NBA Lottery Mock Draft and Fantasy Impact
With the NBA draft lottery complete, we can officially create our first NBA mock draft and break down potential fits and which rookies will have an instant impact.
The 76ers won the NBA draft lottery last night, and it has to mean Ben Simmons. If there is a superstar in this draft, to me, it’s Simmons. He can do everything: is an athletic freak, can handle the ball, is an exceptional passer, has the frame and skill set to eventually be a plus defender, and can finish at the rim at an elite-level. This was Sam Hinkie’s plan from day one… Even if it’s impossible to bring in a superstar to Philly via free agency, if you load up on high draft picks eventually you will land one in the draft.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons
I understand the criticism regarding his lack of a jumper, but let’s get real, Ben Simmons is a superstar and nobody else is in this draft. He has been such a superior athlete that he hasn’t been challenged yet in his career. Without coaching or a supporting staff, Simmons averaged 20,12,5,2,1 as a freshman in the SEC last season. Just stack him up with this class he’s the best athlete, a top three passer, the best on ball and off ball defender, has the best first step, has great vision, and is the best finisher. Simmons will be challenged and coached at the next level, and we think he will be a first team NBA player within 3 years.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram
While researching this article, I pulled up a dozen mock drafts and was shocked to find Ingram at the top of the majority of them. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great prospect, but I don’t think there should even be a discussion between he and Simmons. Ingram is no where near strong enough to be a day one star in this league. He eventually will be a star, when he can take bigger defenders off the dribble and shoot over smaller defenders, but right now he just isn’t quick enough or have good enough handle to create his own shot and isn’t strong enough to score on the block. He will be…
3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender
This is where the draft gets really interesting… In my opinion, Danny Ainge hasn’t done a great job in Boston, Brad Stevens has a poor roster overachieving. The Celtics need help everywhere, but particularly need outside shooting and bigs. The combination of Jerebko/Sullinger/Johnson/Olynyk/Zeller is as bad of a frontcourt as there is in the NBA. Seriously, the Celtics are in the lottery with the Nets pick and they still have the worst frontcourt of the 14 teams. Brad Stevens is unreal.
So who do the Celtics take here? The consensus seems to be Bender, who can shoot a little, not like Porzingis, but is extremely athletic, runs very well, is an above-average passer, and is a versatile defender. I think Bender is a solid pick as a stretch 4 who will defend the pick-and-roll and provide weak side blocks. He’s not a great ball defender on the block, but in today’s NBA he’s a solid defensive player. I personally like Jakob Poeltl more as a big, and Henry Ellenson more as a stretch 4, but the consensus is that Bender is going to be the pick.
4. Phoenix Suns – Jaylen Brown
The Suns need to find a power forward this offseason, and Henry Ellenson makes a lot of sense here, but you have to take the best player available and that is clearly Jaylen Brown. The noise coming out of Phoenix is that they really want a 4 that they can plug and play with their current roster, but they are more than one player away and a wing combination of Brown and Booker will have them set up at the 2 and 3 position for the next decade.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Buddy Hield
This has seemingly been a lock for the past two months… The Timberwolves need shooting and Hield is as good as it gets. He’s ready to contribute immediately, and will balance out a Timberwolves roster that is legitimately a shooter away from contending.
That being said, it wouldn’t be my pick and here is why… They just signed Rubio to an extension and he’s not coming off the floor when he’s healthy. Couple that with the fact that they obviously really like Zach Lavine, who is entering his third NBA season, and Hield isn’t starting next year… Then look at the awkwardness that comes with starting two 7’centers in today’s NBA in Dieng and Towns and I think Ellenson should be the pick here. Ellenson adds shooting, gives you the ability to bring Dieng in off the bench and completely solidifies your frontcourt.
