Pre-Lottery 2016 NBA Mock Draft: Predicting the first 32 picks

The NBA Draft Lottery is just one day away. Before we all wait anxiously on pins and needles while the draft order is revealed, we got together while the Lakers still possess their top-three protected first-round pick and predicted the first 32 picks of the 2016 NBA Draft. Our participants for this mock draft were myself (@garykester), Dillon Hiser (@dahiser), Honi Ahmadian (@blssblog), Jacob Rude (@jacobrude), Thai Luong (@thailuong33) and Kyle Hartwick (@kylejhartwick). Due to a vote that ended in a tie, Gary and Dillon each made a pick for the Lakers at No. 32. For the video version of this NBA mock draft, click here.

Draft order is based on regular season standings. 

76ers-logo-nbadotcom1. Philadelphia 76ers — Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke

Philadelphia needs talent on the perimeter. Ingram has tremendous potential on defense because of his length. Offensively, he finishes well in traffic and through contact despite his wiry frame. Ingram would provide much-needed shooting for the Sixers. Although Simmons is No. 1 on my board, a frontcourt player without a jumper is not what Philly needs, unless they make some trades to clear up the logjam. — Gary

lal2. Los Angeles Lakers — Ben Simmons, PF, LSU

The Lakers get to pair up former high school teammates D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons with this pick. They also could be getting the best prospect in the draft. Simmons is big and strong enough to finish at the rim in traffic with ease and he possesses the quickness and ball handling to get there consistently. His jump shot is a bit spotty but can be worked on. Having Simmons and Russell as the teams primary ball handlers would give the Lakers two incredibly gifted playmakers going forward in Luke Walton’s free flowing offense. — Dillon

1024px-Boston_Celtics3. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) — Dragan Bender

The Celtics need actually good frontcourt talents and Bender fits the bill. Although he is a bit of an unknown, he projects to be a great talent at potentially the power forward and center positions. He is skilled offensively and his size and awareness could lead to him becoming a great defender and rim-protector. Also, THAT NAME. — Honi


4. Phoenix Suns — Jaylen Brown, SF, California

The Suns have three talented guards in Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, along with a promising big man in Alex Len. Brown is the second-best wing option on a lot of boards behind Ingram. His shooting needs work, but his defensive ability, NBA-ready body, athleticism and ability to create on offense is something the Suns would love to add to their core. — Jacob

5ggk1t3vhjd19mm1hp5xvn05t5. Minnesota Timberwolves — Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

Okay, I know this pick was a little bit of a stretch. Most draft boards have Ellenson going anywhere from top-8 to top-12, but I think his game fits perfectly with the young core of the Timberwolves. He is the prototypical stretch four or five that can shoot, dribble and rebound. He can handle the ball in transition and has the ability to finish with both hands. A front court duo of Ellenson and Karl-Anthony Towns would cause havoc for opposing defenses. — Thai


6. New Orleans Pelicans — Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

I was really excited to have the Pelicans pick because I had two or three players in mind that could help fix their franchise. Luckily, my number one option fell to me at No. 6. Kris Dunn will be an excellent addition along side Anthony Davis, and will help give them some shooting and playmaking. — Kyle

gs5fgn4fn5pd6gmfs0re4lvcx7. Denver Nuggets (via New York) — Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Kentucky

There are questions about Murray’s athletic ability and explosiveness, but the kid can fill it up. He averaged 20 points per game in his lone season at Kentucky and did so with efficiency, hitting on 40.8 percent of his threes. Murray would be a fantastic complement to Emmanuel Mudiay, giving Denver a formidable backcourt duo for many years to come. — Gary

Sacramento_Kings8. Sacramento Kings — Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

The Kings are ecstatic that one of the nation’s top players from last year falls to them at No. 8. Hield provides an elite scoring option to try to take some of the load off DeMarcus Cousins. With a deadly shooting stroke and great feel for the game, Hield could already potentially be the team’s second-best scoring option next season. — Dillon

tor9. Toronto Raptors (via Denver) — Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, Serbia

Luwawu projects to be a good two-way player. His size and athleticism will allow him to defend three positions. His shooting is not all the way there, yet, but he’s already shown plenty of improvements in that regard. His biggest weakness currently is his ball-handling and ability to create his own shots, but on a talented team like the Raptors, that should not be a huge problem. — Honi


10. Milwaukee Bucks — Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah

The Bucks get excellent value here by taking Poeltl, who could potentially see himself going in the top-five on draft day. Greg Monroe really struggled this season and can opt out next summer and Miles Plumlee will be a restricted free agent in July, so Poeltl gives them a great safety net. — Jacob

l49623-orlando-magic-logo-58911. Orlando Magic — Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington

