The NBA Draft is an annual time of happiness and optimism for fans, there is talk about ceilings and floors and everyone is looking forward to see what bold move their team will make. Some teams willingly punt on an entire season of competing to try and add the league’s next superstar. As Bucks fans we became used to treasuring our mid first pick and seeing what Hammond could get from it. Now we likely have our core in place which leads to some fans losing interest in the draft, enter Hammond who may have just gotten a steal in Rashad Vaughn.
So how does Hammond do it?
Starting with the Jennings draft in 2009, Hammond has made 7 first round picks: Jennings, Sanders, Harris, Henson, Antetokounmpo, Parker, and Vaughn. 5 of those 7 were McDonald’s All Americans, the two exceptions were Sanders and Antetokounmpo. What do the middle five have in common? They are all 6’9″+ with good to decent athleticism, Hammond has a clear formula that has a pretty good track record of success. Roughly 80% of all Mcdonald’s All-Americans make it to the NBA in some capacity.
Which brings me to my starting point for the 2016 NBA draft: The 2015 McDonald’s All American game
The first player I’d like to highlight is my favorite for the number one overall, and the only player in the the top 15 of the ESPN 100 who was ineligible to play in the McDonald’s All American game: Skal Labissierre. Rated the number 1 high school player in the nation by Rivals and Scout while being 2 by ESPN the 6’11” big man is an early favorite to go anywhere from 1st to 3rd in the draft. He has a diverse skill set on offense with soft touch extending out to the mid-range. He scored 22 for Kentucky on Saturday evening showcasing why he is so highly rated. He has the athleticism to block a ton of shots, but is currently foul prone and very raw. Skal has a long ways to go, but he could be a superstar in the NBA and Calipari’s guys tend to develop quickly. He will likely struggle with foul issues all season. The growth of Labisierre and how much work he puts in on his game will determine just how high he will go both in the draft and once he is in the NBA.
Ben Simmons: was a consensus pre-season All-American and is the preseason Vegas favorite for the Wooden player of the year award. He also seems to be the industry favorite for the number one overall pick. At 6’10” he is the definition of a point forward showing passing vision rarely seen in guards, much less forwards. He has a lot of moves when he catches in the post, but he can also initiate on the perimeter and run pick and rolls. He will play this year for LSU, but his stay in Baton Rouge is almost guaranteed to be short, he likely has the highest floor of anyone in this draft class. He has a feel for the game you just do not see very often and he makes the players around him better.
Brandon Ingram: Ingram has elements of Durant in his game he is a wiry 6’9″. He has a good outside stroke and he can finish around the rim, but he is pretty raw everywhere in between. He will likely play a stretch-4 role at Duke this year and he should be able to thrive in that role. There are plenty of creators around him and that should help him succeed. He could have a very good season at Duke this year and go top 5, but similar to Kelly Oubre last year the upside is too high for him not be a mid first rounder at the end of this year.
Jaylen Brown: Jaylen Brown might have the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft class. Standing at 6’7″ he has the athleticism to guard 2-4 on the court. He can finish ferociously around the rim and unlike most athletic wings his age he can shoot quite well. He displays pretty good vision for a forward. His stroke is not perfect, but he can pull up pretty well for a high schooler. Is pretty well built for an 18 year old and embraced contact at a lower level. he should star at California this year expect him to go Top 5.
The aforementioned foursome are at the top of my current board and should stay in the top ten all year. I think they are clearly a tier above the rest of the domestic prospects in this class.
Other guys to keep an eye on:
Jamal Murray, Kentucky – Murray has a very good handle coupled with decent athleticism and vision. Reclassified after excelling on the summer circuit, the Canadian native posseses most of the skills you look for in an NBA point guard. I think of the rest of the guys on this list he has the best chance at breaking into the above tier.
Henry Ellenson, Marquette – Ellenson is a 6’11” Power forward, he is a classic inside out 4. He can rebound with the best of them, but also has an excellent shooting stroke. Ellenson has one of the better handles I have ever seen o n a guy his size.
Ivan Rabb, California – Rabb’s game is reminiscent of current Buck John Henson, he has a polished lefty hook and blocks a lot of shots. Rabb needs to add weight desperately. He also needs to diversify his offensive game, at 6’10” he will probably need some form of a jumper to be effective in the modern NBA.
Malik Newman, Mississippi State – Newman has a lot of other Mississippi native Monte ‘Have it all’ Ellis in his game. He scores in bunches and at 6’4″ does not have the height to be a true 2 like his play style would indicate. Has one of the best jumpers in the class and is probably the best ISO scorer in the class. There have been several reports raving about his work ethic, and if that translates to better point guard skills he could be a great NBA player. Has better than NBA range on his 3 point shot. His upside is limited by the lack of elite athleticism and wingspan that will limit him on defense.
Cheick Diallo, Kansas – Reminds me of former Kansas 5 star Cliff Alexander 6’9″ big man with no perimeter game, but relies on effort and good athleticism. I highlight him merely because other mocks and big boards have him rated highly. I think he will plummet similar to Alexander and the eligibility concerns definitely will not help.
Over the course of the season I will do in depth prospect profiles and cover more players. If any of you have want a profile done for a specific player feel free to DM me on Twitter @junesfoshiz and I will do my darndest to get a profile up as soon as possible. Otherwise keep checking back over the course of the collegiate season for my ongoing draft coverage.