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NBA Mock Draft: Final Draft-Day Projections

Nick Whalen

RotoWire's Assistant NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.

With the 2016 NBA Draft mere hours away, below is my final mock, reflecting stock adjustments over the last two weeks, as well as a handful of recent trades, in which a few picks have changed hands.

Letís get right to it:


1. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Ben Simmons, F, LSU
No change

The Sixers have reportedly informed Simmons that heíll be the selection at No. 1, putting a premature end to any speculation that Brandon Ingram was still in consideration. And Simmons has already informed the Sixers that heís ready to trust the process.


2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
No change

The Lakers have had their eye on Ingram from the start, and with Simmons all but locked into the No. 1 spot, the decision should be a no-brainer at No. 2. Ingram may not be ready to star right away, but heíll step in as the crown jewel of LAís rebuild from Day 1.


3. BOSTON CELTICS (via Brooklyn)

Kris Dunn, G, Providence
Previous: Dragan Bender

The Celtics continue to not-so-quietly shop this pick, and at this point it would almost be more surprising if theyíre still holding it come about 8:30pm on Thursday night. The 76ers are reportedly in hot pursuit of the pick and may be willing to part with Nerlens Noel to get it, per ESPNís Marc Stein. Should that deal ultimately materialize, Philly is believed to have its eye on Dunn. Even if Boston keeps the pick, Dunn makes sense as arguably the best player available in a deep tier that also includes Marquese Chriss, Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown, Dragan Bender, and Jamal Murray.


4. PHOENIX SUNS

Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
No change

Iím sticking with Chriss here, though he remains one of the most difficult prospects to project. Chriss is a big-time athlete with an equally big-time ceiling, but he struggled in a few basic areas of the game as a freshman last season and is likely a few years away from being a productive starter at the NBA level.


5. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
No change

With Ricky Rubioís future apparently somewhat in the balance, the Timberwolvesí may be in need of a guard by the time theyíre on the clock Thursday night. While they could go in a number of directions without much criticism, Murray seems like the best fit for a team that ranked 29th in made three-pointers last season and needs another ball-handler.


6. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Dragan Bender, F, Israel
Previous: Kris Dunn

Bender remains a consensus top-eight prospect, but he hasnít seemed to gain much steam in recent weeks. The Pelicans are in a position to take the best player available, and Bender would fill a need as the potential long-term replacement for Ryan Anderson.


7. DENVER NUGGETS

Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
No change

Itís difficult to pinpoint an area of dire need for the Nuggets, but they were a bottom-10 three-point shooting team last season, and you might have heard that Hield can fill it up from outside. He might not be a perfect fit -- especially with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler set to return from injury, not to mention the presence of Gary Harris -- but Hield should be ready to contribute right away, even if that means coming off the bench.


8. SACRAMENTO KINGS

Jaylen Brown, G, California
No change

The Kings have had difficulty bringing in lottery prospects for private workouts, but that wonít stop them from pouncing on one of the most versatile and athletic players in the draft. Brown may never be a superstar, but he has all of the tools to be an excellent two-way player at the NBA level.


9. TORONTO RAPTORS (via New York)

Domantas Sabonis, F, Gonzaga
Previous: Deyonta Davis

Sabonis has made a steady ascent up draft boards over the last few weeks. While Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere and Henry Ellenson may have more long-term potential, Sabonis is the most NBA-ready and would provide a major upgrade over Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson. Sabonis also has the size to slide up to center in certain lineups, helping to compensate for the expected loss of Bismack Biyombo in free agency.


10. MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State
Previous: Timothe Luwawu

The Bucks recently hosted Davis for an extended workout/meet-and-greet in Milwaukee. Of course, thatís far from an indication that theyíve made up their mind, but Davis would be a nice fit as a backup to Jabari Parker, while also seeing spot minutes at center. The Bucks already have a bit of a logjam in the frontcourt, though, so adding Davis could spur Milwaukee even further in the direction of dealing Greg Monroe.


11. ORLANDO MAGIC

Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
Previous: Jakob Poeltl

The Magic have some intriguing pieces but, barring a splashy signing or two, are still a few years away from playoff contention. Labissiere wonít be ready right away, but he could be the steal of the draft if his development ultimately matches his massive upside as an inside-outside threat.


12. ATLANTA HAWKS (via Utah)

Jakob Poeltl, F/C, Utah
Previous: Skal Labissiere (Utah)

The Derrick Rose trade Wednesday overshadowed what was the most impactful deal of the offseason thus far. The Hawks sent Jeff Teague home to Indiana, while Utah received George Hill and sent the No. 12 pick to Atlanta. Itís tough to imagine the Hawks are in love with anyone at this spot, and itís possible theyíll look to trade the pick Thursday night. Should they keep it, Poeltl would make sense as a frontcourt addition with Al Horford testing the free agency waters this summer.


13. PHOENIX SUNS (via Washington)

Wade Baldwin, F, Vanderbilt
No change

Baldwin could very well be off the board before Phoenix is on the clock, and itís possible the Suns could trade this pick, perhaps as part of an Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight deal. Should the Suns deal one of those two, Baldwin would be a major upgrade over Ronnie Price as the backup point guard.


