2016 NBA mock draft: Philadelphia 76ers snag Ben Simmons

By Gethin Coolbaugh, The Sports Xchange  |  June 23, 2016 at 12:18 AM
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Only one thing seems certain: Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will hear their names called in the opening minutes of Thursday night's NBA Draft in Brooklyn.

After that, everything is up in the air.

Simmons has long been the consensus top pick, and the Philadelphia 76ers will all but certainly take the LSU standout.

Duke's Ingram, on the other hand, wouldn't slip any further than the third pick -- although most peg him to go at No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

But surprises are what make draft night so special.

What about the likes of Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Croatia's Dragan Bender? Or California's Jaylen Brown, Providence's Kris Dunn and Kentucky's Jamaal Murray?

Those questions will be answered on Thursday night, but until then we'll be left to wonder.

1. Philadelphia 76ers -- Ben Simmons (F, LSU; 19.2 PTS, 11.8 REB, 4.8 AST, 2.0 STL, 56.0% FG): Simmons' connection to Sixers coach Brett Brown, who coached his father during his 17-year tenure in Australia, makes this the most predictable pick in an otherwise unpredictable field. Plus, the team has already reportedly informed Simmons that he'll be the choice at No. 1.

2. Los Angeles Lakers -- Buddy Hield (G, Oklahoma; 25.0 PTS, 5.7 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.1 STL, 50.1% FG): Hield caught the eye of since-retired Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was "blown away" watching the Sooners' sharpshooter and surely has a direct line to general manager Mitch Kupchak. "They're losing Kobe, and they need a scorer," Hield said. "So why not?"

3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn Nets) -- Brandon Ingram (F, Duke; 17.3 PTS, 6.8 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.1 STL, 1.4 BLK, 44.2 % FG): Danny Ainge gets a gift in a consensus top-two pick falling into his lap, but he'll regift to the highest bidder. Another option is Kris Dunn, as the Sixers are trying to improve their play at the point and are shopping both Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.

4. Phoenix Suns -- Jaylen Brown (F, California; 14.6 PTS, 5.4 REB, 2.9 AST, 1.2 STL, 43.1% FG): Brown's scoring doesn't equate to that of Jamal Murray, and his lower-end shooting numbers and middling scoring average in his lone season with the Golden Bears raise red flags. Brown, however, fills a need for the Suns at the three position, with T.J. Warren (11.0 PPG) their top scorer at that spot.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Kris Dunn (G, Providence; 16.4 PTS, 5.3 REB, 6.2 AST, 2.5 STL, 44.8% FG): Dunn might be the best defensive guard in the draft, and he has drawn interest from the Timberwolves and new coach Tom Thibodeau -- a defensive guru. Dunn could complement the offensively talented Ricky Rubio and the NBA's brightest group of youngsters.

6. New Orleans Pelicans -- Jamal Murray (G, Kentucky; 20.0 PTS, 5.2 REB, 2.2 AST, 1.0 STL, 45.4% FG): Aside from Hield, Murray might be the best scorer in this draft. It's impossible to ignore Murray's standout offensive production at one of the nation's top collegiate programs, and the Pelicans could use a scorer to replace Eric Gordon if he doesn't re-sign with the team.

7. Denver Nuggets (from New York Knicks) -- Dragan Bender (F, Croatia): The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis with the Knicks last year makes the prospect of Bender, viewed as a similar player, more intriguing. Adding Bender to the stable of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic would make it easier for Denver to trade Kenneth Faried if he isn't willing to come off the bench.

8. Sacramento Kings -- Marquese Chriss (F, Washington; 13.8 PTS, 5.4 REB, 1.6 BLK, 53.0% FG): One of the most highly-touted athletes of this class, Chriss' athleticism could make him a fun option for Dave Joerger. The newly-hired former Memphis coach could pair him up with DeMarcus Cousins and stellar passing point guard Rajon Rondo, if the Kings opt to retain him.

9. Toronto Raptors (from Denver via New York) -- Domantas Sabonis (F/C, Gonzaga; 17.6 PTS, 11.8 REB, 0.9 BLK, 61.1% FG): Already covered at the five with the formidable duo of Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo, Sabonis figures to be an upgrade over Patrick Patterson at the four position and plays with the energy for which the Raptors are known.

10. Milwaukee Bucks -- Dejounte Murray (G, Washington; 16.1 PTS, 6.0 REB, 4.4 AST, 1.8 STL, 41.6%): Murray gives the Bucks a promising ball hander and combo guard, one who could replace Michael Carter-Williams should that be the route taken by the Bucks. His low shooting percentage is troubling, and he'll need to continue to develop his strength at the next level.

11. Orlando Magic -- Skal Labissiere (F, Kentucky; 6.6 PTS, 3.1 REB, 1.6 BLK, 51.6% FG): A good frontcourt pairing with Nikola Vucevic, and a big who possesses speed to run the floor with Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. His numbers at Kentucky didn't live up to the hype, certainly.

12. Utah Jazz -- Wade Baldwin IV (G, Vanderbilt; 14.1 PTS, 4.0 REB, 5.2 AST, 1.2 STL, 42.7 FG%): A two-way guard who has no problem getting to the bucket, but has some work to do developing into a point guard at this level.

