2016 NBA Big Board 4.0: Final ranking of top 60 draft prospects
We’ve settled on our top 60 NBA prospects for this year's draft, with some late movement and appearances by international prospects making a few new waves. The draft is Thursday, and there’s still a huge amount of variance, and it still feels like this year might be a little weirder than usual. As one scout said to me of this draft: “Really, it’s a f------ crapshoot, man.”
Well, maybe it’s a crapshoot, but now it’s our crapshoot. Prepare to nitpick the respective career arcs of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram for a decade. Live and die with Thon Maker, because some general manager is about to take the plunge. Train yourself to say “Guerschon Yabusele” aloud, if you’re lucky.
Get ready to feel exactly like Joakim Noah.
See you on the other side.
It sounds like the Sixers are almost-definitely going to draft Ben Simmons first. You can justify both players there, but I’m sticking with Ingram as the top overall prospect. He is not as physically prepared for the NBA, but Ingram’s combination of scoring instincts and shooting ability offer him a clear pathway to NBA success and lessen the risk involved in his development. In a draft where there are few “wow” prospects, Ingram offers the best combination of low risk and high reward.
Simmons is one of the more unique talents to come along in decades, and all signs point to him being selected No. 1. He is not a scorer by trade, nor a highly instinctive or diversified one, but his innate passing ability at his size makes him special. Drafting him means committing to putting shooters around him and enabling him to do what he does best as a ballhandler. Building that roster also means investing time and assets, and enabling is a key word here for a kid whose approach to the game and handling of adversity has come into question. But if it all comes together right, he could be a spectacular player indeed.
I loved the Toni Kukoc comparison that Luke Winn posed in SI’s recent feature on Bender. Bender’s not unlike Simmons in that sense as an oversized passer, although he doesn’t facilitate offense on the ball in the same fashion. With his playmaking, shooting potential and unselfishness at 7' 0", Bender has the talent to become a weird but fashionable offensive cog for a good team. As he grows into his body, his place on the floor defensively should become clearer. He’s the youngest player in the draft, too.
In a different draft class, Murray might go in the 10–15 range. He’s not the most athletic guard in the class, but he gets buckets and scouts love his confidence. His college production, shooting ability and the fact he won’t turn 20 until February give him plenty of value for teams seeking a long-term upside play. His craftiness and ability as a secondary playmaker should let him play a bit of both guard spots. He may slip a little on draft night given teams’ guard depth from picks 3–5, but not too much further.
Rumors are heavily linking Dunn to the Timberwolves, and that makes a lot of sense, despite the presence of Ricky Rubio. He’s a Tom Thibodeau type. Dunn should be a plus defender who can run the offense and get to the rim. He’s a great athlete and is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. What exactly is Dunn’s ceiling will probably be tied to the development of his three-point shot. He’s the best point guard available, regardless.
Ellenson has a very wide range of lottery outcomes, probably more than most in what’s already shaping up as an unpredictable first round. There’s no denying his talent offensively, distinguished by his mix of low-post scoring, jump shooting and ballhandling skills. The knock here is he’s not an explosive athlete nor a strong lateral defender, but if you’re playing him at center it could mitigate some of those concerns. True stretch five-men are hard to find.
Hield apparently made 85 out of 100 threes in a recent Celtics workout and also told reporters he thinks he’s going to the Lakers. Neither of those two things matter much—we already knew he could shoot, and a leap into the top two would be stunning. Regardless, the elite three-point stroke and an otherwise regular skill-set gives the J.J. Redick comps credence. Though he’s 22 already, the development he showed over four college seasons actually plays in his favor with some scouts. Hield should be able to help you right away.
Some mocks have Chriss going in the top five based on his potential alone. That’s justifiable, but around here feels like more of his range. He’s got almost every tool you can ask for, but also hadn’t played much high-level basketball before coming on late at Washington. He almost definitely doesn’t know how good he can be. We’ve seen guys with similar profiles and better pedigrees float in and out of the league. As a stretchy, bouncy, scoring four-man, Chriss will be a sexy pick, but he’ll have a greater learning curve than most.
Poeltl’s a throwback big, and it’s almost working against him in the court of public opinion. Also working against him is the fact that not many teams in the top 10 really need a center. But look, he’s massive and has a well-developed post game, and there will be a place for those types of guys even as the league begins to skew small. He got noticeably better from freshman to sophomore year of college. Big men always take time. He’s a fairly safe pick in my book.
