Thursday, June 9, 2016

Josue Pavon's 2016 NBA Mock Draft

It's time for my first 2016 NBA Mock Draft.

Sean Dutra and I will have dueling versions of our Mock Drafts leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23.

Find out who I think is in the top-10, which prospects will fit in with which NBA team and and which players the Celtics should keep an eye on at the No. 3, 16 and 23 pick.

1. 76ers - Ben Simmons, SF/PF (LSU)

What makes Ben Simmons a no-brainer at No. 1 for Philadelphia is his versatility, unique size and leadership qualities. Simmons is a 6'10 forward who can finish at the rim, can push the ball up the floor and distribute. He's long, athletic, can defend all five positions because of his quick lateral movement and hasn't reached his ceiling yet. Once he gets a taste of the NBA, Simmons will grow into a franchise-leading star for Philadelphia. One of the differences between Simmons and Ingram is Simmons will be significantly better in 1-2 years than he is right now. He has much more room to grow, whereas Ingram has pretty much reached his ceiling.

2. Lakers - Brandon Ingram, SF (Duke)

Brandon Ingram already has an NBA-ready jump shot and can score from deep for the Lakers. He's 6'9 but has a 7'3 wingspan that comes in handy when he finishes at the rim. Ingram also has a high basketball IQ but is a subpar defender and needs to live in the gym throughout his rookie year to build muscle. He's very thin. However, Ingram is still the Lakers' new franchise guy who will make an immediate impact. 

3. Celtics - Jaylen Brown, SF (California) 

Jaylen Brown's defense combined with his 6'11 wingspan, has made him one of the early candidates for the Celtics' No. 3 pick. Brown, who recently had a workout with the Celtics, showed off his athleticism, impressive footwork and ability to slash through the paint.

The Celtics could use a slasher in the front court who can get to the free throw line and open the floor for their 3-point shooters. His shot does need some work, Dutra, but his footwork and commitment to defense would make him a fan-favorite in Boston.

Sure, Brown isn't a flashy shooter or a sooner-to-be superstar but he is a hard-working 6'7 underdog who impressed the Celtics at his workout with the team. He's someone who can come off the bench and produce on both ends of the floor. Boston can sure use a guy like Brown to add depth to their roster -- a team that's looking to make it out of the first round of the playoffs and beyond.

4. Suns - Dragan Bender, PF (Croatia)

With plenty of room to grow in an invested franchise that's been eyeing the 19 year-old Croatian prospect for quite some time now, Dragan Bender has the potential to develop into an outside-scoring big man with a huge ceiling. Yes, he may be a project -- he may not wow you in his rookie campaign but his shooting mechanics and ability to run the floor will be well worth the wait in Phoenix.

5. Wolves - Buddy Hield, SG (Oklahoma) 

As the best shooter in the draft, Buddy Hield at shooting guard fits perfectly in Minnesota. Hield can create off the dribble a bit to knock down shots and will challenge Zach LaVine for his spot in the starting five. Hield gives Minnesota a great balance of outside scoring coupled with Andrew Wiggins' ability to attack the rim, combined with Karl Anthony Towns' inside scoring presence. Hield's outside scoring takes pressure off of their leading scorer in Wiggins while spreading the floor. Hield is also good off the dribble and can slash to the basket.

6. Pelicans - Jamal Murray, SG (Kentucky)

Jamal Murray is probably the most versatile scorer in this year's draft. Murray has an outside touch, can finish at the rim and knock down mid-range shots. Sure, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evan are still in the fold as the top scoring guards in New Orleans, however, Murray's skill set may be too good to pass up at No. 6. 

7. Nuggets - Marquese Chriss, PF (Washington)

Marquess Chriss continues to climb up the board in mock drafts. His leaping ability and defensive awareness gives the Nuggets a 6'11 interior defender. Chriss adds an inside presence for Denver who can also bang down low, score around the rim and grab boards for the Nuggets. 

8. Kings - Kris Dunn, PG (Providence)

With Rajon Rondo's future in Sacramento up in the air, consider Kris Dunn an insurance policy at the point guard position for the Kings. As the best well-rounded point guard in his draft class who can distribute, blow past his defender and finish strong, Dunn is too good to pass up. Right now all signs point to the Kings trying their best to keep Rondo in town but if he's offered a humongous deal, Kings may be looking at their future starting point guard.

