Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 NBA Mock Draft: v 2.0

The season is halfway over, so this is a good time for my second 2016 NBA Mock Draft.
 
This draft includes a mock lottery drawing, courtesy of the fantastic www.tankathon.com website.
 
This draft looks extremely weak, but Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram should be quality NBA players.
 
Enjoy.
 
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1. Boston Celtics
(from Brooklyn Nets)
SF/PF Ben Simmons, Fr, LSU
6'10, 225 lbs
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
2015-2016 Stats: 19.6 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 5.1 apg
 
How bad was the trade that netted the Nets Paul Pierce for one year and Kevin Garnett for two? Not only does Boston get the Nets picks in 2016 and 2018, but they have the ability to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017. That could be three straight lottery picks for Danny Ainge. Wow. Moving on, ESPN is over-reacting calling Ben Simmons the best prospect since LeBron James. Of course, that is not true. Simmons game hasn't really helped LSU win games, but he is built for the faster paced NBA game. Simmons reminds me of a Lamar Odom, in that he can rebound, run the floor, handle the rock and block some shots. He has an NBA friendly game and could attract some big time free agents to Boston. Also, if Danny Ainge decides to move this pick, you would have to think he could try to swing a package for someone like Demarcus Cousins.

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2. Los Angeles Lakers
SG/SF Brandon Ingram, Fr, Duke
6'9, 200 lbs
Hometown: Kinston, NC
2015-2016 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg
 
The Lakers have to trade this pick to the 76ers if it falls out of the top three. If Los Angeles is unable to land in the top two, that might be a blessing in disguise, as the 2017 draft looks a lot deeper.  Ben Simmons gets all the hype, but I think Brandon Ingram has a chance to be a great player in his own right. After a slow start, Ingram has shown that he is in the short two player discussion for the first overall pick. Ingram offers exactly what the NBA looks for in wing players these days. He can knock down three point shots and has All NBA defensive potential as a shot blocker and on the ball defender. He reminds me of Trevor Ariza.
 
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3. Phoenix Suns
SF Jaylen Brown, Fr, California
6'7, 225 lbs
Hometown: Marietta, GA
2015-2016 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
 
Things have fallen apart in Phoenix this year. Injuries have ruined Eric Bledsoe's season, Markieff Morris is a cancer and Tyson Chandler was a free agent flop. The front office has struggled to put together a balanced lineup, and while their is talent, it just hasn't fit. After Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are off the board, there are several prospects that make up a questionable second tier. Jaylen Brown offers the best mix of production and talent. He is a tough, determined scorer who has shown a decent ability to knock down the three. While scouts would like to see an uptick in steals, he has the ability to be a solid defender as well.
 
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4. Philadelphia 76ers
PG/SG Jamal Murray, Fr, Kentucky
6'5, 207 lbs
Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
2015-2016 Stats: 17.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg
 
This is the worst case scenario for the 76ers. Not only do they fall all the way to the fourth overall pick, but they don't even get the Lakers pick. Fortunately, the 2017 draft looks loaded, and the Sixers should be bad enough to have a chance at one (or two) of a handful of studs. . Jamal Murray is probably the best fit available. If it wasn't for Tyler Ulis playing virtually every minute this season, Murray would be able to show his point guard chops. Still, he leads the Wildcats in scoring and has shown the ability to handle the rock and knock down a three pointer. The backcourt in Philadelphia is a wasteland, and Murray would be a great pick up.
 
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5. Minnesota Timberwolves
PF/C Dragan Bender, Croatia
7'1, 220 lbs
Hometown: Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
2015-2016 Stats: 4.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.7 apg
 
After the first month or so, it looked like the Timberwolves could possibly flirt with .500 and a final playoff spot, but things have gone south quickly. Still, the Timberwolves have a great duo to build around with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. This looks like a good spot to gamble on the talent and potential of Dragan Bender. He is not doing much for his Euro team, but everyone is going to want to find the next Kristaps Porzingis. They are different players, as Bender is not nearly the interior presence as Porzingis. Still, his perimeter potential would be a very nice contrast to Towns in Minnesota's front court.
 
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6. New Orleans Pelicans
C Jakob Poeltl, Jr, Utah
7'0, 235 lbs
Hometown: Vienna, Austria
2015-2016 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg
 
It has been a lost season in New Orleans, which is troubling because a team with a superstar the potential of Anthony Davis should contend for the playoffs on a yearly basis. I have never liked how that roster was constructed. Perhaps a top ten pick will help. Jakob Poeltl has cooled off since a blistering start to the season, but has still improved in virtually every category as a sophomore. Poeltl can rebound and block shots, and has a better offensive game than someone like Omer Asik. His presence would allow The Brow to spend more of his time at power forward.
 
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7. Denver Nuggets
PF Ivan Rabb, Fr, California
6'11, 220 lbs
Hometown: Oakland, CA
2015-2016 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg
 
There was a point in time where Ivan Rabb was considered on the level of Ben Simmons as a high school prospect. His star faded, but I love what he is doing at California. He is a lanky, springy big man who can run the floor, rebound and block shots. He would be a great fit as a backup energy big man for the Nuggets, who would like to get back to using the altitude to it's advantage by running opposing teams off the floor.
 
