With a Golden State-Cleveland Finals matchup set after an amazing (down 3-games-to-1) comeback by the Warriors over the Thunder, here is a sixth extended mock draft, including the logic behind each pick.
|1.||Ben Simmons 6-10 240 SF/PF LSU Fr.||How quickly people tend to forget. It was just a few months ago that Ben Simmons was taking college basketball by storm, having one of the best starts and first few months of any freshman over the past 20 plus years. Simmons had an unceremonious end to the season, failing to guide a young LSU team with chemistry problems and a horrific coach into the Big Dance. But his stats on the year speak for themself. And for all the negativity surrounding him in the media, scouts remain high on him. Was he a great student? No. Did he disrupt the "sanctity" of college basketball? Maybe in some minds. But does that mean he has character issues? No. Simmons comes from a strong family background, and his father played professionally in Australia, so Ben grew up with multiple advantages for a young basketball prodigy. The notion that he somehow has character concerns is pure propaganda. Simmons combines high level athleticism and size with legitimate point guard vision and creativity. Ingram finished the year with more momentum, but Simmons ability to impact games and greater chance to be a franchise talent ultimately makes him the pick. |
Why Philadelphia takes Ben Simmons: The Sixers need scoring, but more than anything they need talent. And Simmons clearly is the most talented prospect available this year. Simmons gives the Sixers exactly what they’ve been missing, a superstar talent to put fans in the stands and hope for the future.
NBA Comparison: LeBron James/Lamar Odom
|2.||Brandon Ingram 6-9 195 SF Duke Fr.||He came into the season as an intriguing prospect, but nobody figured he would challenge for the #1 overall pick, or develop as quickly as he did. He combines condor length (7’3 wingspan) with a sweet stroke and a smooth floor game. While he may lack great explosiveness and quickness, and possess a frail body, he does show a willingness to fight through contact. The Curry factor has obviously helped him, with Ingram’s stellar outside shooting ability. The key for Ingram will be how he’s able to add muscle to his body, in order to defend, and how that added muscle affects his speed and mobility. |
Why the LA Lakers take Ingram: Newly hired head coach Luke Walton is clearly living a charmed life. The Lakers were facing potentially losing their pick (a 50/50 proposition) and instead land one of the highly coveted top two picks in this draft, giving them a potential franchise player in Ingram. Baby Durantula may take some time to adapt to the physicality of the league, but his upside is unmistakable.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant/Tayshaun Prince
|3.||Buddy Hield 6-5 215 SG Oklahoma Sr.||Buddy Hield squashed the notion that he’s an undersized SG with his superb 6-9 wingspan on a 6-5 frame, and 8-5 standing reach measurements, at the NBA draft combine. Hield capped off a tremendous Senior year by not only winning a number of National Player of the Year awards, but guiding the Sooners to the Final Four. He’s improved considerably as a shooter and shot creator but can still improve his handle. He is a kid with a terrific attitude and a polished skill set. Buddy is a dangerous offensive player, showing the ability to score in a variety of ways as well as facilitate. His quick trigger and excellent ability to get shots off combined with a strong will to win and improve himself makes him a prospect with a lot of intrigue. He measured better than expected at the combine at a legit 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan and a 8’5 standing reach, all very solid numbers for an NBA shooting guard. He also has a strong build and sneaky athleticism. For a player that wasn’t even on some pundit’s first round projections coming into the season, Hield helped his cause as much as anyone. |
Why Boston takes Buddy Hield: There’s a good chance the Celtics will look to trade out of this pick with a team targeting a player such as Dragan Bender or Kris Dunn. If they keep the pick they have a tough decision on their hands. Hield makes the most sense as he’s the most ready to contribute to a playoff team that doesn’t consider itself in rebuilding mode. Bender or Jaylen Brown offer more upside but also come with greater risk.
