To stay up to date with all the latest 2016 draft information follow us @TheLotteryMafia
I believe in Jahlil Okafor.
Drafted to a poor situation, Okafor grew throughout the season and became more efficient offensively on the block. It’s no secret that he is an offense-first player, and his defense had its share of cringe-worthy moments. He is a player drafted to a team that already had a surplus of centers, and is rumored to be on the trading block just one year into his NBA career.
A swap surrounding Boston’s No. 3 draft pick could be in play, as the 2016 draft is largely considered a two-player draft at the top. There would likely be more pieces involved in such a deal, but the point is that talent and fit are both important in developing players in a system. The talent aspect of Okafor’s game hasn’t gone away – can he excel in another location?
He has not been a good fit in Philadelphia, sharing the floor next to guards that, largely, cannot shoot and post players that need touches in similar locations. A transition to Boston, where he could share a frontcourt with Amir Johnson, would be intriguing – as would many other options throughout the league.
Let’s flash back to May 27, 2015 – a year ago to the date of publication.
Okafor was a player that was neck and neck throughout most of the draft process to go No. 1 or No. 2. As Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell excelled through pre-draft workouts, Okafor remained largely stagnant in terms of his draft stock – he was a known quantity.
He entered the league expected to make a significant impact, and showed flashes of being a dominant low-post presence. It can be quibbled about whether his type of center still has a place in the NBA, but that’s a topic for a more specific piece.
In analyzing the draft process on television and in the online media, phrases similar to that of ‘long-term development’ or ‘X-years away’ are constantly thrown out. The true star players can be built around, but there is a large onus on incoming players to immediately fit a system and a culture. As talented as Okafor is, the fit has been, generously, questionable in Philadelphia. The development piece gets thrown out the window quicker when a fit isn’t quite right.
Shifting to the 2016 NBA Draft, we finally know the full list of collegiate undergraduate players that have submitted their names for selection. The international pool of players will largely stay constant as well as it relates to first-round prospects.
Just like Okafor a year ago, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, in addition to the handful of other top prospects, will largely receive high amounts of praise over the next month. It is important to remember the rookie season endured both by Okafor and the 76ers organization as it pertains to June’s main event.
Will the teams find the right fits in the 2016 draft – relating to both talent and culture? It’s the multi-million dollar question.
- Philadelphia- Ben Simmons | F | LSU | Freshman
This pick will undoubtedly come down to Simmons and Ingram. In the midst of a multi-year tanking program, look for the 76ers to take the player with the best chance to become a star in the league. As much as Ingram’s outside shooting is needed, Simmons is the better choice here.
- LA Lakers- Brandon Ingram | SF | Duke | Freshman
Assuming the team holds onto the pick (it should), look for Mitch Kupchak to submit his card at the earliest convenience. Ingram would pair nicely with D’Angelo Russell in the Lakers backcourt, forming a scoring tandem that should grow together in a dangerous way for the rest of the Western Conference.
- Boston- Jamal Murray | SG | Kentucky | Freshman
Boston could go a plethora of different directions with this pick. The Celtics are stuck as a good team trying to get to great, and the team needs to make a few moves to make the jump. Drafting Murray here would give the team a reliable scorer from the perimeter to pair with 2016 All-Star Isaiah Thomas long term.
- Phoenix- Dragan Bender | PF | Croatia | 1997-born
Bender to Phoenix might be the best fit in the entire lottery. In need of a stretch-four, Bender would provide necessary shooting and distribution as a forward, and would space the floor for the Suns’ ball-handling point guards. The bigger question- how ready is he to compete for minutes from day one?
- Minnesota- Buddy Hield | SG | Oklahoma | Senior
Adding an elite outside shooter has to be on the top of the wish list in Minnesota, and the team gets one of the best on the market here with Hield. The top player in college basketball this season, Hield’s ability to pair with Andrew Wiggins would be far to enticing to pas up.
- New Orleans- Kris Dunn | PG | Providence | Junior
Anthony Davis needs a lot of help. Adding the draft’s top point guard cannot hurt, especially one as gifted as Dunn. My No. 3 overall player in the draft, Dunn has potential to be an elite defender in addition to a versatile scorer. As the Pelicans’ guards continue to be plagued by health issues, adding a long-term answer here is a no-brainer.
- Denver- Jaylen Brown | SF | California | Freshman
Brown has great potential to be a modern day forward, with the ability to defend both positions. A capable, yet underwhelming shooter, Brown has an NBA-ready body and his slashing ability will be welcomed right away in Denver. He is a long-term upgrade over Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.
