The 2016 NBA Draft is less than a month away, and teams are in the midst of their draft workouts and interviews, after the NBA Draft Combine and the NBA Lottery selection have taken place.
With a clear understanding of who is set to pick where, at least barring any trades, teams are now honing in on their range of candidates and developing their short lists of potential targets.
Here is my best guess as to what that could look like on the night of June 23, 2016.
*These picks do not necessarily represent my personal preference, rather, how I see the draft playing out due to team needs and strategies.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke, Freshman
The debate over who will be the number one pick grows more intense with each passing day, and based on talent/character/skill alone, Brandon Ingram has begun to surpass the long-time consensus first-overall pick, Ben Simmons. The argument for Ingram only grows stronger with the 76ers chock full o' power forwards already, and in desperate need of shooting. Brandon Ingram makes more sense for the Sixers right now.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Ben Simmons, SF/PF, LSU, Freshman
The Lakers would be ecstatic if the Sixers chose Ingram--allowing them to take Simmons, who is not only the (arguably) best talent in the draft, but who also plays a position of need, and can distribute the ball and run the offense from above the arc or below the post. The Lakers will be quick to keep Ben Simmons in purple and gold with the second pick, in this scenario.
3. Boston Celtics (via BKN): Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky, Freshman
While many are mocking Dragan Bender to the Celtics at three, I think Boston goes with a slightly more developed player here, since they are the most "win-now-ready" team in the lottery. Boston could add Murray into their rotation along with Thomas, Bradley, and Smart at the guard positions, giving them increased depth and versatility, along with a unique combination of attributes that none of the other guards possess. Of course, if they don't mind waiting a season or two, Bender could be a real consideration here as well as he fills a need. But since I don't think he'll be ready this season, I don't think he'll be the pick
4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, PF, International, 18
With their first lottery pick, Suns fans get their new Dragan. Bender won't be ready for another year or two, and is relatively unproven. But despite those factors, he certainly has the highest upside of any pick currently in the discussions to be selected at fourth overall, and benefits from GM Ryan McDonough who has stated/shown his love for drafting international prospects and letting them continue to develop.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence, Junior
The Timberwolves are already stacked with young talent at nearly every position. What they need more than anything is additional playmaking and defense from the guard position, which Dunn gives them. While his shooting Z(another major need) is still a work in progress, I believe Dunn's play-making ability, defense, and leadership will be enough to give him the nod over other prospects like Buddy Hield, who could also be a strong consideration here.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma, Senior
Buddy Hield would give the Pelicans instant shooting from the guard position, something they will need if Eric Gordon walks...and even if he re-signs, New Orleans can't count on him to stay healthy in the long term. Of course, another PF who can shoot and also back-up Anthony Davis is another significant need, and Henry Ellenson will likely garner strong consideration here as well.
7. Denver Nuggets (via NYK): Jaylen Brown, SF, California, Freshman
The Nuggets would probably love to draft a player like Buddy Hield here, but I don't think he makes it down to them. Instead, I think they go with the explosive upside of Brown, who fits well with Denver's style of play.
8. Sacramento Kings: Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette, Freshman
The Kings desperately need another point guard, with Rondo being a free agent, and a feeling that he may not be their long-term answer. However, with only Tyler Ulis, Demetrius Jackson, or perhaps Denzel Valentine being considerations for that role...all of whom would be reach here for different reasons, I think they go with the offensive-minded PF from Marquette instead.
9. Toronto Raptors (via DEN): Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State, Freshman
Deyonta Davis gives the Raptors another defensive big-man, and rim protector as insurance in case Biyombo's coming free agency payday is more than they are comfortable spending. Even if Bismak returns, Davis provides Toronto with a young prospect who has a ton of upside and could develop into a more complete player, eventually.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah, Sophomore
Jakob Poeltl seems to be the consensus 10th overall pick in various mocks. Makes a lot of sense here as well, so who am I to argue?
11. Orlando Magic: Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington, Freshman
The Magic desperately need their PF of the future, and I think Chriss best fits that bill. While many may see Skal going first, I think Chriss has more potential as an overall player, who can still defend the rim, rebound, and block shots. Chriss has shooting in addition to defense, and although Labissier will likely be a strong consideration here if he's still on the board, I expect Chriss's stock to rise.