14. CHICAGO BULLS

Dejounte Murray, G, Washington
Previous: Henry Ellenson
If it werenít for his college teammate,
Marquese Chriss, Murray would be the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the draft. Heís an excellent athlete with great size, but he was inconsistent at Washington and questions regarding his jumpshot are legitimate. The Bulls generally donít gamble on prospects like Murray, but heíd be an intriguing project player who has the potential to be a top-5 player in this draft five years down the road.


15. DENVER NUGGETS (via Houston)

Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
No change

With Buddy Hield already in tow, Denver grabs another prospect with a silky long-range jumper. The Nuggets may look to move this pick or make a move or two this summer to ease the logjam on a roster stocked with ďgood-not-greatĒ talent.


16. BOSTON CELTICS (via Dallas)

Henry Ellenson, F, Marquette
Previous: Denzel Valentine

Ellenson remains in the conversation for the Raptors, Bucks, Magic and Hawks at picks 9-12, but his stock has taken a minor hit since the beginning of the draft process. The Celtics would be thrilled if the versatile big man falls to them at 16.


17. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse
Previous: Taurean Prince

The aging Grizzlies need help all over the roster, and Richardson provides them with a big, long guard who can play both backcourt spots. Demetrius Jackson and Denzel Valentine are much more polished players, but Richardsonís upside has pushed him up from fringe-first-rounder toward the end of the lottery.


18. DETROIT PISTONS

Demetrius Jackson, G, Notre Dame
No change

Generally, itís a bad idea to draft for need, but this seems like a perfect fit for both sides. The Pistons are desperate for an upgrade over Steve Blake as a backup to Reggie Jackson, and Jackson is tailor-made for Stan Van Gundyís style of play.


19. DENVER NUGGETS (via Portland)

Timothe Luwawu, F, France
Previous: Domantas Sabonis

With its third selection in the top-20, Denver goes with a high-upside wing player who would likely spend most of 2016-17 in a deep reserve role. Still, Luwawu possesses an intriguing combination of length, athleticism and shooting ability that should make him a coveted long-term asset.


20. Brooklyn Nets (via Indiana)

Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State
Previous: Malik Beasley

When this pick belonged to the Pacers, I wrote that Valentine is, in some ways, a much-less-erratic version of what Lance Stephenson brought to Indiana -- a strong, physical guard who can put the ball on the floor, make plays, and defend. The First-Team All-American is among the most NBA-ready players in the draft, though his age and perceived lack of upside will keep him out of the lottery.


21. ATLANTA HAWKS

Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
Previous: DeAndre Bembry

Having already grabbed Poeltl in the lottery, Atlanta goes with Zizic, a player who is expected to remain stashed overseas for at least another year.


22. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Malik Beasley, G, Florida State
Previous: Malcolm Brogdon

Iíve projected Malcolm Brogdon here in each of my previous mocks, but itís seeming increasingly likely that Charlotte may be able to get its hands on the Virginia product in Round 2. As such, they go with Beasley here, a highly productive, all-around guard at Florida State who could join the rotation off the bench right away.


23. BOSTON CELTICS

Juan Hernangomez, F, Spain
No change

Will the Celtics own this pick by the time theyíre on the clock? Who knows. If they do, Hernangomez would be a nice long-term developmental project.


24. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (via Miami)

DeAndre Bembry, G/F, Saint Josephís
Previous: Tyler Ulis

Bembry does almost everything well but his jumpshot remains an area of concern. Still, heís excellent off the dribble and projects as a productive scorer in just about any offense.


25. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Taurean Prince, F, Baylor
Previous: Damian Jones

Prince has forged his reputation as a physical, lockdown wing defender, and that could help him force his way into the rotation as a rookie. Heís a better shooter than heís given credit for, too.


26. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (via Oklahoma City)

Brice Johnson, F, North Carolina
Previous: Cheick Diallo

Johnsonís offensive game may never develop beyond 15 feet, but his athleticism and rebounding ability should help him carve out a niche as an energy big man.


27. TORONTO RAPTORS

Thon Maker, F, Australia/Canada
Previous: Diamond Stone

While concerns regarding Makerís age -- on the morning of Draft day, no less -- have reportedly scratched him from some teamís boards, itís still rare to find this kind of upside at the end of the first round.


28. PHOENIX SUNS (via Cleveland)

Ben Bentil, F, Providence
No change

An excellent athlete with an NBA body, Bentil projects to slide between both forward spots in the NBA, while defending up to three positions. Bentilís playmaking ability is questionable, but he was one of the most explosive pure scorers in the nation as Kris Dunnís sidekick last season.


29. SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Tyler Ulis, G, Kentucky
Previous: Brice Johnson

Ulis could ultimately fall out of the first round when all is said and done, but his playmaking ability -- even at 5-9, 149 -- is tough to ignore.


30. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Damian Jones, F/C, Vanderbilt
Previous: Dejounte Murray

The Warriors could lose Festus Ezeli this offseason, and Andrew Bogutís deal is up next summer, so Jones makes sense as a developmental piece as Golden State begins to re-tool its roster for the long-term.