Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2016 NBA Draft. Included is an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts and information from the pre-draft process.
With the NBA Draft tomorrow, here is the final look at the 2016 NBA Draft.
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Alex’s Notebook: Around this time of year, there’s a lot of misinformation flying around. Not only will teams go to great lengths to hide which players they like, there are also some teams who will leak stuff about a prospect’s injury or off-court issue in hopes that they can get draft him.
This year, a number of injuries have been reported, but it remains to be seen how they will affect the draft’s first round.
Some teams are reportedly concerned about Denzel Valentine’s right knee and how it could impact the longevity of his career. He never missed a game in college due to his right knee – and he only missed four games in four years at Michigan State – but an MRI apparently scared some people around the league. But will this affect Valentine’s draft stock? He was previously being discussed as a potential lottery pick.
Malik Beasley’s stress fracture surgery in his right leg happened right after the season and sources have said the reason he limited his workouts is actually because he has a promise with a mid-first team that has an attractive situation. He received a green-room invite, so don’t be surprised if we hear his name sooner than initially expected.
Tyler Ulis is undersized, but he’s a very skilled point guard and he has a lot of fans around the NBA. So it remains to be seen whether the hip issue that has been discussed is legitimate or something teams are using in hopes that he slips. Kentucky head coach John Calipari has campaigned for Ulis and said that he doesn’t believe the rumors about a hip injury.
Some reports indicated that Stephen Zimmerman was red-flagged medically, but sources close to Zimmerman shot that down and have no idea where it’s coming from. It could be that a team has Zimmerman in their sights.
This may seem like an awful thing to do to a young kid just trying to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA, but some teams (and agents) will go to great lengths to affect draft boards. Be careful what you believe around this time of year.
Joel’s Notebook: The final mock draft is always the most important one, because we’re supposed to have learned our lessons from two months of making predictions. Honestly, though, the best part about the draft is that nobody really has a firm grasp on what is actually going to happen.
But I have watched the draft literally every year since I was 12 years old, and I made some picks in this final mock draft based on things I’ve known teams to do. Brice Johnson at No. 20 to Indiana does not, on the surface, seem to make a whole lot of sense, but Indiana keeps their cards very close to their chest and is not afraid to pick guys ahead of where they’re technically “supposed” to go. See Tyler Hansbrough, for example, or Solomon Hill. Johnson might not be the pick, but I wouldn’t be shocked to be shocked by who Indy ultimately goes with.
I’ve got Milwaukee taking the long, athletic big in Skal Labissiere, even though Henry Ellenson would be a perfectly-scripted selection from them right there because they’ve made a habit of collecting long, athletic bigs the last several years with a reasonable measure of success.
I’m also predicting that Boston will not be able to trade the No. 3 pick and will have to just settle for snagging a player who can help them immediately. They’ve got point guards for days, but there really isn’t anyone like Jaylen Brown on the roster yet. I think he’ll end up being the guy. My gut tells me Phoenix is snagging a guard at No. 4, Minnesota would screech with delight if Jamal Murray was still there at No. 5 and Dragan Bender in Toronto at No. 9 would be fascinating.
Jakob Poeltl dropped in just about every mock draft that I did this year, and I’m not sure why. I’m not low on him, but I guess I just see the league moving away from that more traditional center and I wonder how it will affect his stock. Chicago would be a nice fit for him should he fall that far.
And in Philadelphia, with a regime change in the front office, it wouldn’t be surprising for them to take the most accomplished young players possible. Ulis and Prince fit that mold perfectly.
Enjoy the draft on Thursday and, as we do with all my predictions, let’s look forward to chiding me for how many of them I will have gotten wrong by then. Even still, it’s my favorite night of the NBA year. Right or wrong, it’s showtime.
Moke’s Notebook: In short, after the first two picks, my top 10 looks radically different from last week, which, frankly, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Personally, I think if Danny Ainge is going to exercise the third overall pick for the Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown is the right fit. However, after learning that the Celtics have been trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to move their third overall pick, I’m inclined to think that Ainge would select Kris Dunn with, mainly because Dunn has done the most to boost his perceived value over the course of the pre-draft process. While some teams are high on Dragan Bender, I think he is too much of a risk for Ainge to roll the dice on at number three.
If Bender gets past the Phoenix Suns at number four (which I think he will), then I’d think he would slide a bit. With Ricky Rubio and Eric Gordon each having uncertain futures with their respective franchises, I see the Timberwolves and Hornets selecting Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray in some order, and I think I’m in the minority of having Skal Labissiere being selected inside of the top 10. After having Jalen Brown going to the Celtics at third last week, I have him being picked up by the Kings at number eight, which I think would be a win-win situation for both the player and the franchise.
For the past few weeks, I have been hearing that Malachi Richardson has done a lot to help his draft stock, so he is probably the biggest surprise for me in the final round of mock drafts. I wouldn’t expect him to get past the Clippers at number 25 if he is still on the board, but I think he goes before then.
As always, this entire process has been full of smokescreens and intrigue, but that’s a part of the game. There are a lot of intriguing prospects in this draft class and I think a few years from now, we will look back at it and realize that there are many quality players who entered the league in 2016. I can’t remember a draft having this much intrigue after the top two picks in recent years, as there doesn’t even seem to be a consensus top five heading into draft night.
In the end, there is a lot of talent in this draft, both at the top and the bottom. And either way, your team is likely to walk away from here with a quality piece or two.
Steve’s Notebook: Draft day is upon us and while many things are starting to fall into place at the top of the draft, there are still as many questions as answers in the middle and the bottom.
The annual green-room invite list answers some questions because historically, the largest majority of guys drafted early in the draft are in the room when drafted.
The fact that notable guys like Baylor’s Taurean Prince, high school sensation Thon Maker and Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson were not invited likely signals all three go lower than we have projected for most of this process. But it’s always possible one of them get drafted out of sequence. Last year, the Boston Celtics took Terry Rozier fairly high compared to his pre-draft stock; anything is possible on draft day.
There are a few names to watch in the mid-to-late first round. Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins continues to be a hot name among NBA talent evaluators and is in the running for a spot late in the first. Maryland’s Diamond Stone still seems to be hovering around the late 20s on some team’s draft boards.
On the flip side, the general consensus is that Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis may slide into the second round. UNC’s Brice Johnson still does not seem like he has a first-round home yet, although its possible he gets scooped up with a team’s second selection making him a possibility for Boston, Phoenix or Philadelphia – although it seems if the 76ers can’t package their picks in the 20s, they may swing for the international fences with both picks and defer those players into next season and beyond.
And lastly, there’s the Boston Celtics. On the eve of the NBA Draft, the Celtics are still trying to swing a deal for a significant veteran. The C’s are believed to have made recent runs at Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton as well as making calls on Cleveland’s Kevin Love.
If the Celtics cannot find a deal, there is a better than average chance they will draft Kris Dunn from Providence – and trade him later in the draft (possibly to the Minnesota Timberwolves and extract a veteran player out of the Wolves).
The Celtics seem to be the team that holds the keys to how this draft will play out and they are a huge wild card in the process.
Make sure to check the 2016 NBA Draft Diary for all the latest news, rumors and deals. It’s updated throughout the day all the way up to the draft. If something is happening, you’ll find it all in one place. Bookmark it and check in often.
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