- Sacramento- Marquese Chriss | PF | Washington | Freshman
A new coach is finally in the mix, yet the front office is still reminiscent of the 2015-16 group that was among the laughing stocks in the league. Look for the Kings to target a home run selection with Chriss, a combo-forward that would form an athletic tandem with DeMarcus Cousins or Willie Cauley-Stein.
- Toronto- Henry Ellenson | PF | Marquette | Freshman
Toronto has to get younger and more athletic at power forward, and they find a versatile option here in Ellenson. A capable 3-point shooter, Ellenson is one of the draft’s top rebounders, and he should fight for rotation minutes, and maybe even a starting job, right away.
- Milwaukee- Jakob Poeltl | C | Utah | Sophomore
Poeltl to the Bucks would be a slam dunk if he lasts this far. The Bucks need to add some outside shooting, but the chance to draft Poeltl as the center of the future will trump that need. Greg Monroe has just one guaranteed year remaining, and could be a free agent next summer.
- Orlando- Deyonta Davis | PF | Michigan State | Freshman
Orlando has a bounty of developing prospects, but what’s notably missing is a player that can protect the rim. Davis is on the raw side, but his shot blocking and rebounding ability gives him a great chance to be a lottery pick.
- Utah- Denzel Valentine | SG | Michigan State | Senior
Of all the teams in the lottery, Utah is the closest to making a playoff berth. Adding an NBA-ready wing in Valentine makes sense here as a player that can facilitate the offense and knock down 3-pointers. Where does Dennis Lindsey sign?
- Phoenix- Malachi Richardson | SG | Syracuse | Freshman
Already having selected Dragan Bender, the Suns will be in the market for a guard with this pick. Will they target the fast-rising Richardson? A combo guard that can get off his own shot with ease, Richardson’s scoring ability will keep him shooting up draft boards.
- Chicago- Demetrius Jackson | PG | Notre Dame | Junior
Chicago is at a crossroads, needing to decide between building around Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler or starting over. Keeping Butler is a wise move, and adding Jackson into the mix at point guard should help ignite Fred Hoiberg’s offense.
- Denver- Furkan Korkmaz | SG | Turkey | 1997-born
With three picks in the first round, Denver can afford to take the highly-talented Korkmaz, who may or may not come overseas right away. A gunner with a very quick release, Korkmaz has earned his fair share of minutes for Anadolu Efes this year, and would be a steal this low in the first round.
- Boston- Skal Labissiere | PF | Kentucky | Freshman
Danny Ainge re-unites the Kentucky duo of Murray and Labissiere, drafting the shot blocker here at No. 16. Labissiere was a frustrating prospect to watch on the floor, as his feel for the game just isn’t there yet. He has all of the tools to be a very good power forward in the NBA, but from day one in the league he has to commit to the weight room.
- Memphis- Timothe Luwawu | SG | France | 1995-born
Even with a new coach, look for Memphis to prioritize defense and outside shooting with this selection. Sounds exactly like Luwawu right? Posterizing opponents for Mega Leks, Luwawu is an exciting 3-and-D prospect that could go as high as the late lottery.
- Detroit- Domantas Sabonis | PF | Gonzaga | Sophomore
Andre Drummond flourished with a stretch-4 next to him, but in selecting Sabonis the Pistons would find a player that can be his backup and also play next to him. One of the draft’s best rebounders, Sabonis has an accurate, albeit seldom used jump shot, and he finishes accurately around the rim.
- Denver- Malik Beasley | SG | Florida State | Freshman
With Emmanuel Mudiay and Will Barton serving as the main guards in Denver for the time being, management needs to look hard at adding a consistent 3-point shooter to go with them. Beasley is an athletic combo guard that shot nearly 39 percent in 2015-16.
- Indiana- Tyler Ulis | PG | Kentucky | Sophomore
Indiana has to add some guard depth in free agency or via the draft, and choosing Ulis here reflects solid value. Albeit massively undersized, Ulis plays with a chip on his shoulder and was Kentucky’s best player this season. Continuing to shoot the ball well from three-point range will determine his success in the league.
- Atlanta- Taurean Prince | SF | Baylor | Senior
How much did Atlanta miss DeMarre Carroll this year? Prince is a player cut from the same cloth, and he should be able to fight for minutes right away. A 3-and-D player that can defend multiple positions, Mike Budenholzer will have Prince circled on his draft board.
- Charlotte- Wade Baldwin | PG | Vanderbilt | Sophomore
Charlotte had a productive season, but could look to add some outside shooting and guard depth – especially in the case of Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin signing elsewhere. Baldwin checks off both needs, and would bring his freaky near-seven foot wingspan with him to Charlotte.
