Report: Celtics looking to trade No. 3 pick ahead of NBA Draft
0:45 | NBA
Report: Celtics looking to trade No. 3 pick ahead of NBA Draft
Thursday June 23rd, 2016

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The NBA Finals gave us some of the most dramatic basketball we've seen in years, but now it's time to enjoy the other side of the NBA. This will get weird. 

LeBron had his moment. It's Furkan Korkmaz season now. Deyonta Davis is ready for his close-up, and Ivica Zubac and Timothe Luwawu are here to make you fall in love with the Mega Leks. Fans all over America are about to become way too invested in whether their team lands Patrick McCaw or Brice Johnson. Danny Ainge came here to chew bubblegum and try to trade six first–round picks, and he's all out of bubblegum. THE DRAFT IS HERE.

Half the teams in the lottery have spent the past few weeks trying to flip their pick for a veteran. Everyone has too many assets, and meanwhile, nobody in the league knows quite what to expect from free agency when the salary cap jumps to $94 million this summer. Also, Derrick Rose is on the Knicks now? Are the Hawks tanking? All of this feeds into the festivities tonight.

• NBA draft notebook | Top 60 draft prospects | Case for Ingram at No. 1

As for the draft itself, the first two picks are set, and the Celtics are the wild card now. Ainge has spent the past month trying to parlay assets into a star, and at the same time, Boston has feigned interest in no less than five players (Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Jaylen Brown, and most recently Kris Dunn) in an attempt to gin up interest for the No. 3 pick. Whether they succeed remains to be seen, but whoever goes at No. 3 will have a ripple effect throughout the top eight, and we have no idea who the Celtics want.

A few notes before we jump in: 

• This mock draft is based on team needs, consensus among other experts, and my own stubborn biases as a longtime draft nerd. It's not rooted in any scoops, and fans can take this seriously at their own peril.

• The toughest first–round omissions: Damian Jones, Brice Johnson, Guerschon Yabusele, A.J. Hammons and Petr Cornelie.

• Best second round steals: Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Carter, Chinanu Onuaku, Isaia Cordinier, Gary Payton II, Isaiah Cousins and Kay Felder.

• Big picture: Last year spoiled everyone with a draft full of future All-Stars, and this year appears to be a case of the market correcting. The more I've studied this draft, the less excited I am about the star potential of the top–15 picks.

• On the other hand, if 1-15 is weaker this year, 15-45 is full of potential rotation players and possible starters. That's where this draft will get fun (and completely unpredictable). 

Likewise, even the worst drafts—looking at you, 2011—can still feature guys like Klay Thompson (No. 11), Kawhi Leonard (No. 15), and Jimmy Butler (No. 30) hiding in plain sight. So, you never know.  

And on that note... Here we go. 

2016 NBA Mock Draft 6.0
  • 1
    1 Ben Simmons, LSU
    Last Mock: 1
    F | 6'10", 240 | FR.
    Number one could've been a much closer debate this year, but Simmons has had the clear edge ever since the Sixers won the lottery. Brett Brown knows his family from his days in Australia, Simmons trusts The Process, and this is already done. There are real questions about his work ethic at LSU and how he'll fit in the NBA, but he's got the highest upside on the board. He's 6'10 with point guard skills, and if he can develop a dependable jumpshot and improve on defense, he could be somewhere between LeBron James and Draymond Green—the two best players on the floor of an NBA Finals Game 7 a few days ago. For the Sixers, that kind of upside is worth the risk. 

  • 2
    2 Brandon Ingram, Duke
    Last Mock: 2
    F | 6'9", 195 | FR.
    Ingram's my favorite player in the draft. He looks like he weighs 150 pounds, but he plays bigger, and he was fearless for Duke last year. All the typical draft buzzwords apply to his place in the top two—he's got a freakish wingspan (7'3), three-point range, the ability to play multiple positions and tons of upside—but I like Ingram for his intangibles as much as anything. He played his tail off against bigger players all year long, he got better as the season unfolded, and by the end he was clearly the best player on Duke's team at 18 years old. The Lakers are apparently settled on Ingram, and L.A. fans should be thrilled.

  • 3
    3Jaylen brown, Cal
    Last Mock: 8
    G/F | 6'7", 225 | FR.
    The hype comes full circle! After half the NBA decided Brown was overrated over the past few months, he's now right back in the mix near the top of this draft, and he could surprise everyone Thursday. Boston has liked Brown since the regular season, and if the Celtics keep this pick, here's to betting that Ainge goes for upside on the wing. This is the same GM who was ready to trade four first–round picks for Justise Winslow last year, and Brown does a lot of the same things. With a reliable jumper, he could turn into a terror on both ends of the floor. Or, to think of this a different way: If the Celtics can't trade for Jimmy Butler, maybe they can draft him.  

