Version III: The Vertical's 2016 NBA mock draft
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Brandon Ingram | SF | Duke
Freshman | 18 | 6-9, 196
Insider info: Philadelphia will look long and hard here at Ingram and Ben Simmons to determine who the best long-term prospect in this draft class might be. Ingram is clearly the better fit in terms of what the team needs on the wing. He’s also a better fit alongside last year’s No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor, who desperately needs shooters around him, and Dario Saric, who is somewhat of a European version of Simmons. The red flags surrounding Simmons' lack of competitiveness and the fact that he is more than a year older than Ingram have led many to believe that Ingram has surpassed Simmons in terms of overall upside.
2. L.A. Lakers
Ben Simmons | SF/PF | LSU
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 239
Insider info: In a draft many consider to have a significant dropoff after the No. 2 pick, the Lakers will be happy to "settle" for whomever the Sixers decide not to draft. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers fit the non-shooting Simmons alongside the ball-dominant backcourt of D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, but there really isn't much of a choice here. New head coach Luke Walton could try and mold Simmons into a bigger and more athletic version of Draymond Green, which could help quite a bit alongside as many shooters as possible.
3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)
Dragan Bender | PF | Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli League
18 | 7-1 | 225
Insider info: Power forward has long been a position of need for the Celtics, and it was abundantly clear in the playoffs that Jared Sullinger is not a solution because of his struggles defensively. Enter Bender, whom many feel has a huge upside in today’s NBA because of his defensive versatility, perimeter shooting and outstanding feel for the game.
4. Phoenix Suns
Jaylen Brown | SF | California
Freshman | 19 | 6-7, 222
Insider info: The Suns have a major hole on the wing, and Brown is an excellent candidate to fill it. He possesses the necessary size, strength and length to play small forward alongside the very promising Devin Booker. The two complement each other nicely in many ways.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Kris Dunn | PG | Providence
Junior | 22 | 6-4, 205
Insider info: Dunn could get picked a few slots higher, but he likely will have no qualms about landing with a team like Minnesota, which has an abundance of young talent. Dunn is the best point guard in the draft, and at 22 he should be polished enough to join the outstanding young core the Timberwolves have built with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Jamal Murray | PG/SG | Kentucky
Freshman | 19 | 6-5, 201
Insider info: The Pelicans’ backcourt is unsettled at the moment, with a dozen different players earning a starting nod at one point or another over the course of the season. Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday have all struggled with injuries and none is under contract past next season, which means New Orleans will look at all of the top guards available. Murray was one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball despite being a freshman.
7. Denver Nuggets (from New York)
Buddy Hield | SG | Oklahoma
Senior | 22 | 6-4, 214
Insider info: The Nuggets have built a very promising core and will likely be attracted to the strong perimeter shooting and overall scoring of Hield. The senior should be set to contribute immediately, which helps on a roster that is already among the youngest in the NBA. His deficiencies defensively could be mitigated by playing alongside a tall and physically gifted point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay, and Hield seems to complement him offensively.
8. Sacramento Kings
Skal Labissiere | PF/C | Kentucky
Freshman | 20 | 7, 216
Insider info: Sacramento has a glaring hole at power forward and will likely give a long look at the highly skilled Labissiere, who appears to be the perfect fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins in terms of his style of play. He also has the added benefit of being able to play alongside Willie Cauley-Stein in other lineups, which is exactly the type of versatility the Kings could use in their frontcourt. While any one player in this draft won’t solve the Kings’ many issues, Labissiere could be a nice building block for the team.
9. Toronto Raptors (from Denver)
Deyonta Davis | PF/C | Michigan State
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 230
Insider info: The Raptors look fairly set at almost every position except power forward and will likely consider Davis, who may be able to offer some of the shooting range and rim protection they currently lack next to Jonas Valanciunas. Once Davis bulks up, he can also spend some minutes at center, which could be handy with backup Bismack Biyombo likely in line for a significant raise on the free-agent market after a terrific playoff series.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Jakob Poeltl | C | Utah
Sophomore | 20 | 7-1, 242
Insider info: Greg Monroe has been somewhat of a disappointment since signing as a free agent last summer, which could prompt the Bucks to explore alternative options at the position. Poeltl is considered the best center in this draft and has plenty of upside physically and skill-wise.
