Every few years, in the sports world, it’s good to look back on past drafts to see the hits and misses. The longshots that became stars and the stars that became duds. 7 years on, the 2016 NBA Draft didn’t have any second round hidden gems, but it did give us some household names. Not to mention the #1 Pick has become one of the more scrutinized players in the league recently.
Below, is my own personal redraft of the 2016 NBA Draft Top 10 picks.
1.Philadelphia 76ers- Original Pick: Ben SImmons, LSU. My Pick: Jaylen Brown, F, Cal.
This was one of two drafts in a row where the 76ers had the #1 pick. This one (Simmons) started out different than the next year’s pick (Markelle Fultz). But he is slowly receding each year. Mainly due to Injury, and poor Playoff performance, Ben Simmons has become one of the most hated/scrutinized players in recent history. The Australian-born forward, made it to 3 All-Star games, was a part of 2 All-Defensive teams and an All-NBA team within his first 5 seasons. But the past 3, including the start to this season, have been a different story. Due mostly to back injuries, Simmons has only played 48 out of a possible 246 games.
If they had taken Jaylen Brown instead, he’d probably still be a part of the team. The 6-foot-6 Georgia native has steadily improved at least one part of his game through his career. To this point his PPG (6.6 to 26.6), MPG (17.2 to 35.9), and FT% (.685 to .765) have all gone up incrementally, year to year. Which led to him signing a massive 5-year/$304 million SuperMax deal with the Boston Celtics. And to his credit, he has played in 143 of a possible 246 games in the same timeframe as Simmons.
2. LA Lakers- Original Pick: Brandon Ingram, F, Duke. My Pick: No Change
Like Brown, Ingram has improved almost every year. At the end of the 2019-20 season, the former Blue Devil won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. In 2018-19 he averaged 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.0 APG and shot 67% from the Free Throw line. He rightfully earned the award in 2019-20 averaging 23.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 4.2 APG. Along with shooting 85% from the charity stripe. That and the fact that he still fit their roster the best at the time, is why I kept him at #2.
Ingram’s versatility on defense, being able to guard virtually any position/size makes him valuable on the court. It helps that he can score from all 3 levels. After being dealt to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade. The one they call “Slenderman”, has become a huge part of the Pelicans rebuilding process.
3. Boston Celtics- Original Pick: Jaylen Brown, F, Cal. My Pick: Domantas Sabonis, F/C, Gonzaga.
The Celtics offense if flourishing this season, partly thanks to the addition of Kristaps Porzingis. A big man who can score from anywhere on the court and is a defensive anchor in the post. Something they could have used the past few seasons. Taking Sabonis here at #3 would have solved that problem long before now. This was a Celtics roster who’s best scoring big men were Kelly Olynyk, and Jared Sullinger. No more needs to be said in how big of an improvement taking the now 3x All-Star would have been.
He has quickly become the best Sabonis to play in the NBA. His father Arvydas, may still hold that title if he had played his whole pro career over here in the States. It’s always nice to find 6-foot-10 240 pound Centers who can shoot 36% from deep and grab almost 13 RPG. It can make a team go from good to great. Imagine this year’s Celtics team with Sabonis on it. They might be even higher odds favorites to become the champs, than they already are.
4. Phoenix Suns- Original Pick: Dragan Bender, F, Bosnia. My Pick: Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
Dragan Bender saw some success overseas with a couple teams before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft. Helping Maccabi Tel Aviv win an Israeli Cup (2016), albeit in a very small role. I, for one, had never heard of Bender before this draft. Not all top International draft prospects are are known by NBA fans before draft night. But with his career in the NBA ending so quickly, I forget about him more often than not. The Bosnian big man is now back overseas, scoring 17.2 PPG at a 52% clip for Obradoiro of Liga ACB.
Murray, a Canada native, would have given the Suns a strong backcourt for the next 7 years. Pairing him with Devin Booker, and Eric Bledsoe. During last season’s championship run with the Nuggets, Murray averaged 6.2 APG. With Booker, having the ball in someone else’s hands (Murray) would set him up better for open shots. The Suns at this point, had good enough defensively in the frontcourt where they could wait another year to draft a scoring big man. I think a Big 3 of Durant, Murray and Booker would be more intimidating than it is with Beal.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves- Original Pick: Kris Dunn, G, Providence. My Pick: Buddy Hield, G/F, Oklahoma.
Like with Bender, I sometimes forget about Kris Dunn. The only difference is Dunn is still in the league, playing 10 MPG for the Utah Jazz. I remember watching him while he was at Providence and likening him to Chris Paul. They had very similar stat lines in College, as well as play styles. His last year as a Friar, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 16.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 5.3 RPG. Chris Paul’s last year at Wake Forest he averaged 15.3 PPG, 6.6 APG and 4.5 RPG.
