The 2016 NBA Draft was a very interesting draft as we saw a lot of surprises. In the first round alone, fans witnessed players dreams come true and saw many players fall down to the second round. Personally, I was really proud about the growth of basketball internationally. Right now we are witnessing the game get to soccer levels in terms of international growth. Need an example? Sure. In the first 10 picks, half of the players selected were not born in America. There are more points of entry when one dissects the 2016 NBA draft, but let’s first look at the players in the First round. That is not to say that the second round is not full of talent, however, the drama on draft night has to do with the second round.
1. 76ers select Ben Simmons #1, Timothe Luwawu #24, Furkan Korkmaz #26
This was the consensus number 1 pick so there was no drama here. While arguments were being made that Brandon Ingram would be a better fit in Philadelphia, Simmons is a talent that you cannot pass up on. Simmons literally does everything but shoot. He is prone to turning the ball over so that is a concern but the main problem for Simmons is that he will need to develop some semblance of a jumpshot to then open up his game a lot more. If Simmons can get that, then we might be seeing a transcendent talent.
Timothe Luwawu is a 3 and defense (3 and d) guy right now and could have a very long career in the league, however, he will need work in the D-League due to his inability to finish around the rim and his poor decision making.
Furkan Korkmaz shows the potential to be a consistent off the bench scorer. His body needs to fill out for me to be really confident in his abilities translating to the NBA but his jumper is smooth. To me Philadelphia made some good decisions, selecting a possible superstar and getting two players that can develop and grow in the D-League.
Michael’s grade: A
2. Lakers select Brandon Ingram #2
The two things that the Lakers sorely missed is a long-lanky perimeter defender and 3pt shooting. If anything, that’s what Ingram will provide. Ingram has a 7’3 wingspan, can move his feet well, and shoot the three. His lack of size is a concern but for me its not about being big, its about being strong. For Ingram, it is about where he wants to go as a player. If Ingram can get stronger, than the worst he will be is a “3 and d” player but he has the potential to be a superstar in this league. This would have been a good pick for any team, but this is an especially good pick for the Lakers.
Michael’s grade: A-
3. Celtics select Jaylen Brown #3, Guerschon Yabusele #16, Ante Zizic #23
For me, I have my reservations about the Jaylen Brown pick. On one hand, this was probably the right pick for the Celtics to make. On the other hand, I would have preferred to get a spot up 3pt shooter. Believe it or not, the Celtics were ranked 28th in 3-point percentage. Best part about is that they shot it a lot, as they were 11th in 3 pointers attempted. Also, just by conventional basketball wisdom, you need someone that Isaiah Thomas can kick the ball out to so the lane remains open. While I believe Kelly Olynyk can fit this role great as a stretch 4, it would be nice to get more shooting and the Celtics missed the boat on this in a hilarious way.
Buddy Hield was still on the board and would have fit this role well in my opinion. This is not to take anything away from Brown. He is a beast on the boards and is physically gifted with quick feet. There is a reason he could score in college playing for California. My problem is the Celtics do not need another drive and kick guy who is not a three point threat. Hopefully Brown proves me wrong.
The other two are works in progress and obviously are going to play in Maine this season barring some huge improvement. Nonetheless, these are good prospects as Guerschon Yabusele is a bulky guy who hustles and has a surprising offensive polish but is undersized at the power forward position. We have seen tweeners make it and we have seen tweeners fail miserably at their position so it will be interesting what Yabsusele does. Ante Zizic shows some really impressive defensive instincts but I am not sold that he can develop his really limited offensive game. For Both Zizic and Yabusele they will have to prove themselves in Maine before getting their chance at the big stage.
Michael’s Grade: C
4. Phoenix Suns Select Dragan Bender #4, trade for Marquese Chriss #8
I think the NBA World learned their lesson last year not to overreact when your team drafts a big, white European guy. Bender immediately drew comparisons to Porzingis and while I was not watching Maccabi Tel Aviv every night, I can tell you that those comparisons are a little bit of a stretch. Porzingis was already contributing on a team in the second best league in the world, while Bender barely played for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
With that being said, the Suns are in desperate need of a stretch big who will open the floor for the guard duo of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe. This is a huge gamble, but it might work.
Chriss has been touted as a prospect with a huge upside but he has to be willing to rebound on the defensive glass. The Suns expect him to be a good stretch four because of his 3pt ability but he can be so much more because of his athleticism.
Michael’s Grade: C+
5. Timberwolves Select Kris Dunn #5
I see what Minnesota is doing and it makes sense. They are trying to slowly move on from Ricky Rubio by getting a point guard.
Nonetheless, in the attempt of trying to turn the page on Ricky Rubio, they got another Ricky Rubio. Good passer who defends well but what else? Now to be fair to Dunn, he is a lot more athletic than Rubio, will rebound well and does have a better shot, however his shot is not lights out by any stretch. Also while he has played healthy this season, I know from experience that shoulder injuries are tricky. It could very well be a thing of the past, but it is something to keep an eye on.
