NBA Mock Draft 2016: Sixers could trade Jahlil Okafor to land Kris Dunn at No. 3
With three teams (Celtics, Nuggets, Suns) combining for a total of 17 picks, expect plenty of movement
We're getting further into this 2016 NBA Draft season. The combine is over, and the lottery has passed. That means we're into the workout phase of the proceedings, which will last for a month until the draft is officially done on June 23.
Another thing that this month is going to heavily involve is trade discussion. You see, this draft is going to feature a lot of movement in terms of where the teams are currently selecting. There are a lot of reasons for that. No. 1, the draft is considered weak at the top, but solid throughout. That means, marginally, first round picks are worth slightly less than they are on average this season, and second round picks could be slightly more valuable. Plus, there are a few teams that have an insanely high number of picks. The Celtics have eight selections. The Nuggets have five. The Suns have four. That's over one quarter of the draft being held by only three teams, meaning there's certainly going to be some positioning there.
In this mock draft, I've tried to project what some of those trades could look like, and honestly may have undersold the sheer number of trades that could occur this time around. There are a few of the player-for-pick variety, and a couple of good old fashioned pick swaps. You get into highly speculative territory when you protect trades, but hopefully this gives you an idea of how action both preceding the draft and on draft night could have an impact on the event.
NBA Mock Draft
|1. Philadelphia 76ers|
|Ben Simmons, SF, LSU: General manager Bryan Colangelo has essentially announced that the Sixers will not move this pick at all. Simmons has been the pick here for Philly since the season ended, and there still has not been a reason to deviate from that. He's still the highest upside player in the draft, and the Sixers are still looking for a star.|
|2. Los Angeles Lakers|
|Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke: Despite the Lakers search for a veteran star that can turn around their fortunes immediately, it's hard to see a circumstance where the team gets an offer that makes sense over taking Ingram, the clear No. 2 player in the draft and a perfect fit for what Luke Walton wants to do with his floor-spacing ability and the versatility he can provide defensively.|
|3. Boston Celtics (TRADE WITH 76ers)|
|Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: TRADE: Jahlil Okafor for No. 3 -- Kris Dunn: Trades within the top-five are quite rare. However, this one just makes way too much sense for the Sixers. If Simmons is the pick, it's hard to see how it benefits the Sixers to keep Okafor around due to what seems to be a rather precarious fit. However, if Okafor was in this draft, he'd be the clear No. 3 overall prospect. So here's where a trade makes sense. The Sixers move Okafor to pick up the No. 3 pick to the Celtics. Philly selects a slightly worse prospect in Dunn, but get a better roster fit and get an extra year of control and an extra year on his rookie deal. In Okafor, the Celtics help out a center position that was clearly lacking this season, as Jared Sullinger started playoff games for the team. They also get a better prospect than anyone else available to them. The value here would seem to fit.|
|4. Phoenix Suns|
|Dragan Bender, PF, Israel: The Suns could use two things: a stretch-four and a solid defensive wing. Bender plays both of those positions in Israel, although his best spot will likely be at the 4 or 5 in the NBA once his body fills out. His ability to shoot and to move his feet would fit well in a future partnership with Alex Len as well as next to T.J. Warren if they still have faith in their past lottery picks.|
|5. Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky: Another mock draft, another Murray to the Wolves selection. It's hard to see him falling beyond this point, and the draft order at this stage does seem to shake out nicely for him to get to this point. His ability to shoot the ball and potentially act as a solid secondary ball-handler would fit well either off the bench or next to Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins, depending on the lineup they want to use.|
|6. New Orleans Pelicans|
|Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma: The Pelicans are relatively unstable at this point, what with owner Tom Benson accusing his family of trying to kill him in the past week. However, one thing that seems likely is that they want to win as soon as possible. Hield is definitely one of the more ready-made players in this draft due his shot-making ability, and it fits well with what the Pelicans will have a need for with Eric Gordon entering free agency. It's possible Hield could have an immediate impact.|
|7. Denver Nuggets|
|Jaylen Brown, SG, California: If there's a better fit between player and team than this one, I'm not sure what it is. The Nuggets need a big wing with size and defensive ability badly. Enter Brown, who provides size at 6-7, length with a 7-foot wingspan, and solid defensive prowess. Don't be fooled by the lack of steals or blocks, as Cal played an extremely conservative scheme under Cuonzo Martin. Brown would fit really well with what the Nuggets are building in Denver.|
|8. Sacramento Kings|
|Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington: I've swapped picks No. 8 and 9 this week. Chriss represents a bigger swing for the fences than Ellenson, and his rebounding weakness would be relatively helped here by playing next to DeMarcus Cousins. He's still got a long way to go, and likely would spend some time in Reno next season. But Chriss works well here.|