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8. Milwaukee Bucks
PG/SG Kris Dunn, Jr, Providence
6'4, 220 lbs
Hometown: New London, CT
2015-2016 Stats: 17.2 ppg, 6.7 apg, 6.2 rpg
 
Michael Carter-Williams puts up decent fantasy stats, but he has not shown he can be a point guard that can consistently lead a playoff team. Kris Dunn seems like a Jason Kidd type of lead guard to me. Like Kidd, Dunn is not a great shooter, but is tough as nails, can rebound and play defense and lead an offense. He seems to have shaken off early career injury concerns and has helped put the Providence Friars back on the map.
 
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9. Portland Trail Blazers
C Diamond Stone, Fr, Maryland
6'11, 250 lbs
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
2015-2016 Stats: 13.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg

Diamond Stone started the season out slowly, but has been unleashed in recent weeks, culminating in a dominating 39 point, 12 rebound performance against Penn State. Stone is an old fashioned back to the basket center. He can rebound, block shots and hit his free throws. It seems the Trail Blazers have been looking for a legit center since passing on Michael Jordan to draft Sam Bowie. Stone is still a project, but has the ability to hold down the middle long term in Portland.
 
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10. Utah Jazz
PF Henry Ellenson, Fr, Marquette
6'10, 245 lbs
Hometown: Rice Lake, WI
2015-2016 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
 
Other than point guard, Utah's lineup seems to be set long term. Unfortunately, this draft is not very deep in that area, so Utah drafts the best player available here. Henry Ellenson can handle the ball, rebound and has three point range. He is the type of stretch four the Jazz lineup is missing, and would be a nice contrast to Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors in Utah's front court.
 
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11. Orlando Magic
PF/C Skal Labissiere, Fr, Kentucky
6'11, 225 lbs
Hometown: Port au Prince, Haiti
2015-2016 Stats: 7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg
 
Skal Labissiere is very difficult to figure out. He was the second overall recruit in the nation behind Ben Simmons and had a 26 point game during his second appearance of the season. Since SEC play has started however, he has rarely seen the court, and has made next to no difference for the disappointing Wildcats. With even more reinforcements coming in 2016-2017, I still think Labissiere is one and done. If he is, some team in the late lottery to teens will snatch him up. The Magic have played much better under Scott Skiles, and with the Magic, Labissiere will be able to concentrate on blocking shots and doing the dirty work off the bench.
 
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12. Charlotte Hornets
SG Buddy Hield, Sr, Oklahoma
6'4, 210 lbs
Hometown: Freeport, Canada
2015-2016 Stats: 25.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
 
The Hornets are fans of drafting players with impressive college resumes. Buddy Hield might be the best scorer in college basketball as a senior. His percentages are sky high and he has shown shooting stroke and toughness down low. Hield put himself on the map with a tremendous 46 point barrage in a triple overtime loss to Kansas on January 1. He might not ever be a starting shooting guard in the NBA, but with this draft, the Hornets will gladly take someone who can provide some scoring punch off the bench.
 
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13. Toronto Raptors
(from New York Knicks)
SG Grayson Allen, So, Duke
6'5, 205 lbs
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
2015-2016 Stats: 20.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.8 apg
 
The Raptors are a perennial playoff contender that could use a late lottery pick to add shooting off the bench, something teams never have enough of. The Blue Devils suffered through a rare three game losing streak in January, but Allen has been a consistent source of buckets all year long. Hovering around 20 ppg the entire season, shooting over 50% from the field and playing quite a bit of point guard, he would make an ideal combo guard coming off the bench in Toronto.
 
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14. Washington Wizards
C Stephen Zimmerman, Fr, UNLV
7'0, 240 lbs
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
2015-2016 Stats: 10.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg
 
The Wizards are set long term in the back court, and Otto Porter has slowly grown into a decent small forward. Washington has little youth to speak of in the front court, and could use a developmental project. Stephen Zimmerman is a project on offense, but is athletic and can rebound and block shots. He has the agility to play either front court position and could grow into a decent starter with proper development.
 
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15. Chicago Bulls
(from Sacramento Kings)
SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
6'7, 175 lbs
Hometown: Bakirkoy, Turkey
2015-2016 Stats: 5.0 ppg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 rpg
 
With two first round picks, the deep veteran Bulls could go with a stash prospect with one of their picks. Furkan Korkmaz has the look (physically at least) of a young Richard Hamilton. He is lanky, a good ball handler and excels at fighting through screens to catch and pop some three pointers. He is very immature physically and needs a couple years of development, but could develop into one of the better shooting guard scorers in the league.
 
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16. Denver Nuggets
(from Houston Rockets)
SG Malik Beasley, Fr, Florida State
6'5, 190 lbs
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
2015-2016 Stats: 17.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.1 spg
 
If the Rockets make the playoffs this pick goes to Denver for the right to dump Ty Lawson on Houston. The Nuggets have a plethora of needs, and wing players who can shoot it from deep are right at the top of the list. Malik Beasley has been consistently great as a freshman for the Seminoles. He knocks down threes at a 41% clip, and 51% from the field overall. He is a bit undersized but could make it next to the physically dominating Emmanuel Mudiay in Denver's back court.
 