NBA Comparison: James Harden
|4.||Dragan Bender 7-0 220 PF Croatia 1997||Bender couldn’t have picked a better draft to be in with the success of Kristaps Porzingis and the lack of elite talent in the high lottery. While Bender lacks Porzingis’ size, he may be an even better shooter. He built a big reputation in junior events in his age group. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to play much this season from his Israeli team. He played very well in an exhibition game before the season in Chicago, with a lot of scouts in attendance. His competitiveness and scoring ability give him a lot of potential, however his body needs to get a lot stronger. With excellent size, quickness, shooting and determination, Bender figures to be off the board quickly, despite not having a large sample size at the senior level in Europe. |
Why Phoenix takes Dragan Bender: The Suns are a team in need of talent and currently have no power forward on their roster, after trading away Markieff Morris. While it’s unlikely that Bender could assume a starting role next year, he could potentially become a starting four in the next couple seasons. It would seem to be beneficial to him, as is the case with other prospects, to go a few spots later in the draft and thus minimize the extreme expectations.
NBA Comparison: Nikola Mirotic
|5.||Jamal Murray 6-4 205 SG/PG Kentucky Fr.||Murray raised eyebrows before the season began flourishing at the Pan Am games in the summer while running the show for the Canadian National Team. He played very well as a freshman at Kentucky and improved as the season progressed. Playing alongside one of the top floor generals in the nation, in Ulis, meant playing strictly off the ball. It may have stunted his point guard skills to a degree, but it has helped him at becoming better playing off the ball. There’s no questioning Murray’s leadership and maturity. He’s proven over both his high school and Canadian National team performances that he’s an extremely composed and a clutch performer. While he played solely at the shooting guard position at Kentucky, his potential ability to log minutes at the point also gives him intrigue. |
Why Minnesota takes Jamal Murray: Murray would give a very talented Minnesota backcourt additional stability and shooting ability. He could spell Rubio in spot duty at the point and also gives clutch play and leadership.
NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon
|6.||Kris Dunn 6-4 220 PG Providence Jr.||Dunn is a dynamic, true point guard with elite size and speed that steadily improved upon his weaknesses, namely decision making and shooting. Those are areas that continue to need honing, however he’s got "something special" as one scout put it. His defensive intensity and potential have drawn comparisons to players such as John Wall and Gary Payton from scouts. He still must become much more consistent as a shooter to reach that level, however. Dunn has a charisma and confidence about him that can carry him to becoming a great player in the league someday. |
Why New Orleans takes Kris Dunn: The Pelicans would likely be jumping for joy if they could shore up their backcourt with the draft’s only elite PG prospect in Dunn at 6. There is speculation that he could go as high as 3. He refused to workout for Boston and Phoenix, two teams with PGs in place, but there’s always the possibility that someone moves into the top 5 picks to snag him. The shoulder injury has not been a problem for over a year, yet some speculate it could be redflagged in a physical.
|7.||Jaylen Brown 6-6 225 SG/SF California Fr.||Nicknamed "old man" by his Mom, Brown does everything very deliberately. He moves slow, talks slow and walks slow, and actually likes the nickname given by his mother. But on the floor, he’s anything but slow. Brown is a terror in the open floor, utilizing his superior speed, athleticism and raw power to get to the rim. His jumpshot, despite average percentages, is underrated. His floor game continues to progress, and he’s begun to put together moves to get by opponents, which makes for a deadly mix. Brown is a thoughtful, introspective kid with high character and superstar upside. He possesses the same elite athleticism as Jason Richardson, only with more size and strength. |
Why Denver takes Jaylen Brown: The Nuggets landed a gem in last year’s draft in Emmanuel Mudiay, who shot over 35% from 3 after the all star break. Denver is in an excellent position to grab another key piece. Brown would fill a need for them at the 2/3 position and be excellent value for them at 7 providing arguably as much pure upside as anyone after the top 2.
