Sport360's top 10 NBA draft projection

Sport360 staff 20:38 23/06/2016
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The NBA draft is an opportunity for college and international basketball players to commence their professional career alongside some of the greats of the game.

Here are Sport360’s projections of 2016’s NBA draft.

Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons

The Australian’s combination of ball handling, passing, rebounding and scoring for his near 7-foot frame makes him a mouth-watering talent.

He’s drawn some lofty comparisons to LeBron James and while he possesses a unique blend of skills, he still needs to develop a jump shot and be a more consistent threat.

The Sixers need to swing for the fences and Simmons has the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft.

LA Lakers

Brandon Ingram

Like Simmons, Ingram has often been compared to one of the best players in the NBA at the moment: Kevin Durant. If you squint hard enough when you see the lanky forward play, you understand why. He’s got long limbs, a wiry body and a deadly shot, which makes him a perfect fit, style-wise, at the next level. Ingram will be able to stretch the floor and provide versatility at the three and four positions. The Lakers aren’t passing that up. 

Boston Celtics 

Jaylen Brown

There’s a pretty good chance this pick is made for someone other than Boston as the Celtics will be working the phones hard to make a trade, but if they stay put, Brown makes too much sense. Yes, Boston needs shooting and Brown’s jumper needs work, but what he does bring to the table is an NBA-ready body, great athleticism and the potential to be a versatile, two-way player at multiple positions. Under the coaching of Brad Stevens, there’s a lot to work with.

Phoenix Suns

Marquese Chriss

You may not have heard of the big man until the last month or so as he’s been a fast riser on draft boards. Chriss is an uberathletic player who can run the floor like a gazelle and finish with power. What sets him apart is his shooting potential, as he made 35 per cent from long range this season. He’s still very raw, however, and has a long way to go on defence. The Suns are far from predictable, but they need some frontcourt talent as Tyson Chandler isn’t getting any younger.

  

Minnesota Timberwolves

Kris Dunn

The point guard nearly came out last year, but got another year of polishing at Providence which will benefit him at the next level. The NBA is a league dominated by point guards and Dunn is the kind of player who should thrive, thanks to his excellent size and athleticism, combined with his propensity to pass and score. Minnesota already have Ricky Rubio, but with what they’re building, taking the best player available is the way to go.

New Orleans Pelicans

Buddy Hield

After taking a step back this season and missing the playoffs, the Pelicans are going to push hard to get back to the postseason. To do that, they’ll need to surround Anthony Davis with ready-now players and no player in this draft fits that better than Buddy Hield. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, the shooting guard will provide some instant scoring and shooting. It’s yet to be seen if he can develop into a reliable option, but he’ll still be useful in the meantime.

Denver Nuggets

Dragan Bender

For teams willing to gamble, the Croatian big man could be worth the risk and has

the potential to be the best player in the draft. His miniscule stats this season with Maccabi Tel Aviv don’t tell the entire story, but his ability speaks for itself. Bender is exactly the type of big man the NBA is trending towards, boasting size, skill, shooting and versatility. The Nuggets already have a fairly crowded frontcourt, but Bender would fit nicely next to Nikola Jokic.

  

Toronto Raptors

Jamal Murray

The Kings would likely do back flips if the Kentucky sharpshooter falls to them. This is the case of both taking the best player available and filling a need. Murray is a young combo guard with plenty of room to grow, while already possessing a crafty offensive game and a knockdown jumper. He certainly won’t help Sacramento’s defensive issues, at least not right away, but his offensive talents for a 19-year-old make him worth the pick.

  

Milwaukee Bucks

Jakob Poeltl

The Raptors, like the Celtics, get the luxury of drafting in the lottery after reaching the playoffs, thanks to a past trade. They’ll certainly be looking to add a player who can help right away and with Bismack Biyombo likely on the move in free agency, Toronto could use this pick to address their big man depth. That’s why Poeltl makes sense, with the 7-footer coming in with all-around game. His potential isn’t as high as other prospects, but he’s more NBA ready.

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Jay Asser 10:49 23/06/2016
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Top picks: Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.

Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are in a tier of their own in this year’s NBA draft.

When the annual influx of college players commences on Thursday night (UAE: 04:00+1) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Simmons and Ingram are likely to be the first two names off the board.

After finishing with the worst record in the league this season at 10-72, the Philadelphia 76ers hold the top selection as they search for a player capable of turning the floundering franchise around.

Philadelphia have drafted third in each of the past two drafts, much of it due to their own volition as former general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie chose a bottom-out rebuilding approach to gather as many high draft picks as possible.

Hinkie resigned in April, months after four-time Executive of the Year winner Jerry Colangelo was hired as the Sixers’ chairman of basketball operations in December.

Following Hinkie’s departure, Colangelo’s son, Bryan, filled the vacant role. With new leadership at the helm, Philadelphia are eager to get out of the dregs of the league and have the luxury of choosing between the top prospects in the draft, though they’ve supposedly made a promise to Simmons they’ll select him, according to reports.

Simmons was widely considered the runaway best talent in the class heading into his freshman year at Louisiana State University (LSU), but while the 19-year-old Australian put up stellar numbers, he failed to lead his team to the NCAA tournament as they struggled through a disappointing campaign.

That, coupled with question marks over his shooting – he attempted just three 3-pointers – has opened the door for Duke product Ingram to potentially leapfrog him.

The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to swipe the lanky 18-year-old at number two if the Sixers tab Simmons first overall.

Los Angeles are entering a new era following the retirement of Kobe Bryant.

With their desire to be consistent contenders, trading the second selection for a proven player is in play, as is swapping point guard D’Angelo Russell for a top-five pick, according to reports.

Behind the Lakers sit their longtime rivals the Boston Celtics, who once again head into the draft stocked with ammo to make a move. That means general manager Danny Ainge will take a hard look at trading the pick for an established player able to help a team that was tied for the seventh-best record in the league this season.

The Celtics have been linked with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, Milwaukee Bucks sharpshooter Khris Middleton and Philadelphia big men Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.

Boston’s offers to bring in a veteran have reportedly been rebuffed so far, but they also have the 16th, 23rd, 31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th overall picks to work with, giving them the most selections of any team in the draft.

After the top tier of Simmons and Ingram, the draft could unfold in a number of ways. The top guards of the class are Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray, and they’re all expected to be drafted somewhere between the third and 10th pick.

Dunn is a point guard from Providence who could be the target of teams in search of a playmaker, either by drafting for him or trading up to nab him.

Hield and Murray, meanwhile, have been compared and contrasted leading up to the draft as they’re both scoring-minded players with exceptional shooting ability.

At Oklahoma, Hield earned the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Award for being the top college player this season, but was a four-year senior and is one of the oldest players in the draft at 22.

Murray’s age of 19 is in his favour, especially after showing an impressive offensive skillset in his lone year at Kentucky.

There’s also intrigue once again with a highly-touted international prospect as 18-year-old Croatian Dragan Bender is projected to be a top-10 pick.

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#360podcast: A look back at the NBA Finals

Sport360 staff 10:48 22/06/2016
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Scroll down to listen to the podcast.

James Piercy and Jay Asser bask in the glow of Cleveland’s historic championship, breaking down how the Cavs won and what went wrong for the Warriors; plus where do the two franchises go from here.

We also delve into Thursday’s NBA draft and where the next wave of talent mind land as Jay tries to contain his excitement at Boston owning the No3 pick.

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