Now with the NBA and NCAA seasons officially underway, here’s a look at our first ever NBA Mock Draft. The field this year doesn’t seem to be as strong as last years class. Per usual, there are a few players from Kentucky and Duke. The picks reflect the standings as of November 24th, 2015.
- Philadelphia 76ers-THE PICK: Ben Simmons, Small Forward, LSU
Ben Simmons is a talent that is very rare in the NBA. He’s a mismatch at 6’9. The Australian point forward can pass, run and dribble like a point guard. He also leads the nation in rebounds per game with 14.4. He hasn’t even attempted a three to this point which, is a major concern. With the 76ers being the worst team ever, they need any talent they can get. Simmons would be a step in the right direction.
- New Orleans Pelicans- THE PICK: Jamal Murray, Point Guard, Kentucky
Outside of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans roster is filled with over priced, often injured players. The biggest need is a guard, and Jamal Murray is the best in the class. He’s an above average athlete, but he’s very skilled. Murray had a monster summer for team Canada and it helped him gain a scholarship from Kentucky. With John Calipari’s pedigree with guards (John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Derrick Rose to name a few), expect Murray to become a star at the next level.
- Los Angeles Lakers- THE PICK: Skal Labissiere, Center, Kentucky
Lakers will be bad until Kobe retires. They signed Roy Hibbert but he’ll be just a stopgap for Labissiere. He’s a great shot blocker and also has some skill with a developing mid range. Under the coaching of Calipari, he can expand his offensive game, just like Cal did with Anthony Davis. Hopefully he won’t be in Byron Scott’s doghouse like current rookie and number two overall pick D’Angelo Russell is right now.
- Boston Celtics (via. Brooklyn Nets)- THE PICK: Jaylen Brown, Small Forward, California
First off, you’re welcome TJ. Our writer TJ Tullis has been a Jaylen Brown fan almost as long as myself, albeit he is a bigger fan. He’s a tank when driving to the basket. He needs to work on his shooting touch, a lot (42% from the field, 63% from the foul line, 22% from deep). He plays a lot like Stanley Johnson but could be much better than Johnson. He’s an elite defender and has above the rim hops. He was a star in high school, is a star in college, and will be a star in the NBA.
- Sacramento Kings- THE PICK: Henry Ellenson, Power Forward, Marquette
It’s hard not to think of Kevin Love when you see Henry Ellenson play. He can shoot, dribble and pass very well for a big man. Ellenson can also clean the glass. He’s the feature guy at Marquette this season. But he’s not a great athlete and will probably struggle defensively. But he’ll have Willie Cauley Stein to help him on that end. Ellenson will also be able to give DeMarcus Cousins more room inside due to his ability to shoot from outside.
- Houston Rockets- THE PICK: Brandon Ingram, Small Forward, Duke
Ingram hasn’t played too well for the Blue Devils to start the year. Neither has Houston. His mismatch potential is too much for him to slip too far in the draft. Ingram will need to put on weight to be able to play at all areas on the court. Ingram has already packed on over 20 pounds but still hovers around 200. But as of now he has a great shooting stroke and vast defensive potential due to his wingspan.
- Portland Trail Blazers- THE PICK: Jakob Poeltl, Center, Utah
Portland is in for a lengthy rebuild after losing four starters over the offseason. Thankfully, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have played very well for Rip City. Portland still doesn’t have an inside presence. That’s where Poeltl comes in. So far, he’s been a monster this year, averaging 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game. He’s taken over for Delon Wright as the go to option for Utah, and he’s excelled so far. Up to this point, it looks like he’s finally added an offensive game to his great defense.
- Denver Nuggets- THE PICK: Dragan Bender, Power Forward, Croatia, 1997
The top international prospect this year will remind everyone of Kristaps Porzingis or Dirk Nowitzki. With the early success of Porzingis as a rookie, Dragan’s stock could be pointing up. Bender is like any other international big man. Limited athletically but is extremely skilled. He can dribble and shoot very well for a seven footer. With Denver also in a lengthy rebuild, they can afford wait for Bender overseas if he stays.
- Orlando Magic- THE PICK: Cheick Diallo, Power Forward, Kansas
The Magic seem to be drafting lengthy players who play great defense and can’t shoot. Diallo fits that bill to a T. He plays with a lot of energy on both sides. A great athlete, the Malian born forward blocks and rebounds with ease. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game to this point, but if he can develop one under Bill Self at Kansas, his stock could continue to rise after he was just cleared to play after an NCAA investigation.
- Milwaukee Bucks- THE PICK: Damian Jones, Center, Vanderbilt
Jason Kidd and the Bucks play positionless basketball. They love guys who can play multiple positions, and Jones can do just that. His stock was boosted over the summer at the Nike Skills Camp, as he measured in at a true seven feet with a 7’2 wingspan. He’s a bit raw offensively, but his athleticism and defensive instincts will let him play in the NBA from day one. Putting him next to Greg Monroe could be magical for the Bucks.
