With many NBA fans getting their first look at 2016 NBA Draft prospects, BBALLBREAKDOWN is here to provide analysis of each region’s best prospects and most enticing matchups.
Best Prospect: Brandon Ingram, #4 Duke
Ingram has been in the running for the top spot all year and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear him called first by Adam Silver. He’s struggled to take over games at times, with Grayson Allen often leading the offense down the stretch. This would be a good a time as ever to take a leadership role and start demanding the ball and leading the undermanned Blue Devils to a few wins.
You’ll really only get a look at his defense because Duke is quick to go to a zone if they get in foul trouble. Ingram has wingspan for days, but that doesn’t bother his shot, as he’s made over 41 percent of his three point shots. He’s still learning how to score in ways other than spot-up shooting, and while he shows spurts of skills off the dribble, either by getting to the rim or pulling up for jump shots, he isn’t as consistent as you want him to be just yet.
He clearly needs to add strength to his frame but he is young for his class and has plenty of time to mature. He’s not afraid to mix it up down low and looks to rebound on both ends. He may not be a franchise savior like some recent top draft picks but he should quickly contribute to a NBA team.
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Sleeper Prospect: Chris Flemmings, UNC Wilmington
A division II transfer who is now a junior, Flemmings could put himself firmly on the map heading into his senior season with an impressive performance against Duke. He led his team to the CAA championship by scoring from all over the court. Doing so against the Duke defense will be a different challenge.
Flemmings is listed at 6-foot-5, and is skinny for a player who will be in between a shooting guard and small forward skill set. Already a junior, he’ll need to transform his body this summer and come back bulked up and ready to dominate the CAA. Becoming a more consistent outside shooter will help as well as he has room to improve upon his 37 percent outside shooting.
Best Opening Round Game: #4 Duke – #13 UNC Wilmington
In a region that doesn’t have as high a concentration of prospects as others, the best opening round game is the one with the most prospects. It features our best prospect and our sleeper prospect and the two may be matched up for brief periods of time. This will be a nice measuring stick for Flemmings to show what he needs to do to compete against the best of the best.
On the Duke side, they have their standard stable of prospects, even if they are not as strong as past years. In addition to Ingram and Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard is a player to watch for the upcoming years to see how he develops. This Duke team isn’t as strong as recent iterations, so if you want to get a look at Ingram and Allen, you may have just a few chances.
Best Potential Game: #3 Texas A&M – #6 Texas
Not only will this feature a former Big 12 conference rivalry, it will boast some top prospects. Alex Caruso, one of the best defensive players in the country, will be asked to guard several different of Texas’ perimeter players and could see time on anyone from Isaiah Taylor to Demarcus Holland to Kerwin Roach. Some can envision Caruso as a NBA role player and locking down the perimeter in the postseason will help his stock.
The frontcourt matchup of Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley (fresh off an injury, so it’s unsure how much he plays) against the strong A&M bigs will be interesting to watch as well. Both Texas forwards have the look of NBA big men but haven’t always dominated collegiate players like they should. Texas A&M got the better of Texas earlier this year and this will be a revenge game for the team.
Prospect Ranking Notes (ranking, assuming they enter the draft
1) Brandon Ingram, Duke (1-3): Brimming with potential. Already skilled and will only get better, getting to a NBA weight training and nutrition program should do wonders for his frame.
2) Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (8-14): Big time shot maker. Starting to become better creator for his teammates. Moves well without the ball, creates openings for teammates organically.
3) Taurean Prince, Baylor (20-30): 35 percent shooter, great defensive player. Long and athletic. Arguably best three-and-D prospect but needs to show he can consistently hit NBA three-pointers. Improving passer from his position.
4) DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s (30-40): Does a lot for Saint Joe’s offensively, but what will his role be at the next level? Bad shooter, needs the ball in his hands to make plays; does a NBA team put enough trust in him to run a bench unit?
5) Grayson Allen, Duke (30-40): Would probably look better playing alongside a better creator – NBA future has him as a spot-up shooter. Not comfortable creating in isolation but can get to the lane or draw fouls when attacking closeouts.
6) Gary Payton II, Oregon State (50-60): Unique set of physical skills for a point guard – can block shots, rebound, and create steals. Tenacious defender. Would go higher but will be 24 in December.
7) Prince Ibeh, Texas (55-undrafted): Has never been productive offensively but makes an impact defensively. If he can finish against NBA defenders at the rim, he could turn into a bench energy big man.
8) Isaiah Taylor, Texas (undrafted): Ish Smith clone – lean and lanky, lightning quick but not a great shooter. Great floor presence, could carve out a rotating role like Smith.
9) Danuel House, Texas A&M (undrafted): Has struggled to consistently fill the three (30 percent shooter) or the defense of the three-and-D role he is expected to fill. As a senior, time to prove himself is running out.
10) Chris Boucher, Oregon (undrafted): Already 23 and in his first year of D-1 college basketball, Boucher is extremely raw. But you can’t argue with 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan who can block shots and knock down perimeter jumpers. He received a waiver for another year of eligibility and, while he may feel out his stock, scouts will likely want to see him at Oregon for a second season.
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