The Philadelphia 76ers are set to pick LSU forward Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall selection of the 2016 NBA Draft, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers taking Duke swingman Brandon Ingram, Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Simmons and Ingram, coming off impressive freshman seasons, have long been labeled the two best prospects in this year’s class. But there’s a host of big men, combo guards and stretch forwards that could make all the difference for struggling teams.
The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Phoenix Suns each own three first-round picks this year, making up nearly a third of the 30 total selections. There should be plenty of trade chatter for each club, particularly for the Celtics, who may consider dealing the No. 3 pick for an experienced young player.
Should the Celtics keep their top pick, they are expected to choose between Providence combo guard Kris Dunn, Oklahoma sharpshooter Buddy Hield, and “one-and-done” Kentucky guard Jamal Murray.
Those three, along with Croatian 7-foot-1 forward Dragan Bender, 18-year-old Washington power forward Marquese Chriss and raw California small forward Jaylen Brown, make up the second tier of prospects that could go anywhere from No. 3 to as low as No. 8 overall.
Draft experts have pegged the final six picks of the lottery, ending with the Chicago Bulls at No. 14 overall, to include some mix of lanky Kentucky project big man Skal Labissiere, Gonzaga sophomore power forward Domantas Sabonis, Florida State freshman guard Malik Beasley, Michigan State freshman center Deytona Davis and Utah 7-foot sophomore Jakob Poetl to round out the most coveted spots in the draft.
Due to the draft’s volatile nature and the expected revolving door of trades for picks, prognostications often seem pointless. However, if viewed strictly from a talent and potential standpoint, there is a rough idea where players should end up.
Here’s a full first-round NBA mock draft hours before the event begins.
2016 Mock NBA Draft
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons, PF, LSU
2. Los Angeles Laker - Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn) - Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
4. Phoenix Suns - Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
6. New Orleans Pelicans - Dragan Bender, PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
7. Denver Nuggets - Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga
8. Sacramento Kings - Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington
9. Toronto Raptors (from New York) - Jaylen Brown, SF, California
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Deytona Davis, PF/C, Michigan State
11.Orlando Magic - Skal Labissiere, PF/C, Kentucky
12. Atlanta Hawks (from Utah) - Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
13. Phoenix Suns (from Washington) - Henry Ellenson, PF/C, Marquette
14. Chicago Bulls - Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse
15. Denver Nuggets (from Houston) - Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State
16. Boston Celtics (from Dallas) - Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina
17. Memphis Grizzlies - Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
18. Detroit Pistons - Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, France
19. Denver Nuggets (from Portland) - Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas
20. Brooklyn Nets (from Indiana) - Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
21. Atlanta Hawks - DeAndre Bembry, SG/SF, St. Joseph’s
22. Charlotte Hornets - Thon Maker, PF/C, Australia
23. Boston Celtics - Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
24. Philadlephia 76ers (from Miami, Cleveland) - Stephen Zimmerman, PF/C, UNLV
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Wade Baldwin, PG/SG, Vanderbilt
26. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City, Denver, Cleveland) - Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, Washington
27. Toronto Raptors - Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia
28. Phoenix Suns (from Cleveland, Boston) - Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
29. San Antonio Spurs - Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
30. Golden State Warriors - Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia