2016 NBA Re-Draft: What If Everything Went Perfectly?
Draft night is one of the most exciting nights of the year for NBA fans. The future of a franchise can depend entirely on just one pick, particularly in the early stages of the draft. A team with a top-eight pick in any given draft knows the value that pick holds, but often regret their choice years later all the same. No one can predict the future and teams don’t gain anything from dwelling on their past mistakes. Fans, however, make an unpaid living doing exactly that.
The 2016 NBA draft class was loaded with talent. Many players have made a name for themselves quickly. Knowing what we do four years later, what if the top eight picks of that draft class were different? Let’s look at a 2016 NBA re-draft.
2016 NBA Re-Draft
First Pick, Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons
There’s little doubt Ben Simmons would drop from the first overall pick. In his young career, Simmons averages 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game. His defense also speaks for itself, posting a league-best 2.1 steals per game this year. Despite all the criticism he gets for lacking a jump shot, Simmons is still one of the league’s best players at 23-years-old and wouldn’t get taken lower in any re-draft.
Second Pick, Los Angeles Lakers: Pascal Siakam
Ultimately, one team would wind up popping champagne bottles in a 2016 NBA re-draft; That’s because Pascal Siakam would not slip to 27th overall again, given his eruption over the past two seasons. This year, Siakam is leading the Raptors with 23.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, including a career-best 35.9 three-point percentage. It wasn’t until his third season that he earned a starting role for the Toronto Raptors, but it’s likely going second overall would have accelerated that promotion. Considering how rapidly he’s grown in the last two years, there’s no telling what his ceiling is. Teaming up with LeBron James in 2018 would make the Lakers a serious threat, let alone if Anthony Davis joined the group as he did the following year.
Third Pick, Boston Celtics: Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram originally went second overall and it could be argued he’d still be taken with that pick. However, his defensive struggles keep him behind Siakam in this re-draft. Ingram joining the Celtics is an interesting concept, because it was in next year’s draft where Boston drafted forward, Jayson Tatum, with the third overall pick. Boston actually traded the down for the third pick, and admitted they would’ve taken Tatum first overall regardless. Ingram theoretically could have played the three, but been more successful as a power forward. It’s more likely we’d have seen Markelle Fultz head to Boston.
Fourth Pick, Phoenix Suns: Jaylen Brown
Few teams want a 2016 NBA re-draft more than the Phoenix Suns. They used the fourth overall pick (their highest draft pick in nearly 30 years) on Dragan Bender, who went on to average 5.4 points per game in his career with the Suns. Jaylen Brown has been slow to develop on the offensive end but finally seems to be breaking out. Playing sidekick to Tatum and Kemba Walker, Brown’s still scoring 20.4 points per game this year on 49 percent shooting. Partnering him with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton would build one of the best young cores in the league. His consistency would also be a huge factor in taking the weight off of Booker’s shoulders.
Fifth Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jamal Murray
In the 2016-17 season, Minnesota would see Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio all post-career years. Between an athletic scorer like LaVine and a great floor general such as Rubio, Murray could have learned a ton as a rookie. Even in Denver, Murray made the all-rookie team off the bench, so to think of what his impact would have been elsewhere is wild. The Wolves traded both of their guards that offseason, notably bringing in Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls. That team – who had Jeff Teague starting at the point – made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. With a player as young and talented as Murray, they could have lasted more than one round that year, and perhaps have given Butler a reason to stay. Instead, they took Kris Dunn.
Sixth Pick, New Orleans Pelicans: Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis has taken some time to develop since being drafted 11th overall, but he’s been worth the wait. He’s putting up 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game this year, which even earned him a spot in the all-star game. In all likelihood, spending his first two seasons learning from Davis would have accelerated his growth. Furthermore, looking at the Pelicans this season without AD, imagine how lucky the team would feel to have Sabonis filling in rather than Derrick Favors. Assuming they still landed Zion Williamson, and brought on as many players as they did for Davis, the Pelicans would be something to watch.
Seventh Pick, Denver Nuggets: Buddy Hield
The Nuggets are the one team who probably wouldn’t want everyone getting a second chance at the 2016 draft. Jamal Murray ended up being a steal at seventh overall. However, Buddy Hield wouldn’t be a bad choice. Hield is a serious threat when shooting from three, a talent Denver has lacked in recent years. The shooting guard has scored 20.3 points per game over his last two seasons and hits 41.1 percent of his career three-pointers. Over their past two years, Denver’s ranked 20th in three points attempted and 16th in field goal percentage from deep. Having an option from beyond the arc like Hield would give the Nuggets an entirely different look. It’s likely their 28th-ranked pace would climb upwards, but would that necessarily compliment lumbering-center Nikola Jokic.
Eighth Pick, Sacramento Kings: Malcolm Brogdon
Malcolm Brogdon got passed up by every team in the first round, getting drafted as the 36th overall pick. What if the Kings got him with the 8th pick though? The immediate thought is, there would be no reason to trade for Hield like they did the following year. Brogdon and De’Aaron Fox could have spent the following season playing with DeMarcus Cousins, who at the time was the league’s most talented center, scoring 27.8 points per game. Brogdon’s put up a career-high 16.3 points and 7.1 assists per game this season. This is coming after a season that saw him shoot 42.6 percent from three. If he can put these two seasons together in the future, Brogdon will grow into a fantastic player.