  • 4
    4 Marquese Chriss, Washington
    Last Mock: 4
    F | 6'9", 225 | FR.
    Speaking of hype... Chriss came out of nowhere—he's only played basketball for five years, he wasn't ranked in the top 50 out of high school and he only played about 25 minutes per game for Washington (thanks in large part to foul trouble)—but over the past month he's exploded up draft boards. He's got the highest ceiling of anyone beyond the top two. That's partly an indictment of his lottery peers, yes, and he's also got a much lower floor than someone like Jaylen Brown, sure. But all of that is what makes this fun. Will Marquese Chriss turn into a full-on pick-and-roll nightmare next to Devin Booker, or will he be 2016's Tyrus Thomas? Let's find out! 

  • 5
    5 Kris Dunn, Providence
    Last Mock: 5
    G | 6'4", 220 | SR.
    Minnesota could really use Dragan Bender in this spot, and a future built around him and Karl–Anthony Towns would be terrifying. On the other hand, Kris Dunn may be the safest bet in the draft outside of Brandon Ingram, and between injuries and Ricky Rubio rumors, the Wolves point guard situation isn't quite as solid as you might think. Dunn was one of the most productive players in the country at Providence, and he's the closest of any lottery pick to helping a team from Day One next year. He's built like a tank and plays like it—there's no way Thibs will be able pass on that, right? 

  • 6
    6Jamal Murray, Kentucky
    Last Mock: 3
    G | 6'4", 205 | FR.
    Anyone who watched him in the NCAA tournament against Indiana saw him struggle against NBA length and quickness, and his lack of athleticism will make playing defense a struggle. But look at some of the best combo-guards in the NBA—Curry, Harden, McCollum, even Devin Booker and D'Angelo Russell last year—and there are plenty of examples of talented guards who faced a lot of the same skepticism at draft time. The Pelicans should grab him hoping that he can get to that C.J. McCollum level next in a few years, and knowing that his three-point shooting could help them regardless next season.

  • 7
    7Dragan Bender, Croatia
    Last Mock: 3
    F | 7'0", 220 | Age: 18
    Bender's size and ability to space the floor will make him valuable wherever he lands, but as the youngest player in the draft, it'll take him a few years before he's ready to contribute. Even then, he may not score enough to be a true superstar. All of this is why he could slide tonight. But he could also turn into a skilled glue guy who can pass, shoot, and guard multiple positions on defense. For a Nuggets team that already has Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic at the five, adding Bender as a stretch–four would be a major win for the long-term blueprint. 

  • 8
    Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
    Last Mock: 7
    G | 6'4", 215 | SR.
    According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Kings have been shunned by almost every prospect in the first round. Players have refused to work out, and many have refused to even provide medical records. Apparently nobody wants to be the next Nik Stauskas? In any case, Sacramento is opening a new arena this season, Boogie is in the final two years of his contract and still hasn't made the playoffs, and the Ben McLemore Experiment has been on life support for a good 24 months now. Hield's best case scenario is the Bahamian J.J. Redick, which would be great in this draft. Even in the worst–case scenario—Jodie Meeks?—his shooting should help off the bench.

  • 9
    9 Jakob Poeltl, Utah
    Last Mock: 9
    C | 7'1", 240 | SO.
    Poeltl has been a favorite of mine for a while—possibly because it's so much fun to pronounce his first name (YA-KUB). After two years in the draft the spotlight has hurt some his of buzz, but he should be a pleasant surprise for whichever team lands him. His size alone will make him a factor against most modern big men, and he's skilled around the rim. He's smart and he's mobile, and if his shot blocking isn't elite, his team defense should be excellent. If the Raptors think they'll lose Bismack Biyombo, Poeltl's a good replacement, and probably the best player available here. 

  • 10
    10 Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
    Last Mock: 11
    F/C | 6'10", 240 | FR.
    The Bucks could go in a couple different directions—Wade Baldwin, Timothe Luwawu, and Henry Ellenson are all options—but after talking it through on this Bucks podcast with friends at Brew Hoop, I'm pretty sure drafting Davis is the best option. He's raw and probably a few years away from helping as a starter, but this would be a smart long-term play. He can protect the rim, rebound, and best–case scenario, he can knock down jumpers and spread the floor. Davis can definitely do the first two, and maybe even the third. Do it, Bucks Mafia. 

