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2016 NBA Draft Preview: With Insight From ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla

2016 NBA Draft Talk With Fran Frashilla2016 NBA Draft Talk With Fran Frashilla Phot Via Flickr.com

2016 NBA Draft

With the NBA Draft Combine beginning today and running until May 16, it is finally appropriate to speculate about the NBA Draft.

Unlike last year where Karl-Anthony Towns was the consensus first pick leading into the draft, Duke’s Brandon Ingram has closed the gap on LSU’s Ben Simmons for the top pick with strong ACC and National Tournament play. The Philadelphia 76ers have the best chance of acquiring either Ingram or Simmons at number one.

“Simmons is a once every five to 10 years type of draft pick,” said ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla in a phone interview.

Simmons is coming off a freshmen year at LSU where he put up 19.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, and 4.8 apg. Much of Simmons appeal comes from his combination of size, athleticism and court-vision.

“Simmons is as good of a passer as there is,” said Fraschilla. “He [Simmons] makes your team automatically faster.”

Listed before the draft combine at 6’10, 225 pounds, Simmons combines a power-forward’s build with the agility and court-vision of a guard and the finishing ability of a wing, appealing to a NBA that values versatility and passing more than ever before.

While the praise of Simmons is plentiful, some NBA teams may be concerned with Simmons lack of shooting and LSU’s inability to make the NCAA Tournament. Simmons shot only three three-point field goals at LSU and shot 67 percent from the foul line. The leadership and energy of Simmons was also in question after a mediocre 19 win, 14 loss season in Baton Rouge.

Whoever drafts Simmons can have a once in a decade type player running a point-forward position if his shooting woes are corrected and if he can remain motivated for a full NBA season.

If the team at number one does decide to pass on Simmons, it will be because of the pure scoring ability that Brandon Ingram possesses.

After one year at Duke, Ingram enters the draft with averages of 17.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.0 apg and 41 percent shooting from three. Ingram is the total package offensively with the ability to score in a multitude of ways. Ingram can shoot from distance, excel in post and mid-range situations, get his own shot and dominate in fast-break situations where his 7’3 wingspan allows him to extend over other players.

Listed at 6’9, 196 pounds most scouts worry about Ingram’s build. Fear of not being able to finish against the big-bodies of the NBA and the possibility of getting exploited defensively by bigger power-forwards are the red flags surrounding Ingram.

If Ingram is able to bring his offense to the NBA while adding muscle he will be an impact player in the near future.

In what is not a relatively deep draft class, much of action will occur with teams picking in the three through 12 range, with a sharp drop off in talent near the middle of the first round.

Dragan Bender, the 7’1, 225 pound 18-year-old from Croatia will surely be one of the players picked in the three through 12 range.

After being drafted by the New York Knicks fourth overall in 2015, the success of Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis will surely be in the minds of teams thinking about picking Bender late in the first round.

Bender’s 7’1 frame and youth combined with lateral quickness, athleticism, and perimeter skills all account for a very intriguing pick, but by all accounts Bender is not ready to be an impact player just yet.

“Bender is not nearly as much of a finished product as Porzingis was.” said Fraschilla.

Those pointing to Porzingis’s first year success while wanting to compare him to Bender may overlook the fact that Porzingis played crucial minutes for one of the top leagues in Spain, while Bender only has experience in lower levels of European basketball.

Like Bender, most of the international players in this year’s draft will spend this year in and out of NBA rotations or being groomed overseas.

The rest of the teams picking early in the draft will likely pick perimeter players who can combine athleticism and offensive ability to space the floor.

Last year’s top college player Buddy Hield from Oklahoma along with Kentucky’s Jamal Murray, Providence’s Kris Dunn, California’s Jaylen Brown, and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine will all likely be picked in the top 12. The order in which these perimeter players are taken will illustrate if this year’s draft favors production and experience over potential.

Hield, Dunn and Valentine represent polished, experienced players who have shown that they can produce in many different ways at high levels.

Brown and Murray are both players that left after one year of college and offer explosive athleticism, unique skill and high-ceilings.

Big men like Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, Utah’s Jakob Poeltl, and Gonzaga’s Domantis Sabonis will likely round out the early portion of the first round. Ellenson, Poeltl and Sabonis may slip in the draft because of the recent brand of up-tempo small ball being employed by the NBA’s top teams. More and more NBA bigs are being expected to run the floor, create space and guard smaller players on pick and rolls.

“If you’re drafting bigs you have to be concerned with how they handle themselves away from the basket,” said Fraschilla. “Lateral quickness is very important.”

Even with more small ball being played, low-post scoring, shot blocking and rebounding will always be important, look for Washington’s Marquese Chriss to join Ellenson, Poeltl and Sabonis before the 14th pick.

Teams picking later in the first round will either opt for raw players with upside or veteran college players who may have maxed out their potential but have been able to produce at high levels.

For a late round potential pick keep 7’1, 19-year-old enigma Thon Maker in mind. Maker can run the floor like a gazelle at 7’1 which might make it worthwhile for a team to draft Maker and develop him for the next few years.

Virginia’s Malcom Brogdon may be a steal for a team picking late in the first round. Brogdon is coming off a storied four-year career at Virginia where he averaged 18.2 ppg and 4.1 rpg as a senior en route to ACC player of the year, Brogdon also won ACC Defensive Player of the year in both his junior and senior years. Whoever drafts Brogdon will get a tough, polished wing who can play enough defense to work himself into a NBA rotation.

“Brogdon is perfect for a team with a play-off, winning culture.” said Fraschilla.

The 2016 NBA Draft will be held in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, June 23.

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