Who Is Next? With Summer League coming to a close, all of the notable rookies have logged time and NBA training camps are roughly two months away. Now, let’s take a look at the notable names in the 2016 draft class to see who is next on the NBA radar.
Skal Labissiere – PF/C – 19 years old – 7’0″ – 216 lbs
It’s very likely that Labissiere enters his freshman season at Kentucky as the top ranked draft prospect in the country. He has an amazing mix of size, agility and timing that should make him stand out among others in college basketball. Add the fact that he’ll get Kentucky-style exposure, run NBA plays for a year and be in UK’s strength program, all signs point to Labissiere as the front runner for the 2016 top overall pick.
While Labissiere is often pigeonholed for his defensive prowess, over the last year he has really added a lot to his offensive game and is fairly effective out to the foul line, with a nice mid-range game. If Labissiere continues to evolve, as most expect that he will, not only will his stay at Kentucky be short lived, he could follow in the footsteps of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis.
Ben Simmons – SF/PF – 18 years old – 6’10” – 239 lbs
While Labissiere could be the top pick, Simmons likely gives him a run for his money. The incredibly versatile Simmons has the whole package. He is an elite-level defender, can score with either hand, has tremendous size and is crazy athletic.
Simmons has been on the NBA radar for several years, starting as a stand out player at Adidas Nations. He has continued to thrive in the prep world at Montverde Academy. Simmons is expected to headline a stacked LSU team and is likely going to be one of the best players in college basketball.
Simmons is a serious front runner for the top overall selection, and a stellar college season could go a long way toward cementing that.
Jaylen Brown – 18 years old – 6’6″ – 222 lbs
If you liked Pistons forward Stanley Johnson, you are going to love Jaylen Brown. Brown is elite-level defender, has an amazing offensive game and is built like a linebacker. Brown is more evolved offensively than Johnson and could be a stellar two-way player at the next level.
Brown draws comparisons to Andre Iguodala and Ron Artest due to his size and physical style of play, but he could be a far better offensive player than both.
Like Simmons, Brown has been on the NBA radar for a couple of years. A strong season at Brown likely joins the top of the 2016 NBA Draft class as potential top-five pick.
Dragan Bender – PF – 17 years old – 7’1″ – 216 lbs
When you ask NBA scouts who the best international draft prospect is, Bender is usually the name you hear back.
Amazingly skilled for a 17-year-old, Bender is long and athletic and has great awareness on the court. Bender signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv and has been playing for their junior squad. Bender wowed scouts at Eurocamp this summer and is clearly on the draft radar for next season.
Like most international players, getting stronger is a key goal for the next year. Sources close to the process say the idea of Bender in the 2016 draft class will depend on where he ultimately could be drafted. If he can be a top four pick, he may come over, but he may also go the Kristaps Porzingis route – entering the draft, testing his value and pulling out to up his value internationally.
Bender is a very intriguing prospect and absolutely one of the names to keep on the radar.
Zhou Qi – C – 19 years old – 7’2″ – 209 lbs
Two years ago, an NBA scout tossed out Zhou Qi as a sleeper in the second round. As the 2016 NBA Draft class starts to take shape in a few months, Qi jumps into the first round discussion. While super thin, Qi is an interesting prospect. He has great size and length, with huge hands and solid shot blocking ability. The knock on Qi is that his frame may not support much weight and it may be hard for him to add any serious bulk in a single year. For comparison sake, think of a skinnier John Henson.
Qi is an intriguing prospect, especially this early in the process. Like Bender, it’s unclear if Qi enters the 2016 Draft class. But if he does, he could be an interesting prospect in the top 15.
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