Something here just doesn’t quite move the needle like it should. Brown has every athletic tool in the book, but had a well-publicized rough go at Cal and probably lacks the basketball acumen to contribute early on. Big potential means he could conceivably go in the top five, but the opportunity cost could be high. He’s a smart kid, but can also overthink the game. One scout put it like this: “At least Gerald Green came in with a wet jump shot.”
Two-way wings are always a valuable commodity, and Luwawu’s one of the best ones in a thin class. He’s a highlight-caliber athlete with a wingspan over 7’0” feet and shouldn’t slip too far from here. Scouts I spoke with felt he was closer to NBA-ready than most. Luwawu’s got a more diverse offensive game than just his dunk reel, and has made big strides in the past year. There’s a lot to like with him.
Everything is about projection with Davis. His length, quick feet and great shot-blocking instincts portend defensive success. With improving touch and a semblance of a jump shot, you can mold him on offense, too. He played a good bit for Tom Izzo, which matters, but there’s not much of a sample size or history of production to bank on. He’s a long way away from ready, but then again, there are a lot of guys in that same boat this year.
Sabonis plays exactly how you’d think the son of a Hall of Fame European big man would. Great fundamentals, soft hands, high motor and IQ. His Gonzaga production backs things up well. The issue is his lack of explosion and length, which raises questions about exactly what translates at the next level. Mid-first round and onward, Sabonis offers some safe value. There’s speculation he has a promise from a team in the late lottery.
The combination of athleticism, shooting and youth make Korkmaz a very interesting stash candidate. He’s starred for Turkey at youth levels and shown flashes while playing with Efes’s senior team, but it’s worth noting how relatively small his sample size is against elite competition. He’s a long-term investment, not an immediate-impact selection.
I have a hunch Labissiere slides toward the late teens on draft night. There’s just too much riding on projection with an older prospect who’s behind developmentally and with little history of consistent production. He’s big and might be able to shoot it and block shots, but he’s already 20 and has filling out left to do. Labissiere missed his junior season of high school with a back injury that has left lingering questions for teams. He could be a worthwhile gamble for teams with the time and resources to develop him. But, as one scout put it: “It’s really hard to play in the NBA not knowing how to play basketball.”
Valentine’s production (19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists) was outstanding last season, and his feel and playmaking help balance the lack of eye-popping athletic measurables. He won’t play the same ball-dominant role as a pro, but you’re buying him as a secondary ballhandler who can space the floor and hoping he catches up defensively. Teams have concerns about the condition of his right knee, which could cause him to slip a bit on draft night.
Jackson is tough and extremely athletic and has a good chance to be the second point guard drafted. He’s coming off a strong year at Notre Dame, but his shooting percentages dipped as he shouldered more of the scoring load. Skill-wise, he’s somewhat a master of none. His actual production will have to catch up to his tools. Scouts wonder if he’s cut out to be more than a reserve long-term, but he has decent value in this range.
Baldwin’s combine measurements—6' 4" with a 6' 11" wingspan—certainly validated his case as a defensive stopper with a chance to be more. His offense hasn’t sold some scouts, and he’s not a natural point guard in the purest sense, but he can hit a shot and could perhaps be better suited for a lower-usage role. Multiple scouts have cited his tendency to overthink and get in his own way. Still, his defensive potential gives him a relatively high floor.
Near the top of the list among stash candidates is Zizic, a garbage-man type who knows his role, works hard on the glass and is physically mature enough to accomodate his preferred style. Impressive production as a teenager in the Adriatic League (13 points, eight rebounds per game) definitely stands out. Zizic’s skills have a ways to go, but it’s easy to see him as a nice complementary piece on the inside.
One optimistic scout calls Murray, simply, “a baller.” “He does some things you can’t teach,” another says. This is the crux of his intrigue, and while he’s going to need some time, he’s a definite upside play as a scoring combo guard. His shot is a work in progress. On talent and projection you can justify him in the late lottery, but his range appears pretty wide.
Prince did a little bit of everything for Baylor, with a game one scout described as “unconventional.” He’s long and strong and should be able to cut it athletically, and while he struggled some as a senior when tasked with making plays on the ball, odds are he won’t be asked to do as much of that in the NBA. Although he lacks an elite skill to hang his hat on, he should be able to step into a rotation pretty quickly.
