A lot is unknown regarding what will unfold during the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23, but the top of the draft appears to be all but set in stone. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will be the first two picks, likely in that order.
Simmons entered the 2015-16 college basketball season with LSU as the nation’s No.1 recruit, and it would come as a surprise if the Philadelphia 76ers don’t make him the top overall pick. The team, however, hasn’t been able to evaluate Simmons like they’ve hoped.
Since he’s a lock to be taken at the top of the draft, Simmons has not scheduled a workout with any NBA team, and that isn’t expected to change.
“As of this moment, not yet," 76ers general manager Brian Colangelo told reporters this week when talking about Phildelphia’s attempt to work out Simmons, "but we are working on it."
"His agent has decided that is the process they are undertaking," Colangelo said. "Why don't you call (Simmons' agent) Rich Paul and ask him? It has nothing to do with us, and nothing to do with Philadelphia. Everybody goes about it a little differently. Sometimes players decide to workout, sometimes they decide not to workout."
Whether or not he works out for the 76ers shouldn’t affect the team’s decision to draft Simmons. Philadelphia drafted Jahlil Okafor third overall a year ago, despite having not worked out the former Duke standout. The case was the same in the previous two years when the 76ers took Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel with their No.1 picks.
There have been rumors that Simmons prefers to be drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No.2 overall pick. That might very well be the case, since L.A. is one of the most-storied franchises in American sports, and the 76ers have been the laughing stock of the NBA for three years running. But that isn’t likely to change the mind of Colangelo and Philadelphia, who have the opportunity to draft a prospect that has more natural talent than almost any player that’s entered the league in the last decade.
That means Ingram is likely to go from Duke to the Lakers with the second overall pick. Once Simmons and Ingram are off the board, the draft could receive a major shakeup.
Philadelphia has been at the center of trade rumors, and the team is reportedly looking to acquire another pick near the top of the draft. After selecting a big man in the first round of every draft since 2013, the 76ers seem to be willing to deal one of those young players. Noel and Okafor can be had for the right price, which would likely include a lottery pick.
The Boston Celtics have the No.3 overall pick after winning 48 games and making the playoffs as the No.5 seed in the Eastern Conference. In their quest to take the next step and compete for a title, the Celtics are reportedly shopping their first pick, hoping to acquire proven NBA talent.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to package the No.5 overall pick in a deal for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, according to ESPN. The Bulls don’t seem to be actively shopping their All-Star shooting guard.
Mock Draft (Lottery)
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, LSU
Simmons’ lack of a jump shot remains a glaring flaw, but his size and athletic ability give him the potential to be an All-Star for years to come.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, Duke
The comparisons to Kevin Durant might be unfair, but with a similar body type and an ability to shoot threes at an elite level, the sky is the limit for Ingram at the next level.
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
There are questions regarding Hield’s ability to do more than just hit jump shots in the NBA, but he was a scoring machine in college and he has a chance to be an elite offensive player.
4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, Croatia
An 18-year-old seven-footer with untapped potential, he can be the ideal stretch-4 in today’s NBA.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jamal Murray, Kentucky
With a skill set that is similar to that of Hield, Murray’s ability to shoot will make it difficult for teams that need guard help to pass on him.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn, Providence
Dunn is extremely versatile with the ability to play either shooting guard or point guard, making him a perfect fit with New Orleans.
7. Denver Nuggets: Marquese Chriss, Washington
Chriss is as high as No.3 in some mock drafts because of his size and ceiling at the next level, but he likely didn’t show enough in college to go much higher than No.7.
8. Sacramento Kings: Jaylen Brown, California
With an NBA-ready body and a unique ability to get to the basket at just 19 years old, Brown has just as much potential as any player that will be drafted outside of the top two.
9. Toronto Raptors (via Knicks): Henry Ellenson, Marquette
Ellenson isn’t as athletic as some of the other big men that will be drafted in the lottery, but he can contribute right away to the team that finished one game out of the top spot in the East.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, Utah
One of the most unique lottery picks in recent years, Poeltl is a traditional center in an era that has seen very few traditional centers thrive in the NBA.
11. Orlando Magic: Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
Labissiere didn’t do much in his one season at Kentucky, but he’ll be a lottery pick since only Simmons was ranked higher among prospects heading into last season.
12. Utah Jazz: Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
Sabonis was a double-double machine with Gonzaga that should be a solid contributor in the NBA.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards): Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
Davis needs time to develop, but he has the size and athleticism to become a very good rebounder and defender.
14. Chicago Bulls: Timothe Luwawu, France
He has an improved jump shot that could get better, but Luwawu’s size as a guard and ability to get to the hoop make him a borderline lottery selection.