Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Re-Drafting Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons and the 2016 NBA Draft

Andy Bailey

Today's media landscape demands instant analysis of the NBA draft, but it takes time to have a clear idea of how every team did.

For the 2016 draft class, we now have six seasons from which to draw some takes. If teams knew then what they know, the first round would've gone much differently.

With that extra information in hand, we'll re-draft the first 30 picks from 2016, but the order won't be entirely based on past production.

These players are all still in their mid-20s, theoretically pre-prime. So, there's a lot of subjectivity in play as well. Sorting through everyone requires a lot of judgments calls.

More general evolutions in the game of basketball have to be considered, too. Six years ago, the idea of positionless basketball (and by extension, the importance of wings) wasn't quite as prevalent as it is now.

With all of the above tossed into something of an analytical cocktail, this is how the first round should shake out if it was re-drafted today.

Picks 30-26

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

30. Marquese Chriss (Originally Picked 8th)

Marquese Chriss was taken eighth overall in 2016, but wildly inefficient scoring and his teams being significantly worse with him on the floor has his NBA career on life support. He's played only 373 minutes over the last two seasons.

29. Kris Dunn (Originally Picked 5th)

Another top-10 pick who's now in danger of falling out of the league altogether, Kris Dunn has shown an ability to defend at the NBA level.

Unfortunately, his offense has been disastrous. His career true shooting percentage of 47.9 is eight percentage points below the league average over the course of his career.

28. David Nwaba (Originally Undrafted)

David Nwaba should be commended for appearing in at least 20 games in each of the six seasons since he went undrafted in 2016, but he's struggled to find a consistent role for a reason similar to Dunn's.

Nwaba is much better inside the arc, but his below-average three-point percentage in all but one of his seasons has made it difficult to keep him on the floor despite his switchable defense.

27. Yogi Ferrell (Originally Undrafted)

It might seem strange to have an undersized guard who went undrafted in 2016 and is currently playing in Europe above three guys who played in the NBA last year, but there's a case to be made for Yogi Ferrell.

He's the best shooter we've detailed so far, with a 36.5 career three-point percentage in the NBA and a 44.1 percent clip in his first season overseas in 2021-22. If some team were in the market for a heat-check guy for the 10th or 11th spot on the roster, he might be worth a flyer.

26. Bryn Forbes (Originally Undrafted)

Shooting is the most important skill in basketball. Even if you're lacking everywhere else, you can stick around the NBA with that specialty.

That's exactly how Bryn Forbes has made a career for himself. Despite a below-replacement-level box plus/minus, Forbes has played over 8,000 minutes and has a career 41.3 three-point percentage.

Picks 25-21

Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

25. Shaquille Harrison (Originally Undrafted)

Consider this the first flier taken in the re-draft so far. Shaquille Harrison has averaged only 3.6 points in 79 appearances over the last three seasons, but he's capable of the kind of defense that eventually made Gary Payton II a rotation player for the Golden State Warriors.

Harrison's career marks for defensive rebounding percentage, steal percentage and block percentage are all right around Payton's. At 6'7", he's four inches taller, which would theoretically allow him to work even better in positionless defensive schemes.

Becoming a passable offensive player still looks like a steep uphill climb, though.

24. Derrick Jones Jr. (Originally Undrafted)

The theme continues with another defensive ace that struggles on the other side of the floor.

For Derrick Jones Jr., though, there's more upside as a Bruce Brown Jr.-like rim-runner. The high-flyer has hit 69.1 percent of his shots within three feet of the rim throughout his career.

23. Georges Niang (Originally Picked 50th)

Georges Niang forced his way into the rotations of the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers because of his ability to fire away from deep.

Niang has hit 40.4 percent of his 1,025 career three-point attempts. Though he isn't a lockdown defender, his sheer size (6'7" and 230 pounds) makes him more of an impediment for opposing offenses than our last specialist, Forbes.

22. Furkan Korkmaz (Originally Picked 26th)

Furkan Korkmaz is another 76er who's had some success as a high-volume floor-spacer, but his three-point percentage plummeted to a career-low 28.9 last year. Hitting them at a 39.0 percent clip in the two seasons prior to that suggests last year was an outlier, though.

Korkmaz also has a little more pop off the dribble and a slightly higher assist rate than Niang, who's more of a stationary spacer.

21. Juancho Hernangomez (Originally Picked 15th)

Bo Cruz, er, Juancho Hernangomez broke out in Netflix's Hustle, but he's yet to have his moment in the NBA. That doesn't mean it isn't coming, though.

At 6'9", Hernangomez is two inches taller than Niang and Korkmaz, and he moves fairly well for a player of that size. If he can recapture whatever rhythm he had in his two seasons with an above-average three-point percentage, he can be a dangerous combo forward off the bench.

In his 17 appearances to close out 2021-22 with the Jazz last season (including nine starts), he shot 43.8 percent from deep.

Picks 20-16

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

20. Danuel House Jr. (Originally Undrafted)

During his three full seasons with the Houston Rockets (2018-19 to 2020-21), Danuel House Jr. averaged 9.7 points and 1.9 threes in 27.7 minutes per game while shooting 37.3 percent from deep.

Volume floor-spacing and willing defense are enough to overcome his lack of ancillary contributions and will likely keep him in NBA rotations for the foreseeable future.

19. Taurean Prince (Originally Picked 12th)

Taurean Prince has carved out a solid career as a combo forward who's started more than half of the games he's played.

He's had his role reduced dramatically over the last two seasons, but his career 37.1 three-point percentage and his ability to guard a few positions should help him make more rotations in the future.

18. Damian Jones (Originally Picked 30th)

Damian Jones has quietly built up a solid resume for himself as a backup 5. Over the last four seasons he's put up 6.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in only 16.4 minutes per game (13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per 75 possessions), while shooting 67.5 percent from the field.

He could help any team in need of a reliable rim runner who can also clog the paint on the other end.

17. Malik Beasley (Originally Picked 19th)

Malik Beasley struggled to get on the floor during his first two seasons with the Denver Nuggets, but he has become a steady floor-spacer over the last four. Since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, he's averaged 12.7 points and 2.5 threes in 24.9 minutes per game while shooting 38.9 percent from deep.

That kind of three-point volume and efficiency from three is enough to keep Beasley in NBA rotations going forward. If he can become a more reliable defender, he might become a long-term starter.

16. Caris LeVert (Originally Picked 20th)

At this point, the idea of Caris LeVert seems to have accomplished as much or more as the actual player.

Intoxicating performances like his three career games with at least 40 points (and one with 50) make it easy to think about what LeVert could be. However, injuries have limited him to fewer than 50 appearances in three of the past four seasons, and he's had a below-average true shooting percentage in all but his rookie campaign.

Still, LeVert's potential to explode for monster scoring performances and his underrated playmaking (he's averaged 4.0 assists for his career) make him an intriguing option on the wing when healthy.

Picks 15-11

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

15. Ivica Zubac (Originally Picked 32nd)

His numbers will never leap off the screen, but Ivica Zubac has spent the bulk of his career (and especially the last four years) as a solid starting center who can clean the glass, take up space on defense and finish inside.

Since the start of 2018-19, Zubac has averaged 9.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in only 20.9 minutes per game while shooting 61.4 percent from the field.

14. Alex Caruso (Originally Undrafted)

Injuries may be a slight concern, but Alex Caruso has proved himself to be one of the game's premier perimeter defenders when he's on the floor. In each of his five years in the league, his team's point differential has been better when he's in the game.

Although his three-point percentage fell to 33.3 last year in his first season with the Chicago Bulls, his 37.7 career mark prior to that campaign suggests he can space the floor.

13. Gary Payton II (Originally Undrafted)

Similar to Caruso, Gary Payton II's value is largely derived from the defensive end of the floor, though his athleticism and 6'8" wingspan make him a more viable option against wings. If his 35.8 three-point percentage in 2021-22 is an indication that an average outside shot is here to stay, he'll continue to be a ceiling-raiser.

When Payton shared the floor with Stephen Curry last season, the Golden State Warriors were plus-15.4 points per 100 possessions. They were plus-8.8 when Curry played without Payton.

12. Dorian Finney-Smith (Originally Undrafted)

Dorian Finney-Smith had quietly developed into one of the game's best three-and-D wings prior to the Dallas Mavericks' run to the Western Conference Finals this past season, but his playoff performance really put him on the map.

In 1,150 career postseason minutes, Finney-Smith is now averaging 11.1 points and 2.4 threes while shooting 41.7 percent from deep. And his defense is a big part of why Dallas is plus-2.3 points per 100 possessions when he plays in the playoffs, compared to minus-22.5 when he's out.

