1. Ben Simmons | LSU
FORWARD | 6’10”, 240 POUNDS | FR.
He may be beginning to gain some skeptics, but Ben Simmons is the closest thing to perennial All Star status that you will find in this draft.
His disappointing team success during his season at LSU was not the fault of his – a mediocre program with mediocre supporting players wasn’t a good foundation from the start.
It hurts a bit that he won’t be playing in March, but it would still be dumb for anyone to pass up on him, even if Philly is too deep at the four with Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric coming over from Europe.
They have to hit that superstar pick at some point – Simmons is their best chance.
Look for Simmons to hear his name called first in June.
NBA Comparison – LeBron James
2. Brandon Ingram | DUKE
FORWARD | 6’9″, 195 | FR.
Brandon Ingram isn’t going to be any different. Ingram is a lanky, weak, offensive minded wing. But he also is a dead eye shooter and a hell of a shot creator, both things that LA desperately need (then again, what don’t they need? )
How Ingram fares in the pros is different from where his talent should put him on draft day, and for that he has a solid case for second best.
NBA Comparison – Kevin Durant
3. Buddy Hield | Oklahoma
GUARD | 6’4″, 215 | SR.
NBA Comparison – James Harden
4. Dragan Bender | Croatia
FORWARD | 7’0″, 220 | 18 yrs. Old
You can’t be sure, but Dragan Bender looks just as good, if not better than, Kristaps. Bender plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the best Euroleague teams in the world, and has been toted as a top NBA prospect since he was 16 years old.
He is a classic stretch four, but his ball handling is on par with that of the best at his position, or even better. His outside stroke is his best asset, but his ability to make plays off the dribble and, at 7′,1″, grab almost all the rebounds, make him a scary prospect.
Besides having the coolest name of anyone probably ever, Bender also has the potential to be the best stretch four in the game in a few seasons. I see a lot of Kevin Love here. Not Cavalier Kevin Love, Minnesota Kevin Love. Scary, right?
But, as with all European stretch fours, his bust potential is among the largest in this class. He is only 18, and that should scare some teams looking to win now.
But Phoenix has a gaping hole at the four, and Bender could step right into a team that is fit for deep playoff runs in a matter of seasons.
NBA Comparison – Dirk Nowitzki / LaMarcus Aldridge
5. Kris Dunn | Providence
GUARD | 6’4″, 220 | SR.
Dunn is a great example of why staying in college another year can, sometimes, really help your stock.
Dunn was projected to go in the 20s of last year’s first round, an accolade few can say they have achieved. But Dunn stayed in school and came back stronger than ever, and he is now a top 5 candidate for this year’s draft, so kudos to Dunn for doing the smart thing and bumping his stock about 4 million dollars higher.
The best ball handler in the draft, Dunn would instantly make Minnesota a better team, even if they have a starting point guard in Ricky Rubio. Whether they trade Rubio or bench him, Dunn would be the starter for this team that needs to start winning next season after racking up two, possibly three Perennial All Stars in the past few drafts to justify their tanking.
If Dunn can legitimise his jumpshot, he could be the best player in this draft. If he doesn’t, Tony Wroten and him can get dinner sometime.
NBA Comparison – Mike Conley
6. Jamal Murray | Kentucky
GUARD | 6’4″, 205 | FR.
7. Jakob Poetl | Utah
CENTER | 7’1″, 240 | SO.
8. Marquese Chriss | Washington
Forward | 6’9″, 225 | FR.
9. Jaylen Brown | California
SF | 6’7″, 225 | Fr.
10. Skal Labissiere | Kentucky
F/C | 6’11”, 220 | FR.
11. Brice Johnson | UNC
12. Timothy Luwawu | France
13. Henry Ellenson | Marquette
F/C | 6’10”, 245 | FR.
14. Deyonta Davis | Michigan State
F/C | 6’10”, 240 | FR.
15. Furkan Korkmaz | Turkey
GUARD | 6’7″, 175 | AGE: 18
16. Wade Baldwin IV | Vanderbilt
Guard | 6’2″ , 190 | Sr.
17. Malachi Richardson | Syracuse
Guard | 6-6, 200 | Fr.
18. Tauren Prince | Baylor
FORWARD | 6’7″, 220 | SR.
At this point, Denver is drafting for depth.
No offense to Prince, but Denver doesn’t really need this pick, and they could go any variety of directions with it.
But taking Prince as a wing backup would be a good call. A spot up shooter, Prince will be a role player in the NBA for some time.
NBA Comparison – Gerald Wallace
19. Domantas Sabonis | Gonzaga
FORWARD | 6’10”, 240 | SO.
With Ivan Rabb taking his name out of the hat and deciding to return to California for his sophomore season, Sabonis moves up several spots here for a marriage with the gritty Pistons.
20. Demetrius Jackson | Notre Dame
GUARD | 6’1″, 220 | JR.
A homecoming of sorts, Jackson going to Indiana from Notre Dame makes a lot of sense.
He is one of the best ball handlers in the draft, but he lacks the ability to create his own shot. Still, Indiana needs to start fresh at point guard.
Whether George Hill is moved to the bench or traded, Jackson is the right call for Larry Bird and the Pacers in an effort to surround Paul George with title contending talent.
NBA Comparison – Jonny Flynn
21. Malik Beasley | Florida State
SG-SF | 6’4″ | 185 lbs
NBA Comparison – Wesley Matthews
22. Denzel Valentine | Michigan State
G/F | 6’6″, 220 | SR.
23. Zhou Qi | China
Center | 7’2″, 210 | 20 yrs.
Qi had me excited at last year’s draft, but he withdrew beforehand. His physical intangibles – 7’2″ and 210 at just 20 years of age – are very intriguing.
With the right coaching, anyone who stands at a massive 7’2″ can be productive. The Hawks already have 7’1″ Walter Tavares in the wings, as well as 7’0″ center Mike Muscala coming off the bench, but they could always have another project big (very big) man.
This is also an insurance pick if longtime Hawk Al Horford decides to bolt in free agency, which looks very possible.
24. Thon Maker | Orangeville District Secondary School
Center | 7’1″, 218 | Canada
I don’t understand why some experts don’t have Maker in the top 25, some not even in the first 40.
Maker is the rawest player in this draft by far – he is coming straight out of high school. But his physical measurements and rare skills are things noone has seen in the NBA and, in a league that drafts for upside, it amazes me he isn’t projected to be a lottery pick.
Maker stands at a massive 7’1″, but he played guard in high school and can shoot the three. Yes, you read that right.
Those are the foundations of league-changing skills, and I am sure the now-rebuilt Hornets would love to gamble on him.
NBA Comparison – None
25. Guerschon Yabusele | France
PF / C |
26. Melo Trimble | Point Guard
PG | 6’3″, 190 | SO.
27. Juan Hernangomez | Spain
PF | 6’9″, 225 | Spain
28. Anthony Barber | NC State
PG | 6’2″, 185 | Jr.
NBA Comparison -Monta Ellis
29. Stephen Zimmermann | UNLV
C | 7’0, 240 | Fr.
30. Diamond Stone | Maryland
C | 6’10”, 255 | Fr.
33 *Brooklyn – Tyler Ulis | Kentucky
34 Phoenix – Damian Jones | Vanderbilt