NBA Comparison: Jason Richardson
|8.||Domantas Sabonis 6-10 240 PF Gonzaga So.||Sabonis may not look like a lottery pick at first glance, but it’s the heart and intangibles that he brings to the table that makes him such a valuable player. Sabonis lacks the elite run, jump athleticism generally associated with standout players, yet his ability to impact games with his strength, toughness and basketball IQ make him a sure bet to have a successful NBA career. He’s a much better shooter in practice than he’s shown in games to this point, and could potentially have a NBA 3 point shot in his repertoire down the road. He proved himself as a clutch, tough nosed competitor in the NCAA tournament, getting the upper hand on Jahlil Okafor in the freshmen match up last season and guiding the Zags to a Sweet Sixteen appearance this year. |
Why Sacramento takes Domantas Sabonis: The Kings are in need of a power forward and while there may be a few players that offer more upside, for a team under pressure to produce (Sam Hinkie fleeced them out of a number of future picks), Sabonis makes perfect sense as a guy that can be an instant contributor. Being of Lithuanian descent also shouldn’t hurt his cause with a Euro GM in Vlade Divac.
NBA Comparison: Luis Scola
|9.||Jakob Poeltl 7-1 240 C Utah So.||Poeltl showed a nice jump in development from his freshman to sophomore season. He may not be the most fluid player, but he has great length and speed in the open floor. Some question his upside and ability to become a star. But if you’re looking for a solid big with character and work ethic, Poeltl fits the bill. His post skills show some signs of improvement, and his defense also shows a lot of promise. He’s added an effective up and under move and really commands the ball in the half court, when isolating against his man. He’s good at finishing plays in the open floor as he’s very fluid and has great feet. He still has a ways to go in polishing his offensive game, but his potential as a two way player and ability to be a rim protector makes him very intriguing. |
Why Toronto takes Jakob Poeltl: Poeltl is well liked by many scouts for his ability to play both ends of the floor and would add depth to the Raptor’s frontcourt. It is unclear whether Toronto will be willing to give Biyombo a contract extension as his value on the market is likely higher than his actual value after his amazing Eastern Conference Finals performance. An athletic standout such as Marquese Chriss is another option here, but Poeltl gives them depth behind Valanciunas.
NBA Comparison: Bill Wennington
|10.||Marquese Chriss 6-10 235 PF Washington Fr.|
Chriss probably probably should be returning to Washington and working on his game, but when you blow up with the type of freshman season that he had, and are a projected lotto pick, it’s hard to fault his decision. He is a candidate to spend the next 2-3 years in the D-League before being able to contribute to an NBA team. His upside is considerable, as he shows good touch out to 15 feet and is a freaky run/jump athlete with NBA PF size at 6-10 with a 7-foot wingspan. His body language on the floor and interactions with refs expose his lack of maturity, though he’s in fact a bright kid and engineer major.
Why Milwaukee takes Marquese Chriss: Chriss is one of the biggest boom or bust picks of this year’s draft. He is likely two years away from contributing anything meaningful. But his combination of length, athleticism and shooting touch has scouts drooling. The Bucks can afford to wait as their nucleus is still a few years away.
NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas
|11.||Henry Ellenson 6-11 245 PF/C Marquette Fr.||Ellenson had a standout freshman season, as Marquette’s top player and will look to parlay that into being a mid-first round pick. He’s a quality kid, who seems to put the team first. And while not the most demonstrative of personalities, he’s young and extremely coachable. For his size, he has versatility with his ability to handle the ball in the open floor and shows face the basket and post skills. While he’s a below average run/jump athlete, his 7-foot-2 wingspan gives him the length to make up for his lack of speed defensively and on the boards. He also shows solid feet with good balance and will surprise you by making plays attacking the rim, despite any real explosiveness. His shooting efficiency still needs work, but he’s developed a reputation for being a quality shooter and should find a role in the league as a stretch four. |
Why Orlando takes Henry Ellenson: If Orlando believes in Ellenson’s potential, he would provide a solid complement to Aaron Gordon with his face up skills. Ellenson is well liked by scouts for his ability to hit shots and potential, considering his size and skill level. He may struggle initially with the speed of the NBA game, particularly on the defensive end, but the hope is that he will continue to gain speed and athleticism as his body matures.
