There's something different about this year's expected draft class that separates it from previous years. Outside of Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and maybe Dragan Bender, it lacks any real star power. To be able to find the best guys in the draft class of 2016, it takes a keen scouting eye; someone who sees a skill set in a player others do not. But that requires much more time to watch film, and after a bit of a delay, we're finally rolling out our first big board of the year.
Our panel of seven writers have put together their top 20, which I've then compiled into a top 20 for the group. When calculating out the averages, any player who was not on an individual's list was given the value of 21.
This year's honorable mentions include: Zhou Qi (Jake Pavorsky and Max), Nigel Hayes (Mike and Tanner), Domantas Sabonis (Max), Isaiah Briscoe (Matt and Jake Fischer), Malik Newman (Fischer), Justin Jackson (Fischer), Tyler Ulis (Max) and Monte Morris (Mike).
To the big board!
20. Ivan Rabb - PF, California, 18 years old
AVG: 18.9 Ballots: 4/7
Marc Whittington (ranked him #19): Similar to Poeltl, Ivan Rabb is a prospect whom I find to be intriguing and with a decent amount of upside, but who holds little interest for me as far as the Sixers are concerned. He has decent but not overwhelming physical tools â five years ago he would have been seen as an undersized 5 at 6'10 with a 7'2 wingspan. With the NBA's recent shift towards space and mobility, he could probably function as a decent 5 now. The biggest issues with Rabb are that he doesn't provide much in terms of offensive skill, and while he is mobile on D, he doesn't provide much of a deterrent at the rim. And while he is making progress as a jump shooter (46% on 2-pt jumpers, per Hoop-Math), his shot is very much still a hypothetical at this point. He's a decent long-term play for potential, but for the Sixers, it's hard to see what he could bring that the cluttered front court doesn't already provide.
19. Grayson Allen - SG, Duke, 20 years old
AVG: 18.6 Ballots: 4/7
Mike Levin (ranked him #19): I don't like Grayson that much. I think that means he's going to be in the NBA for two decades. The Stauskas comparisons are lazy but sadly not terribly off-base. They can both shoot and jump better than you expect them to. Biggest difference is Nik's the better creator and Grayson can really piss some people off on D. He's not super long, but he's good at drawing contact and getting to the line. If people are going to hate him while he wins in the NBA, I'd rather that happen on the Sixers than the Celtics.
18. Stephen Zimmerman - PF, UNLV, 19 years old
AVG: 18.6 Ballots: 2/7
Matt Carey (ranked him #15): Much like almost everybody in this draft that's over 6-11, I have to file Zimmerman in my "I can't see any way he's a Sixer on draft night" column, but I really do like his game. He's athletic, he's a good rim protector, and his face-up game away from the basket makes him a perfect fit for a modern NBA offense as a role player. His game does attract the "soft" tag from detractors, and he's going to have to bulk up a bit, but as a mid-first, I think he'd be an excellent addition to a team as a rotation big with the ceiling of a competent, versatile NBA center.
17. Taurean Prince - SF, Baylor, 21 years old
AVG: 18.4 Ballots: 4/7
Marc Whittington (ranked him #14): One of the best 3-and-D candidates in the draft this year, it's truly puzzling why there wasn't more buzz around Prince last year. As a (very young) junior at Baylor, Prince put up 22 and 9 with 2 steals per 40 minutes, which was pretty awesome production. He's matched that this year, but has more than doubled his assists to go with it. He's got strong physical tools at 6'8 with a 6'11 wingspan and NBA-caliber athleticism. Prince is a career 38% three point shooter on 261 attempts, while also upping his FT% to 83% this year. I see him as very likely to be a solid 3-and-D wing, and exactly the type of player the Sixers could desperately add to their stables.
16. Skal Labissiere - PF, Kentucky, 19 years old
AVG: 16.6 Ballots: 3/7
Tanner Steidel (ranked him #8): Coming into the season as one of the most heralded prospects, Skal has struggled mightily in his freshman season at Kentucky. Standing about 7 feet tall, he's managing just under 3.5 rebounds per game. His skinny, 225 pound frame, at that height doesn't help. With Embiid, Okafor, and Noel still on the roster, Skal isn't on the top of my radar at this point (and apparently many teams around the league share the feeling as well).
15. Denzel Valentine - SG/SF, Michigan State, 22 years old
AVG: 15.7 Ballots: 7/7
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him #13): At age 22 the room for serious growth in Valentine's game is probably minimal, but you know exactly what you'll get from him at the NBA level. A big body with exceptional dribbling and passing skills who can score off the dribble or coming off of screens. He can guard multiple positions, and while I'm not going to compare him to Draymond Green, he's the only player in this draft class with that type of skill set. No reason for him not to be a lottery pick.
