June 8, 2016, 8:19 am
If you are a regular reader, you may have seen my previous mocks and questioned my mindset when I propose certain players falling in this upcoming draft. To be fully transparent, I must disclose that neither I nor any other mock draft writer knows the intricate workings of the minds that make up the NBA front offices. That being said, I do believe certain front offices take various approaches to the draft based on multiple factors.
These factors include current team composition, future contract terminations, the depth of positions available in the league and prospect personality fit. To provide guidance to readers for both my past and future mocks, I thought it best to provide some insights on my thoughts for this draft.
I believe this year’s draft will be mostly dominated by forwards, both small and power. The reason for this is the flexibility that these players provide in the changing NBA world. Small forwards can play down as shooting guards to provide extra length on defense or can play up to power forward in small ball lineups utilized by several teams in the league.
In addition, the ever-increasing importance of the 3-ball has forced teams to looks for power forwards that can play both inside and out and are shifting away from traditional centers. This makes power forwards move valuable in that they may be used at center in certain sets. I also believe this will be a tough year for true point guards. For example, Kris Dunn was widely considered a top draft pick at the end of the NCAA season.
However, it is becoming more apparent that few teams are seeking a true floor general near the top of the draft and Dunn has fallen closer to the 7th to 10th pick range. Combo guards will stand to benefit from this and other undersized guards will fall further than expected.
While undersized players may have been very dominant at the college level, they will meet a different level of competition in the NBA where their shortcomings will be more of an obstacle to overcome. Forwards classified as “tweeners” often struggle as they are too short to play power forward, but too slow to play small forward.
Today’s NBA is experiencing a shift in point guard style where the position is more focused on scoring, rather than distributing. Due to this, we are seeing more point guards with favorable height at the position given opportunities. Tyler Ulis, Kay Felder and Demetrius Jackson are some examples of quality college point guards that may slip in the draft simply because of their height. All three players measured under 6’0″ and under without shoes at the NBA Draft Combine.
Drafting Need or Value
The reason so many mock drafts are pinning Brandon Ingram as the number one pick this year is because of the seemingly perfect fit with the 76ers. It makes much more sense for the 76ers to fill their small forward spot with a potential star and let their trio of recently drafted bigs find their niche on the team at power forward and center.
The problem here is that many NBA front offices would much rather draft the “best player available”. If the 76ers go with Ben Simmons as the top pick, it would be because they believe Simmons is the top talent in the draft and could provide the most future value as a franchise cornerstone or potential trade bait.
When a team is so far behind the other teams in the league, a common strategy is to take the top talent and move other players when possible in an attempt to rebuild the franchise. This value based draft strategy also applies to players with potential skill level growth, like Cheick Diallo.
Diallo rarely played any minutes for Kansas during the college season, but his combine numbers and potential are more appealing to NBA front offices than those of players like college teammate Perry Ellis, who is less likely to experience much growth from his current skill level.
Teams Without Picks
Various teams traded away their picks for this draft, as it appears that NBA front offices do not value this draft class as much as previous classes. Some playoff teams traded away first round picks in an attempt to fill team holes in hopes of a title run. Some non-playoff teams moved first round picks as well, allowing playoff teams like the Celtics and Raptors to improve their already impressive rosters.
Draft Night Trades
As mentioned above, several teams previously traded away picks in this year’s draft. This also means several teams have a surplus of picks. I do not expect teams like the Suns, 76ers and Celtics to keep all of their picks. I believe these teams, and possibly others with several second round picks, will trade away picks as the draft gets closer.
We will likely see several draft night trades as well. With these potential trades on the horizon, it makes it difficult to generate a sensible mock draft with future trades taken in to account.
Once a trade is made, teams may pick different players than the previous holder of the pick would have taken given various team needs and draft strategies.
Mock Draft 3.0
My next mock draft will be releasing in the coming weeks and I hope to add a full second round soon. For the time being, I felt the need to explain my draft thoughts to better support my mocks. Hopefully readers find time to read this post and make sense of all past and future mocks. Keep following the site for updates and news regarding this summer’s draft.