Version IV: The Vertical's 2016 NBA mock draft

The Vertical
Yahoo Sports

1. Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons | SF/PF | LSU
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 239
Insider info: Simmons is the player the Sixers want at No. 1, at least that’s what Vertical sources have said Philadelphia has told other teams around the league. It remains to be seen whether the feeling is mutual because Simmons has yet to visit the Sixers in their home facility, which is highly unusual for a top pick in recent years. That puts the Sixers in a difficult spot because it’s far from a consensus that Simmons is the best talent in this draft.


2. L.A. Lakers
Brandon Ingram | SF | Duke
Freshman | 18 | 6-9, 196
Insider info: In a draft many consider to have a significant dropoff after the second pick, the Lakers will be happy to "settle" for whomever the Sixers pass. Ingram is the player the Lakers would have targeted at No. 1 had they won the lottery, sources told The Vertical. He is a perfect fit for their roster and should generate a great deal of excitement about the future.


3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)
Kris Dunn | PG | Providence
Junior | 22 | 6-4, 205
Insider info: The draft begins here, with as many as five players who could be candidates for this spot. The Celtics would love to trade this pick for an NBA-ready player who is a better fit on their existing roster, but that may be somewhat of a long shot based on recent history. Dunn likely has the highest immediate trade value because he plays a position that is very weak in this draft, even if the Celtics already have plenty of guards. The Celtics likely won’t be scared off by not receiving his medical info from his agents or by not working him out. Their own team doctor performed Dunn’s shoulder surgery a few years ago, and they may know him better than anyone in this draft having played close by in Providence.


4. Phoenix Suns
Marquese Chriss | PF | Washington
Freshman | 18 | 6-10, 225
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 Chriss’ athleticism, skill and upside. His tantalizing talent has made him one of the fastest-rising prospects of the draft. Dragan Bender is also a candidate here.


5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Buddy Hield | SG | Oklahoma
Senior | 22 | 6-4, 214
Insider info: Minnesota could really use some outside shooting, and Buddy Hield is arguably the best shooter in this class. 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 bigger guards Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine. He is polished enough to join an outstanding young core that includes 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)
Dragan Bender | PF | Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli League
18 | 7-1 | 225
Insider info: Bender could be the third-best player in this draft, but his youth, physical immaturity and struggle getting consistent playing time have caused some teams to get cold feet. At this point in the draft, Denver could definitely afford to be patient with the young Croatian, whom many feel has a huge upside because of his defensive versatility, perimeter shooting and outstanding feel for the game.


8. Sacramento Kings
Jaylen Brown | SF | California
Freshman | 19 | 6-7, 222
Insider info: Many feel the draft drops off significantly after the eighth pick, with many different opinions on whom the next best prospect might be. That should make for a fairly easy choice for the Kings, even if Brown’s inexperience and lack of perimeter shooting don’t make him an ideal fit.


9. Toronto Raptors (from Denver)
Jakob Poeltl | C | Utah
Sophomore | 20 | 7-1, 242
Insider info: Free agent Bismack Biyombo likely became too expensive for Toronto this summer because of his tremendous playoff campaign. The Raptors will need to fill that void with a solid backup center, and Poeltl looks ready. Poeltl is considered the best center in this draft and has plenty of upside physically and skill-wise to continue to grow.


10. Milwaukee Bucks
Henry Ellenson | PF/C | Marquette
Freshman | 19 | 6-11, 231
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. Ellenson will likely end up playing the center position because of his lack of foot speed, but has the versatility needed offensively to fit in very nicely alongside their existing core.


11. Orlando Magic
Skal Labissiere | PF/C | Kentucky
Freshman | 20 | 7-0, 216
Insider info: Orlando desperately needs a big man who can play alongside Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon in different lineups, and Labissiere is a strong candidate. He's one of the most talented big men in this draft and has the shooting range to play on the perimeter. Labissiere is a project, but his potential as a floor-stretching rim protector is exactly what many NBA teams want these days.


12. Utah Jazz
Wade Baldwin | PG | Vanderbilt
Sophomore | 20 | 6-3, 195
Insider info: Utah has plenty of young talent, but could look to add depth at point guard. A big, multi-positional guard who can play alongside Dante Exum, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward would make sense.


13. Phoenix Suns (from Washington)
Domantas Sabonis | PF/C | Gonzaga
Sophomore | 20 | 6-10, 231
Insider info: The Suns could sorely use some toughness and character, which Sabonis possesses. He is big enough to play center alongside whichever power forward they may pick at No. 4, but can also play power forward alongside Alex Len and Tyson Chandler.