11. Buddy Hield (Originally Picked 6th)

Though he's certainly benefited from the three-point revolution spearheaded by peers like Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, Buddy Hield is on track to be one of the most prolific outside shooters of all time.

No one in league history hit as many threes as Hield's 1,417 through their first six seasons. And his career three-point percentage of 39.8 is well above average.

Hield doesn't provide a ton of rebounding, creation or defense, but that kind of shooting alone will keep him on NBA floors for years to come.

10. Malcolm Brogdon (Originally Picked 36th)

Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Malcolm Brogdon is another member of this draft class whose future prospects are clouded by his injury history.

He played 75 games and won Rookie of the Year in 2016-17, but he's averaged only 51.6 appearances per season since then. In 2021-22, he played a career-low 36 games.

Brogdon has shown more than enough skill when he's on the floor to justify a top-10 re-selection, though.

In his first three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Brogdon averaged 12.8 points and shot 40.8 percent from three as a predominantly off-ball threat. After he joined the Indiana Pacers in 2019-20, he upped his per-game averages to 18.9 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

Brogdon's three-point percentage in those three seasons slipped to 35.2, but that shouldn't put you off his scalability.

If some team can find the happy medium between what he did in Milwaukee and what he did for the Pacers—which the Boston Celtics might be able to do—Brogdon has borderline All-Star potential.

9. Jakob Poeltl (Originally Picked 9th)

Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Speaking of scalability, Jakob Poeltl maintained much of the efficiency and defensive impact that made him great while posting career highs in minutes per game and usage last season.

Poeltl put up 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 blocks in 29.0 minutes per game while shooting 61.8 percent from the field. And for the fifth season in a row, his team's point differential was better when he was on the floor.

That impact is the result of a versatile game that includes high-end defensive awareness, excellent rebounding ability and an underrated passing repertoire. If Poeltl ever figures out how to shoot free throws (he's at 51.8 percent for his career), he might be able to stay on the floor for enough minutes to enter All-Defense conversations.

In 2020-21, he finished in the 97th percentile in Dunks and Threes' defensive estimated plus-minus. He was in the 93rd percentile of overall EPM this past season.

8. Fred VanVleet (Originally Undrafted)

Cole Burston/Getty Images

During the three seasons in which Fred VanVleet has been a full-time starter for the Toronto Raptors, he has averaged 19.2 points, 6.5 assists and 3.3 threes per game while shooting 37.7 percent from deep. He has a well-below-average effective field-goal percentage during that span, but the team's shooting numbers are better when he's on the floor.

The attention VanVleet commands from defenses, not to mention the open looks he creates for others, makes his teammates more efficient.

VanVleet's lack of size (he's 6'1" with a 6'2" wingspan) can be a problem on defense, but he plays bigger than he is. The disadvantage is too much to overcome in certain matchups, but you can always count on him competing.

That competitiveness has driven VanVleet from an undrafted free agent to an All-Star point guard and an easy call for the top 10 of this re-draft.

7. Domantas Sabonis (Originally Picked 11th)

Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

Though he doesn't do so quite as thoroughly, Domantas Sabonis checks a lot of the same boxes as two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. He can score inside and from the mid-range, dominate the glass and facilitate for teammates.

Over the last three seasons, Sabonis has averaged 19.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the field. He's earned two All-Star nods over that span, too.

Sabonis isn't a high-end rim protector like Rudy Gobert or a positioning guru like Marc Gasol. And without a dominant big, it's hard to cobble together a contending-caliber defense. But everything else he does makes him a plus player.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, his teams are plus-1.0 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor and minus-0.1 when he's off.

6. Pascal Siakam (Originally Picked 27th)

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Pascal Siakam has been the No. 1 scoring option in Toronto since Kawhi Leonard left in 2019, and the results have been solid.

Toronto has scored an above-average 115.2 points per 100 possessions with Siakam on the floor, compared to 108.8 when he's off. He's averaged at least 20 points per game in each of those seasons.

Siakam's below-average effective field-goal percentage isn't ideal, but as is the case with Fred VanVleet, the Raptors' shooting numbers are better when he plays.

So, what is it that pushes Siakam above Domantas Sabonis in this re-draft?

For one thing, he's the more versatile and capable defender. At 6'9", he can play as a 5 or operate more like a wing in positionless lineups.

Plus, he's finally caught up to Sabonis as a playmaker. His assist average over the last three seasons went from 3.5 in 2019-20 to 4.5 in 2020-21 to 5.3 this past season.

