With the 2016 NCAA Tournament underway, The Vertical released their updated NBA Mock Draft on Wednesday. In March, college players have the greatest opportunity to raise their draft stock in the most high profile games.
All it takes is one good game from an underclassmen, and their NBA stock can rise to new heights. Unfortunately, LSU’s Ben Simmons won’t get the chance to showcase his talent during March Madness. Therefore, it was no surprise Simmons wasn’t projected as the No. 1 pick in the latest NBA mock draft. However, there is another freshman capable of taking center stage right away.
Duke’s Brandon Ingram is the new No. 1 player on draft boards. At 6’9” 196 pounds, Ingram’s slight build has not hampered him from becoming a dynamic scorer on the college level. He also fit in seamlessly on a winning team with a winning tradition. The Philadelphia 76ers are projected to have the first pick again, so they need players with a winning pedigree. In addition, Ingram can shoot the ball extremely well. Shooting is the one skill Simmons has yet to show in his offensive repertoire.
Still, if the Los Angeles Lakers have the No. 2 selection in the NBA Draft, they will take Ben Simmons in a heartbeat. The Vertical believes there is a concern fitting Simmons in with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, but those problems are likely overstated. Yet, the reason Simmons dropped in the mock draft is due to his lack of assertiveness in crucial times. Would he take a backseat to the young Lakers’ backcourt?
Overall, only seven players projected to go in the top 10 are playing in the NCAA Tournament. California’s Jaylen Brown has a chance to stay out west with the Phoenix Suns at No. 3. So far, Brown has demonstrated skills to become a dominant wing player in the NBA. However, it’s imperative that Brown has big performance in the NCAA Tournament.
Providence’s Kris Dunn is slotted to go No. 5 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah’s Jakob Poeltl is the first center off the board. He’s projected to go to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 6.
A pair of shooters are next off the board. Kentucky has relied on the shooting of Jamal Murray all season long. Like so many former Wildcats, Murray is projected to leave after one season. Interestingly enough, the Sacramento Kings have already loaded up on Kentucky players in prior NBA drafts. DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein are already on the roster.
Buddy Hield is one of the most intriguing prospects in this NBA draft class. He’s the first and only senior projected to go in the lottery. In fact, only three seniors are slotted to go in the first round. Guards Denzel Valentine and Malcolm Brogdon join a short list of experienced players. Hield is the type of player to carry the Oklahoma Sooners to the Final Four. However, his stock is not likely to rise much higher than it already is.
Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere has no business entering the 2016 NBA Draft. However, he’s projected to be in the Top 10. Having Labissiere this high on the board is doing the freshman a disservice. Yet, if Labissiere has a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament, his stock may rise again.