11. Orlando Magic
Marquese Chriss | PF | Washington
Freshman | 18 |6-10, 225
Insider info: Orlando desperately needs to find a big man who can play alongside Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon in different lineups, and Chriss is a strong candidate. He's one of the best athletes in this draft and has the shooting range to play on the perimeter at times.
12. Utah Jazz
Denzel Valentine | SG | Michigan State
Senior | 22 | 6-6, 223
Insider info: Seven players in Utah’s rotation this past season were under 25, which means the Jazz might like the idea of adding someone who was arguably the most productive player in college basketball last season instead of a long-term project. A big, multi-positional guard who can play alongside Dante Exum, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward would make sense for the Jazz.
13. Phoenix Suns (from Washington)
Henry Ellenson | PF | Marquette
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 231
Insider info: After unloading Markieff Morris at the deadline, the Suns are likely in the hunt for a starting power forward and could be attracted to the size, skill and upside of Ellenson. He can score from all over the floor, and despite being somewhat of a tweener defensively he has the talent to be picked higher with strong workouts and interviews.
14. Chicago Bulls
Timothe Luwawu | SG/SF | Mega Leks, Adriatic League
20 | 6-7, 205
Insider info: The Bulls had somewhat of a rotating door at the wing position this season alongside Jimmy Butler, starting Tony Snell, Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich and Justin Holiday, none of whom was overly effective. The Bulls will have to take a long look at the Frenchman, who offers good size for the position, length, athleticism, perimeter shooting and defensively versatility.
15. Denver Nuggets (from Houston)
Furkan Korkmaz | SG |Anadolu Efes, Turkish League
18 | 6-7, 185
Insider info: With three first-round picks, the Nuggets will likely be looking for one or two players they can stash in Europe for another year or two. Adding too many young players at the same time doesn't make a great deal of sense for a team that is already among the youngest in the league. Korkmaz is only 18, but has some good experience playing in the Euroleague over the past two seasons. He’s also one of the best shooters in the draft and could develop into a major asset with some more seasoning at the highest levels of Europe.
16. Boston Celtics (from Dallas)
Taurean Prince | SF | Baylor
Senior | 21 | 6-7, 215
Insider info: With Evan Turner entering free agency, the Celtics could be in the hunt for a versatile, defensive-oriented small forward in his mold. Prince can guard three positions and is a solid outside shooter, which may be attractive for a team that struggled from the perimeter at times last season. With five draft picks from the last two years on their roster and many more potentially on the way, the Celtics might like the idea of adding a college senior who could contribute right away.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Wade Baldwin | PG | Vanderbilt
Sophomore | 20 | 6-3, 195
Insider info: Incumbent starting point guard Mike Conley is an unrestricted free agent, and considering the amount of roster upheaval likely in store, drafting Baldwin may not be a bad plan. Baldwin has the length to guard multiple positions, was an excellent shooter in his two years of college (something the Grizzlies are sorely lacking) and also has significant upside to grow into, which could come in handy depending on the direction the franchise decides to go.
18. Detroit Pistons
Domantas Sabonis | PF/C | Gonzaga
Sophomore | 20 | 6-10, 231
Insider info: The Pistons were looking for help at power forward and center at the trade deadline before their deal for Donatas Moteijunas fell apart and could continue to look to fortify those positions. Sabonis has the type of toughness Stan Van Gundy covets and could contribute immediately with his rebounding prowess in different lineups as a traditional power forward or small-ball center.
19. Denver Nuggets (from Portland)
Demetrius Jackson | PG | Notre Dame
Junior | 21 | 6-1, 194
Insider info: Point guard isn’t really a position of need after drafting Emmanuel Mudiay, but the Nuggets would be pleasantly surprised to find Jackson here. Denver is the type of team that would snatch up the best talent available regardless of what is on its roster. Jackson has NBA-caliber athleticism, but is also a good enough shooter to play off the ball as well, which would be handy alongside a physically gifted point guard such as Mudiay.
20. Indiana Pacers
Tyler Ulis | PG | Kentucky
Sophomore | 20 | 5-9, 160
Insider info: The Pacers are looking to “score more points” next season, according to team president Larry Bird, and part of that initiative likely starts at point guard. Incumbent George Hill is a tremendous defender and perimeter shooter, but he is not the most creative ball-handler or distributor. That could lead the team to look at a player like Ulis, at least in a backup role. He was the engine of one of the most efficient offenses in college basketball last season.