5. Ben Simmons (Originally Picked 1st)

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite missing the entire 2021-22 campaign, Ben Simmons still leads the 2016 draft class in career wins over replacement player. He's one of the best defenders in this bunch (he led the league in steals in 2019-20 and has already made two All-Defense teams), is a plus rebounder for his position and is one of the NBA's best creators (he's 14th leaguewide in assist percentage since 2016-17).

Simmons' multifaceted game has put him in rare company.

Through his 275 career games, he has totaled 2,217 rebounds and 2,127 assists. Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson are the only players in league history who matched or exceeded both marks in their first 275 games.

However, Simmons has now missed two full seasons due to a variety of issues.

A foot injury sidelined him for what would have been his rookie season in 2016-17. Last season, after requesting a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, he said he "wasn't mentally ready to play to his expectations," according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. After the Sixers sent him to the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline, he missed the rest of the season with a back injury.

Questions about Simmons' health, physical and otherwise, are serious. Combine that with his adamant unwillingness to shoot outside the paint, and there are real hurdles to get over.

When he's on the floor, though, Simmons is one of the game's more unique and versatile talents. And at 26, it still feels like there's plenty left to his story.

4. Dejounte Murray (Originally Picked 29th)

Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Thanks to the mediocrity of the San Antonio Spurs last year, Dejounte Murray just had a bonkers season that seemed to fly under the radar.

With averages of 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals, he just became the NBA's first member of the 20-9-8-2 club.

Although Murray had a below-average effective field-goal percentage, he at least shot well enough to force defenders to pay attention to him outside. And the relentless pressure his playmaking created made San Antonio significantly better on offense when he played.

Murray's ceiling still feels somewhat limited by an inconsistent outside shot, but he checks just about every other box. His willingness to at least take those shots vaults him over the similarly versatile Ben Simmons in this re-draft.

3. Jamal Murray (Originally Picked 7th)

Ethan Mito/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images

Taking Jamal Murray over Dejounte Murray requires a leap of faith.

The latter has an All-Star appearance to his name, while the former doesn't. Dejounte missed all of the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL. Jamal missed all of last season with his.

But the heights we've seen Jamal reach, particularly in the playoffs, are higher. And if he makes a full recovery from his ACL injury, it isn't hard to imagine multiple All-Star appearances in his future.

In the 2020 postseason, when the Denver Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals, Murray averaged 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 3.3 threes while shooting 45.3 percent from deep. In Games 4, 5 and 6 of the Nuggets' first-round series against the Utah Jazz, he totaled a whopping 142 points.

If you want to chalk up those absurd performances to being in the bubble, just know that his career playoff averages are 24.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.7 threes with a 40.9 three-point percentage. That's still All-Star-like production.

With his proven ability to rise to big moments and a more reliable jump shot, Jamal barely edges Dejounte in the showdown of the unrelated Murrays.

2. Jaylen Brown (Originally Picked 3rd)

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen Brown had already ascended to a perennial All-Star candidate, but his last two playoff runs have solidified his standing among the NBA's best players.

In 2019-20, he averaged 21.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 threes during the playoffs while helping lead the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. Two years later, he put up 23.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 threes during the Celtics' run to the NBA Finals.

That production and Brown's solid wing defense suggest he's exactly the kind of player who'll thrive in the increasingly positionless NBA.

Yes, he still has a ways to go as a ball-handler and facilitator, but he's only 25. He has plenty of time to hone those aspects of his game.

If he does, he could go from a perennial All-Star candidate to perennial All-Star.

1. Brandon Ingram (Originally Picked 2nd)

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The choice between Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram feels like a toss-up. For what it's worth, Brown won in a recent Twitter poll.

With similar scoring output over the last few years and Brown's superior defense, it isn't hard to see why.

Ingram gets the nod here for a few reasons. First, and most importantly, he's shown significantly more as a facilitator.

Brown is more of a finisher, and you need those as well, but they're often reliant on creators. Ingram may not be a point forward like LeBron James, but his playmaking is a lot closer to point forward status than Brown's is.

It almost feels nitpicky, but the two extra inches in height and three extra inches in wingspan help Ingram as well. That additional length can help him survey the floor and get jumpers off a bit easier against on-ball defense.

And finally, there's Ingram's age. He's a year younger than Brown, which isn't a huge difference. But when the margins are this thin, that's a factor.


Read 0 Comments

Download the app for comments Get the B/R app to join the conversation

Install the App
Bleacher Report