Brandon Ingram Ben Simmons

NBA Draft Big Board: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram vie for No. 1 #NBADraft

By Sam Vecenie, CBSSports

Ben Simmons has company at the top of the 2016 NBA Draft.

Last time around, I noted that the race for the No. 1 overall pick was heating up as Duke’s Brandon Ingram had been making a bit of a leap forward by the time mid-December rolled around. Well, that race is on in earnest, folks.

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Folks around the NBA are starting to come around on the idea that Ingram and Simmons are essentially 1A and 1B in this draft class. There are a lot of factors that have brought us to this point, and plenty of them point in Ingram’s favor. For one, he’s a year younger than Simmons as a true 18-year-old. His shot-making ability is quite a bit stronger than Simmons’ at this point, due to the way he can shoot both off the catch or after the bounce. At nearly 6-feet-10 with a 7-3 wingspan, his frame also looks to be a bit better than that of Simmons. And due to that length, he can get his shot basically against anyone he’s matched up against. Plus, it’s much easier to find a fit in the modern, spacing-oriented NBA for Ingram than it is for Simmons, who still hasn’t quite figured out how to play off the ball yet.

Having said all of that, on this big board, where the prospects are evaluated in a vacuum, I just can’t bring myself to place Ingram ahead. The middle point of Ingram’s potential outcomes is probably higher than Simmons‘, but I cannot say that Simmons doesn’t have a higher ceiling. Due to his ability to create shots for himself and for others, Simmons can be the genuine focal point of an offense in a way that I’m not sure Ingram ever will be due to his average quickness. Again, Ingram is extremely young and may still have some explosiveness to grow into as his body matures. But Simmons is just the better athlete, and when you combine that with his preternatural basketball sense it’s tough to pass up on a ceiling that could see him eventually become a top-10 player in the league if things broke right and he continued to develop his jump shot.

Simmons can’t let up though. If he wants to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, he’s going to need to close the season strong and cut back on the disappearing acts that have seen him become a background piece at times in LSU’s offense. If that happens more often and Ingram continues his trajectory of growth this season, the team that gets the No. 1 overall pick could easily decide that Ingram is the better fit for what they want to build.

Just like last season, the race for the No. 1 pick is heating up as conference season builds to a crescendo. So strap on in and prepare for a pretty bumpy ride until that last Thursday in June arrives.

Other notes:

  • Typically on this board, I do not rank freshmen outside of the top 50. However, with the new rules in play this season regarding underclassmen now being able to declare for as many drafts as they want and then pull out at the end of May, I am currently re-evaluating that rule. For this board, I have continued to not rank freshmen in my top 50. However, I’m willing to be swayed on it if you feel strongly one way or the other. Feel free to reach out to me if you have such an opinion.
  • The overall strength of this class is still absolutely trending on the low end due to a weak collegiate class. The lottery class is just not strong once you get past the top three players. There are two factors at play there that have contributed to making this collegiate group not particularly strong. Number one, more freshmen declared for the NBA Draft last season than in any other draft previously, sapping the college game of talent. Number two, the freshman class entering this season’s college season is simply not that strong at the high end. Then, to make matters worse, plenty of the players who were expected to make impacts this season have really struggled, such as Skal Labissiere, Malik Newman, Isaiah Briscoe and Cheick Diallo.
  • However, there is reason for hope in the international class. I currently have three internationals in my projected top 14, six players in my top 30 and 12 in the top 50. This group is really helping to bring the depth in this draft from below average to potentially average.
  • One major riser this time around is presumptive Wooden Award winner Buddy Hield. Hield is someone I came into the season a bit higher on than most, projecting him as a first-round pick throughout the process. However, he has improved beyond what I expected. He has become an absolutely lethal shooter who has made 52 percent of his 166 3-point attempts. Also, Hield has become a legitimate threat attacking closeouts in the half-court due to his ability to handle the ball in tigher spaces. Put that together with his ability to get out into transition, his desire to compete on the defensive end and the intangible desire he has to improve, I’ve now placed him at No. 8 on this board. He’s the kind of guy that a team is going to fall in love with due to his work ethic and personality. Also, shooting is at a premium in this draft, making his skill set all the more desirable.