21. Atlanta Hawks
Damian Jones | C | Vanderbilt
Junior | 20 | 6-11, 248
Insider info: With Al Horford an unrestricted free agent and Tiago Splitter hampered all season because of injuries, the Hawks could very well look to add some bulk inside. Jones might be the most physically gifted big man in this class, with an NBA-ready frame and outstanding athleticism. He underachieved in college, but might find more success in the NBA in a more compact role with a better player-development system.
22. Charlotte Hornets
Ivica Zubac | C | Cibona Zagreb, Adriatic League
19 | 7-1, 265
Insider info: Al Jefferson is an unrestricted free agent and is on the downside of his career after an injury-plagued season. Zubac is cut from the same cloth as Jefferson, possessing long arms, a strong frame and solid skill with his back to the basket. He could very well have gone 10-15 spots higher had he waited another year. He simply isn’t very well known because he changed clubs and was ineligible to play for most of the season. His size, toughness and budding skill make him a project worth investing in.
23. Boston Celtics
Ante Zizic | C | Cibona Zagreb, Adriatic League
19 | 6-11, 240
Insider info: With their third first-round pick, the Celtics could be looking for a player they can stash in Europe for another year or two to continue to develop. Zizic has tremendous size to go along with excellent hands, nice toughness and a budding skill level that could easily get him selected 10 spots higher had he waited another year to raise his prospect profile.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami)
Malik Beasley | SG | Florida State
Freshman | 19 | 6-4, 185
Insider info: With their second first-round pick, the Sixers could look to add some firepower on the wing, where they’ve really struggled to find consistency, particularly in terms of perimeter shooting. Beasley doesn’t have great size, but has a beautiful stroke from the perimeter, is a willing defender and shows the kind of basketball IQ you want to see from a developing young player.
25. L.A. Clippers
Cheick Diallo | PF/C | Kansas
Freshman | 19 | 6-9, 219
Insider info: The Clippers will need to find some rotation big men to play behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, especially because Cole Aldrich has probably outplayed his $1.2 million option. Diallo is a project, but has a tremendous motor and could contribute in the not-too-distant future simply. He has the physical tools as a defender and rebounder for a team that doesn’t really need more scoring.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City)
Zhou Qi | C | Xinjiang, China
20 | 7-2, 209
Insider info: With their third first-rounder, Philadelphia can afford to swing for the fences on a high-upside player like Zhou. He has one of the biggest wingspans in the draft at 7-6, is a strong rim protector and even shows some potential facing the basket and making 3-pointers. His body is on the frail side, but with strong player development and strength-and-conditioning plans, he could easily exceed his draft slot.
27. Toronto Raptors
Juan Hernangomez | SF/PF | Estudiantes, ACB
20 | 6-9, 220
Insider info: With their second first-rounder, the Raptors could be looking to pick a player they can stash in Europe for another year or two. Hernangomez has nice upside as a highly competitive face-up power forward who has been very productive in the competitive ACB league this season.
28. Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland)
Petr Cornelie | PF | Le Mans, French League
20 | 6-11, 220
Insider info: With their third first-rounder, the Suns could be looking for a player they can draft and stash rather than adding another developing player to an already young roster. Cornelie's size and perimeter shooting make him a player potentially worth investing in.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Brice Johnson | PF | North Carolina
Senior | 21 | 6-9, 230
Insider info: With a decent chunk of their frontcourt rotation either entering free agency or on the back-end of its career, the Spurs could look to address power forward. Players at this draft slot come with tiny guarantees relative to the exploding salary cap and little risk, so taking a flyer on an ultra-productive college player like Brice Johnson could make a lot of sense. If he pans out, he’ll be producing for four years on a very valuable contract.
30. Golden State Warriors
DeAndre Bembry | SG |St. Joseph's
Junior | 21 | 6-6, 210
Insider info: The Warriors have a great deal of talent, and finding a player who can contribute this late in the draft is challenging. Shoring up their guard and wing rotation with a heady and versatile player like Bembry makes sense. He does a little bit of everything with his ball-handling, passing and athleticism, and if he can become a more consistent shooter he will be a longtime NBA player.