NBA Comparison: Troy Murphy
|12.||Furkan Korkmaz 6-7 175 SG Turkey 1997|
Korkmaz is a wiry guard with an advanced offensive game for his age. He’s a good leaper, having won dunk contests and shows solid explosiveness. He’s not incredibly quick, so defense and creating shots against high level athletes could be a challenge. He has struggled to gain playing time this season, on powerhouse Turkish team Anadolu Efes. Regardless, European scouts are very high on him and feel that he is one of the top wing prospects available for this year’s draft. Korkmaz should be able to compete for a lottery spot if he impresses teams in workouts.
Why Utah takes Furkan Korkmaz: Utah already has one star in Gordon Hayward on the wing, and another potential rising star in Rodney Hood. Dante Exum is still an unproven combo guard coming off an injury but has a lot of promise. With Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Trey Lyles, the team has a young and talented frontcourt. All of this means they are balanced and solid all around and can afford to take who they feel is the best player available. Korkmaz is a player that will need a few seasons but offers nice potential for the future. Utah has done well in the draft with Internationals in recent years, including nabbing the Stifle Tower, Gobert, late in the first round.
NBA Comparison: Evan Fournier
|13.||Skal Labissiere 7-0 215 PF/C Kentucky Fr.|
In a draft year with a lot of polarizing players, Skal gets the award for being the most polarizing. Some continue to point back to how dominant he looked at last year’s Hoop Summit, while others feel that that was misleading considering the opponents he faced and him rising so fast into the top pick discussion never having been legitimate. His season at Kentucky certainly did his draft stock no favors. He’s an extremely sensitive kid. And the constant challenges from Coach Cal which bring out the best in many kids, had the opposite effect on him. Regardless, the hype and expectations that has been placed upon him also did him no favors as many were as quick to dismiss him as they were to overhype him. Labissiere is still new to the game, and his feel and the speed of high level competition is still something that he’s adjusting to. There’s a lot of talent here, with his tremendous shooting ability, along with high level size and mobility. He doesn’t seem to understand how to utilize his athleticism and may never fully realize his considerable upside, but there’s still a lot to work with and he could really thrive if the right coach believes in him and builds up his confidence.
Why Phoenix takes Skal Labissiere: Like the Nuggets, Phoenix is sitting on multiple first round picks and can afford to take an "upside" prospect like Skal. He will likely be a D-Leaguer for one or more years but shows a lot of potential, with his shooting, length and agility.
NBA Comparison: Channing Frye
|14.||Cheick Diallo 6-9 220 PF/C Kansas Fr.|
Diallo is another high risk/reward guy after barely seeing the court at Kansas as a freshman. Scouts absolutely rave about this kid’s character saying those around the team (coaches, trainers, medical staff etc.) consider him the best kid in 15-20 years. He’s unorthodox, and is another guy that a team will need to be especially patient with. But there is a lot of talent and potential to be intrigued with in this kid. He was a near unanimous top 5 player in his high school class and dominated practices in front of scouts, not to mention receiving MVP in multiple high profile High School All American showcase games. With Kansas’ stable of frontcourt horses, Diallo was the odd man out. Whether becoming eligible to the team late, lack of readiness, or ulterior motives were responsible for his lack of PT is open to debate. Diallo has been working hard on his shot and with his high motor and character he becomes too enticing to pass up at some point.
Why Chicago takes Cheick Diallo: Diallo is probably a bit of a reach at 14 considering his lack of readiness. But he’s among a handful of prospects that all need time and shows a higher motor and upside than many. He really impressed scouts in Chicago at the NBA Combine. He struggled to see the floor at Kansas after the NCAA’s unfortunate decision to hold him out early in the season. With Joakim Noah likely on his way out via free agency, looking for front court help makes sense for the Bulls.
