The NBA basketball community is buzzing with excitement about the 2016 draft. Fans, pundits and professionals alike are talking up the top players from the world of college basketball – those likely to be drafted into the national league come June 23, when the 2016 draft takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Before that date, the NBA Draft Combine will see the top picks put through their paces in Chicago on May 10-15 by the association’s managers, scouts and coaches – assuming the players accept the invitation, of course. Then the draft lottery takes place on May 17, when we’ll find out which non-playoff teams will get first pick of the players. The LA Lakers have already traded a first-round, draft-pick protected top three to the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Denver Nuggets traded a 2016 first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns received a potential 2016 first-round pick from the Washington Wizards.
How to get involved
If you want insider stories and the latest developments 888sport has a dedicated news feed for the hardcore fan. Think about also putting together your own fantasy basketball team, then follow the progress of your players throughout the season. Bets are already being taken on who the top three picks are likely to be, and while there are a couple of names that are a unanimous choice among pundits, there’s a significant amount of controversy as you move further down the list. Here are our top five favorites for the 2016 NBA draft:
The LCU Tigers’ star power forward is easily the number one candidate that everyone is talking about.
This Australian-born boy wonder is 6′ 10″ and weighs 240 pounds, and not only is he one of the best college basketball players for a decade, he’s probably the best player in the world right now, period. It’s hard to find a downside to this player, other than to suggest that his multiple assets may leave him hard to place.
He’s too big to stay in the wings and too fast for the bigs, but at the end of the day his superlative scoring ability trumps all other considerations and makes Simmons a clear front-runner.
The small forward from Dukes is a definite number two choice. This former skateboard kid has a 7′ 3″ wingspan to go with his 6′ 9″ height, and although some have questioned his overall strength, Ingram has repeatedly proved his worth as a great all-round player and scorer, able to connect from the mid-range to the three-point arc with ease.
The Californian kid’s physical, athletic offensive style has made teams from around the league sit up and take notice. A quick, versatile player, Brown is just as powerful in defense, and can play as a two-way off-guard or as a small forward. Although not a number one pick just yet, Brown is definitely a reliable all-rounder and a great asset.
This Kentucky student is a controversial choice; some rate him as the third best candidate in the country, while others say he’s not yet ready to really make his mark. But the seven-foot Labissiere has speed to go with his height, and although at 225 pounds he’s not got the body strength of some of the other prospects, he’s nevertheless a versatile player capable of excellent offensive moves. He’s just as capable of shooting and scoring from the perimeter as jumping for the basket.
This 18-year-old international player is the youngest prospect in the 2016 draft. A native Croatian, Bender currently plays in Israel under a seven-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Some have suggested he’s still too slender and lacks experience, but his height and his standing reach of 9′ 3″ make up for that, and of course he’ll gain experience and muscle as he goes along. Bender is a fluid, versatile player with a surprising assertiveness, who is developing fast.
Whether you agree with the above selections or not, there’s no doubt that there are some exciting young players coming through in 2016, many of whom are sure to go on to greater things in the NBA. In the cases of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, that’s almost a certainty, but in the justified rush to hail their star quality it’s important not to overlook the many other basketball talents out there. Regardless of which teams win, the draft lottery for the top picks are going to have a strong selection to choose from, even when the big two have already been snapped up, and punters and fantasy managers also have plenty to play for.