Ulis has solidified himself as a mid- to late-first rounder, and he’s probably the most instinctive passer among available guards. He won’t make many mistakes, and he’ll make everyone around him better. “Three inches taller,” one scout says, “and he would be the best point guard in this draft.” Medical concerns about his hip and his extremely thin frame gives some reason for pause.
Bembry’s one of those players who just gets it. He’s got a mature game and the college production to back it up. He’s low-risk in that you can see him meshing into any offense with his playmaking and versatility. The major question is his three-point shot, but it’s not broken and if you play him alongside shooters it should alleviate some of those spacing concerns. Bembry could make an impact early in his career and help a playoff team next season.
Zubac turned heads with insane production at the 2015 FIBA U19 Worlds (33.7 PER, 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds). He’s a strong finisher with a great frame and nice post-up game. Zubac has potential to cut it defensively and should be a fit at the next level as a screen-setter and rim-runner. He apparently prefers to come over to the NBA next season, but can justify a place on someone’s bench given his tools and possibilities. If you can stash him, even better.
Opinions remain mixed on Maker, but it seems scouts are beginning to come around a bit. He’s a legit 7-footer, long and mobile, but, of course, rail-thin. People like his intangibles, yet there are still a ton of ifs when figuring out which of his strengths actually translate to the league. He might be an athletic energy big who can step out and make a shot, he also may never be able to bang inside. Maker has been working out against Brandon Ingram leading up to the draft and apparently held his own. There’s a wide range of outcomes here.
Hernangomez enjoyed a strong season in Spain and won’t turn 21 until September. A skilled stretch-four who could eventually play some three, he’s comfortable getting his offense spotting up and finishing inside. One scout cited Hernangomez’s high energy level and deceptive leaping ability. It helps he’s already playing legit minutes and producing in a very tough league. Think late first round.
There’s no reason Hammons shouldn’t be a useful rim protector from day one. He’ll turn 24 soon, which will keep him out of the upper reaches of the draft, but he’s an NBA-level talent with an improving offensive skill level and pro-ready body. The question with him has always been his motor, and teams are fully aware of some off-court discipline issues at Purdue. There are a lot of ifs, but Hammons could surprise if the lightbulb starts to go off.
An athletic slasher with a nose for the basket, Beasley demonstrated the ability to score at all three levels in his one season at FSU, and improved as the year went on. He can shoot it, has a great frame and brings notably strong intangibles in terms of makeup and competitiveness. He has a metal rod in his leg after a stress fracture injury that will concern teams.
Zimmerman has great size and mobility, and a pretty nice shooting touch. He’s not a guy who really loves to bang inside and has a tendency to float away from the basket too much. He’ll need to bulk up to play center and to defend his position. He’s a dart throw, but taking a chance on a stretch big with some upside isn’t the worst thing in this range.
31. (24) Diamond Stone | Maryland | C | 6' 11", 255 | Fr.
Stone can really score inside, and he’s still quite young. He has a good amount of upside because of it. But he was inconsistent in his one college season, didn’t rebound extremely well and needs work on his body and conditioning. Scouts are concerned how he’ll handle the adjustment to the NBA’s rigorous demands. The questions about makeup and his ability to stay on the floor defensively may hurt his stock.
32. (31) Pat McCaw | UNLV | SG | 6' 7", 181 | So.
As three-and-D types go in this draft, McCaw checks out well: his shooting stroke and defensive length (6' 10" wingspan) are tangible strengths, and he’s developing as a playmaker. He could provide first-round type value if it all pans out, but he’s extremely skinny and will take some time to mature.
33. (32) Caris LeVert | Michigan | G | 6' 7", 191 | Sr.
LeVert would probably be a lottery pick if not for his extensive history of leg and foot injuries. That said, he was extremely productive in college and has one of the more complete skill-sets among guards in this class. He could be extremely valuable and a steal if he falls into this range, but he could also just get injured again.
34. (41) Malachi Richardson | Syracuse | SG | 6' 6", 200 | Fr.