With all the negativity out of the way, this could go very well. Dunn has no problems deferring and has an uncanny ability of knowing the right time to take it to the rim. He also could compliment the talent of Minnesota very well as a bench player or a starter. If Minnesota are willing to trade Rubio, then Dunn could make a positive impact.
Michael’s Grade: B
6. Pelicans select Buddy Hield #6
The Pelicans needed to outfit their team with another scorer and they have done that with the addition of Buddy Hield. From conventional wisdom, this actually makes sense as the Pelicans are using Hield as a space creator to prevent double teams on Davis. Davis was bombarded with double teams last season and Hield provides them with not only another potential offensive threat, but also a shooter who you cannot leave open.
Michael’s Grade: B+
7. Nuggets Select Jamal Murray #7, Juan Hernangomez #15, Malik Beasley #19
I like the sound of Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay as the starting backcourt of the Nuggets for years to come. Beasley also impresses me on defense. Thus, if Murray does not work out offensively than Malik Beasley can provide the defense to keep the Nuggets in games.
Hernangomez is a wild card because he is an international. If he can assimilate himself into the Nuggets system after some development then he will be at worst a good stretch four. Hernangomez is a little volatile defensively in the sense that he over helps but he is a willing defender and I see him being a good player. I would have liked to see the Nuggets pick up a small forward but other than that these were good picks.
Michael’s Grade: B-
8. Raptors Select Jakob Poeltl #9, Pascal Siakam #27
I am a big proponent of the “I believe in Masai” camp but this one made me think a little bit. I think Masai was trying to play on the future as Poeltl and Delon Wright are former teammates at Utah. Masai got a big man who is very talented and defensively will give teams fits but the problem is that the Raptors already have Jonas Valanciunas. One would be hard-pressed to make the case that Poeltl and Valanciunas can play together. This begs the question, even if Jakob Poeltl becomes better than Valanciunas, are the Raptors willing to sit down Valanciunas and the money they have invested in him? Poeltl can be a great contributor off the bench paired with Patrick Patterson especially if Bismack Biyombo decides to leave Toronto.
Siakam is very interesting because immediately I thought this guy is if Biyombo was a little worse on defense and a better on offense. He does not defend the pick and roll as well as Biyombo but he can block shots, rebound and to his credit has a sweet mid-range jumper. The idea of Siakam is to one day in the future pair with Valanciunas but one has to ask two questions. First, were there better options still available to pair with Valanciunas? I would say yes. Second if Bismack Biyombo stays, is this now a wasted pick? I would say yes; however, I do trust Masai and give him the benefit of the doubt that he has a plan.
Michael’s Grade: B-
9. Bucks select Thon Maker #10
I absolutely hated how high Maker went in the draft. This is not an indictment on his character, he is a very good kid but I fear that this will force the Bucks front office to rush his development when in reality, Thon Maker needs the Bruno Caboclo treatment. Maker needs years, not months, needs to get bulkier and stronger. Also Maker needs to play D-League competition a little so that he can ease himself in to the type of competition that is in the NBA.
If this was a second round pick, then I would be happy because it shows that an NBA team is willing to ease him in to the lineup. But at 10th overall, I fear that a good kid like Maker will become a bust due to teams rushing his development and messing with his confidence.
Michael’s Grade: D
10. Oklahoma City Thunder acquire from Orlando Magic in trade Domantas Sabonis #11
If the Thunder just drafted Sabonis outright than I would have liked the pick a little. This guy is a good passer from the post and is a throwback post player. Getting Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova as well makes me like the pick a lot. I think that Sabonis and Adams can fit well together due to Sabonis’s high basketball IQ and passing ability. Oladipo is a huge get and will contribute for the Thunder, while Ilyasova provides 3-point shooting off the bench. Sure Ibaka will be missed and Dion Waiters will probably be lost in free agency but the Thunder definitely got better on paper in this instance.
Michael’s Grade: A
11. Hawks aquire 12th pick from Utah Jazz in trade, select Taurean Prince #12, DeAndre Bembry #21
Let me first say that this was a clear indication that the Hawks will not be overpaying Kent Bazemore. Whether Hawks fans like or dislike that is up to them. As for the two players themselves, I like the picks. Prince may be a little too high at 12 but he can shoot it and Atlanta’s system makes shooters go from handguns to rocket launchers. If used right, Prince will be effective in the Hawks system.
Bembry is a really good finisher at the rim, and can pass as well as rebound. His shot is suspect and at 6’5 he will benefit greatly from a shot but I can see Bembry being the new Dennis Schroder while Schroder becomes his Jeff Teague. In his early years, Bembry can become a combo guard who provides stability off the bench. I think both picks may be a little high but I like the picks for Atlanta’s system.
Michael’s grade: B+
12. Kings select Georgios Papagiannis at 13, Malachi Richardson at 22, Skal Labissiere at 28
Can someone say overkill? This is not a knock on Papagiannis or Labissiere who are talented but my goodness what was Sacramento thinking. The frontcourt is already armed to the tooth in Sacramento and they needed some wings and a point guard. Papagiannis was projected to be much lower on the draft boards and Sacramento do not need him, especially at number 13; neither is Labissiere.