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17. Boston Celtics
PF Domantas Sabonis, So, Gonzaga
6'10, 240 lbs
Hometown: Kaunas, Lithuania
2015-2016 Stats: 17.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 0.7 bpg
 
With three first round picks, the Celtics will be wheeling and dealing in this draft. So I will just give them the best player available. Domantas Sabonis is having a fantastic sophomore season for Gonzaga. So why is he not a lottery pick? Sabonis does not have that must have skill that scouts are looking for in their big men. He doesn't stretch the floor or play much defense. But he has a nice mid round game and is rebounding at a very high rate. Of course, he has the bloodlines and that mythical "Basketball IQ" to become a productive rotation player.
 
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18. Indiana Pacers
PF/C Chinanu Onuaku, So, Louisville
6'10, 230 lbs
Hometown: Lanham, MD
2015-2016 Stats: 10.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.0 rpg
 
Frank Vogel caught a lot of flack for his Eastern Conference Final folly's a few years ago, but he has once again shown that he is one of the best coaches in the league. The front office transformed this team into a small ball unit. The Pacers need big men who are athletic and can run the floor. Chinanu Onuaku might not ever be much of a scorer, but he can rebound and block shots, and most importantly, keep up with the guards on the break.
 
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19. Philadelphia 76ers
(from Miami Heat)
PG Demetrius Jackson, Jr, Notre Dame
6'1, 198 lbs
Hometown: Mishawaka, IN
2015-2016 Stats: 16.6 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.3 rpg
 
Like I mentioned earlier, Philadelphia has to add talent to a weak (to put it kindly) back court. Picking this low, a normal team would not find an instant starting point guard, but the 76ers are not a normal team. Demetrius Jackson is more of a scorer than distributor, but he can knock down the three and shows toughness in relation to his size. He should instantly shoot up to the top of the heap that includes castoffs or never-were's like TJ McConnell and Isaiah Canaan.
 
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20. Detroit Pistons
SG Denzel Valentine, Sr, Michigan State
6'5, 220 lbs
Hometown: Lansing, MI
2015-2016 Stats: 18.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 6.6 apg
 
Stan Van Gundy has done a good job of turning this team around, building from Andre Drummond out. As Van Gundy teams go, the more shooting, the better. Denzel Valentine is not exactly a knock down shooter, but he's a gamer who can do a little bit of everything. Pistons fans will love the Michigan native's toughness, hustle and all around game. He can handle the rock, shoot and rebound, and could be the leader of Detroit's second unit.
 
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21. Memphis Grizzlies
SG/SF Timothe Luwawu, France
6'7, 210 lbs
Hometown: Cannes, France
2015-2016 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
 
Since trading Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies have struggled to provide consistent offense from the wing positions. Picking this low, that isn't expected to change, but there are rotation guys available. In theory, Timothe Luwawu is exactly what the NBA looks for in wing players. He can knock down three pointers, rebound and plays very good defense. Of course, the problem is his level of competition in the Adriatic League, which is virtually non-existent. Still, he should go somewhere in the latter half of the first round.
 
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22. Boston Celtics
(from Dallas Mavericks)
PF/C Zhou Qi, China
7,2, 209 lbs
Hometown: Henan, China
2015-2016 Stats: 17.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.4 apg

No way the Celtics bring in three rookies, so this is a perfect spot for a draft and stash candidate. Yao Ming was a stud, Yi Jianlian was a bust, and that is about all we have to go on with Chinese prospects. Zhou Qi is tearing up the historically weak Chinese basketball circuit, but it is tough to figure out if that will translate to the NBA. He can shoot the ball and rebound, but is painfully thin and needs to pack on at least 30 pounds before he has a chance to make a dent on an NBA team. Though he is still several years away from contributing, his talent could make him a late first round pick.
 
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23. Atlanta Hawks
PF Ben Bentil, So, Providence
6'9, 230 lbs
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
2015-2016 Stats: 19.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg
 
The Hawks have been one of the better teams in the NBA the past couple of seasons, but have not used their first round picks wisely. They traded Adreian Payne after half a season and traded their 2015 pick for Tim Hardaway Jr., who is keeping the end of the bench warm. Atlanta could hope to find a rotation player here, though it might not be easy. Kris Dunn has not been a one man show at Providence. Ben Bentil has been a great complimentary player, averaging close to 20 points per game. He can rebound, block shots and has some traces of an NBA three point shot, and could find his way into the late lottery with continued development.
 
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24. Chicago Bulls
PG Melo Trimble, So, Maryland
6'3, 185 lbs
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
2015-2016 Stats: 14.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg
 
Somehow Kirk Hinrich has hung around Chicago for another half a decade as Derrick Rose's backup. Chicago could look to develop a young backup during this draft. Melo Trimble is more of a combo guard who could come into the game looking to shoot, but he can lead an offense in spurts if need be. He would not be a threat to Rose's starting spot, but could carve out a few minutes per game as a solid backup.

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25. Los Angeles Clippers
PF/C Damian Jones, Jr, Vanderbilt
7'0, 245 lbs
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
2015-2016 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg
 
The Clippers have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, but the bench, front court in particular, is weak. Damian Jones had a solid sophomore season but has not really improved as a junior, posting virtually the same stats. He is big, and can block some shots, but is still a big time prospect who will likely go in the latter stages of the first round based on size and potential alone.
 