  • 11
    11 Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
    Last Mock: 15
    F/C | 6'11", 220 | FR.
    General question: Does anyone know what the Magic are doing? The pieces in Orlando don't necessarily fit, but they've got so many young players from the past few years that there aren't any obvious holes to fill, either. For now, let's assume they go for upside here. Skal is a few years and a few thousand Chipotle burritos away from banging with NBA big men, but if he can put on enough weight to hold his own, he's got all the tools to be an excellent rim-protecting stretch five (think Channing Frye). 

  • 12
    12 Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
    Last Mock: 18
    F | 6'10", 240 | SO.
    Let's see... Undersized, underrated, high motor, high IQ, star of everyone's favorite Cinderella team... He's basically already a Hawk, right? And this is definitely the best–case scenario for Domantas Sabonis. He's good and productive now, but if the Hawks can help him add a perimeter jumper, he could be excellent for the next 10 years. 

  • 13
    Last Mock: 13
    G/F | 6'7", 205 | AGE: 20
    Luwawu's highlights a) lead this draft class in dunks-per-minute and b) make me want a Mega Leks jersey. At worst, he can be a helpful energy role player off the bench. At best, he can hone his three-point shooting and grow into a long (6'11 wingspan), athletic monster on the wing playing next to Devin Booker in Phoenix. The Suns could also take Henry Ellenson here, but I hope they roll the dice on Luwawu.  ​

  • 14
    14 Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
    Last Mock: 14
    G | 6'3", 195 | SO.
     This draft pick doesn't even matter. Bulls fans are all still shell-shocked after the Derrick Rose era suddenly turned into the Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez era, and it's hard to blame them. Having said that, Wade Baldwin's defense and three-point shooting make him a perfect fit for everything the NBA values now. If Jimmy Butler's going to be handling the ball more, it makes sense to add a point guard who can defend and spot up for three while Butler creates.

  • 15
    Last Mock: 12
    G | 6'5", 175 | Age: 18
    I lied when I said Brandon Ingram was my favorite player in the draft. Furkan Korkmaz is my favorite player in the draft. Wherever he lands tonight, I hope ESPN shows his full, six-minute dunk contest—dunking over that couple's romantic dinner, and then putting on the Darth Vader outfit for the finale—and gives the people what they need. He's also only 18 years old, and probably the best draft-and-stash prospect in this draft. Assuming the Nuggets won't add three rookies this season, Furkan at 15 is a smart play.

  • 16
    16 Taurean Prince, Baylor
    Last Mock: 16
    F | 6'7", 220 | Sr.
    Jae Crowder gets an understudy! Prince can play either forward spot, he's built like a linebacker, he dunks like a linebacker, and his three-point shooting is solid. The Celtics don't have many glaring needs (beyond star power that this draft won't provide), and as a role player who will win over Boston fans within his first month, Prince could be great.

  • 17
    Malachi Richardson, Syracuse
    Last Mock: N/A
    G | 6'6", 195 | fR.
    There was talk over the weekend that Memphis encouraged Richardson to shut down his workouts, because if he slides to 17, the Grizzlies plan to take him. That's a little bit puzzling considering some of the struggles he had during the regular season at Syracuse, but he's a good shooter with tools that could turn him into a starter down the road. 

  • 18
    18 Henry Ellenson, MArquette
    Last Mock: 13
    F/C | 6'10", 245 | Fr.
    Ellenson may not fall this far on draft night—Toronto, Milwaukee, Denver, and Phoenix will all be tempted—but if he does, it's hard to imagine he slips past Detroit. He's a perfect stretch–four for Stan Van Gundy, with the potential to play next to Andre Drummond or come off the bench as a stretch–five while Drummond sits. His defense will be a work in progress, but this low in the draft, his size and skill would be a steal. 

  • 19
    Malik Beasley, Florida State
    Last Mock: 20
    G | 6'5", 190 | Fr.
    This could be a chance to steal a long-term sidekick for Emannuel Mudiay. Beasley's a little bit like Marquese Chriss. He wasn't on anyone's draft radar coming out of high school, and even now, he's something of a mystery. He can shoot, he's explosive, and while a little undersized, he's got all the tools to grow into a solid defender. Most importantly, my favorite fact of the draft is that both his parents are actors, and his dad is currently working on Bloodline, trying to get paid by Kevin, unaware that Kevin did a bad thing—I'm so in on Malik Beasley.

  • 20
    20 Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
    Last Mock: 16
    G/F | 6'6", 220 | SR.
    Valentine would probably be closer to a lottery pick if teams weren't scared off by injury concerns over a possibly degenerative knee. Still, his shooting and skill on offense can help anyone, he's one of the smartest players in the draft, and as a four-year senior, he'll be ready to help right away. All of it sounds like a player Larry Bird would fall in love with. Plus, the Pacers bet on Myles Turner's health last year and that worked out pretty well.