14. Jakob Poeltl - C, Utah, 20 years old
AVG: 13.9 Ballots: 5/7
Marc Whittington (ranked him #5): Jakob Poeltl is a very strong center prospect, and he's exactly what the Sixers don't need. He's mobile, big, and strong, and has been destroying pick and rolls at the collegiate level, but he doesn't even approach the sort of upside of the three centers currently on the Sixers roster. I put Poeltl 5th on my overall board, where I think he deserves to be, but he's honestly not even on my Sixers-centric one. The logjam is too real. If he's BPA at the Sixers' slot, I'd trade down for a more diverse offering.
13. Melo Trimble - PG, Maryland, 20 years old
AVG: 13.6 Ballots: 7/7
Tanner Steidel (ranked him #12): MELLLOOOOOO. As an extremely biased Maryland alum I think I'm easily the most qualified to discuss Melo. He's an undersized point guard with an incredible ability to create points not only for himself but for his teammates. Whatever the situation calls for, Melo has the ability to produce. He can get you a bucket driving to the cup, draw fouls (and the free throws are as guaranteed to be made as you could ask for), pull up from behind the arc (see Wisconsin), and put his teammates in great positions to succeed. As of Saturday morning he had the best points-per-play rate on pick-and-rolls in the entire country at 1.42. The next highest was 1.22. To grasp what kind of player he is, one only need watch his game against Wisconsin this past weekend. The pocket passes he was delivering to big men rolling to the basket were so precise that defenders didn't have a prayer of stopping them and also caused the ESPN broadcasters to have multiple Melo-gasms. Not only did he involve his teammates regularly (aspect of his game which has vastly improved this year with the much more talented front court) but he took over in the closing moments either scoring or assisting on 15 of the final 17 points for the Terps. Shooting about 40% from beyond, 50% total, and 87% from the line, Melo's efficiency is a huge strength. And the 5.7 assists per game is just gravy on top. He has weaknesses but I won't acknowledge them and you can't make me.
12. Buddy Hield - SG, Oklahoma, 22 years old
AVG: 13.3 Ballots: 6/7
Jake Fischer (ranked him #5): For many of the same reasons I love Brown, I really enjoy Hield as well. The only problem: Hield is 22 and will be turning 23 in December of his rookie season. Hield's currently the best overall scorer in this draft âI think Brown will take that mantle eventuallyâand he's currently second in the nation in points per game. Hield doesn't have the best size at 6'4, 214, but his 6'8.5 wingspan will certainly help him guard NBA wings. What has really separated Hield this season is his superb shooting. He's currently fourth in the nation in three-point shooting at 52.0 percent. And that's on 102 attempts. That's not some fluky, tiny sample size. He'll likely settle in in the mid-40s, but even still, drafting Hield is drafting the best shooter in this draft... who just so happens to be able to make plays off the dribble and create for teammates as well.
11. Demetrius Jackson - PG, Notre Dame, 21 years old
AVG: 13 Ballots: 7/7
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him #9): The loss of Jerian Grant has hurt Jackson more than I expected it to, but he's still had a very good season. Jackson is capable of creating his own shot, a good defender, and is now showing off his passing abilities since he's no longer the off ball guard next to Grant. I think he's shown flashes of explosiveness, but it's not always there. What really hurts him is the fact that he'll be 22 by the start of next season, and is a tad undersized for a lead guard in today's NBA.
10. Furkan Korkmaz - SG, Anadolu Efes (Turkey), 18 years old
AVG: 11 Ballots: 7/7
Max Rappaport (ranked him #8): I never thought I'd love another Furkan, but I must admit that Korkmaz sets my heart aflutter. A 6'7" 18-year-old with ridiculous bounce and a wet-ass jumper, he reminds me a lot of former LB darling Mario Hezonja. Playing alongside Dario Saric with Anadolu Efes, the Turkish swingman is shooting 41.2% from deep after converting at a 41.4% clip from long range last year. To compare him to someone a bit more established than Hezonja, the name Kevin Martin comes to mind. Maybe even Harrison Barnes.
9. Timothe Luwawu - SG/SF, Mega Leks (Serbia), 20 years old
AVG: 10.9 Ballots: 7/7
Mike Levin (ranked him #6): Everything you need about this French wing is in his DX scouting video. Length. Handles. Defense. Bounce. A legitimate jumper. The body. He almost came out last year -- probably would've been a Spur in the second round. If that Lakers pick falls to 5 or 6, I'd be mighty tempted to roll the dice on one of the freshest dudes in the class. Deliver him to me.