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  • Another player on the rise: Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis. Ulis is a gamer, pure and simple. He’s a competitor who acts like a coach on the floor despite his youth. He plays angry and with attitude, but he’s also poised and collected. He knows when to go out and get his own shot just as well as when to try and get everyone involved in the offense. Basically, despite his size, Ulis is just one of those players that NBA guys are going to want to go to battle with. That’s why he’s No. 26 on this board. Again, my guess is that a team falls in love with him whenever he declares and picks him higher than expected.
  • A few other risers worth noting: Ivan Rabb at No. 9, Malik Beasley at No. 28, Jarrod Uthoff at No. 34, A.J. Hammons at No. 35 and Wayne Selden at No. 57.
  • Some players who have fallen: most of the freshman class. Jaylen Brown is now No. 11, Labissiere is at No. 13, Diallo is No. 29, Malik Newman is No. 49 and Isaiah Briscoe is out of the top 50.
  • A few older players have stepped into the back-end of the 150. Egidijus Mockevicius is arguably the nation’s best rebounder at Evansville, and deserves a spot. Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney is undersized, but he’s tough, rebounds the ball and could make an impact at Summer League like Alan Williams did last year. Kevin Punter and Julian Jacobs are both combo guards, but have different skill sets. Jacobs is the prototypical “just a jump shot away” type of player. At 6-4, he’s a tremendous athlete who can get into the lane and finish at the rim as well as distribute for others. Punter, on the other hand, is more of the shooter variety. He can really get hot in a hurry, has improved his jumper tremendously and is an incredible worker that a team could fall in love with.
  • However, none of these guys compare to the enigma that is Chris Boucher at Oregon. Evaluators I’ve spoken with are all over the board with him. At 23 with just one year of major college basketball experience, he might be among the most raw prospects in this entire class. But at 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan, he’s second in the nation in block rate at 13 percent, plus he can step away from the basket and knock down 3-pointers (he’s shooting 34 percent on 67 attempts this year). Then again, he also might weigh less than 200 pounds. So what do you do with an older, skinny prospect with a strange background who might have one of the most tantalizing skillsets in the draft? He’s just outside of my top 100 for now.

Here is the full board:

2016 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings
Rank Player School Year POS HGT WGT
1 Ben Simmons LSU Fr. F 6-10 240
2 Brandon Ingram Duke Fr. SF 6-9 190
3 Dragan Bender Israel PF 7-1 216
4 Kris Dunn Providence Jr. PG 6-4 220
5 Henry Ellenson Marquette Fr. PF 6-11 245
6 Jakob Poeltl Utah Soph. C 7-0 248
7 Jamal Murray Kentucky Fr. SG 6-4 207
8 Buddy Hield Oklahoma Sr. SG 6-4 214
9 Ivan Rabb California Fr. PF/C 6-11 220
10 Timothe Luwawu France G/F 6-7 205
11 Jaylen Brown California Fr. F 6-7 225
12 Furkan Korkmaz Turkey SG 6-7 175
13 Skal Labissiere Kentucky Fr. PF 6-11 225
14 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame Jr. PG 6-1 201
15 Taurean Prince Baylor Sr. F 6-8 220
16 Stephen Zimmerman Jr. UNLV Fr. C 7-0 240
17 Denzel Valentine Michigan State Sr. G/F 6-5 220
18 Domantas Sabonis Gonzaga Soph. PF/C 6-11 240
19 Caris LeVert Michigan Sr. G/F 6-7 205
20 Juan Hernangomez Spain PF 6-9 225
21 Thomas Bryant Indiana Fr. PF/C 6-10 245
22 Wade Baldwin IV Vanderbilt Soph. PG 6-3 194
23 Diamond Stone Maryland Fr. C 6-11 255
24 Paul Zipser Germany SF 6-8 210
25 Grayson Allen Duke Soph. SG 6-5 205
26 Tyler Ulis Kentucky Soph. PG 5-9 160
27 Melo Trimble Maryland Soph. PG 6-3 185
28 Malik Beasley Florida State Fr. SG 6-5 196
29 Cheick Diallo Kansas Fr. C 6-9 220
30 Jonathan Jeanne France C 7-2 200
31 Vasilis Charalampopoulos Greece F 6-9 236
32 Deyonta Davis Michigan State Fr. PF 6-10 240
33 Nigel Hayes Wisconsin Jr. F 6-8 240
34 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa Sr. F 6-9 221
35 A.J. Hammons Purdue Sr. C 7-0 250
36 Petr Cornelie France PF 6-11 220
37 Gary Payton II Oregon State Sr. PG 6-3 190
38 Dwayne Bacon Florida State Fr. G/F 6-7 221
39 Damian Jones Vanderbilt Jr. C 7-0 245
40 Allonzo Trier Arizona Fr. SG 6-6 210
41 Ivica Zubac Croatia C 7-0 240
42 Brice Johnson North Carolina Sr. PF 6-10 230
43 Justin Jackson North Carolina Soph. G/F 6-8 200
44 Zhou Qi China C 7-2 209
45 Jawun Evans Oklahoma State Fr. PG 6-0 175
46 Monte Morris Iowa State Jr. PG 6-3 175
47 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Kansas Soph. SG 6-8 195
48 Ante Zizic Croatia PF/C 6-9 210
49 Malik Newman Mississippi State Fr. G 6-3 190
50 Sasha Vezenkov Spain PF 6-9 225
51 Troy Williams Indiana Jr. SF 6-7 215
52 Jake Layman Maryland Sr. F 6-9 220
53 Sheldon McClellan Miami Sr. SG 6-5 200
54 Daniel Hamilton Connecticut Soph. G/F 6-7 195
55 DeAndre’ Bembry Saint Joseph’s Jr. SF 6-6 210
56 Shawn Long UL Lafayette Sr. PF 6-11 246
57 Danuel House Texas A&M Sr. G/F 6-7 212
58 Wayne Selden Jr. Kansas Jr. G/F 6-5 230
59 Damion Lee Louisville Sr. SG 6-6 210
60 Kahlil Felder Oakland Jr. PG 5-9 176
61 Alpha Kaba France PF 6-10 226
62 Josh Hart Villanova Jr. SG 6-5 202
63 Chinanu Onuaku Louisville Soph. C 6-10 245
64 Pascal Siakam New Mexico State Soph. PF 6-9 230
65 Michael Gbinije Syracuse Sr. SG 6-7 200
66 Yogi Ferrell Indiana Sr. PG 6-0 180
67 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia Sr. SG 6-5 215
68 Isaia Cordinier France SG 6-5 190
69 Malcolm Hill Illinois Jr. SF 6-6 220
70 Patrick McCaw UNLV Soph. SG 6-7 185
71 Marcus Paige North Carolina Sr. PG 6-2 175
72 Dillon Brooks Oregon Soph. SF 6-7 225
73 Luke Kornet Vanderbilt Jr. PF/C 7-1 240
74 Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga Sr. PF 6-10 240