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26. Toronto Raptors
PF/C Jonathan Jeanne, France
7'2, 200 lbs
Hometown: Les Abymes, Guadeloupe
2015-2016 Stats: 10.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.0 apg
 
With two first round picks, the deep Raptors could draft a prospect for the future. Skinny does not do the 7'2 Jonathan Jeanne justice. Generously listed at 200 pounds, he is several years away from contributing at the NBA level. Unlike most European players his age, he gets plenty of run for his Euro team, and is a constant double double threat who can block shots. If he can build that body up to at least Rudy Gobert levels, he could have a future in this league.
 
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27. Phoenix Suns
(from Cleveland Cavaliers)
PF Brice Johnson, Sr, North Carolina
6'9, 230 lbs
Hometown: Orangeburg, SC
2015-2016 Stats: 16.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg
 
Few people mention Brice Johnson, but he is definitely in contention for College Basketball player of the year. A big boy, 39 point, 23 rebound, 3 block, 3 steal performance against Florida State in early January shot him square into first round consideration. He is undersized, but very athletic and could be a good fit for a team that runs an up tempo scheme like the Suns.
 
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28. Philadelphia 76ers
(from Oklahoma City Thunder)
SF/PF Juan Hernangomez, Spain
6'9, 220 lbs
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
2015-2016 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.1 spg
 
Even the 76ers might not have room on the roster for three first round rookies, so this is yet another spot that a European prospect could be drafted. Juan Hernangomez is on fire for his Spanish League squad, putting up numbers reminiscent of a young Nikola Mirotic. Although not a superior athlete, his game is very NBA friendly and he could make a living as a backup stretch four, or perhaps more, in time.

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29. San Antonio Spurs
PF Pascal Siakim, So, New Mexico State
6'9, 230 lbs
Hometown: Douala, Cameroon
2015-2016 Stats: 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg
 
The Spurs have to be bummed that they missed out on the run of foreigners at the end of the first round. With the top prospects off the board, San Antonio reluctantly drafts a player who at least was born in a different country. Pascal Siakim has put up an NBA quality double double this year for New Mexico State. It hasn't translated to wins, which is troubling, but he has squarely entered the first round conversation in a weak draft.
 
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30. Golden State Warriors
PG/SG Malik Newman, Fr, Mississippi State
6'3, 190 lbs
Hometown: Jackson, MS
2015-2016 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
 
Like Golden State did with Kevon Looney last year, they could swing for the fences with a talented freshman who has tumbled down the boards. Malik Newman has no business declaring for the draft after a mediocre freshman year, but he could anyway. His scoring ability could, in theory, be a great fit for the fun and gun Warriors.
Continue Reading…

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 NBA Draft: v 1.0

Welcome to my first 2016 NBA Mock Draft. I wanted to do one much much earlier but I just did not have the time. With the NBA and college seasons well underway, we are starting to get a good idea of who the top prospects are.

Thanks to the great site www.tankathon.com, I used a lottery to get this selection order, because why not? The real draft will have a lottery.

Enjoy.

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1. Philadelphia 76ers
SF/PF Ben Simmons, Fr, LSU
6'10, 225 lbs
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
2015-2016 Stats: 19.9 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 6 apg




The Sixers are off to a historically miserable start, but at least have something with the big man duo of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. With Dario Saric and perhaps Joel Embiid joining the team in 2016, wing players are the biggest need on this roster. Ben Simmons might not qualify as a wing player, but he is the best talent available in this draft. I think Simmons will fit best as a Toni Kukoc/Lamar Odom like ball handling power forward. He runs the floor and passes like a guard. Simmons needs to improve his defense (like most 18 year olds) but he definitely has star potential. He has been a triple double machine thus far at LSU, and it will be exciting to watch as he develops his game and looks for his shot more often. It will be interesting to see where he fits with Saric, who might be the odd man out if this roster stays intact, but the Sixers are so bad they simply need to add the best talent available. As of now, Ben Simmons looks like the clear cut star of this class. If Sam Hinkie does not hit a homerun in this draft, he may be out of a job. Even the most patient owners do not tolerate 1-23 starts.

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2. Sacramento Kings
SG/SF Brandon Ingram, Fr, Duke
6'9, 196 lbs
Hometown: Kinston, NC
2015-2016 Stats: 13.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg


 
 
 
 
It has been yet another wasted year in Sacramento. Perhaps the Kings will parlay another lottery pick into a player who can actually be a core of the roster in the future. He is thin and not that great of a ball handler, but has the ability to be a 3 and D guy that the NBA loves right now. He uses his great length to knock down jump shots over defenders and block some shots as well. He will have to develop some strength to become a better all around scorer, but has strong NBA potential. Ingram started the season slow, but is coming off back to back 20 point games. Ingram has the chance to be a 20 point scorer who can make some all defensive teams, and his potential is well worth grabbing here.