- Minnesota Timberwolves- THE PICK: Ivan Rabb, Power Forward, California
The lanky freshman has gotten off to a good start at Cal. Rabb is averaging 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Rabb has shown off a good shooting stroke shooting an efficient 63% from the field and 83% from the foul line. Rabb still has a way to go in terms of offensive game, as he sometimes relies on his athleticism too much. He could afford to pack on more weight as well. Look for Ivan Rabb to take over for Kevin Garnett next year and be paired with Karl Anthony Towns to form an exciting young duo.
- Utah Jazz- THE PICK: Kris Dunn, Point Guard, Providence
Arguably the best player in college basketball, Kris Dunn is a 6’4 point guard with above the rim hops. His defense is really the strength of his game, as he averages 4.6 steals per game. His age, shooting and decision-making are the only three weaknesses he possesses. He excels in pick and roll and the drive and dish games. Dunn will be ready to start from day one in the NBA. With Utah lacking a point guard, Dunn will have every chance to start.
- Boston Celtics- THE PICK: Diamond Stone, Center, Maryland
Stone has a great name and a great back to the basket game to go with it. Stone is an immovable object down low and has great hands and footwork. Not the best athlete but Stone still gets it done. The Celtics need an offensive presence down low and Stone would be a great piece to go along with Jaylen Brown. He may not be the best scheme fit for the Celtics, as he can’t really spread the floor, but he should be a solid post presence for the C’s.
- Detroit Pistons- THE PICK: Stephen Zimmerman, Power Forward, UNLV
Zimmerman is a highly skilled player at UNLV. Zimmerman has the ability to dribble and shoot at seven feet. He’s also a good athlete and can finish dunks and fast breaks with ease. The freshman has missed some time due to an illness, but when he comes back expect him to be a major piece in UNLV’s offense. Detroit should love him because he can provide even more space for Andre Drummond, who is a beast in the paint.
- Los Angeles Clippers- THE PICK: Demetrious Jackson, Point Guard, Notre Dame
Los Angeles has no bench so they should just be looking to add bench depth. Taking pressure off Chris Paul should be the top priority. Demetrious Jackson is the new point guard at Notre Dame after Jerian Grant graduated to the NBA. He has great athleticism and shooting touch. He’s a gritty guard that loves to get up and down the court. He’s a truly unique talent and should be the main focus in one of the best offenses in college.
- Phoenix Suns- THE PICK: Dwayne Bacon, Shooting Guard, Florida State
Dwayne Bacon is off to a scorching hot start in Tallahassee. He leads all freshmen in scoring at 20.8 per game. He’s shooting 47% from three-point range. He’s a pure scorer out on the wing. At the pro level he could also play small forward in a small lineup. The highest ranked player in the FSU recruiting class, Bacon has lived up to his five star billing.
- New York Knicks- THE PICK: Caris LeVert, Shooting Guard, Michigan
Caris LeVert would very likely be in the NBA right now if he didn’t break his foot last season. LeVert can do a bit of everything on the offensive end. He can be a 6’7 point guard or he line up on the wing. The Knicks currently have Jose Calderon running the point, which isn’t too ideal. His versatility will be cherished in New York as they don’t have too many pieces surrounding Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis.
- Denver Nuggets (via. Memphis Grizzlies)-THE PICK: Buddy Hield, Shooting Guard, Oklahoma
Denver can use this second first rounder to get some immediate help. Hield is right up there with Kris Dunn for best player in the NCAA. Hield is off to a smoking hot start. He’s averaging 25.3 points per game and is shooting an absurd 57% from three-point range. Hield provides leadership and great decision-making, something a young team will need. Even as a rookie, Hield will be one of the leaders on his team.
- Washington Wizards- THE PICK: Malik Pope, Small Forward, San Diego State
Pope is one of those prospects where it’s all about potential. He hasn’t put up big numbers at San Diego State, but people love his potential. He’s 6’10 as a wing and can shoot it, has length and athleticism. Washington needs some serious help on the wing. Pope won’t be an immediate starter, but he might have the highest potential out of anyone in the class. Someone is bound to take the risk on Pope, and by judging Washington’s decision to draft Kelly Oubre last year; they’re a good bet to take a chance on Pope.
- Charlotte Hornets- THE PICK: Malik Newman, Point Guard, Mississippi State
The Hornets need scoring, plain and simple. Malik Newman is one of the best pure scorers in the NCAA, even as a freshman. Newman isn’t a true point guard, in the fact that he’s score first, much like Monta Ellis. Newman has great speed but sometimes gets out of control at times. He’s got some things to work on, but Newman can help the Hornets’ woes.