|9. Toronto Raptors|
|Henry Ellenson, PF-C, Marquette: Ellenson to the Raptors is something that has been mocked before here, and it still makes sense. The big man can not only act as a stretch-four next to Jonas Valanciunas, but he could also occasionally slide over to the 5 due to his size and play there. This one really is a great mesh of fit and of skill level, and Ellenson could make an early impact on a really good team.|
|10. Milwaukee Bucks|
|Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah: Poeltl works here due to his athleticism and mobility. The 7-foot Austrian represents the last player in a tier before a bit of a drop-off to the next level, as his ability to play in the post, defend both inside and out, pass the ball, and rebound should play well and make him an NBA starter in the future.|
|11. Orlando Magic|
|Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State: The Magic hired Frank Vogel, a coach who prioritizes defensive ability. Davis has a really high amount of potential on that end due to the way he moves his feet on the perimeter and protects the weak side of the glass. He'll take some development, but his athleticism on defense along with his ability to potentially shoot it a little on offense makes him the right fit here.|
|12. Utah Jazz (TRADE WITH NUGGETS)|
|Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State: TRADE: Utah's No. 12 pick -- Denzel Valentine -- for Denver's Nos. 15 and 19: Here, we see another trade. The Nuggets have three top-20 picks this time around, and may look to consolidate those instead of using them all. So they move Nos. 15 and 19 for No. 12, a similar trade to one they were on the reverse side of in 2014 when they picked up Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic for the pick that the Bulls used to take Doug McDermott. The Jazz are a team in need of a point guard, and given that there are three available all in the same tier, they can afford to move back, pick up an extra top-20 pick in the process, and still likely get their guy. With this pick, the Nuggets move up for Denzel Valentine, a terrific talent in the backcourt who would continue to help fill their hole on the wing and also help them space the floor a bit better next to Emmanuel Mudiay.|
|13. Phoenix Suns|
|Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga: Further depth at the 4 for the Suns, who go with a best player available approach here in the frontcourt due to the fact that this stage of the draft doesn't have a ton in the way of wing talent. Sabonis is a tough dude, and one that might be able to contribute immediately due to his high basketball IQ, rebounding ability, and touch.|
|14. Chicago Bulls|
|Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame: The Bulls could look a wide variety of directions with this pick. They could try to get another big man to help replace Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, both free agents this offseason. They could pick a wing. Instead though, let's go with a point guard to help steady the ship behind Derrick Rose. Jackson has experience playing in a spacing-oriented, wide-open offensive scheme at Notre Dame like the one Fred Holberg wants to run, and could be a nice fit in the offense.|
|15. Denver Nuggets (TRADE WITH JAZZ)|
|Wade Baldwin IV, SG, Vanderbilt: TRADE: Wade Baldwin: As mentioned above, the Jazz could use a point guard. Baldwin is the upside pick of the trio of point guards including he, Jackson and Tyler Ulis. At 6-4 with a 6-11 wingspan, he has massive measurements for a point guard as well as the ability to shoot off the dribble and get downhill in a heartbeat. He'd be an interesting option for the Jazz next to Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward, and he could potentially even play next to Dante Exum due to his size.|
|16. Boston Celtics|
|Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky: An upside pick here for the Celtics who try to reshape their frontcourt. Labissiere could really fit well next to Okafor due to his ability to hit jump shots from the perimeter next to the former Duke big man's post game. Labissiere would likely spend quite a bit of time in Maine in his rookie season, but the Celtics have a solid developmental system in place that could really help the Kentucky forward reach his full ceiling.|
|17. Memphis Grizzlies|
|Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky: The final in this tier of point guards to go, Ulis would represent a good replacement for free agent Mike Conley ? or could represent a solid backup behind him if he stays. The 5-foot-9 Kentucky point guard would also be a pretty perfect fit in Memphis, where his toughness and grittiness would fit perfectly in the city.|
|18. Detroit Pistons (TRADE WITH CELTICS)|
|Timothe Luwawu, SG, France: TRADE -- Timothe Luwawu (No. 18 overall) from Detroit to Boston for the No. 23, 31 and 35 overall picks: The Celtics have eight picks in this draft coming into it, and need to offload some of them either into the future or into a higher pick. So here, they move up to pick up Luwawu, a really nice wing prospect from France who is playing in the Adriatic League for Mega Leks and has taken a good leap this year. This would represent solid value for the Celtics at No. 18, and good value on their picks given that he could eventually turn into an NBA starter.|
|19. Denver Nuggets (TRADE WITH JAZZ)|
|DeAndre' Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph's: TRADE: DeAndre Bembry: The Jazz go ahead and take a playmaking wing here next after snatching up Baldwin earlier. He fits well in a variety of lineups for Utah, and could represent a hopeful replacement in the event that Gordon Hayward leaves after next offseason. Bembry has been a riser throughout the process, and as a junior could possibly even help the team this season.|