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3. Boston Celtics
(from Brooklyn Nets)
C Jakob Poeltl, So, Utah
7'1, 235 lbs
Hometown: Vienna, Austria
2015-2016 Stats: 20.1 ppg,  9.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg



 

Landing in the top three would be quite a coup for Boston, considering they get this pick for trading past their prime veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the desperate Nets. The Celtics have a deep roster but no one you can say is a future All Star talent.  Jakob Poeltl showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman, and is off to a fantastic start as a sophomore. Stats are always inflated this time of year but scouts have to love the fact that Poeltl has gotten ten shots per game and is still knocking them down with very high efficiency. He has simply been unguardable in the early going. If he can prove that he is a real threat on offense once Pac 12 play begins, he has a chance to go very high, because Poeltl's defense and rebounding is already NBA ready. The Celtics have quite a few front court role players, but no one they could build around like Poeltl.
 
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4. Philadelphia 76ers
(from Los Angeles Lakers)
PG/SG Kris Dunn, Jr, Providence
6'4, 205 lbs
Hometown: New London, CT
2014-2015 Stats: 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg, 6.9 rpg



If the Lakers fall out of the top three they have to give this pick up to Philadelphia thanks to the near-sighted Steve Nash trade of a few years back. Sam Hinkie has to hit a homerun or two in this draft. With the Simmons pick, he swung for the fences. Here he can hit a safe sacrifice fly to drive in a run and add a talented back court player to the roster. Kris Dunn's stats are simply eye popping, and the Providence Friars are relevant again as a result. What Dunn may lack in upside, he makes up for in determination and production. Dunn is not a great shooter, but is very strong, a good rebounder, and has great defensive potential (as evidenced by his 3.4 steals per game). With ball handlers like Simmons and Dario Saric on the roster, Dunn can focus on rebounding, slashing and playing solid defense.
 
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5. New Orleans Pelicans
PF/C Skal Labissiere, Fr, Kentucky
6'11, 225 lbs
Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
2015-2016 Stats: 10.6 ppg, 3,.5rpg, 2.1 bpg




It is looking like a lost season in New Orleans. The front office will have to reassess an unbalanced roster and figure out how to build around their superstar. Skal Labissiere is the latest lanky, athletic specimen to join John Calipari's team. He is still learning how to play basketball, coming from Haiti, but is already an NBA quality defender and shot blocker. Like Towns before him, Labissiere is being brought along slowly by Calipari. He is simply another big man in Kentucky's rotation, but I expect him to differentiate himself as the season goes along. He has the frame to bulk up and become a solid defensive starting center. Labissiere and Davis share similar defensive attributes, and with both on the court, it will be extremely tough for opposing defenses to drive the lane.
 
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6. Denver Nuggets
PF Henry Ellenson, Fr, Marquette
6'10, 231 lbs
Hometown: Rice Lake, WI
2015-2016 Stats: 16.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.6 apg



Denver started the season pretty well, but a lack of talent was soon apparent. Denver is just too weak personnel wise to compete in the Western Conference, and needs to simply add talent during the next few drafts. I am skeptical that Henry Ellenson will actually declare for the draft after his freshman year, but that is an assumption based on the college he chose. Based on his current production, he would definitely be a one and done lottery pick. He is one of the highest ranked recruits to ever join Marquette, and it is easy to see why he is so well regarded. Ellenson is a great offensive player, who can lead the fast break, shoot the three and post up. His defense and conditioning need work, but that will likely improve once he reaches an NBA training room. His face up offensive game would be a nice fit to the bruising Jusuf Nurkic in Denver's front court.
 
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7. Portland Trail Blazers
PF Dragan Bender, Croatia
7'1, 216 lbs
Hometown: Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
2015-2016 Stats: 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.8 apg




Portland is in the midst of yet another rebuilding project, and could use youth at any position other than point guard. Everyone is going to compare Dragan Bender to Kristaps Porzingis, especially after Porzingis hot start. Both are tall lanky Euro's. Unlikes Porzingis, Bender has more of a perimeter game on offense at this point in his development. He is not quite the athlete as Porzingis but is more versatile on defense, able to guard small forwards and power forwards. He is very young (will only be 18 when drafted) but looks like the most talented European prospect, even though he is not getting much run for his Euro team. He could do some LaMarcus Aldridge things on offense once he gets his NBA game under him.
 
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8. Milwaukee Bucks
PG/SG Jamal Murray, Fr, Kentucky
6'5, 201 lbs
Hometown: Kitchner, Ontario, Canada
2015-2016 Stats: 15.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg



The Bucks are off to a pretty bad start. It is now clear to everyone else what was clear to Sam Hinkie last year; Michael Carter-Williams is not a very good basketball player. If Milwaukee has the chance to upgrade with one of the best point guards in this class, it should be an easy decision. It will be interesting to see how Jamal Murray develops at Kentucky. If he can prove he can play point guard, his stock should be very high. Teams love ball handling combo guards who can shoot and play defense. Murray has struggled with turnovers, which caps his draft stock at this point, but has a chance to improve that as the season rolls along.
 