One of the biggest climbers in recent weeks, Richardson parlayed his moment in the NCAA tournament into serious NBA looks and could go in the first round given his frame and shooting potenial on the wing. He’s a bit one-dimensional at this stage, looking mostly for his offense, and isn’t the most explosive athlete. There are still more questions than answers.
35. (33) Damian Jones | Vanderbilt | C | 7' 0", 244 | Jr.
People are somewhat split on Jones, whose physical tools and defensive ability profile well. He never quite put everything together at Vandy, but in a simplified NBA role, he could thrive. His athleticism has bought him a chance to rectify all of that. He has a case in the late first round.
36. (34) Malcolm Brogdon | Virginia | G | 6' 6", 223 | Sr.
Given he’s one of the most experienced players in the draft, it’s easy to see Brogdon sneaking into a rotation right away, a la Norman Powell or Josh Richardson. He’s not a crazy upside play, but a diversified two-way skill-set certainly holds appeal. His nearly 7' 0" wingspan pops out, although he’s not all that explosive or quick. You kind of know what you’re getting here.
37. (36) Ben Bentil | Providence | PF | 6' 8" 229 | So.
Bentil profiles as a quality rebounder with good touch who can also hit an outside shot, and has long enough arms to compensate for positionally relative lack of height. He’s not especially skilled, but if you carve out the right role for him and he commits to doing the small things, he might be a player.
38. (38) Brice Johnson | North Carolina | PF | 6' 10", 209 | Sr.
Johnson’s outstanding senior season for the Tar Heels didn’t wipe away three years of inconsistency. His lack of bulk could make his NBA transition tougher, even as a college senior. Still, he’s quite the athlete and could become a viable energy big with his ability to finish on the interior. If a team needs immediate help, he could go higher than this.
39. (39) Petr Cornelie | Le Mans (France) | PF | 6' 11", 220 | 20
A stretchy, fluid big man with legit size, Cornelie’s ability to shoot it and run the floor should get him picked. Bigs with his type of profile always have intrigue. He’s a solid second-round investment.
40. (40) Zhou Qi | Xinjiang (China) | C | 7' 2", 218 | 20
He’s enormous, mobile, blocks shots and can shoot jumpers. Zhou also weighs next to nothing and has yet to be tested by elite competition. Could make for a very unique piece ... could also be out of the league very quickly.
41. (43) Chinanu Onuaku | Louisville | C | 6' 10", 245 | So.
He brings a legitimate defensive presence inside and showed well at the combine. He’s got good size, but not much of an offensive skill-set to speak of. Still just 19, Onuaku has a chance to become a rotational big down the line.
42. (42) Gary Payton II | Oregon State | PG | 6' 3", 184 | Sr.
Of course, the bloodlines are working for Payton, who’s a tremendous athlete and solid defender. His game is well-rounded, but the questions lie with his jump shot, which will likely keep him out of the first round.
43. (47) Robert Carter Jr. | Maryland | F/C | 6' 9", 251 | Jr.
Another combine standout, Carter has slimmed down from his days at Georgia Tech and presents a wide bag of tricks on offense, both facing up and with his back to the basket. His defense is a different story.
44. Paul Zipser | Bayern Munich (Germany) | F | 6' 8", 210 | 22
Zipser recently won MVP at the prestigious adidas Eurocamp and has a well-developed set of skills. He’s a pretty good athlete who can play defense and hit a jump shot. If he can does those two things well enough, he has a chance to stick around. He seems to enjoy filling a role.
45. (37) Joel Bolomboy | Weber State | PF | 6' 9", 224 | Sr.
Freakishly athletic with strong mid-major production on his resumé, Bolomboy’s hallmark ability is rebounding with a dash of everything else sprinkled in. He’s got a somewhat unorthodox game and will need to be molded, but could be quite the dice roll. He’s still a bit raw for his advanced age.
46. (45) Pascal Siakam | New Mexico State | PF | 6' 10", 227 | So.
Siakam’s already 22, but his size, ability to get up and down the floor and competitive spirit helped him stand out at the combine. The native of Cameroon averaged 20 points, nearly 12 rebounds and two blocks last season, and that production combined with his tools make him an intriguing sleeper. He could be a great defender given his length.
47. (57) Guerschon Yabusele | Rouen (France) | PF | 6' 8", 270 | 20
Besides having the best name in the draft, Yabusele brings a long, burly frame, good hands and a nice touch at the basket. He can also face up and hit a jump shot. His unique tools should get him picked, but he’s a total work in progress on defense and could stand to slim down.