  • 21
    21 Dejounte Murray, Washington
    Last Mock: 25
    G | 6'5", 170 | Fr.
    Now that Schroeder is the new Teague, maybe Atlanta needs a new Schroeder? Murray is giving off strong Tony Wroten vibes—great physical tools, can get to the rim at will, can't shoot, probably should've stayed in school—and maybe that scares some teams. It should scare some teams. But the Hawks' staff has been consistently excellent at developing young players, and Murray has more to work with than almost anyone. 

  • 22
    22 Juan Hernangomez, Spain
    Last Mock: N/A
    F | 6'9", 225 | AGE: 20
    Juan "Juancho" Hernangomez is skilled and he could see time at either forward position in the NBA. His athleticism will be a question mark, but he plays incredibly hard to help compensate. Meanwhile, the Hornets may lose one or both of Nic Batum or Marvin Williams this summer. Grabbing Hernangomez could be a good insurance policy for the future. 

  • 23
    23 Ante Zizic, Croatia
    Last Mock: 23
    C | 6'11", 240 | Age: 19
    If the Celtics can't swing a trade, they'll likely look to draft–and–stash at least one of these picks. They could go with Zizic here, or Ivica Zubac, another 7–footer from the Adriatic League. Zizic is the more active and athletic of the two and figures to fit better with the direction of the league, but the Zizic-Zubac debate will (hopefully?) come down to the wire.

  • 24
    24 Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
    Last Mock: 22
    G | 6'1", 220 | Jr.
    Jackson's long-term future probably makes the most sense as a high–energy third guard, but given how barren the backcourt in Philadelphia has been, he could make sense as a starter in the immediate future. Most importantly, he's got good length (6'5 wingspan) to help himself defensively, and he can hit spot-up jumpers, a prerequisite for any guard playing next to Ben Simmons. 

  • 25
    Cheick Diallo, KAnsas
    Last Mock: 28
    F | 6'9", 218 | FR.
    Diallo was basically invisible at Kansas this past season—3.0 ppg, 7.5 mpg—but a great combine and crazy physical tools—7'4.5" wingspan—has helped boost his stock into the first round. He has Biyombo potential off the bench, and the Clippers could draft him here and pay him roughly $70 million less over the next few years. Not a bad deal. 

  • 26
    Patrick McCaw, UNLV
    Last Mock: 27
    G | 6'7", 181 | So.
    Patrick McCaw has all the tools to become an awesome two-way wing in a few years. He's long, he's big, and he shot 36% from three last year. He got lost on a crappy UNLV team that fired its coach, but if his shooting improves, and he could turn into a real steal this low in the draft. Either way, he'd be a much better project than most of the wings the Sixers have had the past few years.  

  • 27
    DeAndre Bembry, St. Joe's
    Last Mock: 26
    G | 6'6", 220 | JR.
    Bembry's three-point shooting is a question mark—31% for his career, 26% last season—and that's probably what will scare off Philly. But that might be the only major weakness. He's long and athletic and should be a great defender. He's got a high IQ, and had one of the most well-rounded games in college basketball (17.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.5 apg). He's the type of player who should be twice as valuable on a good team like the Raptors. Think Shaun Livingston on the wing, and not just because of the afro.​

  • 28
    28Ivica Zubac, Croatia
    Last Mock: N/A
    C | 7'1", 265 | Age: 19
    Zubac could go much higher, and at 19 years old, there's plenty of room to grow after another year or two overseas. The recent track record of the Adriatic League big men (Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic) is certainly encouraging. In any case, the Suns are unlikely to bring all three picks to the NBA next, so this would be a nice longterm investment if he's available.t

  • 29
    29 Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
    Last Mock: 24
    G | 5'9", 149 | SO.
    Ulis is dealing with some of the same injury concerns facing Denzel Valentine, and for a point guard who's already 150 pounds and 5'9", giving teams more room for skepticism is not ideal. But look: People around Kentucky basketball have been effusive in their Tyler Ulis praise for two years, and I will bet anything he'll be productive wherever he goes. If injury questions lead him to San Antonio and a bench mob with Kyle Anderson and Boban, this slide will be 100% worth it.

  • 30
    30 Caris LeVert, Michigan
    Last Mock: 30
    G | 6'7", 205 | SR.
    In real life, given the uncertainty surrounding both Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, Damian Jones or A.J. Hammons make more sense for the Warriors. In this mock reality, all that has ever mattered—in March, April, May, and June—is setting Caris Levert free in Golden State. Don't talk to me about a Jones fracture. We're here now. The draft is in 12 hours. Can't quit before the miracle happens. 

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