With the 2015-16 NBA season over and a champion crowned, we don’t have to wait very long for the next cycle to begin. That’s right, the 2016-17 season starts up this Thursday with the NBA Draft in Brooklyn. Easily one of my favorite events of the year, we get to see the next crop of superstars hear their name called and achieve their lifelong dream of making it to the NBA.
While this year’s draft class is not the most exciting, there are a number of players who show outstanding potential. For some soon-to-be draftees, their raw talent and athleticism will allow them to be successful wherever they go. For others, it is more a matter of being placed in the right system.
This year, the Sixers once again have the first pick and must choose between two great players in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
Simmons, a one-and-done player from LSU, is one of the most unique players the league has seen in years. With the size of a center, the scoring ability of a wing, and the playmaking ability of a point guard, Simmons could be the next Kevin Durant and will help the Sixers win games right away.
Ingram, on the other hand, is not as NBA ready, but is still a top-tier talent – I think he is currently more skilled than Simmons. Weighing in at less than 200 pounds, Ingram needs to spend a lot of time in the weight room before he can compete with the big boys night in and night out.
Beyond Simmons and Ingram being the first two picks, nobody is too sure how the rest of the draft will play out.
Leading this year’s guard crop is Kris Dunn of Providence College. One of the few college graduates in the draft class, Dunn had a breakout senior season after suffering through two torn labrums and the death of his mother earlier in his college career. Dunn, an elite floor general and perimeter defender, could hear his name called as early as three and as late as ten. What’s certain about Dunn, however, is his leadership ability. My uncle, Dunn’s weightlifting coach at Providence, has said many times that Dunn will be great in any NBA locker room.
Another standout guard this year is Buddy Hield of the University of Oklahoma. Another college graduate, Hield is arguably the best shooter in the draft. He boasts less potential than Dunn given his defensive woes, but Hield will be a scoring threat no matter where he goes.
The biggest mystery of this year’s draft is Thon Maker. A 19-year-old hailing from Sudan, Maker was able to circumvent the NBA’s eligibility rules that require players to be a year removed from their high school graduation high school by completing a post-graduate year at his prep school in Canada.
In terms of talent, Maker, like Simmons, draws Kevin Durant comparisons. His Youtube mixtapes showcase his athletic ability and seemingly endless motor. Yet, still a teenager, Maker’s fundamentals and decision making still need development. He’ll get drafted, but probably not until the second round.
Hidden amongst the big names are always talents that fly under the radar. While I’m excited to see Simmons, Ingram, Dunn and the other standouts make their NBA debuts, I am more interested in seeing the players who are going to shock the world.
After all, nobody was giving Steph Curry the hype he receives before he was drafted in 2009.