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9. Minnesota Timberwolves
SF Jaylen Brown, Fr, California
6'7, 225 lbs
Hometown: Marietta, GA
2015-2016 Stats: 14.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apg



Thanks to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves are much improved this year, and are already halfway to their win total from last year. They simply need to focus on adding more athletes to what is a very exciting young roster. Jaylen Brown reminds me of Stanley Johnson from last year. If he had a jump shot, he would be in the discussion for a top three pick. But scouts are obsessed with wing players who can shoot. Brown is still developing that area of his game, but there is a lot to like. He is a bull who can get to the rack against anybody and has the potential to be one of the best on the ball defenders in the NBA some day, though scouts would like to see an uptick in those steal numbers. He would be a solid part of the second unit in Minnesota.
 
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10. Phoenix Suns
PF Ivan Rabb, Fr, California
6'11, 220 lbs
Hometown: Oakland, CA
2015-2016 Stats: 12.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg




Ivan Rabb was once considered a prospect on the level of Ben Simmons, but his star faded somewhat. He is off to a nice start with the Cal Bears, showing length, rebound and shot blocking skills, and a nice ability to run the floor. If he can improve the range on his jumper, he would be a perfect fit with what NBA teams are looking for from their power forwards in today's game. Markieff Morris has been a headache and a disappointment in Phoenix this year, and the Suns would love to move on from him if they were able to. Rabb would be a nice replacement.

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11. Toronto Raptors
(from New York Knicks)
SG Denzel Valentine, Sr, Michigan State
6'5, 220 lbs
Hometown: Lansing, MI
2015-2016 Stats: 18.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 7.2 apg
 
 
 
 
The Raptors get a lottery pick for the right to dump Andrea Bargnani's contract on the Knicks several years ago. Toronto could go best player available to beef up their bench. In a month's time, Denzel Valentine has gone from a mid second round pick to a possible lottery selection. The early front runner for college basketball player of the year is averaging close to a triple double, and is knocking down three pointers at a remarkable rate. The numbers are staggering. Valentine is making over three 3 pointers per game, and has a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. That is on 8 assists per game. His age likely limits his draft ceiling, but a team picking in the teens is going to get one tough gamer.

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12. Washington Wizards
PF/C Damian Jones, Jr, Vanderbilt
7'1, 245 lbs
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
2015-2016 Stats: 12.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg




Perhaps no team in the East has been as disappointing as the Wizards. Part of it is due to the fact that they are not getting a lot of contributions from their front court players. Damian Jones has had a very good junior season, even though his stats are in line with what he provided as a sophomore. Vanderbilt has not been tested much. When Jones went up against Kansas in a close loss, he dropped 17 points with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Jones is not great at any one thing, but provides solid stats across the board. He has the frame to bulk up and play center, which will make him quite coveted once draft time rolls around, even if he is still somewhat of a project.
 
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13. Orlando Magic
SG Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey
6'7, 185 lbs
Hometown: Bakirkoy, Turkey
201452016 Stats: 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.9 apg







Scott Skiles has the Magic playing their best basketball in years, but the roster could still use some scoring punch.. Furkan Korkmaz is still very raw and has a teenagers frame, but you cannot deny his offensive potential. He plays like Reggie Miller, running off of screens and shooting from anywhere on the court. A good ball handler as well, Korkmaz has the potential to be a very good NBA scorer, though it will take time.
 
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14. Atlanta Hawks
SG Grayson Allen, So, Duke
6'6, 195 lbs
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
2015-2016 Stats: 21.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.0 apg

 
 
 
The Hawks traded a first round pick for Tim Hardaway Jr., but he has provided absolutely nothing. Atlanta needs scoring off the bench. Grayson Allen was a high recruit who rode the bench as a freshman, but has shown JJ Redick like scoring ability thus far as a sophomore. He has put up big time points against three cupcakes, but struggled against the length and athleticism of Kentucky. Since then he has bounced back with back to back 30 point games and has settled in as a legit 20 ppg scorer at the college level. Scouts are always on the lookout for shooting guards who can actually shoot, and guys like Allen often find their way into the lottery.
 
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15. Utah Jazz
SG/SF Timothe Luwawu, France
6'7, 205 lbs
Hometown: Cannes, France
2015-2016 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg
 
 
 
Other than perhaps point guard, the Jazz starting lineup and top bench options seem to be pretty well set. The bench is still pretty shallow, however, especially on the wing. Timothe Luwawu has come out of nowhere to become one of the best players in France, a country that has a very strong track record in the NBA. He is off to even a better start in the Adriatic League (without the stiffest competition), showing the type of 3 and D potential that is all the rage with wing players right now. With continued development, a lottery selection is not completely out of the question.
 
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16. Denver Nuggets
(from Houston Rockets)
SG Malik Beasley, Fr, Florida State
6'5, 190 lbs
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
2015-2016 Stats: 18.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg 
 
 
The Nuggets get Houston's pick if the Rockets make the playoffs. Denver needs scorers off the bench. Scouts love what they have seen out of the "other" freshman 20 point per game scorer at Florida State. Malik Beasley is shooting the ball at an amazing clip, showing an ability to knock down three point shots and get to the line. Beasley also has the steals numbers to back up his analytical claim to fame.
 
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17. Boston Celtics
(from Dallas Mavericks)
PF/C Jonathan Jeanne, France
7'2, 210 lbs
Hometown: Les Abymes, Guadeloupe
2015-2016 Stats: 10.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 apg
 
 
 
With three first round picks and little space on the roster, expect the Celtics to either try to trade these picks or draft some European stash players. Jonathan Jeanne is woefully thin but has some serious NBA talent. He plays like a younger (skinnier) Ruby Gobert, who was thought of as a potential top ten pick before his lack of strength and experience caused him to slip late in the first round. If Jeanne declares for the draft, he won't last that long, even though he is far from NBA ready.
 