9. Raptors - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah)

Jakob Poeltl is the best scoring center in this year's draft. With great size (7'1), good hands to finish around the rim and good footwork -- this is a great piece to add to Toronto's front court -- a team destined to make another deep playoff run in the Eastern Conference. When you think of Poeltl think of Andrew Bogut but taller. He may not protect the rim as well as Biyombo, whose most likely leaving Toronto for greener pastures, but he's much better offensively.

10. Bucks - Deytona Davis, PF/C (Michigan State)

The Bucks are in need of a rim protector -- look for Milwaukee to go with Deytona Davis out of the crop of big men who will be selected in the bottom half of the lottery picks. Davis isn't the best scoring big man but has the most upside in becoming the draft's best rim protector. In a 6'10 frame, Davis will fill out and blossom into the Bucks' newest back up center.

11. Magic - Skal Labissiere, PF/C (Kentucky)

The speedy athletic seven-footer can do a lot of different things for Orlando. Skal Labbissiere can run the floor on the fast break, has a jump shot in his arsenal and is a good one-on-one defender. 

12. Jazz - Henry Ellenson, PF/C (Marquette) 

As a versatile 6'11 big man, Henry Ellenson is trending up in mock drafts. Ellenson is a volume shooter who can knock em down from the perimeter and is also a decent passer for a big man. With some ability to score in the post, Ellenson is a good half-court set player for Utah -- he can come off the bench and produce in his first season and give the Jazz valuable minutes while starters like Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are resting.

13. Suns - Furkan Korkmaz, SG (Turkey)

The international sharp shooter has cracked the top-15 in most mock drafts. As a 6'7 shooting guard, Furkan Korkmaz has a great jump shot -- he can score from deep, mid-range and is a match up nightmare for smaller guards who have to defend him in the back court. Defensively, Korkmaz still has a lot he needs to work on but he's 19 and could grow into a decent NBA defender. 

14. Bulls - Wade Baldwin, PG (Vanderbilt)

Due to the handful of big men that are projected to be drafted in the bottom half of the lottery picks, Wade Baldwin should fall right into the Bulls' lap at No. 14. Baldwin is quick with the ball, can attack the hoop and make plays in fast-break opportunities. His 6'10 wingspan makes up for his 6'4 undersized body and has loads of potential. Plenty of upside for the Bulls.

15. Nuggets - Denzel Valentine, SG/SF (Michigan State)

The versatile swingman would fit in nicely in Memphis. He's a great passer, can score from deep and overall, has great court vision. Valentine probably has a higher basketball IQ than anyone else in the draft. At 6'5, he's not athletic but his 6'9 wingspan helps make Valentine a good team-defender.

16. Celtics - Domantas Sabonis, PF/C (Gonzaga)

At No. 16, the Celtics should draft quality players that will adapt to coach Brad Stevens' system -- Domanta Sabonis fits the mold. Sabonis is a high-energy guy, who can run the floor well for his size (6'10) and can grab boards. He averaged 11.8 rebounds last year (Celtics can always use someone like that). He also attacks the rim on offense and his great instincts on the opposite end that will make him a solid defender in Boston.

17. Grizzlies - Demetrius Jackson, PG (Norte Dame)

With Mike Conley's future in Memphis up in the air, the Grizzlies should definitely use their only first round pick on Demetrius Jackson. At No. 17, Demetrius Jackson is the best true point guard available. While some mock drafts are projecting him to be a late first rounder, I think the Grizzlies could use an explosive attacker like Jackson -- who's a good passer, finishes well in pick-and-roll situations and is a solid on-ball defender.

18. Pistons - Tyler Ulis, PG (Kentucky)

At 5'10, Tyler Ulis could be drafted anywhere between picks 14-22, it all depends on which teams are willing to take a chance on him. While the Pistons have a great starting point guard in Reggie Jackson, Ulis wouldn't be a bad understudy. He's an old school point guard with intuitive play making abilities. Ulis is definitely a floor general, no doubt about that and is a good defender for his size. My only concern is his offense. Ulis is a streaky shooter who's also going to have a hard time finishing at the rim at the NBA-level.

19. Nuggets - Ante Zizic, C (Croatia)

At age 19, Ante Zizic has a high ceiling. He's 6'11, weighs 230 lbs and still has plenty of time to grow into becoming a good NBA rebounder. Grabbing boards is what Zizic does best, he's a traditional box out rebounding big who is limited offensively but is most comfortable posting up in the paint. Denver is in no rush for Zizic -- don't think he'll be cracking the Nuggets' rotation in his rookie season, he's a draft-and-stash type of player for Denver but could be worth waiting for.

