The 2016 NBA Draft is officially in the books. While it definitely wasn’t the deepest of drafts, in terms of immediate impact players, there were many picks which I liked for a multitude of reasons. Here’s a rundown of them:
No. 1 Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers
This may seem obvious, but it still bears mentioning. Not only is Simmons the most talented player in the draft, he brings a newfound energy and excitement to the 76ers, who are in desperate need of some. Simmons, a 6’10” point forward, is a long, lanky athlete who is very adept with the ball in his hands. A great driver and passer for his size, he has all the necessary tools to be a consistent NBA All-Star provided he improves his jump shot.
No. 2 Brandon Ingram – Los Angeles Lakers
Another obvious selection like Simmons, Ingram is not far behind the No. 1 overall pick as it relates to talent level. Similar to Simmons’ body type at 6’9″ and 190 lbs., Ingram is an athletic, versatile wing. His best assets are his 7’3″ wingspan and his ability to knock down the three-ball. He’ll definitely need to add some bulk and strength to handle the nightly grind in the NBA, but Ingram will immediately step into the starting lineup spot vacated by Kobe Bryant.
No. 5 Kris Dunn – Minnesota Timberwolves
Considering it looks as if Ricky Rubio is going to be out sooner than later in Minnesota, the Timberwolves got their point guard of the future in Dunn. At 6’4″ 220 lbs., Dunn has excellent size at the point guard position. He is very athletic and an extremely gifted passer which should prove to be very valuable to his running-mates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While not a great jump shooter per se, Dunn’s form is not bad and with time his jump shot should improve. Additionally, he is an elite defender which is a huge plus at the position in the Western Conference, considering he will be facing the likes of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and Damian Lillard.
No. 6 Buddy Hield – New Orleans Pelicans
With this pick New Orleans finally brings in someone who can take some of the scoring load off of Anthony Davis. Hield, a 6’5″ shooting guard, is an elite shooter from both off the catch and the dribble. He is a solid defender with good athleticism and is not afraid to take the big shot. Although a little smaller, Hield reminds me of Jimmy Butler. He probably will never be as strong of a defender as Butler, but their games are similar. Needs to work on being a little tighter with the ball as he can be slightly turnover prone.
No. 11 Domantas Sabonis – Orlando Magic (traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)
As part of the trade that sent Serge Ibaka to Orlando, Sabonis is headed to Oklahoma City. Assuming Enes Kanter steps into the starting lineup to replace Ibaka, Sabonis is a perfect second unit big for the Thunder. At 6’10”, 240 lbs., he is well put together and can affect the game on both the offensive and defensive end. While his greatest asset is probably his rebounding, his toughness is up there as well. Not to mention, Sabonis also possesses a strong left-handed hook in the post. Sabonis will bring a Steven Adams-like toughness to the Thunder’s second unit and will be a nightmare for opposing bigs to keep off the glass.
No. 18 Henry Ellenson – Detroit Pistons
Many had Ellenson projected as a lottery pick; however, the Pistons have to be ecstatic that this long stretch-four fell to them. Ellenson has great size at 6’11”, 240 lbs. and possesses a 7’2″ wingspan. Add him to the Pistons frontcourt with Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris and that becomes a big, athletic front line. Ellenson has the ability to play the pick-and-pop game which should be extremely effective with Reggie Jackson on the ball.
No. 34 Tyler Ulis – Phoenix Suns
Don’t let his size fool you, Ulis is a player. The 5’10” point guard joins fellow former Kentucky point guards Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix to form a formidable three guard lineup. While those three will probably see limited action on the court together, at the least Ulis comes in immediately and takes over the second team point guard duties. He’s an elite passer who is adept at probing defenses and finding the open man. Ulis also has elite quickness which helps him compensate for his lack of size, which is obviously a concern. However, between his passing ability and handle, he has staying power in the league.
No. 45 Demetrius Jackson – Boston Celtics
Similar to Ulis, Jackson is not the biggest point guard out there at 6’1″, but he has an elite first step and is very strong for his size. From Indiana, just like his new coach Brad Stevens, Jackson could prove to be the Celtics’ second unit point guard behind Isaiah Thomas. He is a strong defender, has a great handle, and an improving jump shot to go along with a good finishing ability at the rim. Once thought of as a late first round pick, he fell to No. 45 which I’m sure the Celtics are pleased with.
No. 49 Michael Gbinije – Detroit Pistons
Gbinije played point guard almost predominately in college, yet will probably end up being a shooting guard at the next level. He’s a very good three point shooter, although can be streaky at times. He’s a good defender with a great feel for the game and possesses above-average athleticism. Needs to improve his free throw shooting, but I could see Gbinije pushing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for starter’s minutes as next season wears on.
No. 50 Georges Niang – Indiana Pacers
Niang reminds me of former Pacer and current Toronto Raptor, Luis Scola. At 6’8″ he’s slightly undersized at the power forward position and is not going to be confused for an elite athlete, but Niang does everything well. He’s a crafty driver who can go both ways, a good shooter who can stretch the floor, and a good passer for his size. He may not blow you away on the court but he makes enough winning plays to help his team. Niang should be a nice addition the Pacers roster and should compete for valuable second unit minutes next year.