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18. Memphis Grizzlies
SG Buddy Hield, Sr, Oklahoma
6'4, 214 lbs
Hometown: Freeport, GB
2015-2016 Stats: 22.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 apg


 
For years the Grizzlies have been built around their two big men and Mike Conley. Tony Allen has been a fixture at one of the wing positions due to his defense, but the team has struggled to replace Rudy Gay's outside production. John Hollinger, who is in the Grizzlies front office, has to love what he has seen out of the Buddy Heild, who has one of the highest PER's in college basketball. He has improved every year, and as a senior is pouring in 22 points per game and hitting over 50% of his three point shots. Hield is a bit undersized and might struggle against larger wing players, but has the ability to provide solid scoring off the bench, something the Grizzlies lack.
 
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19. Detroit Pistons
SG/SF Caris LeVert, Sr, Michigan
6'7, 205 lbs
Hometown: Pickerington, OH
2015-2016 Stats: 17.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.0 apg


 

Stan Van Gundy has the Pistons playing very good basketball this year, but he could never have enough shooters surrounding Andre Drummond. Caris LeVert has bounced back nicely from a serious leg injury, leading an average Michigan team in points, assists, rebounds and steals. He shoots solid percentages, can knock down the three and play point guard in a pinch.
 
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20. Philadelphia 76ers
(from Miami Heat)
PG Demetrius Jackson, Jr, Notre Dame
6'1, 198 lbs
Hometown: Mishawaka, IN
2015-2016 Stats: 18.7 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.6 rpg



The 76ers are currently starting undrafted free agent TJ McConnell at point guard. Yeah. Philadelphia desperately has to come out of this draft with some real talent to build around, especially in the back court. Demetrius Jackson is another guard who is shooting over 50% from the floor early. He has upped his scoring and assist numbers so far this season, and takes very good care of the basketball. Jackson would be a nice contrast to Kris Dunn, Philadelphia's previous pick.
 
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21. Los Angeles Clippers
PF Chieck Diallo, Fr, Kansas
6'9, 218 lbs
Hometown: Centereach, NY
2015-2016 Stats: 7.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg




Cheick Diallo is the latest top recruit to get jerked around by the NCAA eligibility rules, but he has finally been cleared. Diallo is a tremendous athlete who is still learning how to play basketball. He rebounds and plays defense like an animal and can throw down the alley oop. Think a stronger Kenneth Faried. Playing for Bill Self is never the best way to develop your game for the NBA, but he is squarely on the late lottery radar. If he is still available here, this could be quite a pickup for the Clippers.
 
 
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22. Boston Celtics
PF/C Zhou Qi, China
7'2, 209 lbs
Hometown: Henan, China
2015-2016 Stats: 19.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.5 apg



 


Danny Ainge is all about asset collecting.  China gave the NBA Yao Ming, who was a homerun, and Yi Jinlain, who was a dud, and Zhou Qi is the latest 7 foot prospect from the country. He is woefully thin, but can shoot the ball, block shots and run the court. If an NBA team can pack on 30-40 pounds of muscle, they could have themselves quite a find. It's an easy risk worth taking at this point in the draft for a team with multiple picks.

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23. Indiana Pacers
PF Domantas Sabonis, So, Gonzaga
6'10, 231 lbs
Hometown: Kaunas, Lithuania
2014-2015 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 0.9 apg

 

 
Domantas Sabonis is having a great sophomore season for Gonzaga, but I do not think he offers enough in one particular area that screams "lottery pick". He is a good passer and rebounder, though not as tough or strong as one would want from a big man. He also does not possess terrific range on his jump shot. Sabonis will most likely fit in as a backup big man who can come in and knock down some midrange jump shots.  The Pacers are woefully thin in the front court and Sabonis could carve out a few minutes per night.
 
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24. Charlotte Hornets
SG/SF Dwayne Bacon, Fr, Florida State
6'7, 210 lbs
Hometown: Lakeland, FL
2015-2016 Stats: 17.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
 
 
 
 
Steve Clifford has the Hornets playing some fantastic basketball this year. Picking this low, the Hornets should focus on scoring depth, especially with PJ Hairston showing little thus far in his career. There is little to dislike about Bacon as a scorer. He has good size, can drive to the rack and knock down the three point shot. He does not offer much else at this stage of his development but has the ability to become a solid defender.
 
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25. Chicago Bulls
PG/SG Melo Trimble, So, Maryland
6'3, 185 lbs
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
2015-2016 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.8 rpg
 
 
 
There has been a revolving door at backup point guard behind Derrick Rose for years. While Trimble does not have the natural ball handling instincts to play the position full time, he could make a very dangerous scoring combo guard off the bench. Trimble can shoot the three, drive the lane and is adept at getting to the free throw line, where he shoots a very high percentage.
 