14. Chicago Bulls
Timothe Luwawu | SG/SF | Mega Leks, Adriatic League
21 | 6-7, 205
Insider info: The Bulls are desperately looking for a point guard and would be very happy to trade up to try to get Kris Dunn. But they also 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 defensive 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)
Deyonta Davis | PF/C | Michigan State
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 230
Insider info: The Celtics are always in the market for length, upside and athleticism, and would be pleased to get Davis here. A lackluster predraft process has caused his stock to cool somewhat, but he’s too talented to fall much further.


17. Memphis Grizzlies
Malachi Richardson | SG | Syracuse
Freshman | 20 | 6-6, 200
Insider info: The Grizzlies are enamored with the Syracuse wing, and he could be a fit here. They could really use the perimeter shooting he offers and has some upside.


18. Detroit Pistons
Cheick Diallo | PF/C | Kansas
Freshman | 19 | 6-9, 219
Insider info: The Pistons were looking for help at power forward and center at the trade deadline before their deal for Donatas Motiejunas fell apart and could continue to look to fortify those positions. Diallo has the type of toughness Stan Van Gundy likes and could earn a spot in the rotation with his rebounding ability 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: Denver could be in the market for a backup point who can also play alongside Emmanuel Mudiay, who provides size and defensive versatility. Jackson has NBA-caliber athleticism but is also a good enough shooter to play off the ball as well, which would be handy playing with Mudiay.


20. Indiana Pacers
Juan Hernangomez | SF/PF | Estudiantes, ACB
20 | 6-9, 220
Insider info: The Pacers really don’t have a power forward on their roster and will likely be looking for someone who can stretch the floor with combo forward Solomon Hill entering unrestricted free agency. Hernangomez brings great toughness, a budding skill set and has nice upside to develop alongside center Myles Turner.


21. Atlanta Hawks
Taurean Prince | SF | Baylor
Senior | 21 | 6-7, 215
Insider info: The Hawks really missed the toughness and versatility DeMarre Carroll brought to both forward spots, which could cause them to take a long look at Prince. He is a tough, perimeter-oriented combo forward who has an NBA-ready frame and can have a valuable role in today’s style of play with his ability to stretch the floor.


22. Charlotte Hornets
Ivica Zubac | C | Mega Leks, 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-to-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
Denzel Valentine | SG | Michigan State
Senior | 22 | 6-6, 223
Insider info: With Evan Turner entering free agency, the Celtics could be in the hunt for a versatile wing player in his mold and might like the idea of adding someone who was arguably the most productive player in college basketball last season. Non-basketball concerns may cause Valentine to slide, but the fact that he can contribute right away on an inexpensive rookie-scale contract could dampen the questions surrounding his long-term outlook.


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
DeAndre Bembry | SG |St. Joseph's
Junior | 21 | 6-6, 210
Insider info: The Clippers have a major hole on the perimeter, with 36-year-old Jamal Crawford and Wesley Johnson both entering free agency, and Paul Pierce turning 39. Shoring up their guard and wing rotations 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.


26. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City)
DeJounte Murray | PG | Washington
19 | 6-5, 170
Insider info: The Sixers at some point will need to address point guard, which has been unsettled for some time. Murray has great size and scoring instincts, and has real upside to continue to develop on a patient team that is willing to let him learn through mistakes.


27. Toronto Raptors
Ante Zizic | C | Cibona Zagreb, Adriatic League
19 | 6-11, 240
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. Zizic has tremendous size to go along with excellent hands, nice toughness and a budding skill level. He could have easily been selected higher had he waited another year.


28. Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland)
Zhou Qi | C | Xinjiang, China
20 | 7-2, 209
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. Zhou’s 7-8 wingspan, shot-blocking instincts and perimeter-shooting potential make him a player worth investing in.


29. San Antonio Spurs
Damian Jones | C | Vanderbilt
Junior | 20 | 6-11, 248
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 the center position. Players at this draft slot come with tiny guarantees relative to the exploding salary cap and little risk, so taking a flyer on a high-upside college player like Jones could pay off. If he pans out, he’ll be producing for four years on a very valuable contract.


30. Golden State Warriors
Diamond Stone | C | Maryland
Freshman | 19 | 6-10, 254
Insider info: The Warriors have a great deal of talent and finding a player who can contribute this late in the draft is challenging. Adding a long, skilled 7-footer who can operate with his back to the basket could work, especially with Festus Ezeli entering free agency. Stone is talented enough to get drafted higher than this, but the evaporating market for players in his mold may push him down further.


What to Read Next