by: Sam Agnitsch
- Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons F LSU
The versatile forward from LSU can provide a little bit of everything for a team that has holes all over the roster. Remains to be seen how the 6’10” aussie phenom will adapt to the NBA offensively considering his lackluster jump shot, but taking an all-star talent with elite athleticism here is a no brainer. Especially for a franchise struggling to put wins on the board and fans in the seats. Should be able to improve everyone’s game with his passing ability and just might make the 76ers a little less depressing. Watch for the 76ers to make some noise draft night as the team also holds the 24th and 26th overall picks and have been seeking trade partners for Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.
- Los Angeles Lakers- Brandon Ingram F Duke
Rumors have been flying about the Lakers potentially trading out for a superstar, but if they decide to stick around Ingram is their guy. With as high of a ceiling as anyone in the draft (and drawing comparisons to a certain Thunder free agent) the 6’9” Ingram can add scoring and length to an already talented but young Lakers roster. Has a comfortable looking shooting stroke and with his length and high release point Ingram has a chance to be a real nightmare for defenders. Has room to grow with his ball handling but is an underrated passer. Definitely needs to get stronger physically and there are concerns about his lateral quickness but the upside is too much for the Lakers to pass on. The real question is will the Lakers be patient enough to groom this young core?
- Boston Celtics- Jamal Murray G Kentucky
Here’s where it gets tricky. Danny Ainge has been lustfully dreaming about 2016 draft night ever since they traded the “big three” to the Brooklyn Nets in 2014. The Celtics have young pieces and with 8 total draft picks, including 5 in the top 35, one would be wise to assume Danny the Net killer will be pretty active on draft night. The Celtics roster is devoid of a solid rim protector but taking a center at number three seems like a reach with this draft class. Look for the Celtics to package some of these picks and maybe a guard or two to acquire a big man, at that point I think they take best player available. Murray is a fantastic scorer, shooter and finisher in the paint which should compliment either Isiah Thomas or Avery Bradley in the backcourt. Capable of playing both guard spots he can add versatility to a Brad Stevens offense that prides itself on having interchangeable parts. Needs to get better on defense and some question his size for the two spot but he’ll have no problem putting the ball in the hoop at the next level.
- Phoenix Suns- Dragan Bender F Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Phoenix was a disaster last year and currently find themselves in basketball limbo. Not good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the brutal West but not completely without talent either. After axing Jeff Hornacek and trading away needy twin Markieff Morris, the Suns have a hole at the 4 spot which Bender could eventually fill. They are further in a unique position where they can be patient with a guy like Bender, who for all his gifts, is nowhere near ready. Bender is a project in every sense of the word and would have to bulk up considerably before he sees any action. However, the reward could be worth the risk with Bender’s combination of size, length, athleticism and shooting ability. Playing at 7’1” with a massive 9’3” standing reach, he has natural smoothness and body control allowing him to possibly defend positions 3-5 down the line and really contribute on the fast break. Will he be a less goofy Kristaps Porzingis…….or a poor man’s B.J. Mullens?
- Minnesota Timberwolves- Buddy Hield G Oklahoma
For a team that was second to last in the NBA in 3 point shots made per game (5.5), Hield seems like the perfect fit. His elite level shooting and play-making abilities would finally provide the floor spacer the up and coming Wolves have desperately needed. Hield could also take some pressure off Rubio with his passing and ball handling skills. Questions linger about how high his ceiling actually is seeing as how he will turn 23 in December but he really doesn’t need to make any all-star games to warrant this pick. Could potentially be the final push that brings Minnesota back into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.