- Boston- Ivica Zubac | C | Croatia | 1997-born
Look for Boston to spend one of their first round picks on a draft-and-stash candidate, and the best one available is Zubac. A player who bounced around in Europe this season, Zubac tore up the competition at U18 and U19 FIBA events this past summer, and should continue to develop nicely overseas for a few years.
- Philadelphia- Dejounte Murray | PG | Washington | Freshman
Murray is a stat-stuffer in the box score, and reflects exactly what the 76ers should look for with this pick. He is an inconsistent shooter, but his ability to penetrate the lane and pull up from mid-range is exactly what Ben Simmons needs next to him.
- LA Clippers- Thon Maker | C | Canada | HS Senior
Will the Clippers be the one to pull the trigger on Maker? Maker is a few years away, but he possesses versatility as a high-motor center that can stretch the floor. His feel for the game and touch inside are still developing, but this could be a nice pick down the road if he is developed correctly.
- Philadelphia- Patrick McCaw | SG | UNLV | Sophomore
Philadelphia adds a defensive-minded guard as its final first round pick, selecting McCaw from UNLV. He is a player that can score in his own right, but has a tendency to play passively on the offensive end. A very good 3-point shooter, McCaw is a terrific fit in Philadelphia’s new regime.
- Toronto- Cheick Diallo | C | Kansas | Freshman
Having already used a lottery pick on Henry Ellenson, the Raptors can afford to take a project big here in Diallo. A high-motor center that rebounds well and blocks a lot of shots, Diallo is still very much developing on the offensive end. His range is likely 20-40.
- Phoenix- Ante Zizic | C | Croatia | 1997-born
Like Boston earlier, Phoenix will spend at least one first round pick on a player that can be stashed for a year or two. Zizic had a very productive season in Europe, excelling defensively and on the glass. He needs to get stronger and expand his offensive game, but he could be a Tiago Splitter-esque selection here.
- San Antonio- Brice Johnson | PF | North Carolina | Senior
Adding some depth behind LaMarcus Aldridge is needed in San Antonio, especially as the futures of Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw are up in the air. Johnson had a tremendous senior season, and would benefit greatly from learning next to Aldridge. He’s ready to play a role right away.
- Golden State- Caris LeVert | SG | Michigan | Senior
LeVert has late-lottery talent, but was unable to stay healthy during his career at Michigan. A do-it-all guard with deep 3-point range, he is a perfect fit in the Warriors’ backcourt rotation. How he checks out medically will determine LeVert’s draft stock.
- Boston- AJ Hammons | C | Purdue | Senior
- LA Lakers- Ben Bentil | PF | Providence | Sophomore
- LA Clippers- DeAndre Bembry | SF | St. Joseph’s | Junior
- Phoenix- Damian Jones | C | Vanderbilt | Junior
- Boston- Isaia Cordinier | SG | France | 1996-born
- Milwaukee- Gary Payton II | PG | Oregon State | Senior
- Houston- Isaiah Whitehead | PG | Seton Hall | Sophomore
- Milwaukee- Paul Zipser | SF | Germany | 1994-born
- New Orleans- Malcolm Brogdon | PG | Virginia | Senior
- New Orleans- Juan Hernangomez | PF | Spain | 1995-born
- Orlando- Kay Felder | PG | Oakland | Junior
- Utah- Georgios Papagiannis | C | Greece | 1997-born
- Houston- Stephen Zimmerman | C | UNLV | Freshman
- Atlanta- Diamond Stone | C | Maryland | Freshman
- Boston- Michael Gbinije | SG | Syracuse | Senior
- Dallas- Tyrone Wallace | PG | California | Senior
- Orlando- Zhou Qi | C | China | 1996-born
- Chicago- Robert Carter | PF | Maryland | Junior
- Detroit- Wayne Selden | SG | Kansas | Junior
- Indiana- Pascal Siakim | PF | New Mexico State | Sophomore
- Boston- Aleksandar Vezenkov | F | Bulgaria | 1995-born
- Utah- AJ English | PG | Iona | Senior
- Denver- Edin Atic | SG | Bosnia & Herzegovina | 1997-born
- Atlanta- Petr Cornelie | PF | France | 1995-born
- Brooklyn- Troy Williams | SF | Indiana | Junior
- Denver- Dorian Finney-Smith | SF | Florida | Senior
- Memphis- Joel Bolomboy | PF | Weber State | Senior
- Boston- Guerschon Yabusele | PF | France | 1995-born
- Sacramento- Chinanu Onuaku | C | Louisville | Sophomore
- Utah- Jarrod Uthoff | PF | Iowa | Senior