That does not mean that these two bigmen cannot develop or not good players. What it means is that Sacramento did not even attempt to fill their needs. On the bright side, Malachi Richardson can provide 3pt scoring to open up the paint for the likes of Rudy Gay and Demarcus Cousins.
Michael’s Grade: D
13. Bulls Select Denzel Valentine #14
I will preface this by saying if. If Denzel Valentine’s knee does not derail his career, then the Bulls may have won the first round draft this year. Valentine was so impressive at Michigan state University. He can pass, shoot, rebound and I can see him playing at the 1, 2 and even 3 whenever Fred Hoiberg wills it. Valentine does have flaws, especially defensively but offensively there is so much to like. If his knee can withstand the rigors of the NBA season than the Bulls will be very happy with their pick.
Michael’s Grade: A-
14. Grizzlies select Wade Baldwin IV #17
As Mike Conley will be headed to free agency, this is a good contingency pick if Conley decides to leave Memphis. Wade Baldwin IV has the potential to be another Mike Conley. Decent jumper, good court vision, great defense and will score at couple points while he’s at it. Baldwin IV will not instantly fill Mike Conley’s shoes but Baldwin IV can fill those shoes with a little development.
Michael’s Grade: A-
15. Pistons select Henry Ellenson #18
People are already saying that this is a perfect pick for the Pistons. In theory, they got a shooting big man to pair with Andre Drummond. His game is smooth and he can develop into a good shooter, however, I have concerns. First off, he is an overrated shooter right now. While his 28% 3-pt percentage is not indicative of his 3-point ability, it is still 28%. Which leads me to ask if he can shoot the NBA 3 at a better percentage?
Secondly, defensively he is a liability. The Pistons probably are not going to ask him to defend the paint but defense is done as a team. It is shocking and surprising how one player can make an entire defense go from great to horrid. I do not hate the pick but I do not think Ellenson will fit as well as others think.
Michael’s Grade: C+
16. Nets Select Caris Lavert #20
I like the fact that the Nets are really going through with this rebuilding stage and are making the best out of the horrible position they are in. Trading away Thaddeus Young may have hurt but right now the Nets need to rebuild and get an influx of young-ins to grow in the system. Nonetheless, Lavert has question marks. Lavert’s injury history is a concern and he is a little too weak physically for my liking but he is an excellent shooter. Not to mention that Lavert is athletic, has an offensive polish to his game and a surprisingly good rebounder. If the Nets were picking 4th this is a bad pick but at 20th I like it a lot.
Michael’s Grade: B
17. The Clippers select Brice Johnson #25
It is up to Johnson how far he wants to go. Looking at his game right now, he is a bench player who could fit well with Blake Griffin, as both can dunk and shoot. Griffin’s passing ability would do Johnson wonders. If Johnson can develop his strength and back-to-the-basket game than you might have one of the most devastating front courts in Griffin, Jordan, and Johnson all ready to rotate in and produce. The key word is if, Johnson has to develop new parts to his game for this to work but as currently constituted he is a bench player at best.
Michael’s Grade: B-
18. Spurs select Dejounte Murray #29
How do the spurs do it? Do they have voodoo magic? Do they carry pixie dust? I do not know. All I know is that they Spurs got a really good basketball player at a position that the Spurs need. Dejounte Murray was projected as high as 10th in many draft boards, yet the spurs got him at 29th. Also, Tony Parker is not young anymore and the Spurs got a point guard who is an incredible two-way player who will now learn at the feet of Tony Parker. Now Murray does have flaws as he cannot shoot and I’d like him to get bigger but it is not like Parker could shoot amazingly well and Murray is only 19.
Michael’s Grade: A+
19. Warriors Select Damian Jones #30
I like this pick because the Warriors learned this year that rim protection is very important and Jones can do that. As soon as Andrew Bogut went down, that is when the Warriors went from dominating the series versus the Cavs to losing three straight. There is a reason why those two correlated and that is because the rim was not being protected. Ezeli and Varejao failed at this task and I think the Warriors may be turning the page on Ezeli and attempting to turn Jones into their contingency plan if Bogut goes down. With that being said Jones cannot really do much else. He is turnover prone, fouls a lot, not much of a scorer and surprisingly a marginal rebounder. With that said, Jones still has growing to do at 20 years old. If the Warriors can mould Jones into a blocking and rebounding machine, than I think the Warriors will be happy with this pick.
Michael’s Grade: B
Second round picks that might be great.
It is really hard to predict which second rounder will turn into gold but I like Kay Felder and Diamond Stone. I think Kay Felder on the Cavaliers is perfect. One of things that make Kay Felder different from the graveyard of undersized phenoms is that he can play on and off the ball. This is a skill that one needs if they will be playing with LeBron James. Felder can score and absolutely fly, so I am hopeful he can have a long NBA career.
Diamond Stone is interesting. I am not in the Annikan “Top 10 pick” camp at all. In fact, I really think Stone could have benefitted from more development in the college game because he really is not that good right now. However, Stone can be good and has a devastating post-game. Him being in the second round means that the Clippers are not going to rush with Stone and they may have found a Diamond in the rough… no pun intended.