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26. Toronto Raptors
PF/C Alpha Kaba, France
6'10, 225 lbs
Hometown: Blois, France
2015-2016 Stats: 7.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 spg
 
 
 
 
With two first round picks Masai Ujiri might try to get creative with a foreign draft and stash guy. Alpha Kaba shows plenty of tools but is a long way away from contributing on an NBA team. However, you cannot teach his size, length and athleticism. He has the chance to be a solid shot blocker and rebounder who can run the floor and could be a popular late first/early second round gamble by a playoff team.
 
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27. Philadelphia 76ers
(from Oklahoma City Thunder)
PF Petr Cornelie, France
6'11, 225 lbs
Hometown: Calais, France
2015-2016 Stats: 7.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.8 apg
 
 
 
With four first round picks, Philadelphia could go for a draft and stash guy. Petr Cornelie is a sweet shooting French big man who makes it four players in this mock from the country.
 
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28. Phoenix Suns
(from Cleveland Cavaliers)
SG Damion Lee, Sr, Louisville
6'6, 200 lbs
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
2015-2016 Stats: 18.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.9 apg
 
 
 
The Suns are yet another team with multiple first round picks. Teams ahead of them have picked the overseas prospects clean, so Phoenix drafts a player who can help them right away next year. Damion Lee was a big time scorer in Drexel during his first three years, and has transferred to Louisville where his scoring ways have continued. Lee shoots a very high percentage from three point and the free throw line and can rack up some steals as well. That type of player is coveted by NBA franchises, and Lee could squeak into the first round as a result.
 
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29. San Antonio Spurs
PF Kyle Wiltjer, Sr, Gonzaga
6'10, 240 lbs
Hometown: Portland, OR
2015-2016 Stats: 20.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 apg
 
 
 
The Spurs would love to draft a Euro here, but the pickings are slim. Kyle Wiltjer was once a top recruit for John Calipari and Kentucky who has found a home playing for his hometown Gonzaga squad. Wiltjer will have to make his role in the NBA as a sweet shooting stretch four. Matt Bonner has lasted in the NBA for over a decade doing just that, and Wiltjer could be a very good fit for the Spurs.
 
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30. Golden State Warriors
SG Malik Newman, Fr, Mississippi State
6'3, 178 lbs
Homewotn: Jackson, MS
2015-2016 Stats: 12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg
 
 
 
 
The defending champs are off to a historically good start. Last draft, they selected talented but raw rookie Kevon Looney. They could look to do the same this draft with Malik Newman, who was highly recruited but is far from NBA ready. He is not a point guard, and might become a Lou Williams like scorer off the bench. He could learn from the best of the best behind Stephen Curry in Oakland.

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Round 2
 
31. Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia 76ers) - PG Tyler Ulis, So, Kentucky
32. Los Angeles Lakers - SG/SF Michael Gbinije, Sr, Syracuse
33. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans Pelicans) - PG Monte Morris, Jr, Iowa State
34. Brooklyn Nets - SG/SF Daniel Hamilton, So, Connecticut
35. Sacramento Kings - SF/PF Aleksandar Vezenkov, Cyprus
36. Philadelphia 76ers (from Denver Nuggets) - SF Taurean Prince, Sr, Baylor
37. Milwaukee Bucks - PF Nigel Hayes, Jr, Wisconsin
38. Chicago Bulls (from Portland Trail Blazers) - SF Troy Williams, Jr, Indiana
39. Boston Celtics (from Minnesota Timberwolves) - PF Paul Zipser, Germany
40. Phoenix Suns - PF/C Daniel Ochefu, Sr, Villanova
41. Houston Rockets (from New York Knicks) - C AJ Hammons, Sr, Purdue
42. Atlanta Hawks (from Washington Wizards) - SF DeAndre Bembry, Jr, St. Joseph's
43. Utah Jazz - PG/SG Tyrone Wallace, Sr, California
44. Houston Rockets - SF/PF Jarrod Uthoff, Sr, Iowa
45. Orlando Magic - PF Ante Zuzic, Croatia
46. Dallas Mavericks (from Memphis Grizzlies) - SG Danilo Fuzaro, Brazil
47. Dallas Mavericks - PG Marcus Paige, Sr, North Carolina
48. Detroit Pistons - SG Ron Baker, Sr, Wichita State
49. Atlanta Hawks - SF/PF Juan Hernangomez, Spain
50. Boston Celtics (from Miami Heat) - PF Guerschon Yabusele, France
51. Memphis Grizzlies (from Boston Celtics) - PG Gary Payton II, Sr, Oregon State
52. Brooklyn Nets (from Los Angeles Clippers) - PF/C Josh Scott, Sr, Colorado
53. Indiana Pacers - C Egidijus Mockevicius, Sr, Evansville
54. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Charlotte Hornets) - PG/SG David Walker, Sr, Northeastern
55. Chicago Bulls - PF Zach Auguste, Sr, Notre Dame
56. Memphis Grizzlies (from Toronto Raptors) - PG George De Paula, Brazil
57. Oklahoma City Thunder - PG Boris Dallo, France
58. Boston Celtics (from Cleveland Cavaliers) - C Ilimane Diop, Senegal
59. Sacramento Kings (from San Antonio Spurs) - PF Brice Johnson, Sr, North Carolina
60. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors) - SF Jake Layman, Sr, Maryland 

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