NBA Comparison: Kenneth Faried
|15.||Dejounte Murray 6-5 170 PG/SG Washington Fr.|
Murray is still a long ways from a finished product and like his teammate Marquese Chriss, the team that selects him will have to be extremely patient. But on talent he’s among the top 5-10 players in this year’s draft. His blinding quickness and ability to play relatively under control while operating at a break neck speed makes him extremely unique. Like Beasley, and Chriss for that matter, he was a kid that was somewhat overlooked in high school and leapfrogged many of his classmates into the top handful of prospects. While he shows some ability to run the show from the lead guard position, he appears to be better suited to play the 2. He shows a score first mentality and brings added versatility with his handles and passing. His ball skills are truly elite, which along with his length and quickness allow him to terrorize opponents in ISO situations.
Why Denver takes Dejounte Murray: Murray is a long term play and Denver is a team that has three top 20 picks, plus a young nucleus and can afford to gamble on a young player like Murray. While he played PG at Washington, he is seen as a combo that could be a more natural fit at the 2 and could slide over to play alongside Mudiay.
NBA Comparison: Shaun Livingston
|16.||Deyonta Davis 6-10 240 PF/C Michigan St. Fr.||Davis looks like a future all star when you string together a highlight reel of his best plays. The problem is that those highlights were few and far between and much of the time he seemed content just to be on the floor instead of being an impact guy at all times. How much of his reluctance to shoot and be productive was due to him, his desire not to "rock the boat", or whether he was following the coaching staff’s wishes, is the big question. He is very athletic and agile for his size at 240 lbs, and a huge 6-10 frame with a 7-2 wingspan. He also shows some nice touch with both hands around the basket. His confidence and feel for the game need some improvement. Davis becomes just the second one and done player under Tom Izzo with Zach Randolph being the first. With his upside, he figures to challenge for a late lottery spot, if teams are impressed with him in interviews and workouts. |
Why Boston takes Deyonta Davis: Davis has the talent to go higher, but could be a player that falls with a lot of competition at the power forward position. He hasn’t received the best reviews during the draft process, with disappointing feedback coming from his NBA Combine interviews and conditioning in workouts. With multiple picks, the Celtics can afford to gamble on a frontcourt player with upside that needs time.
NBA Comparison: Etan Thomas
|17.||Malik Beasley 6-5 190 SG Florida St. Fr.||One of the surprise breakout freshmen, Beasley showed a smooth shooting strong along with polished floor skills. He can score in a variety of ways whether it be spotting up or pulling up and he also shows some ability to attack the rim. His poster dunk against Duke showed the athleticism he possesses. He’s a high level shooter and even displays high level ball handling and solid passing. He’s hit a bit of a freshman wall in the latter part of the year, but overall had a very strong body of work. |
Why Memphis takes Malik Beasley: The word on Beasley is that he has a rod in his leg that could affect his stock some. He is viewed as having late lottery talent according to some scouts, with excellent scoring and ball skills. Memphis could use a shooting guard upgrade, and Beasley has the talent to develop into their 2 of the future.
NBA Comparison: Devin Booker
|18.||Denzel Valentine 6-5 210 SG/SF Michigan St. Sr.|
Valentine won National Player of the Year over Buddy Hield and impacted games as much as anyone all year. He had an unbelievable season, despite Michigan State’s shocking first round upset loss to Middle Tennessee State. The senior was extremely classy in defeat, showing true heart and leadership in taking responsibility and not pointing any fingers. He’s a difficult player to project as his ability to affect the game in college with his immense ball skills may or may not translate to the next level due to his below average size, speed and athleticism. His knee required arthroscopic surgery forcing him to miss a few weeks of action this year. While he lacks a great first step, he’s become a knockdown shooter and his best attribute is his great vision and passing. He’s got a tremendous basketball IQ and his maturity and attitude should allow to contribute to a winning team, no matter what level of player he becomes.
Why Detroit takes Denzel Valentine: The Pistons appear to be on the brink of returning to relevance, after their first trip to the playoffs in a number of years. Therefore a ready to go player with leadership qualities such as Valentine makes sense. He’s also a local kid, who chose to stay close to home to play at Michigan State. If he ends up fulfilling his promise, resigning him and convincing him to stay in Detroit should be easier than with some players.