8. Wade Baldwin IV - PG, Vanderbilt, 19 years old
AVG: 8.9 Ballots: 7/7
Marc Whittington (ranked him #8): I love Baldwin's game, but my high placement of him is more of a condemnation of the 2016 class than it is a full-on endorsement of Baldwin. He's got great size and especially length for a point guard, at 6'3 with a 6'10 wingspan, and he is a strong, barrel-chested defender who has no problem bodying up slightly larger players. He has also turned into a knock-down shooter, canning 44% of his three's in two years, and shooting above 80% from the foul line in both as well. He's a strong and willing passer as well. The problem is that he's more of a strong passing 2-guard than a full-on point. His turnovers have skyrocketed this year as he's been given more responsibility, and he doesn't have the handle to take opposing players to the rim at will. He would be an awesome candidate for the Patrick Beverley role, in which he spots up off the ball, plays killer defense on 1's and 2's, and provides a little extra creativity in lineups featuring a separate primary shot creator. The problem is that you need that shot creator first.
7. Jamal Murray - SG, Kentucky, 18 years old
AVG: 7.7 Ballots: 7/7
Matt Carey (ranked him #4): He can score in bunches and absolutely take over a game, which is a trait nobody on the Sixers has, and very few players in this draft have. He's been somewhat inconsistent thus far, which does set off my Dion Waiters alarm bells, and in a better draft, he might be lower on my board, but for the moment, I'm still buying Murray stock.
6. Jaylen Brown - SG, California, 19 years old
AVG: 6.6 Ballots: 7/7
Jake Fischer (ranked him #4): I fell in love with Jaylen Brown watching him lead Cal on the road against No. 5 Virginia in December. The kid has big game chops and is just a stone cold scorer. He's got tremendous size for a modern two-guard at 6'7, 225 pounds. In college, he's wrecking fools on the perimeter one he puts his head down and decides to get to the rim. On those drives, he attacks the basket with grown man authority and couples that strength with a nasty handle - a rare combination. Once Brown gets into the paint, he's got b-o-u-n-c-e, bounce! I think he'll truly be able to shoulder an NBA scoring load, which will be especially valuable at the two-guard position that I think is the thinnest across the league. His 28.6 percent three-point mark is definitely worrisome, but his stroke still looks solid, even though it's not pure. That clip from the outside is definitely something to keep an eye on over the next two months.
5. Henry Ellenson - PF, Marquette, 19 years old
AVG: 6.3 Ballots: 7/7
Marc Whittington (ranked him #4): Henry Ellenson, to me, is the one guy in this class who fits the quality of a 4-10 pick in an average draft. He's really skilled for a big man, with range out to the 3-point line and a strong 43.8% on 2-point jumpers. Despite the frequent Kevin Love comparisons, he's more mobile than Love was at the same age, and has demonstrated perhaps a greater proclivity for passing than Love did as well. The questions for Ellenson will come on the defensive end, where he struggles in space, but possesses decent tools, standing 6'10 with a 7'2 wingspan. I don't think he's completely useless on that end, and he would be a decent (although desperately deflating) consolation prize should the Sixers miss out on the Big Two.
4. Kris Dunn - PG, Providence, 21 years old
AVG: 4.7 Ballots: 7/7
Max Rappaport (ranked him #4): Last year, as I foolishly held onto some modicum of hope that the Sixers would end up with Miami's first-rounder, I imagined a world in which we came out of the draft with both D'Angelo Russell AND Kris Dunn. But, alas, that pick didn't convey and Dunn returned to Providence for his junior season. The soon-to-be-22-year-old has been outstanding so far this year, averaging 17.7 points (47.9 FG%, 39.5 3P%), 7.3 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 steals per game. He stands 6'4" with a 6'9" wingspan and at 205 pounds is crazy strong for his age. Here's the catch: despite his solid numbers from deep, the guy can't shoot. He converts just 65.4% of his free throws, and his form and slow release make it tough for him to shoot off the dribble. Still, he does everything else remarkably well, and his defense and playmaking are both superb. I think in a lot of ways he can be a much better version of MCW, which is valuable.
3. Dragan Bender - SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), 18 years old
AVG: 4 Ballots: 7/7
Matt Carey (ranked him #3): Do you often find yourself sitting at home or in your office or in your luxury box watching the Sixers squad you've put together, seeing all those Kristaps Porzingis vines and thinking to yourself, "God, I wish he was a Sixer."
Well, good news, Sam. You can have a do-over. I'm sure you know who he by now, but meet the Dragan Bender. He's a lanky athletic seven footer with good touch from the perimeter with questions about his rebounding and interior defense. He's the new prototype as a stretch four. The biggest question about Bender is when he'll make his way stateside.