Chriss is only 18, so he has a lot of room to grow as a power forward in the NBA, but his upside is tremendous. He is a quintessential athletic big standing at 6-foot-10 inches tall. He is explosive on both sides of the floor and has the ability to stretch the floor with his nice shooting touch. He can also be a tremendous finisher and shot blocker in the league. It would be difficult to find playing time for him because the Magic have a lot of front court depth, but since he is only 18, there should be no rush to speed his development. — Thai

2566588312. Utah Jazz — Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State

This was an interesting pick. The Jazz don’t really need a young guy to build their franchise around, and they don’t have any glaring needs. Valentine was the best available player on my board, and if they don’t trade the pick, the Jazz will be ecstatic to have him. — Kyle

sunslogo_1113. Phoenix Suns (via Washington) — Skal Labissiere, PF/C, Kentucky

The Suns probably already regret signing Tyson Chandler to a pretty lucrative contract, seeing as how much he struggled this past season. Labissiere is the best player available on my board here. His skill set would mesh really well with the pieces Phoenix already has on the roster, especially Alex Len. — Gary

_417335814. Chicago Bulls — Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame

Chicago is in desperate need of another primary ball handler and scoring option in the back court. They add that here with Jackson. Derrick Rose’s health issues and inconsistency could pave the way for big minutes for Jackson in his rookie year. The Notre Dame prospect developed an all-around game and can have an impact in multiple ways. — Dillon

gs5fgn4fn5pd6gmfs0re4lvcx15. Denver Nuggets (via Houston) — Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor

The Nuggets already have a very talented, young frontline and with Jamal Murray joining Emmanuel Mudiay in the backcourt in this scenario, a wing seems to be the biggest need. This draft class is somewhat short on wings, but Prince could turn out to be a great player. His biggest skill is simply being everywhere on the floor and playing immensely hard on both ends of the floor. He is a decent three-point shooter, important for the Nuggets and his rebounding and passing are also valuable skills. — Honi

1024px-Boston_Celtics16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas) — Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State

With Tyler Zeller likely on his way out this summer, the Celtics get a long-term option with Davis. The 19-year-old showed flashes last year at Michigan State, but still needs refinement. With Boston, he won’t be rushed into producing right away, and with so many picks in this draft, the Celtics can think further down the line with some of their picks. — Jacob

mem17. Memphis Grizzlies — Diamond Stone, C, Maryland

As of right now, the Grizzlies don’t have a head coach, so it is uncertain where their emphasis and thinking is leading up to the draft. I think Stone would be a safe pick for the Grizzles. He is a solid big man standing at 6-foot-11. He has a decent low-post game and runs really well in transition. Memphis lost their all-star center Marc Gasol last year for most of the season, so drafting a young big would hopefully add more depth to their front court. — Thai

det18. Detroit Pistons — Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga

While looking at the Pistons’ depth chart, I noticed they didn’t have many good backup front court players. Enter Domantas Sabonis. Coming off of a pretty good run with Gonzaga, his game should mesh well with Andre Drummond in a bench role. — Kyle

gs5fgn4fn5pd6gmfs0re4lvcx19. Denver Nuggets (via Portland) — Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt

Baldwin did a little bit of everything for Vanderbilt last season. Denver has a great collection of young talent established on their roster already, so this pick gets them some depth behind Mudiay and Murray. Baldwin offers another guard that can help create offense and space the floor with his shooting, which is something Mudiay struggles with. — Gary

ind20. Indiana Pacers — Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina

Brice Johnson put together a terrific senior season last year and the Pacers hope he can just continue to add to his game. The pairing of Johnson and last year’s 11th overall pick Myles Turner can give Indiana a versatile and promising front court going forward. The best aspect of Johnson’s game is his athleticism and rebounding ability, both of which the team could use. — Dillon

primary21. Atlanta Hawks — Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey

The Hawks suddenly have a huge hole at their wing positions. Kent Bazemore is a free agent (#FutureLaker) and Kyle Korver was not the same player he has always been this year. Korkmaz is a bit of a project and an unknown, but at the very least he will add some youth and athleticism at a position of need. He seems to be an NBA-ready shooter and the Hawks’ system will generate those looks. They just need someone to knock them down. — Honi

Charlotte-Hornets_new_logo22. Charlotte Hornets — Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky

It would be shocking if Jeremy Lin did not opt out of his contract and sign a much more lucrative contract this summer, and Ulis is the best guard available. This gives Charlotte a replacement for Lin if he decides to bolt. Ulis would be drafted much higher if he was taller, but he can still be a very good player, just like he was at Kentucky. — Jacob

1024px-Boston_Celtics23. Boston Celtics — Thon Maker, PF

This may seem like a troll pick at first, but hear me out. I think Maker will be a solid player once he gets acclimated to the league in two to three years from now. He is a legit seven-footer that moves pretty well for his size. He has the tools to be a solid defensive player with his length (standing reach of 9-feet, 3-inches). He also has the ability to stretch the defense out with his outside shooting, which I think will improve throughout his career. He was also compared to Kevin Durant, and the Celtics love Durant so this selection would only be natural. — Thai

76ers-logo-nbadotcom24. Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami) — Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State

This 76ers team doesn’t need any front court players. So, they’ll get my best guard available in Beasley. He probably won’t be a starter in the league, but he can provide some good minutes off the bench and shoot when they need him too. — Kyle

la-sp-clippers-logo-new-2015061725. Los Angeles Clippers — Malachi Richardson, SG/SF, Syracuse 

The Clippers have one of the best trios in the league with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. With those three logging heavy minutes at their respective positions, they will need help on the wing. Richardson still needs a fair amount of refinement, but he stepped up in crucial moments for Syracuse as a freshman, displaying great leadership along the way. There is certainly a foundational skill set to build on, giving him the potential to be a very good NBA player. — Gary

76ers-logo-nbadotcom26. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) — Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, Washington

The 76ers have already taken a wing prospect in Brandon Ingram and they took all the front court players of the past three drafts so now they just need someone to run the guard positions. At 6-foot-5, there is the option for him to play either guard spot and his ability to change gears makes it easy for him to get to the rim. Murray put together an impressive freshman season for a mediocre Washington Husky team, but he has potential to fit nicely with the Sixers core going forward. — Dillon

tor27. Toronto Raptors — Juan Hernangomez, SF, Spain

Toronto just needs depth at this point but adding more shooters is also a necessity. Hernangomez is not a phenomenal shooter by any means, but he will be able to space the floor. Most importantly, he will be able to play as a small-ball power forward, the Raptors’ biggest position of need. — Honi

sunslogo_1128. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland) — Zhou Qi, C, China

“The Big Zucchini.” That is all. — Jacob

sas29. San Antonio Spurs — DeAndre Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph’s

I love Bembry. I want him to fall to the Lakers in the second round, but I feel any smart team would take him sooner. He is the perfect three-and-D player in the NBA. He is the textbook player for the Spurs because he can shoot and defend. He played three years at Saint Joseph so he should be ready to help the Spurs right away. Pop would love a player like Bembry. — Thai

gsw30. Golden State Warriors — Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas

The Warriors don’t need anything. They’re the best team in the league. Every team is trying to build to beat them, and with Diallo joining the team, they’ll all be one step behind again. Under the right staff (like this one), Diallo could be a special addition to the bench at Golden State. — Kyle

–Second Round–

1024px-Boston_Celtics31. Boston Celtics (via Philadelphia) — Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV

With so many draft picks stockpiled, Boston will likely look to package some in a trade or perhaps go with some draft-and-stash guys. But with this pick, they get good value with Zimmerman, who was projected much higher before some injury issues. He has great size and mobility at the center position. Combine those with his youth and Zimmerman gives you a player that could develop really well with the right coaching staff. — Gary

lal32a. Los Angeles Lakers — A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue

Finding value picks in the second round can be tough, but with Hammons, the Lakers get an NBA-ready big that can impact both ends of the floor. The former Purdue Boilermaker (shoutout to Jacob) is a legit 7-footer with possibly the best shot blocking potential in the entire draft, which should compliment Julius Randle. Offensively, Hammons is a big body that can move people with ease and he also possesses a silky smooth jump shot from 15-18 feet. The only issue with him is that he’s almost 24 years old, but he’s able to go a full quarter without falling down so he’s already an upgrade over Roy Hibbert. — Dillon

 lal32b. Los Angeles Lakers — Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia

I was torn between Hammons and Brogdon since Bembry was off the board. Since Dillon took Hammons, it made my job easy. Brogdon was the heart and soul of a very good Virginia team last year. He is an elite defender and a very good three-point shooter. The Lakers need both of those out on the wing, and Brogdon fits the recent trend of Los Angeles drafting older, more experienced prospects with their later picks. — Gary

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