What does the 2016 Draft have to offer?
The name we hear over and over again is Ben Simmons. We know he shows flashes of Magic Johnson and we know his stats are unbelievable. He ranks 5th in the NCAA in rebounding and 6th in player efficiency and can run the floor as well as any NBA guard. While shooting is not his strong suit, he makes up for this by being able to play several positions.
Besides Simmons, there isn't the extreme hype around this years draft. This being said there is no shortage of talent.
One player who I think will be highly coveted and be mature enough to enter the NBA is Kris Dunn of Providence. Last year many analysts speculated that Dunn would have been a lottery pick assuming that he would declare for the draft. He decided, however, to stay his senior year, a rare move, in order to graduate with a degree in social science. This type of maturity and willingness to develop both as a human being and basketball player is extremely remarkable and is sadly not given as much praise as it should, in college sports.
Some current notable players who stayed all four years in college are: Tim Duncan, Damian Lillard, J.J Redick, Draymond Green, and George Hill. One thing all of these players have in common is that they have very high basketball IQ’s. Returning to Kris Dunn, he has carried Providence and they are now ranked because of that. I would expect him to be selected within the first five picks and to develop into a point guard who can be a jack of all trades, a point guard who not only can pass and score but also rebound and play defense. Look for Dunn to be a hybrid of Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo.
Another exciting player in this years draft is Denzel Valentine of Michigan State. Similar to Dunn, Valentine is a seasoned senior. Also, similar to Dunn, Valentine is a jack of all trades. While averaging close to 20 points and 8 rebounds per game, Valentine ranks 7th in assists per game. There is one obvious comparison with Valentine, which is Draymond Green.
Both are four-year Michigan State players who do everything and play at an extremely efficient level. Valentine might take on more of a guard role in the NBA. Michigan state is in contention to get a top seed as of now in this years NCAA Tournament. While he is currently projected to go anywhere between 16-22 in this years draft, look for Valentine to climb up the draft-board with an expected deep Michigan State run in this year's NCAA Tournament.
Other interesting things to note in this years draft are the following. The Celtics are riding high with 6 draft picks this year (3 in the first round and 1 lottery pick). As a Celtics fan, this personally makes me very, very giddy. The rebuilding Sixers and Nuggets both have 3 first round picks. It is also interesting to note that the Miami Heat and Knicks have no upcoming picks this year.
We all want to be ahead of the trends. That is why I assembled a list of players who I label “Hipster” players, players who will either be late second round picks or go undrafted. In past years, Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Jeremy Lin are all guys who would have been called “Hipster” players.
Below is a current list that I would like to call “Hipster” players, players who if drafted or signed on in the summer league could make a significant impact.
Michael Gbinjie of Syracuse
Tonye Jekiri of Miami
James Webb III of Boise State
Georges Niang of Iowa State
Zach Auguste of Notre Dame
Shawn Long of Louisiana Lafayette
Ben Bentil of Providence
Jalen Jones of Texas A&M
Jameel Warney of Stonybrook
Kahlil Felder of Oakland
Josh Hart of Villanova
Justin Robinson of Monmouth