20. Pacers - Brice Johnson, PF (North Carolina)

Brice Johnson is an athletic 6'10 forward with a good scoring balance of making jump shots and taking it to the rim. Think of Taj Gibson. A great addition to the Pacers -- a team with athletic, fast paced guys like Paul George and Monta Ellis.

21. Hawks - Taurean Prince, SF (Baylor)

Taurean Prince's great footwork makes him a good wing-defender. At 6'8, he can guard multiple positions and on offense he can finish strong at the rim and knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers from behind the arc. Could Prince be Atlanta's new DeMarre Carroll? The Hawks sure hope so.

22. Hornets - Demetrius Jackson, PG (Norte Dame)

With Jeremy Lin most likely on his way out of Charlotte, the Hornets need to use their only first round pick on a promising back up point guard. At No. 22, Demetrius Jackson is the best true point guard available. I think the Hornets could use an explosive attacker like Jackson -- who's a good passer, finishes well in pick-and-roll situations and is a solid on-ball defender. 

23. Celtics - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt) 

Finding a young rim protector in the draft would be a great steal for the Celtics. Damian Jones is a seven-foot bulky center with a knack for rebounding and the potential to become a solid NBA shot blocker. He has the strength and speed to keep up at the pro level and is very athletic. On offense, Jones can certainly finish at the rim but needs to work on his post moves.

24. 76ers - Timothe Luwawu, SG (France)

With Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz entering in the same draft class, Luwawu will drop considerably in the first round. Both guys have a similar game but Korkmaz is the better shooter. However, Luwawu is a decent passer with a higher ceiling. 

25. Clippers - DeAndre Bembry, SF (St. John)

DeAndre Bembry is a go to the basket-type of wing and an excellent finisher. He'll blow right pass you if you're not careful, he's also a decent passer. 

26. 76ers - DeJounte Murray, PG/SG (Washington) 

As an athletic combo guard, DeJounte Murray is an explosive scorer with tremendous handle. Murray can create space, knock down jump shots and has a game that mimics Warriors guard Shaun Livingston so much -- the way those two players play basketball is nearly identical. While Murray is projected to crack the top-20 on draft night, but I think his size and strength will bump him out. If you compare him to other explosive guards in the draft such as Wade Baldwin and Demetrius Jackson, he's a one-trick pony who lacks the skills of a facilitator, he's a turnover machine. He may have the same playing style as Shaun Livingston but he's about 30 pounds lighter -- Murray is 6'5, weighing in at 170 lbs. But with the no. 26 pick, Philadelphia can definitely afford to take a swing.

27. Raptors - Cheick Diallo, PF/C (Kansas)

Cheick Diallo's name has cracked into the first round and continues to rise. While some mock draft have him cracking the top-20 (Dutra), I think Diallo will eventually fall somewhere between 20-28. 

While Dutra would love to see the Celtics take Diallo at No. 16, I'm not a fan. Diallo won't wow you with his numbers (3 points, 2 rebounds) but he certainly raised eyebrows at the NBA combine. At 6'9, Diallo has a 7'4 wingspan and a whopping 9'1 reach. He's quick and can get to the basket and finish strong around the hoop but is just too raw for the Celtics, or any other team, to take in the first half of the first round. 

28. Suns - Juan Hernangomez, PF (Spain)

It's hard to say if Juan Hernangomez is ready to give the Suns a spark off the bench in his rookie season, but it's worth a shot. The 6'9 Spaniard may be listed as a power forward but he's more of a small forward with a good outside shot. Ideally, he's a pick-and-pop kind of scorer. He can put the ball on the floor at times, and drive to the hoop in pick-and-roll situations. 

29. Spurs - Diamond Stone, C (Maryland)

Diamond Stone is a good combination of size and strength. He's bulky at 6'10, 255 lbs and will bang down low and do the dirty work for you. Stone has great hands to grab rebounds and finish around the rim. Reminds me of him as a young Kendrick Perkins.

30. Warriors - Malik Beasley, SG (Florida State)

Malik Beasley is an aggressive slashing guard who can finish strong at the rim and knock down shots from the perimeter. Beasley will get lost on defense but he will put forth the effort and has the athleticism to improve on his footwork. 

Click here to see Sean Dutra's Mock Draft 

Josue Pavon 

photos used are courtesy of Getty Images and Associated Press

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