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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.