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
|19.||Damian Jones 6-11 245 C Vanderbilt Jr.|
When Jones is engaged, he appears to be a future NBA starting center. When he’s not, he looks like a D-League bench warmer. He has obvious NBA run/jump athleticism and intriguing potential as a shooter. His biggest obstacle has been his lack of consistency and focus. He too often disappears for stretches of games, apparently forgetting that he’s the most talented kid on the court and it’s his duty to kick everyone’s butt. He’s got a great attitude off the floor and is certainly coachable, but may be a kid that requires constant motivational support to maximize his abilities. His lack of a great feel for the game and intensity could scare teams and cause him to slide on draft night.
Why Denver takes Damian Jones: After going with wing players with their first two picks, the Nuggets take another upside pick with a center at 19 with Damian Jones. Jones shot the ball very well in a recent multi-team LA workout, and also performed much better in LA over the summer at the Nike Academy. He could be a player that struggled to shine at Vanderbilt due to personnel and system reasons.
NBA Comparison: Festus Ezeli
|20.||Malachi Richardson 6-6 200 SG Syracuse Fr.|
With a 21 point second half to knock out 1 seed Virginia and put a Syracuse team that many had out of the tournament field, into the Final Four, it’s no wonder why Malachi has opted to remain in the draft. He’s another long term play as he isn’t likely to contribute much for a few seasons. Combine the fact that he shows the ability to shine in big situations, the fact that he is a great kid with a developing skill set, and the fact that he has a 7-foot wingspan, and you can see why teams feel he has a good chance to be a first rounder this year. Regardless, most scouts would like to see him return to school and improve his shooting and all around efficiency.
Why Indiana takes Malachi Richardson: The Pacers have Monta Ellis signed for 3 more seasons, and Richardson probably needs a couple years before he will be ready. There is a lot of speculation that Richardson has a top 20 promise following the combine as he elected to keep his name in the draft and also has not worked out for teams, training in Las Vegas at Impact basketball.
NBA Comparison: Rashad Vaughn
|21.||Patrick McCaw 6-6 180 SG UNLV So.|
McCaw is a long, active wing with very good ability to attack the basket. He went to UNLV which is a school that often gets criticized for both its ability to develop kids and the type of players that it has produced. The general thought over the past few years has been that players have to be self motivated and develop on their own in order to make the NBA. McCaw is a high level athlete with good skill and length (measured 6’10 at the combine) and has received very high marks from teams doing background checks. He played with a very high motor over his short career at UNLV and now has a real opportunity to land in the mid to late first round. His body still needs to add strength obviously as he came in at 180 lbs at the combine. But there is a lot to be excited about with his upside.
Why Atlanta takes Patrick McCaw: The Hawks could use another shooting guard to battle with Tim Hardaway Jr. as aging veteren Kyle Korver is already entering his 13th season at 35 years of age. McCaw has combo skills and tremendous speed, which would work very well with the blur Atlanta has at point guard named Dennis Schroeder, who appears to be edging out Jeff Teague as the team’s PG of the future.
NBA Comprison: Corey Brewer
|22.||Brice Johnson 6-10 210 PF North Carolina Sr.|
Johnson went from a role player to superstar in his senior season, putting together a season of consistency and dominance. He broke the UNC record with double doubles in a season with 23. So much for the idea that he can’t rebound. While he lacks great strength and much ability to put weight on, his scoring and rebounding numbers in one of the top conferences speaks for itself. Johnson has had one the most impressive individual performance of the season, putting up 37 points and 23 rebounds against Florida State on January 4th. When teammate Kennedy Meeks got injured early in the year, Johnson got a chance to show what he could do as the featured offensive weapon, and never looked back. He’s a long, lean jumping jack with a face up game and a jumpshot that has become a weapon out to 15-18 feet. His emotional maturity will be the key to his success. In the title game he had a bit of a meltdown dealing with frustration, and that’s something that could affect his stock some on draft night. He figures to be one of the top 3-4 seniors off the board and should go anywhere from 10-20.