13. Phoenix Suns (from Washington Wizards) -- Deyonta Davis (F/C, Michigan State; 7.5 PTS, 5.5 REB, 1.8 BLK, 59.8% FG): A quality rim protector Phoenix can slide next to Alex Len, Davis is a work-in-progress who is fleet of foot and a solid finisher at the rim.

14. Chicago Bulls -- Jakob Poeltl (C, Utah; 17.2 PTS, 9.1 REB, 1.6 BLK, 64.6% FG): Joakim Noah's run as a top-tier NBA big seems to have come to an end, but Poeltl is poised to carry the torch as the Bulls' next-generation center.

15. Denver Nuggets (from Houston Rockets) -- Furkan Korkmaz (G, Turkey): A gifted scorer with a strong shooting touch, Korkmaz has a dedicated work ethic, which he'll need to rely on to become an NBA-level defender.

16. Boston Celtics (from Dallas Mavericks) -- Henry Ellenson (F, Marquette; 17.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.8 AST, 1.5 BLK, 44.6% FG): Ellenson attracted an army of Celtics' front office personnel -- Ainge, president Rich Gotham and assistant GM Mike Zarren -- when he played against nearby Providence this year.

17. Memphis Grizzlies -- Timothe Luwawu (G/F, France): A formidable swingman with a big wingspan, Luwawu should improve the Grizzlies at the wing over Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes and the aging Vince Carter.

18. Detroit Pistons -- Denzel Valentine (G/F, Michigan State; 19.2 PTS, 7.5 REB, 7.8 AST, 46.2% FG): Weak at the three, the Pistons will stay local with the Big Ten Player of the Year, a very complete player with a well-respected basketball IQ.

19. Denver Nuggets (from Portland Trail Blazers) -- Malachi Richardson (G, Syracuse; 13.4 PTS, 4.3 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.1 STL, 37.0% FG): Well-sized for an NBA two-guard, but shooting under 40 percent won't cut it at that position. His wingspan and instincts make up for the low shooting numbers.

20. Indiana Pacers -- Brice Johnson (F, North Carolina; 17.0 PTS, 10.4 REB, 1.5 BLK, 61.4% FG): Johnson helped lead UNC's run to the national championship game, and the Pacers will benefit from the trio of Myles Turner, Lavoy Allen and Johnson.

21. Atlanta Hawks -- Diamond Stone (C, Maryland; 12.5 PTS, 5.4 REB,1.6 BLK, 56.8% FG): Al Horford's likely departure will leave the Hawks empty at the five, and with the need for a roster retool, now seems like a good time to take on a project in Stone.

22. Charlotte Hornets -- Ivica Zubac (C, Croatia): Al Jefferson is getting older, and the foreign seven-footer with a solid wingspan could be a good understudy.

23. Boston Celtics -- Taurean Prince (F, Baylor; 15.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.3 AST, 1.3 AST, 43.2% FG): Think of Prince as Jae Crowder, 2.0. A big wing with smarts on the court, the ability to defend smaller players and a noted spot-up shooter.

24. Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami Heat via Cleveland Cavaliers) -- Thon Maker (F/C, Australia): Another Australian connection for Brown, Maker is a raw but intriguing prospect. And if the Sixers are intent on dealing Okafor or Noel, Maker makes sense here.

25. Los Angeles Clippers -- DeAndre Bembry (G/F, St. Joseph's; 17.4 PPG, 7.8 REB, 4.5 AST, 1.4 STL): The Atlantic-10 Player of the Year is an explosive player who could fill the shoes of the aging Paul Pierce, or work in tandem with him if Pierce pushes off retirement for another year.

26. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City Thunder via Denver and Cleveland) -- Demetrius Jackson (G, Notre Dame; 15.8 PTS, 3.5 REB, 4.7 AST, 1.2 STL, 45.1% FG): A fail safe if Philly can't swing a trade for Dunn, or possibly an addition to him to make the 76ers' backcourt one of the fastest in the league.

27. Toronto Raptors -- Cheick Diallo (F, Kansas, 3.0 PTS, 2.5 REB, 0.9 BLK, 56.9% FG): A big-time project who isn't ready to contribute immediately, but Diallo is a player with a strong motor and a potentially solid shot blocker.

28. Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland via Boston) -- Malcolm Brogdon (G, Virginia; 18.2 PTS, 4.1 REB, 3.1 AST, 45.7% FG): One of the best players from the ACC, the league's reigning Player of the Year is more than just a scorer who keeps the ball moving to create for teammates.

29. San Antonio Spurs -- Juan Hernangomez (F, Spain): Tim Duncan has to retire eventually, right? Maybe not, but in the event he does, Hernangomez is another foreign product Gregg Popovich can turn into gold.

30. Golden State Warriors -- Ben Bentil (F, Providence; 21.1 PTS, 7.7 REB, 1.0 BLK, 46.2% FG): In the likely event that Dirk Nowitzki stays put in Dallas, Bentil fits the needs of the Warriors and is a dark horse in this draft. The Big East's leading scorer has the potential to be a more impactful pro than Dunn.

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