It's never too early to see how the 2016 NBA Draft could shape out, so here's our mock draft for next year.
The draft order of teams and the sections are based off of my predictions on what will occur in the upcoming basketball season. This includes traded draft picks in the past that are as updated as I can possibly get them. I also provide short explanations for the top five picks and for the Kentucky Wildcats players in here, others you may feel free to ask me personally about.
1. Denver Nuggets- Skal Labissiere, C UK
Skal Labissiere is the next in line of insanely talented big men to come from Calipari's tenure at Kentucky, following right behind DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. Brings solid rim protection along with a smooth game the stretches out to a very reliable mid-range jumper. The Nuggets have a darn good shot at the number one pick and are considerably weak at the center position. Thus, handing Denver Skal on a blue platter.
2. Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons, SF LSU
Ben Simmons is one of those prospects that you just know is made for the NBA. Listed at 6'9" 240 lbs, Simmons holds insane defensive prowess and great all-around offense. Once in the NBA Simmons' game will likely mold him into a larger version of Jimmy Butler. Philly can get a true franchise centerpiece if they tank correctly and get their grubby fingers on this future star.
3. Charlotte Hornets- Brandon Ingram, SF Duke
It's rare that I will ever get latched on to a Duke player before the season even starts. Guilty pleasure, I absolutely adore incoming Dukie Brandon Ingram. This kid is for real; Ingram is a seriously talented scorer with a very good looking stroke on his jump shot, and not bad defense to go with it. A lot of similarities are made with Ingram and one of Duke's last superstars Jabari Parker, and they are not far off either. It's no guarantee that Charlotte will be this bad next season, but there is honestly a high chance that the Hornets won't play well and can very well secure a high pick.
4. Boston Celtics (Via BYN)- Jaylen Brown, SF Cal
Somewhere in the midst of the madness that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, Boston got themselves Brooklyn's 2016 first round pick. Now, in the pure madness that is the Celtics' roster, Boston has officially too many guards and now too many power forwards that will likely be traded away sometime next season. What Boston doesn't have though is a small forward; Evan Turner is their top option and he is undersized and plainly a raw player. That is where Jaylen Brown can potentially fall into play; an almost straight copy of Stanley Johnson with better scoring ability.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (Via LAL)- Malik Newman, SG Mississippi St
Who knows where the Lakers messed up and sacrificed their pick here, but it is in the hands of the 76ers unless the Lakers' pick is top three in 2016. In this case scenario, Philly needs togo guard, guard and more guard. Best option here is Malik Newman out of Mississippi State. Newman is a very talented two that could be one of the 76ers long-term options in the backcourt.
6. Portland Trail Blazers- Ivan Rabb, PF Cal
7. Toronto Raptors (Via NYK)- Dragan Bender, PF Croatia
8. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jamal Murray, G Kentucky
While Minnesota is loaded with young talent, the Timberwolves frontcourt is still a question mark. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin can't seem to stay healthy despite being terrific players; Tyus Jones and Zach Lavine seem to be the future there, Minnesota could still use help at the position. Jamal Murray would be great for the Timberwolves; a versatile guard that can play one and/or two and has a terrific skill set. Can score well, pass exceptionally well and handles the ball extremely well.
9. Orlando Magic- Cheick Diallo, PF/C Kansas
10. Indiana Pacers- Kris Dunn, PG Providence
11. Chicago Bulls (Via SAC)- Diamond Stone, C Maryland
12. Boston Celtics (Via DAL)- Jakob Poeltl, C Utah
13. Detroit Pistons- Henry Ellenson, PF Marquette
14. Utah Jazz- Dwayne Bacon, SG FSU
15. Boston Celtics- Chris LeVert, SF Michigan
16. Milwaukee Bucks- Melo Trimble, PG Maryland
17. Phoenix Suns- Damontis Sabonis, PF/C Gonzaga
18. Toronto Raptors- Antonio Blakeney, SG LSU
19. Memphis Grizzlies- Furkan Korkmaz- SG Turkey
20. Washington Wizards- Damian Jones, PF/C Vandy
21. New Orleans Pelicans- Nigel Hayes, SF Wisconsin
22. Chicago Bulls- Justin Jackson, SG/SF UNC
23. Philadelphia 76ers (Via MIA)- Buddy Hield, SG Oklahoma
24. Houston Rockets- EC Matthews, G Rhode Island
25. Philadelphia 76ers (Via OKC)- Isaiah Briscoe, PG UK
Remember Philadelphia: guard, guard, more guards. Point guard is a huge need for the 76ers, and as yet another first round pick falls to their hands, Isaiah Briscoe could be the answer. Briscoe is a straight up baller, with a magnificent game. Really a true point guard, Briscoe is a crazy good ball handler and well-rounded offensive skillset that will get better as his jump shot gets better, which it will.
26. San Antonio Spurs- Demetrius Jackson, PG Notre Dame
27. Phoenix Suns (Via CLE)- Malik Pope, PF San Diego State
28. Golden State Warriors- Alex Poythress, SF UK
Kentucky fan-favorite Alex Poythress would be an excellent fit for Golden State. Heading into what should be an excellent senior season, Poythress has come a far way since his excellent freshman season and has become a great all-around player. One that is very athletic, and could develop into a Harrison Barnes-like player if developed correctly..
29. Atlanta Hawks- James Blackman Jr, SG Indiana
30. Los Angeles Clippers- Kaleb Tarczewski, C Arizona
Did I just predict the Los Angeles Clippers beating the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Finals? Yes, yes I did.