Why Charlotte takes Brice Johnson: Charlotte knows Brice as well as anyone with him playing four years in their back yard at Chapel Hill. Johnson is routinely being underrated and projects as one of the elite level frontcourt athletes available. Playing for the big boss man, MJ’s alma mater could seal the deal if Johnson indeed falls this far.
NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson
|23.||Stephen Zimmerman 6-11 235 C UNLV Fr.|
A "finesse big", Zimmerman had an up and down, inconsistent freshman season at UNLV, losing two weeks in mid February to a knee injury. But he remains high on scout’s lists due to his size (7-3 wingspan), soft touch and ability to rebound. In limited minutes, his rebounding and shot blocking numbers were solid. He has a good understanding of the game and should be able to put weight on and become stronger and more effective in the post. It would be nice to see more fire and intensity out of the kid, but bigmen often take the longest to figure things out. His upside is likely too much to pass on in the late teens early 20s, despite some fears that "what you see is what you get" with him.
Why Boston takes Stephen Zimmerman: Big Zimm is an intriguing prospect that gets lumped in with players like Deyonta Davis and could go higher than here. His upside would fit well with a team that seems to be adding solid pieces to its nucleus.
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
|24.||Timothe Luwawu 6-7 195 SG/SF France 1995|
A 3-and-D type of prospect, Luwawu has been a work in progress since he hit the scene two years ago at the Eurocamp. At the time his was a raw but intriguing wing with good length and athleticism. He flew mostly under the radar for a year and then had a very solid year after moving to Serbian team Mega Leks as he showed some real development in his 3 point shooting and defense. While going as high as lottery is probably being overly optimistic, his defensive and potential should get him looks in the mid-late teens and find a spot somewhere in the mid 20s on draft night. Some still question his feel for the game and toughness, but if he can continue to develop his offensive skills, he should become a contributor at some point in the league.
Why Philadelphia takes Timothe Luwawu: The Sixers have struggled to defend anyone the last few years and Luwawu is known as a kid with good defensive potential. The team could look to add a point guard here, although there are not many with legitimate first round value.
NBA Comparison: Thabo Sefolosha
|25.||Taurean Prince 6-8 220 SF Baylor Sr.|
Despite being a senior, Prince has intrigue due to his energy and ability to shoot. While his three point numbers fell off from previous years, he knocked down free throws at a plus 80% clip and shows a versatile all around game. He showed some fire and willingness to fight (even teammates), in Baylor’s first round loss to Yale. He made some great plays at the end of the game including put backs and step back threes, which certainly helped his cause. He’ll look to cement a position in the first round in workouts and interviews with teams.
Why the LA Clippers take Taurean Prince: The Clippers have a team loaded with talent and a small window of opportunity with Chris Paul’s career approaching it’s twilight. Prince is one of the draft’s more ready to contribute players, and could fill a role similar to the one Matt Barnes held before being shipped off to Memphis for Lance Stephenson.
NBA Comparison: DeMarre Carroll
|26.||DeAndre Bembry 6-5 205 SF/SG St. Joseph’s Jr.|
Bembry has been on the rise for the past few months. He had a very solid NBA Draft Combine performance showing better than expected shooting and scoring ability. His best attribute is his vision and passing skills, and he attacks the basket well both off the dribble or filling the lane on the break. While he still has a lot of work to do in the area of defense, shooting and decision making, his upside gives a good chance to find a spot in the first round.
Why Philadelphia takes DeAndre Bembry: Philly has a log jam at center and a real need for wings, so taking another guard certainly wouldn’t be going off script. Bembry is very comfortable with the ball in his hands and could help out at times, along with Simmons at facilitating.