2. Brandon Ingram - SF, Duke, 18 years old
AVG: 1.9 Ballots: 7/7
Jake Pavorsky (ranked him #2): If this class didn't have a Brandon Ingram, I would be pretty devastated. After a slow start to his career, he's taken the college ranks by storm. Ingram is a fantastic three point-shooter, ball handler, and is showing some real potential on defense. He's incredibly lengthy, and he'll just be turning 19 in September. I don't think I could pass on Simmons, but if Hinkie has the cojones to take Ingram number one overall, I would not be mad at him. Educate yourselves on Ingram a little further here.
1. Ben Simmons - SF/PF, LSU, 19 years old
AVG: 1.1 Ballots: 7/7
Mike Levin (ranked him #1): There are many, many, many articles to be written about a potential superstar with a perfect fit -- Brandon Ingram -- and a potential superstar with upside high enough to ignite a basketball revolution, in Simmons. There is much time until June, I promise we will write those articles. But it's January yet, and Brandon Ingram's stock could take a hit in deeper conference play, while Ben Simmons will skate through the season on his otherworldly gifts. Put it this way: at the next level, Simmons is Simmons -- Ingram could be Ingram. I'll take Simmons now, and reserve the right to loudly groan about Ben's lack of a jumper as summer draws nearer. They're closer than we thought they'd be, and I'm already regretting not taking the dude who can shoot.
|Ben Simmons||Ben Simmons||Ben Simmons||Brandon Ingram||Ben Simmons||Ben Simmons||Ben Simmons|
|Brandon Ingram||Brandon Ingram||Brandon Ingram||Ben Simmons||Brandon Ingram||Brandon Ingram||Brandon Ingram|
|Dragan Bender||Dragan Bender||Kris Dunn||Dragan Bender||Jamal Murray||Dragan Bender||Kris Dunn|
|Kris Dunn||Henry Ellenson||Jamal Murray||Kris Dunn||Kris Dunn||Jamal Murray||Jaylen Brown|
|Henry Ellenson||Jakob Poeltl||Dragan Bender||Henry Ellenson||Dragan Bender||Kris Dunn||Buddy Hield|
|Jamal Murray||Jaylen Brown||Timothe Luwawu||Jamal Murray||Jaylen Brown||Jaylen Brown||Dragan Bender|
|Furkan Korkmaz||Timothe Luwawu||Wade Baldwin||Jaylen Brown||Wade Baldwin||Henry Ellenson||Henry Ellenson|
|Jaylen Brown||Wade Baldwin||Henry Ellenson||Furkan Korkmaz||Henry Ellenson||Wade Baldwin||Denzel Valentine|
|Demterius Jackson||Stephen Zimmerman||Jaylen Brown||Jakob Poetl||Skal Labissiere||Furkan Korkmaz||Furkan Korkmaz|
|Wade Baldwin||Kris Dunn||Buddy Hield||Wade Baldwin||Timothe Luwawu||Jakob Poeltl||Melo Trimble|
|Melo Trimble||Grayson Allen||Furkan Korkmaz||Skal Labissiere||Buddy Hield||Timothe Luwawu||Demetrius Jackson|
|Timothe Luwawu||Furkan Korkmaz||Jakob Poeltl||Demetrius Jackson||Melo Trimble||Skal Labissiere||Wade Baldwin|
|Denzel Valentine||Melo Trimble||Melo Trimble||Zhou Qi||Furkan Korkmaz||Demetrius Jackson||Timothe Luwawu|
|Jakob Poeltl||Taurean Prince||Denzel Valentine||Domantas Sabonis||Jakob Poeltl||Buddy Hield||Taurean Prince|
|Cheick Diallo||Demetrius Jackson||Caris LeVert||Ivan Rabb||Demetrius Jackson||Melo Trimble||Jamal Murray|
|Buddy Hield||Jamal Murray||Demetrius Jackson||Buddy Hield||Nigel Hayes||Stephen Zimmerman||Malik Newman|
|Damian Jones||Caris LeVert||Nigel Hayes||Timothe Luwawu||Caris LeVert||Ivan Rabb||Justin Jackson|
|Ivan Rabb||Denzel Valentine||Taurean Prince||Grayson Allen||Denzel Valentine||Cheick Diallo||Isaiah Briscoe|
|Zhou Qi||Ivan Rabb||Grayson Allen||Denzel Valentine||Grayson Allen||Isaiah Briscoe||Caris Lavert|
|Taurean Prince||Daniel Hamilton||Monte Morris||Tyler Ulis||Jake Layman||Denzel Valentine||Kay Felder|