6. New Orleans – Jakob Poeltl
Poeltl is as NBA-ready on the block as we have seen in the draft in a while. Unlike many of the current shot blockers in the NBA, Poeltl can also defend on the ball. This allows Davis to float more defensively and not have to defend other team’s bigs, something daily fantasy players know he struggled with this season. His feet are good enough to allow him to switch on switch screens, he’s got a great back-to-the-basket offensive game with the ability to score with both hands in a variety of ways. He’s a 70% free throw shooter, and can hit a face up jumper… he is everything that Omer Asik hasn’t been. Perfect player fit here in New Orleans.
7. Denver Nuggets – Timothe Luwawu
Luwawu, who played professionally in Serbia, has the makeup of a top NBA prospect at 6’7″ with above average athleticism and a smooth shooting stroke. Because he has so little professional and international experience, it is extremely hard to project so there is risk here, but he could be the only 3-and-D prospect in this draft. You see the length and athleticism in the video, and he shot over 42% from 3, but again a lack of tape makes him extremely hard to project.
8. Sacramento Kings – Kris Dunn
I think Dunn is in play at 6 with the Pelicans, but if he makes it down to the Kings, I think they need to lock down their point guard of the future. Dunn is a steal at this stage of the draft, he’s the top point guard in the class, can defend, and is a polished product. If he’s off the board, this is another spot you could potentially see Henry Ellenson go off the board…
9. Toronto Raptors – Henry Ellenson
Thanks to the ineptitude of the Knicks, the Raptors are in the Eastern Conference Finals and have a lottery pick in exchange for the wild success that is Andrea Bargnani. There isn’t anything Ellenson can’t do offensively. He’s a phenomenal passer, great spot-up shooter, can handle the ball, lead the break, is willing to set screens, can finish at the rim, and has a never-ending variety of moves with both hands on the block. He will struggle defensively, but let’s not write off a 19 year old kid this talented with the feet he has… he could be a serviceable defender at some point in his career, which is good enough given his offensive ability.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Deyonta Davis
To me, the debate in Milwaukee comes down to two Spartans that both fit well with the Bucks needs and scheme. Davis will provide the Bucks with a much-needed physical presence inside, and projects as a plus defender and rebounder at the next level. Greg Monroe was about as disengaged as it gets defensively for the Bucks last season, and is clearly not a NBA center. Valentine’s versatility and creativeness fits with Parker/Giannis/Middleton and co, so he could go here as well.
11. Orlando Magic – Skal Labissiere
Skal is the complete opposite of Davis… He’s polished, has a more complete offensive game, is more athletic, but has seemingly no motor. He really struggled to get on the floor for Kentucky last season because he was sloppy and foul-happy on defense, and provided absolutely no rebounding… as in Tyler Ulis was a 100x better rebounder than a guy that’s 7’1″ and can jump. Orlando has so much young talent that they can be patient and develop Labissiere behind Vucevic.
12. Utah Jazz – Denzel Valentine
The Jazz aren’t drafting a starter, they have five starters and really like Mack and Burks off the bench. They need a glue guy, someone that can provide depth at multiple positions, contribute from day one, and mesh with a young group that very nearly made the playoffs in the Western Conference this past season. To me, Valentine can rotate at the 1,2, and 3, and will allow Lyles to stay at the 4 spot when he’s on the floor. He also is a great passer and creative offensive player that will get Hood, Burks and Hayward open shots.
13. Phoenix Suns – Domantas Sabonis
We stated at 4 that he Suns needed to add a PF, and Sabonis fills that void right away. He’s a good passer, can score on the block, and has a decent face up jumper. This 13th overall pick will tell you where the Suns think they are. Drafting Sabonis means you are looking to win now, because the ceiling is low but he’s ready to contribute in 2016-2017. If they see themselves as rebuilding, Marquese Chriss is the pick. Chriss is much more athletic, will be a better defender and rebounder but needs a few seasons to clean up some glaring issues with his game.
14. Chicago Bulls – Furkan Korkmaz
You can make an argument that Korkmaz is the best shooter in the draft, outside of Hield. He has a lightning fast release and a frame that rivals Kawhii Leonard more than Manu Ginobili who he has also been compared to. He’s only 18, but unlike Saric, he’s negotiated a buyout and will play immediately.