NBA Comparison: Archie Goodwin
|27.||Thon Maker 7-0 215 PF Australia HSSr.|
Thon is the draft’s ultimate wildcard as he gathered a lot of hype during his high school career. Is he a guy that peaked at 15 years of age? Is his listed age even legitimate? These questions must be at the very least considered. A year in college may have been positive for his development, but it also may have exposed his weaknesses. Is he the ultimate sleeper or the ultimate tease? We tend to subscribe to the latter in terms of his outlook. He’s a good kid, despite a general consensus that he has questionable advisement. To his credit he has shown a lot of resolve through everything. He moved to the US from Australia, then from a US high school to Canada, graduated last year without announcing it and then declared for the draft after saying he was 100% going to college. This entire scenario was actually quite predictable when you realize that every move has been made with the sole purpose of preserving the hype around him. He did have a dominant NBPA camp last year, but was he even eligible to play there, and how much older actually is he than the kids that he was facing? He hustles down the floor and will battle you for rebounds. And he shows face up potential with an adequate mid-range J. The main issue for him is his lack of body strength. He has a body that just cannot seem to add weight in a constructive basketball sense, in particular his lower body. There are major concerns about his body holding up, as his legs and hips are extremely stiff. He does not get much lift when he faces contact, and the added strength to his upperbody has noticeably slowed his mobility and explosiveness. At one point, there was some unrealistic hype surrounding him with "best prospect in high school" being thrown around. Thon intrigues with his determination, length and skill level, but it would have been nice to see him actually prove it against legitimate competition, particularly since he has regressed and his development has stagnated. Thon figures to find a spot in the first round, but major question marks exist regarding his body holding up to the strength, speed and athleticism of the NBA.
Why Toronto takes Thon Maker: Toronto likes length and athleticism and with International GM Masai Ujiri, Thon has both the African and Canadian connection. Maker could end up going higher, but his lack of experience and readiness might limit his draft ceiling. If Thon can add good weight and his legs hold up, he could end up being a steal at the end of the first round.
NBA Comparison: Chris McCullough
|28.||Ben Bentil 6-8 230 PF Providence So.|
Bentil is an older sophomore, already 22 years of age but was highly productive playing for Providence alongside Kris Dunn this season. He’s a volume shooter, and when he’s on, he’s deadly. His efficiency wasn’t always great , and some teams love him, while other see him as a guy that jacks up too many ill advised shots. He’s a little short, and not the most fluid and athletic player. But he makes up for that with his length, and assertiveness.
Why Phoenix takes Ben Bentil: As mentioned, the Suns biggest need is at power forward and are projected to select a third straight 4-man to fill the void. While this selection is further down the draft board, Bentil is definitely the most ready of the three in year one. Since chances are good they will address the starting role via free agency or trade, Bentil would also offer nice depth to the frontcourt.
NBA Comparison: Sam Clancy
|29.||Ante Zizic 6-11 230 C Croatia 1997|
Zizic has had an excellent season and while if his countryman Ivica Zubac were to stay in the draft, he likely would be selected before him, he shows nice upside as well. With a big wingspan and an active motor, Zizic has been a consistent performer all season and most scouts consider him a likely top 40 pick with a shot to sneak into the first round.
Why San Antonio takes Ante Zizic: The Spurs are known for taking Europeans and stashing them until the time is right. Zizic is a high energy player that could develop into a Tiago Splitter type for a team. He’s also among the most NBA ready Euros in this year’s draft, despite being just 19.
NBA Comparison: Nikola Pekovic
|30.||Pascal Siakam 6-9 230 PF New Mexico St. So.|
Siakam was one of the big winners of the combine, measuring a legit 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan. He along with fellow bubble first round power forwards Joel Bolomboy and Ben Bentil, could all find spots in the late first round. Siakam, combines great length with energy and athleticism. He did not show any ability to face up and shied away from taking midrange shots at the combine, so whether a team will draft him in the first round without a complete offensive repertoire remains to be seen.
Why Golden State takes Pascal Siakam: The Champs will look for someone that can contribute right away as they have a window of opportunity with their nucleus in place. Siakam is an older sophomore at 22 who proved this year that he has polish to go with his motor. His high character and ability to defend gives him a good chance to find a spot in the first round and he would potentially fit in well with Golden State.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Mickey