|20. Indiana Pacers|
|Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina: The Pacers tend to like college kids that have been extremely productive, and it's hard to get more productive than Johnson this season. The kid was only a first team All-American who averaged 17 and 10 while tossing up a 64.9 true-shooting percentage and leading his team to a national championship game berth. He's a bouncy athlete who would fit the hole in Indiana's front court well next to Myles Turner.|
|21. Atlanta Hawks|
|Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State: Beasley goes home to Georgia in this mock draft, as the Hawks select the best player remaining on the board to help out a backcourt that could lose one of Jeff Teague or Dennis Schroder this offseason as well as Kent Bazemore and Kirk Hinrich. Beasley can score at all three levels, shoots it well from distance, and is a better athlete than he gets credit for.|
|22. Charlotte Hornets|
|Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor: This is the same selection as last time, as the board falls in a way here that makes selecting a nice replacement for Marvin Williams a solid investment. Prince was one of the better scorers in college basketball in each of the last two seasons, and has the frame to play both the 3 and some small-ball 4 in the NBA eventually if he can get used to defending more in man-to-man.|
|23. Boston Celtics (TRADE WITH PISTONS)|
|Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse: TRADE: Malachi Richardson: The Pistons have good reason to make the aforementioned trade with the Celtics. This team has a massive need for depth outside of its starting lineup, and could use more draft picks to try and shore that up. This season, the Pistons got less points per game from its bench than any team in the NBA, and its bench shot worst out of any team in the NBA at only 41.2 percent. Here, the Pistons try to get a nice spark plug off the bench in Richardson, a long scoring wing who made a name for himself during Syracuse's run to the Final Four.|
|24. Philadelphia 76ers|
|Ante Zizic, C, Croatia: The 76ers do have a lot of big men, but if we're trading Okafor it might make sense to go ahead and take a stash big man, and I'll tell you why. First and foremost, the Sixers don't really need more young players coming in given that we're bringing in a pair of top three picks in this mock draft. Second, the team is going to have to make decisions on Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel sooner rather than later. What if they decide to cut bait with one? That actually could open up a bit of a spot in the front court, and Zizic could then come to America and slot in well there.|
|25. Los Angeles Clippers|
|Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV: The Clippers need help on the wing badly. McCaw is a bit raw still, but he has tremendous instincts defensively, has solid basketball sense offensively, can really pass it, and is developing as a shooter. This might be more of a fit pick than a value pick, but it's one that works even if his career at UNLV didn't exactly go as perfectly as planned.|
|26. Philadelphia 76ers (TRADE WITH KINGS)|
|Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington: TRADE -- Ben McLemore for No. 26 overall pick Dejounte Murray: Here's another trade. As mentioned above, the Sixers likely don't want to bring in more rookies, and Colangelo has stated that he wants vets around. McLemore doesn't necessarily qualify as a "vet," but he at least has experience as well as upside and could resurrect his career in Philly. Why do the Kings make this move? Well, it allows them to recoup some value for a player that seems to have fallen out of favor, and get a point guard in Murray that many people fans of. The Kings could have a vacancy there this offseason if Rajon Rondo leaves, so it works out for both sides.|
|27. Toronto Raptors|
|Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia: Another similar pick from last time. Zubac could take the time and develop in Toronto's system as a player who still has pretty immense potential, but also had something of a lost year this season due to injuries and other factors that were out of his control in terms of payment.|
|28. Phoenix Suns|
|Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain: Hernangomez was recently awarded the Spanish ACB League's Best Young Player award, a solid feather in his cap that is well deserved after a breakout year that saw him average nearly 10 points per night while playing against men. It was nice that Hernangomez got the award this year, as it's exceedingly likely that thing belongs to Luka Doncic next year for Real Madrid, a potential top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Hernangomez is a forward who can shoot the 3 and may or may not come over next season.|
|29. San Antonio Spurs|
|Paul Zipser, SF, Germany: Zipser is a similar pick to the last mock draft. He represents a lot of flexibility due to his situation over in Europe that might be appealing to a Spurs team that could be somewhat in flux in 2016-17 due to retirements and potential free agency targets.|
|30. Golden State Warriors|
|Damian Jones, PF, Vanderbilt: Golden State could have a hard time retaining Festus Ezeli this offseason despite the fact that he's a restricted free agent. Why not go out and get the next Ezeli? Jones is another superb athlete who still doesn't quite have the basketball sense you're looking for yet. However, if he can put together all of his tools, he'll have a shot to become an NBA starter within a few years.|
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