12. Utah Jazz: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert on the international prospects, but from what I've read and watched, Furkan seems like a Jazz-ish type player if there ever was one, and is a great fit for the team overall..
13. Phoenix Suns (via WAS): Skal Labissiere, PF/C, Kentucky, Freshman
The Suns took their draft-and-stash candidate at #4, and now they need help at PF. Skal is the best player left on the board who could at least help protect the rim and rebound in spot minutes, while still developing his offensive game next season. Labissiere has major upside on both ends of the court...and, you know, Kentucky.
14. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky, Sophomore
The Bulls reach a bit here to secure their next point guard of the future, as Derrick Rose continues to be more and more unreliable.
15. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga, Sophomore
The Nuggets have three first round picks and no glaring positions of need..So, since they took a wing with their first pick, how about a big man here? Sabonis gives them efficiency on offense and rebounding on defense.
16. Boston Celtics (via DAL): Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State, Senior
Valentine gives the Celtics another NBA-ready, win-now player to add to their roster. He is likely the most talented all-around player left in the draft at this point, and a perfect get for a playoff team like Boston.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame, Junior
The Grizzlies need another point guard here, with uncertainty surrounding Conley and how much it will take to re-sign him. Even if they do, and they probably will, JAckson gives them a young back-up to learn behind one of the more consistent/productive PGs in the game.
18. Detroit Pistons: Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor, Senior
Taurean Prince gives the Pistons a promising wing defender, and a prototypical 3&D player who could develop into much more. Great value this late.
19. Denver Nuggets (via POR):Thon Maker, C, Australia, HS Senior
Since the Nuggets have a wealth of picks and no real needs, why not swing for the fences here and take a possible blue-chip talent in Thon Maker? They can afford to let him develop for a year or two with their other picks more ready to contribute.
20. Indiana Pacers: Wade Baldwin, PG/SG, Vanderbilt, Sophomore
Wade Baldwin would be a great value here, and a great fit for the Pacers. What's not to love?
21. Atlanta Hawks: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt, Junior
Al Horford is a free agent and may be leaving if another team offers more than the Hawks are willing to pay. Fortunately, Jones is a young, long, athletic center that would serve as a nice big-man insurance policy, even if he has a completely different game.
22. Charlotte Hornets: Mailk Beasley, SG, Florida State, Freshman
The Hornets need shooters. Beasley can do that and much more. He's a great value and a great fit here if he last this long in the draft.
23. Boston Celtics: Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, International, 21
The Celtics, like the Nuggets before them, are also on their third first round pick. Why not take a highly rated international player here? If he lasts this long...he'll be tough to pass up.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA): DeAndre Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph's, Junior
I was tempted to give the Sixers another big man, because that would be the most Sixers thing to do. Then I remembered the Colangelos are in change, and that they may actually make a sane pick here. So I went with Bembry, who I think is underrated, and gives them a smart, athletic wing defender to pair or rotate with Ingram.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina, Senior
Another team who needs a more NBA-ready prospect to help them turn the corner. I think Brice Johnson is an absolute steal this late, and he could help contribute off the bench for the Clippers right away. He averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds this year at UNC, and can play a productive role in the NBA as well.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Ivica Zubac, C, International, 19
Ok, I couldn't resist. The Sixers draft a big man after all. But this one they can let develop overseas.
27. Toronto Raptors: Juan Hernangomez, SF/PF, Spain
He's been mocked around this general area in the draft, and seems like a good fit here. I don't know enough about his game to provide you with much more than that.
28. Phoenix Suns (via CLE): Zhou Qi, C, International, 20
The Suns get tremendous value here if he lasts this long, as they draft a high-upside giant from the Far East. Qi is 7' 2" with a ridiculous 7' 7" wingspan and a towering 9' 4.5" standing reach...Oh, and he's mobile and can shoot. Need I say more?
29. San Antonio Spurs: Petr Cornelie, PF, France, 20
The next Boris Diaw? No, not at all. But the Spurs get a long, athletic big man here who fits with the Spurs international flair.
30. Golden State Warriors: Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV, Sophomore
The Warriors get great value here with McCaw who is a great athlete, an effective defender, and a capable but still developing shooter as well.
Ok, let me have it...Commence hot takes in the comments section!