75 Dorian Finney-Smith Florida Sr. F 6-8 220
76 Ben Bentil Providence Soph. PF 6-9 235
77 Marko Arapovic Croatia PF/C 6-9 220
78 Tim Quarterman LSU Jr. G 6-6 190
79 Devin Robinson Florida Soph. SF 6-8 195
80 James Webb III Boise State Jr. F 6-9 202
81 Egemen Guven Turkey PF 6-10 210
82 Amida Brimah Connecticut Jr. C 7-0 232
83 Trevon Bluiett Xavier Soph. G/F 6-6 208
84 Zach Auguste Notre Dame Sr. PF 6-10 245
85 Tyrone Wallace California Sr. G 6-5 205
86 Keita Bates-Diop Ohio State Soph. F 6-7 235
87 Georgios Papagiannis Greece C 7-1 240
88 Josh Adams Wyoming Sr. G 6-2 190
89 Moses Kingsley Arkansas Jr. C 6-10 230
90 Diego Flaccadori Italy SG 6-5 175
91 Josh Scott Colorado Sr. PF/C 6-10 245
92 Fred VanVleet Wichita State Sr. PG 6-0 186
93 Axel Bouteille France SF 6-6 195
94 David Walker Northeastern Sr. PG 6-6 196
95 Anthony Barber NC State Jr. PG 6-2 190
96 Joel Bolomboy Weber State Sr. PF/C 6-9 235
97 Guerschon Yabusele France PF 6-8 240
98 Isaiah Taylor Texas Jr. PG 6-3 185
99 Kennedy Meeks North Carolina Jr. C 6-10 260
100 Robert Carter Maryland Jr. PF 6-9 235
101 Vince Edwards Purdue Soph. G/F 6-8 225
102 Ron Baker Wichita State Sr. G 6-4 210
103 Johnathan Motley Baylor Soph. PF/C 6-9 230
104 Nik Slavica Croatia SF 6-7 190
105 Kaleb Tarczewski Arizona Sr. C 7-0 250
106 Georges Niang Iowa State Sr. F 6-8 230
107 Malik Pope San Diego State Soph. F 6-10 210
108 Isaac Copeland Georgetown Soph. F 6-9 220
109 Perry Ellis Kansas Sr. PF 6-8 225
110 Anzejs Pasecniks Latvia C 7-1 225
111 Chris Boucher Oregon Sr. PF 6-10 190
112 Rade Zagorac Serbia SF 6-8 205
113 Isaac Haas Purdue Soph. C 7-2 282
114 Alex Poythress Kentucky Sr. F 6-8 230
115 Daniel Ochefu Villanova Sr. C 6-11 245
116 Prince Ibeh Texas Sr. C 6-11 265
117 Devin Williams West Virginia Jr. PF 6-9 255
118 Shevon Thompson George Mason Sr. C 6-11 243
119 Nedim Buza Bosnia SF 6-8 200
120 A.J. English Iona Sr. PG 6-4 190
121 Kyle Collinsworth Brigham Young Sr. G 6-6 215
122 Kevin Punter Jr. Tennessee Sr. G 6-2 190
123 Julian Jacobs Southern California Jr. PG 6-4 180
124 Paris Bass Detroit Soph. SF 6-8 200
125 Andrey Desyatnikov Russia C 7-3 230
126 George De Paula Brazil G/F 6-6 200
127 Moussa Diagne Spain C 6-10 220
128 John Brown High Point Sr. F 6-8 210
129 Tonye Jekiri Miami (Fla.) Sr. C 7-0 248
130 Jameel McKay Iowa State Sr. F/C 6-9 225
131 Marcus Lee Kentucky Jr. PF 6-9 224
132 Xavier Rathan-Mayes Florida State Soph. G 6-4 208
133 Boris Dallo France PG 6-5 179
134 Rasheed Sulaimon Maryland Sr. SG 6-4 190
135 Kenan Sipahi Turkey PG 6-4 180
136 Rico Gathers Baylor Sr. PF 6-8 275
137 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall Soph. G 6-4 210
138 Cameron Ridley Texas Sr. C 6-10 290
139 Ilimane Diop Senegal C 6-11 225
140 Wang Zhelin China PF/C 7-0 251
141 Jalen Jones Texas A&M Sr. F 6-7 220
142 Lovro Mazalin Croatia G/F 6-6 209
143 Marius Grigonis Lithuania SF 6-7 202
144 Egidijus Mockevicius Evansville Sr. C 6-10 225
145 Marc Garcia Spain SG 6-6 180
146 Emircan Kosut Turkey C 6-11 220
147 V.J. Beachem Notre Dame Jr. SF 6-8 200
148 Jameel Warney Stony Brook Sr. PF/C 6-8 260
149 Kelan Martin Butler Soph. G/F 6-6 235
150 Elijah Stewart Southern California Soph. SG 6-5 180

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