48. (44) Michael Gbinije | Syracuse | G/F | 6' 7", 205 | Sr.
The more polished of the two available Syracuse guards, Gbinije was a bit of a forgotten man in college after getting buried at Duke, but bloomed late, showed well at the combine, and has already played internationally for Nigeria. He’s about to turn 24, but his size, playmaking and shooting (though streaky) have appeal.
49. (46) Isaiah Whitehead | Seton Hall | G | 6' 5", 210 | So.
Though Whitehead is a talented scorer and competitor, you still wonder whether he can handle lead-guard responsibilities in the NBA. His ability to shoot off the dribble sets him apart. He has the ability to go much higher than this, but overall inconsistency and the fact he’ll have to find an actual role beyond “gunner” leaves room for doubt.
Photos of every No. 1 overall pick in the lottery era
50. (NR) Rade Zagorac | Mega Leks (Serbia) | SF | 6' 9", 205 | 20
An athletic wing with a diverse skill-set, Zagorac is an enticing stash player who could possibly be a valuable role player in time. He can do a little bit of everything on offense, but it’s unclear who he’ll defend in the NBA.
51. (51) Isaia Cordinier | Denain (France) | SG | 6' 5", 177 | 19
A very good athlete with strong intangibles, Cordinier has a long way to go from the French second division to make an impact. If he’s stashable, either overseas or in the D-League, it certainly helps his appeal.
52. (NR) Georgios Papagiannis | Panathinaikos (Greece) | C | 7' 1", 240 | 18
Papagiannis is gigantic, talented and still just 18. He’s also not in great shape and will need a lot of time to pan out. He’s had strong moments for Greece at youth levels internationally after spending some time in the U.S. in high school. A wait-and-see pick.
53. (52) Jake Layman | Maryland | SF | 6' 9", 209 | Sr.
A capable shooter and underrated athlete, Layman floated at times in college but played a role for a loaded Maryland team not dissimilar to what the NBA might ask of him. If he commits defensively and can knock down an open three, he can fill out a rotation.
54. (50) Prince Ibeh | Texas | C | 6' 11", 261 | Sr.
Ibeh‘s not a scorer at all (4.1 PPG in 18 minutes as a senior), but outstanding measurables including a nearly 7' 6" wingspan and 9'4.5" standing reach make him extremely draftable. All he has to do is pick up the right concepts on the defensive end, and he should provide some value.
55. (48) Dorian Finney-Smith | Florida | SF | 6' 8", 215 | Sr.
Finney-Smith has fared well throughout the pre-draft process, and his athleticism, toughness and shooting ability make him a viable role player on the wing. He doesn’t have the most upside, but could become a nice bench piece.
56. (54) Kay Felder | Oakland | PG | 5' 10", 177 | Jr.
Felder popped athletically at the combine, and following a highly-productive college season, has a good case in the second round. As little guys go, he’s not Tyler Ulis as a playmaker, but he might be the better scorer. His stocky frame bodes well for his NBA transition.
57. (49) Cat Barber | NC State | PG | 6' 3", 173 | Jr.
Dangerous off the dribble with elite speed and quickness, it’s easy to see Barber as a bench scorer and shot creator. That said, he’ll have to prove he can blend into a team concept and distribute better in order to stick.
58. (53) Wayne Selden | Kansas | SG | 6' 6", 232 | Jr.
After three years at Kansas, Selden’s still more athlete than player. He’s on the fringe, and also coming off meniscus surgery. He doesn’t do any one thing well and may have to hang his hat on defensive effort to catch on.
59. (56) Jarrod Uthoff | Iowa | F | 6' 10", 214 | Sr.
Oversized shooters always earn themselves looks, and here’s Uthoff, who’s skilled and sneakily athletic. He’s also not exceptionally strong and without a definite position on the defensive side of the ball. Is he a three or a four? If he makes his threes, there could be a place for him regardless.
60. (55) AJ English | Iona | G | 6' 4", 190 | Sr.
English is one of the oldest guys in the draft, but impressed in the run-up, winning MVP at the Portsmouth Invitational and showing well at the combine. He was prolific at Iona and could conceivably give you something late. Mid-major guards are having success in the league right now, after all.