- Toronto Raptors- THE PICK: Domantas Sabonis, Power Forward, Gonzaga
The Raptors basically have no big men inside. Jonas Valanciunas is a solid center, but after losing Amir Johnson, there is a void at power forward. Domantas learned his game from his dad, who is a European basketball legend. Sabonis is a big man for Gonzaga and has some solid skill to go with his size. He’s a solid athlete and he excels in the pick and roll as the roll man. He’s not much of a floor stretcher, but he isn’t limited to the paint either. He’s a solid rebounder as well. If he can separate himself from teammates Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowksi, his stock could continue to rise.
- Boston Celtics (via. Dallas Mavericks)- THE PICK: Furkan Korkmaz, Shooting Guard, Turkey, 1997
The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the league, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go overseas with one of their picks. Furkan Korkmaz possesses a flawless shooting touch and is an above average athlete. He’s the second best international prospect, but it wouldn’t be surprising for the Celtics to draft and stash him overseas until he’s ready. It may take a year or two for him to contribute, but once he’s here look out.
- Philadelphia 76ers (via. Oklahoma City Thunder)-THE PICK: Justin Jackson, Small Forward, UNC
Philadelphia sucks so there’s really no bad pick here, as long as it’s not a big man. Justin Jackson is a skinny small forward that knows how to put the ball in the bucket. That’s something the Sixers definitely need, as they average 89 points per game, by far the worst in the league. There’s no way the 76ers can screw this pick up. Off to a flying 0-17 start, the Sixers need Jackson’s shooting touch desperately.
- Atlanta Hawks- THE PICK: Nigel Hayes, Power Forward, Wisconsin
Hayes is the big man on campus now for Wisconsin after losing Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker to the draft. He should fit right in for the Atlanta Hawks. They feature big men who are versatile and do a bit of everything. Hayes is more of a combo forward rather than a big man, but either way he has the skill set to survive in Atlanta. Working with Al Horford and Paul Millsap will help him immensely.
- Indiana Pacers- THE PICK: Thomas Bryant, Center, Indiana
This is a great fit for Thomas Bryant. In his current system at Indiana, three point shooters for a team that loves to run surround him. For the Pacers, they play the exact same way. Bryant could be the pivot man down low from day one. He wouldn’t have to travel too far from his current university. If Thomas Bryant ever reads this, he should be excited for this potential opportunity.
- Chicago Bulls- THE PICK: Isaiah Briscoe, Point Guard, Kentucky
The Bulls will finally get a suitable backup for Derrick Rose. Or maybe even a starter because Rose is bound to get hurt. Briscoe is an above average athlete but is a bully driving into the lane. Built like a running back, Briscoe is tough to stop once he gets into the lane. He has some good defensive potential with a 6’8 wingspan as a point guard. Briscoe has the potential to be a steal in this draft.
- Philadelphia 76ers (via. Miami Heat)- THE PICK: Grayson Allen, Shooting Guard, Duke
Once again, literally can’t miss with this pick. Grayson Allen is a stud for Duke, he’s just a bit inconsistent and people don’t know much about him. He broke out last year against Wisconsin in the National Championship game. Expectations were extremely high and he went out and crapped the bed against Kentucky shooting 2-11. But since then he’s been lights out scoring 30,32 and 14 in his last three games. He’s a great shooter and a great athlete, a scoring machine basically. Philly needs scoring. Pick Grayson Allen, for basketball’s sake.
- San Antonio Spurs- THE PICK: Denzel Valentine, Shooting Guard, Michigan State
This is just a San Antonio Spurs pick. Not a great athlete but a good player. He has two triple doubles already on the year so his stock is soaring. Valentine burst onto the scene last year for Tom Izzo in the NCAA Tournament. He seems to be picking up right where he left off last season. Landing on the Spurs would be the best fit for Valentine as they love ball movement and love three point shooting off the bench, two of his best traits. The question that remains is if Denzel Valentine will even be on the board at 28 with the way he has been playing.
- Phoenix Suns (via. Cleveland Cavaliers)- THE PICK: Zhou Qi, Center, China, 1996
A 7’2 center with a shot is always enticing. Towards the end of the first round, Phoenix has already had a pick so drafting an international player to leave overseas is a good option. Qi shows good mobility and passing to go along with his jumper. Not much of athlete, Qi can make up for his lack of hops for just being a massive human being and shutting down drives and dunks by simply putting his hands up. Don’t get him confused with Yao Ming as he’s much more fluid than Yao ever was. Also, don’t expect to see Qi in the states next season.
- Golden State Warriors- THE PICK: Gary Payton II, Point Guard, Oregon State
The exact opposite of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Warriors don’t need this pick at all. They’re too deep and talented. If Oregon State has any chance of making the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have to rely on Payton. Gary Payton II, aka the Mitten (his father Gary Payton was “The Glove), is a steals maestro. He’s a point guard that led his team in rebounds last season. He has a ton of talent. Payton could come off the bench for Curry or Thompson if he’s lucky. Just add another talented player to an already stacked roster.