Rose, but when in doubt go with the best player available. That’s Johnson.
15. Denver Nuggets:Timothe Luwawu, SG, France: Luwawu did a Q&A with DenverNuggets.com and said he doesn’t like to compare himself to other players but did say that he likes watching Paul George play. He also likes when fans are crazy, “like in Serbia.”
16. Boston Celtics:Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey: The Celtics need shooters like you read about and Korkmaz would help ail that situation. The C’s have plenty of guards who can guard and that’s Korkmaz’s weakness.
17. Memphis Grizzlies:Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State: The difference between Valentine and Buddy Hield is that Valentine’s Spartans were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament and Hield’s Sooners went to the Final Four.
18. Detroit Pistons:Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky: Many mocks have Ulis sliding big time after a report that he had some issues with his hips. He’s also only 5-foot-9. But talent wins out. Expect him to still go in the first round.
19. Denver Nuggets:Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor: The Hawks are said to be highly interested in Prince but we have Denver snagging him here at No. 19. Prince has a tough time creating for himself, which is worrisome for any player at this level.
20. Indiana Pacers:Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse: The Pacers always seem like a No. 7 or 8 seed. Not sure Richardson will help solve that problem too much but Indiana does need a 2-guard.
21. Atlanta Hawks:Thon Maker, C, Australia: The headline writer’s dream, it’s time for the Hawks to meet their Maker (get it?). His body is a concern as any big man worth his salt would be able to bump the fragile Maker off the block.
22. Charlotte Hornets:Wade Baldwin, SG, Vanderbilt: Baldwin is your classic “solid” guard. He’s never going to make an All-Star team, but he might stick around in the league for 10 years.
23. Boston Celtics:Diamond Stone, C, Maryland: Another great name, but he’s one of those lumbering-type centers that just don’t get jobs in the NBA anymore
24. Philadelphia 76ers:Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame: The Notre Dame product is great in the open floor. The young 76ers might actually be able to get up and down next season. Could be a fit.
25. Los Angeles Clippers:Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain: NBADraft.net says in the first line of Hernangomez’s “weaknesses” category: “He still has to work on his offensive skills.”
26. Philadelphia 76ers:Dejounte Murray, SG, Washington: Is it me or do the 76ers, Celtics and Nuggets own every pick in this draft? If you were born in 1994, 95 or 96 you can get a tryout with Philly, Boston or Denver.
27. Toronto Raptors:Cheick Diallo, C, Kansas: Diallo is from Kayes, Mali, which is a long way from Toronto. He’s a huge gamble as he averaged just 3.0 points per game in his long season at Kansas.
28. Phoenix Suns:Ante Zizic, C, Croatia: Zizic can rebound the hell out of the ball despite being “only” 6-foot-11. That’s tall, but Zizic is by most accounts a traditional center.
29. San Antonio Spurs:Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia: What ever happened to Vivica A. Fox? She was like Cameron Diaz-popular at one point. It is unlikely that Ivica A. Zubac will ever reach that level of popularity in the states.
30. Golden State Warriors:DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joe’s: It looks like Harrison Barnes is on the way out in Golden State. Bembry looks like a perfect replacement.
31. Boston Celtics:Ben Bentil, PF, Providence
32. Los Angeles Lakers:Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
33. Los Angeles Clippers:Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
34. Phoenix Suns:Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
35. Boston Celtics:Stephen Zimmerman, PF/C, UNLV
36. Milwaukee Bucks:Guerschon Yabusele, PF, France
37. Houston Rockets:Pascal Siakam, PF, New Mexico
38. Milwaukee Bucks:Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan
39. New Orleans Pelicans:Anthony Barber, PG, NC State
40. New Orleans Pelicans:Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia
41. Orlando Magic:Kahlil Fielder, PG, Oakland
42. Utah Jazz:Joel Bolomboy, PF, Weber State
43. Houston Rockets:Isaiah Coustins, PG, Oklahoma
44. Atlanta Hawks:Julian Jacobs, SG, USC
45. Boston Celtics:Michael Gbinije, SG, Syracuse
46. Dallas Mavericks:Zhou Qi, C, China
47. Orlando Magic:Gary Payton II, PG, Oregon State
48. Chicago Bulls:Perry Ellis, PF, Kansas
49. Detroit Pistons:Isaiah Whitehead, SG, Seton Hall
50. Indiana Pacers:Petr Cornelie, PF, France
51. Boston Celtics:AJ Hammons, C, Purdue
52. Utah Jazz:Daniel Hamilton, SF, UConn
53. Denver Nuggets:Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas
54. Atlanta Hawks:Dorian Finney-Smith, SF, Florida
55. Brooklyn Nets:Rosco Allen, SF, Standford
56. Denver Nuggets:Damion Lee, SG, Louisville
57. Memphis Grizzlies:James Webb, SF, Boise State
58. Boston Celtics:Tyrone Wallace, PG/SG, California
59. Sacramento Kings:Ron Baker, SG, Wichita State
60. Utah Jazz:Troy Williams, SF, Indiana