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.
Alex’s Notebook: Lately, some experts have said that Kris Dunn could go a bit lower than expected on draft night, with some analysts even projecting that Jamal Murray will be the first point guard selected. This is because Dunn is one of the older players in the draft at 22 years old and he needs to improve his shot.
However, Dunn still has many fans around the NBA. I’ve talked to a number of executives who have praised his stifling perimeter defense and said that he has all of the physical tools to be a match-up nightmare (specifically his 6’4 frame, 6’9 wingspan and terrific athleticism).
Dunn is mature and has a good head on his shoulders, which will also help him. Some players just seem to “get it” and he’s one of those guys. He’s going to impress teams during face-to-face interviews because he wants to be great and will put in the necessary to work to maximize his full potential.
“Whatever team I’m on, I’m just going to look for the veterans who can teach me the most and learn from them,” Dunn told me last month. “Everything at the next level will be a learning experience for me and I want to gain as much knowledge as I can from the older guys because they’ve been in the league and around the game for so long.”
Dunn dominated at the college level, averaging 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals for Providence. He shot 44.8 percent from the field and a career-high 37.2 percent from three-point range (on 3.4 attempts per game) this year. He finished the season with the third-highest assist percentage (41.8 percent) and sixth-highest steal percentage (4.3 percent) in the country.
While there has been a ton of talk about Dunn’s shot needing work, it’s worth noting that players like Jason Kidd, John Wall and, most recently, Elfrid Payton all failed to match Dunn’s 37.2 percent shooting from three-point range in any season of their college career. And Dunn has been working on his shot in pre-draft training, while also studying a wide variety of players including Wall, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo (who was Dunn’s favorite player entering college), Gary Payton, Jamal Crawford and Michael Ray Richardson among others. God Shammgod, who coached Dunn in college, has helped him with his development and provided him with film of many guards.
With his size, defense and athleticism, Dunn could really help his stock during team workouts. If he gets the chance to match up against other point guards like Murray, Demetrius Jackson or Wade Baldwin, he may be able to solidify himself as a top four or five pick.
Entering this process, Dunn is determined to silence his doubters.
“I think the whole process is exciting,” Dunn said. “Every player in the draft wants to show what they can do and prove all of their doubters wrong. I’ve been doubted my whole life – on and off the court. I’m used to that and it definitely fuels my fire. If someone doubts me, I just take what they said and bring it to the gym. You can’t get down on yourself – you just have to play and get through any adversity and prove the doubters wrong.”
Joel’s Notebook: There’s always so much to say the first time we do one of these consensus mock drafts that I almost never know where to start, so rather than going too in-depth on any one thing, here’s a few quick hits as we head into the Combine.
– Right now, I think Ben Simmons will be selected over Brandon Ingram no matter which team makes the pick because, first and foremost, I believe Simmons is the superior talent. I know there’s been a lot of hoopla about Simmons not having the drive and not leading his team into the tournament, but he’s the complete package talent-wise and he’s probably going to prove very challenging to pass up with that top spot. All that said, Ingram is younger than Simmons by about nine months to go along with that crazy skill set. Whoever picks No. 2 is going to have an easy choice to make.
– If Buddy Hield falls outside of the top five picks, something went wrong. I get the ceiling vs. floor argument, but he deserves a place in this league and looks so much stronger as a draftee than many of the other likely Green Room invites. Hield in Minnesota would be a lot of fun, but he’d be a riot in Boston too.
– Everybody seems to think Chicago is going to draft a point guard, but they rarely end up doing what everybody expects and tend to find their point guards on the cheap in free agency. Derrick Rose hasn’t been traded, and they can always sign a guy. Domantas Sabonis feels like the kind of guy GarPax would love.
– I wouldn’t spend a lottery pick on Skal Labissiere. A team like Denver, Boston or Phoenix who has a couple of top-16 picks could take a gamble, but as a lone selection in this draft, I’m not a fan. He’s too big a risk. He should be in the same draft range as Cheick Diallo, in my opinion, maybe even lower because Diallo just didn’t get the minutes. Labissiere showed us often what he can (and can’t) do.
– Brice Johnson is going too late in the mocks I’ve seen. He’s an NBA player if ever there was one, and Atlanta would be a good fit, especially with Paul Millsap and Al Horford’s future up in the air.
Moke’s Notebook: Traditionally, things begin to shake up in the aftermath of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, and traditionally, I haven’t cut against the grain in any of my picks before that point.
Most people out there expect Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram to go first and second in the draft, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. In particular, prior to the draft lottery, we can only make predictions based on our mental projections of a prospect’s trajectory.
I will say this: As the weeks progress along, I expect Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Wade Baldwin and DeAndre Bembry to make substantial gains in their stock, and I would also caution everyone to be alert as to where the Boston Celtics are selecting. As we saw last year (and many years prior), they have a propensity to cut against the grain, even when they have somewhat higher selections.
In what is our first consensus mock draft, we are playing it somewhat safe… But expect our due diligence and observations at the Combine to heavily impact where we see the gross majority of prospects landing, especially after the draft lottery has concluded.
Steve’s Notebook: No bigger mystery surrounds the 2016 NBA Draft than that of Chinese big man Zhou Qi (pronounced “joe-chi”).
Listed at 7’2 with a slender 209-pound frame, NBA scouts have been talking about Qi for more than two years as he has emerged on the Chinese basketball radar playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the CBA.
Qi has been training for the NBA Draft in Dallas and word is he’s been on a very intense strength and training regimen that’s added some 20 pounds to his frame.
He has a nice touch around the basket and is a solid shot blocker. His overall strength is an area of concern, especially in a draft class with so many options for bigs. Qi’s wingspan was measured at 7’6 at the Nike Hoop Summit this year and he held his own against other high-level players. It will be interesting to see how Qi handles himself in Combine drills this week.
While Qi isn’t going to be the next Yao Ming, he does look like a very draftable prospect, especially for a franchise that would like to enter the Chinese marketplace.
With so many teams holding multiple picks in the first-round, there is a real chance that Qi is one of the first 30 picks on draft night. He’s a dare-to-be-great selection late in the first round.
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