The 2016 NBA Draft will be held this Thursday, as the latest crop of players begin what they hope will be fruitful professional careers.
Unfortunately, every player won’t achieve success on the next level, and some won’t be drafted as high as they had hoped. Seth Davis, of Campus Rush, compiled thoughts on draft prospects from five anonymous NBA scouts into one summary of thoughts on the talents and projections for each player in the NBA.
LSU’s Ben Simmons has already reportedly been informed that the Philadelphia 76ers will select him with the No. 1 overall pick, but here is what Davis found out about seven of the top SEC prospects:
Wade Baldwin, 6’4″ sophomore guard, Vanderbilt: “[Sighs.] He’ll get picked because of his size and his length, but he just doesn’t have that sense of vision to be a floor general. His numbers show he’s a good shooter but he takes a little too much time to get his jumper off. One of the longest guards we’ve see in a while. The question is, can he lead? What he did at Vanderbilt suggests he can’t. I think it’s pretty well known there was a disconnect between him and that coaching staff. Who’s to blame, I don’t know. But you’re talking about a freak athlete with size. It wouldn’t stun me if he goes in the lottery.”
Damian Jones, 7-foot junior center, Vanderbilt: “Athletic. Runs like a deer. My question would be, how hungry is he? He was inconsistent. When you saw him play against Florida [on Jan. 26] he was a monster, scoring 20 points and getting 12 rebounds, but there were other games you’re like, where is he? Great kid, really smart, humble. Can run and jump with anyone, but he plays rigid. He didn’t improve as much as I thought he would. Someone in the 20s is gonna take him. He’s a tease. He could be a [Thunder forward] Steven Adams-type, but I just don’t think he has the necessary mean streak.”
Skal Labissiere, 7-foot freshman forward, Kentucky: “I’m not a fan. I might take him in the late teens because that’s where you can take a gamble. I don’t think he’s tough or physical, and I don’t know if he knows how to play. If you watch him work out one-on-nothing, he can blow you away. The problem is when the game starts. He can really shoot. [Cavaliers forward] Channing Frye is going to get him drafted high. You’re just seduced by his talent. If there’s a team that wants to take a chance on him in the top 10, more power to you.”
Jamal Murray, 6’5″ freshman guard, Kentucky: “Textbook jumper. The question is whether he can play point guard, which he didn’t do at Kentucky. He’s a big-time scorer, and he has stepped up at every level, including against grown men in the Pan-Am Games. He’s not an unbelievable athlete, and he’s not a very good defender right now. He’s unbelievably confident, borderline arrogant, which is good. I don’t think he’s 6’5″. He does something that our league loves, which is get buckets.”
Alex Poythress, 6’8″ senior forward, Kentucky: “I don’t see it. The NBA will eat that kid up. At Kentucky, the star players get featured and stand out, but he never stood out. He flat-lined. Still can’t shoot, still can’t really dribble. Maybe he improves but I don’t see anything in the short-term that he does for our league. I just don’t think he has the temperament or the skill set to be an NBA player.”
Ben Simmons, 6’10” freshman forward, LSU: “I would take him first. He’s a transcendent player because of his size and his ability to play multiple positions. Shooting is a concern, but that kind of size and skill set doesn’t come along very often. There were a lot of things going on with his teammates at LSU. There’s no denying he has a big sense of self-entitlement. He’s got an aloofness to him that is concerning. The LSU thing was just a s— show. There was too much allowed to happen. You had a film crew following him around all year. Whatever the concerns, he had one of the most successful college seasons we’ve seen in recent years. You wonder if he ends up like [Knicks forward] Carmelo Anthony, someone who’s a great player but not a winning player.”
These thoughts are certainly not gospel, but they are a good indication about the information NBA teams are using to make draft-day decisions. However, there is always a possibility for surprises if a certain team’s management falls in love with a player during individual workouts.
We’ll definitely get all of our draft questions answered on Thursday. The first round begins at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.