Hield, a former Wooden and Naismith Award winner, has carved out a better career for himself than Dunn. Originally taken one pick below, this was yet another top 10 pick the T-Wolves messed up on. They could have paired the sharpshooting Bahamas born guard, with a young Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. Just hearing those four in a lineup together, would have been music to a T-Wolves fan’s ears. Hield for his career, hits shots from beyond the arc at a 40% clip. Not to mention he has only missed 26 games throughout his career so far. Which means you can count on him more often than not to help your team compete.
6. New Orleans Pelicans- Original Pick: Buddy Hield, G/F, Oklahoma. My Pick: Pascal Siakam, F/C, NM St.
With Hield gone to the T-Wolves, the Pelicans give Anthony Davis (headed into his 4th year) a battery mate in the frontcourt. One that can help on both sides of the ball. Siakam is an upgrade over what they had with guys like Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik. Originally taken 27th to the Raptors, the now 2x All-Star is one of 7 New Mexico State players to have played in the NBA in the last 30 years. In his sophomore year, Siakam was force to be reckoned with averaging over 20 PPG and 11 RPG. Along with 1.1 SPG and 2.2 BPG, just an unreal stat-line.
But instead of being a Pelican, Siakam is the best player on the Raptors right now. Garnering 2 All-NBA selections and the aforementioned 2 All-Star nods. He also got a championship ring before Davis did, with Kawhi Leonard and the Raps back in 2019.
7. Denver Nuggets- Original Pick: Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky. My Pick: Malcolm Brogdon, G, Virginia.
The Nuggets stick with taking a guard, snagging the eventual ROY in Malcolm Brogdon. Any other guard on the team at this time, is either out of the league or past their prime for sure. Whereas Brogdon is still a valuable piece for a team. He was a big part of the Celtics success last season leading to him being named 6th MOY. Before being shipped out this off-season to Portland as part of the Jrue Holiday trade. Off to hot start there averaging 17.3 PPG, 5.5 APG and shooting 80% from the charity stripe. Brogdon and Jokic would have had a good chance to have grown to be just as good of a duo, as Murray has become with the Serbian big man.
8. Sacramento Kings- Original Pick: Marquese Chriss, F/C, Washington. My Pick: Ben Simmons, F, LSU.
Even with the scrutiny that Simmons has gotten over the past couple years. His body of work is still strong enough to warrant him staying in the top 10 of this draft. The Kings had a top 5 scoring offense, but the worst scoring defense the season before. Simmons efficient scoring (over 50% every season) would help the offense stay consistent. And his more-than -solid defense (over 1.2 SPG every season) would hopefully get them closer to the top 15 in scoring defense.
9. Toronto Raptors- Original Pick: Jakob Poeltl, F/C, Utah. My Pick: Dejounte Murray, G, Washington.
The Raptors had two 1st round picks in this draft, they used both on frontcourt help. One here with 7-foot-1 Poeltl, and the other on Siakam at #27. While Siakam wouldn’t be there in this redraft, a guy like Ivica Zubac would be a solid replacement. So at #9, a guard is the right pick. More specifically Dejounte is the right pick.
Within the past 3 seasons, the former Washington Husky, has become a Top 10/Top 15 guard in the league. In his lone All-Star season (2021-22), he averaged almost 10 APG (9.2) and 2.0 SPG. Showing his playmaking ability on both sides of the ball. Honestly, i’m surprised Murray only has 1 All-Star nod and not at least 3. If chosen at #9, his passing ability would have been huge for his would be teammate, “The King of Mid-Range” Demar DeRozan. Not to mention it would take a load off of Kyle Lowry’s shoulders not having to be primary ball handler.
10. Milwaukee Bucks- Original Pick: Thon Maker, C, South Sudan. My Pick: Caris Levert, G, Michigan.
Thon Maker was supposed to be what Victor Wembanyama is. Maybe not as hyped up, but same sort of skill set. A 7-footer with the handles of a guard and the ability to shoot from deep. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, and NBA fans all around, Maker was a dud. Never averaging above 5 PPG and being out of the league after the 2020-21 season.
While at the time, the Bucks had an overabundance of guards. Levert is the best available player at this point in a very shallow draft pool. The Michigan alum, was a solid part of some of the better Wolverine teams in the past several years, as well as being a constant during the Brooklyn Nets rebuild in the early parts of his career.
That ends my redraft of the 2016 NBA Draft Top 10 picks. Do you agree or disagree?