Best 2016 #NBADraft Prospects
First, congratulations to the Knicks. Phil Jackson gets to trot out a former MVP for press intrigue and a better back court option than Jerian Grant or Jose Calderon without sacrificing a draft pick or long-term flexibility. The Knicks barely make the Playoffs this season.
The following are my hypothetical 2016 #NBADraft Lottery picks:
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons. The Australian revolution continues. I can’t call Ben a superstar if his college team wasn’t one of the best 64 in the nation. The 76ers will continue to lose a lot of games.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Ingram. They’re secretly happy to lose the Ben Simmons sweepstakes. Ingram wins Rookie of the Year. The Lakers will continue to lose a lot of games.
3. Boston Celtics
Dragan Bender. The best name in the draft hopes to follow the Kristaps Porzingis model from last year. The Cleveland Cavaliers won’t trade Kevin Love for this pick; which would make sense if the Cavaliers then drafted Marquese Chriss or Buddy Hield. The Celtics miss the Playoffs as the East generally improves.
4. Phoenix Suns
Jaylen Brown. Athletic slasher to accompany Devin Booker and Brandon Knight shooters in the back court. Would the Orlando Magic trade Ersan Ilyasova for Eric Bledsoe? The Suns lose a lot of games again.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Kris Dunn. Would the Atlanta Hawks sign and trade Al Horford for Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Deng, and a future conditional first round pick? Would the Utah Jazz accept the same offer for Derrick Favors? Do Tom Thibideau, Dunn, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony Towns, and Al Horford or Derrick Favors make the Playoffs in 2017? The Timberwolves make the Playoffs.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Buddy Hield. Move Tyreke Evans back to point guard. Start Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson in the front court. Would the Golden State Warriors sign and trade Harrison Barnes for Eric Gordon and next year’s first round draft pick? Do seven seconds or less of shooting and rebounding make the playoffs in 2017? The Pelicans make the playoffs.
7. Denver Nuggets
Marquese Chriss. Would the Hornets trade Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kenneth Faried and next year’s first round draft pick? Give Gary Harris and Emmanuel Muddiay another season to jell, replace Faried with shooting, and start a healthy defender at small forward. The Nuggets continue to lose a lot of games.
8. Sacramento Kings
Trade. No team will take Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, or Rudy Gay without a first round pick. The Kings need a mature point guard to feed DeMarcus Cousins. Do the Memphis Grizzlies sign and trade Michael Conley for Rudy Gay and this pick? Yes. The Kings will lose a lot of games. Grizzlies draft Jamal Murray as a rebuilding stopgap. The Grizzlies will not make the playoffs.
9. Toronto Raptors
Thon Maker. The Australian train continues, but the Raptors do love international players and can’t start Luis Scola forever. Will Thon be an upgrade at power forward position? Not this year. Probably never to be honest. Hasheem Thabeet part two? The Raptors barely make the playoffs.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Denzel Valentine. Jason Kidd achieves his dream of starting a small forward at point guard. The Bucks’ starting five is a long-armed interchangeable monster: Valentine, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Greg Monroe. The Bucks make the playoffs.
11. Orlando Magic
Timothe Luwawu. Like the Nuggets, the Magic failed the rebuilding process. Stack the small forward position like the Celtics collect draft picks. Continue to hope one of your many lottery picks pan out. The Magic continue to lose a lot of games.
12. Utah Jazz
Jakob Poeltl. Jakob played college basketball at Utah. Jakob is a seven footer. Jakob can shoot. Utah fondly remembers Greg Ostertag. Dante Exum is the first Australian question mark to fall from grace. The Jazz continue to lose a lot of games.
13. Phoenix Suns
Demetrius Jackson. Legitimate backup point guard to address Eric Bledsoe’s departure. Again, the Suns lose a lot of games.
14. Chicago Bulls
Domantas Sabonis. Another shooting big to replace Pau Gasol. Do the Los Angeles Lakers trade DeAngelo Russell for a conditional future first round pick and Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah? The Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic front court will happen. The Bulls continue to lose a lot of games.
Please note this list wasn’t privy to last minute trades and there isn’t a Lebron James in this draft to immediately build a contender around, but I believe my picks improve every lottery team in the long-term.