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 NBA -- ESPN Insider article:Big Board 7.0: Latest rankings for Simmons, Murray, 30 prospects

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PostSubject: NBA -- ESPN Insider article:Big Board 7.0: Latest rankings for Simmons, Murray, 30 prospects   Sun May 08, 2016 1:21 pm

Apr 26, 2016

ESPN Insider article

Chad Ford updates his Big Board with rankings for Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and more. Icon Sportswire
Apr 26, 2016

Chad FordESPN Senior Writer

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Now that the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2016 NBA draft has passed, we have a new Big Board.

On Tuesday, the NBA released the official list with a whopping 117 college underclassmen and another 45 international players on the list.

That's dramatically more than in years past. By my count, 79 of the underclassmen who have declared, and virtually all of the international prospects, are testing the waters. College players have until May 25 to withdraw their names and still retain their college eligibility. International players have until June 13 to withdraw.

Only three players on our most recent Big Board -- Ivan Rabb, Thomas Bryant and Grayson Allen -- are definitely returning to school.

With the NBA draft combine and team workouts coming in May, there is still plenty of time for prospects to improve their stock. And with so many underclassmen declaring, inevitably some will begin withdrawing from the draft after they receive assessments following the draft combine.

Our board has the latest intel on how NBA teams see the top NBA prospects, based on conversations with NBA general managers and scouts.
1. Ben Simmons

Previous rank: No. 1
LSU
Freshman
Forward

Simmons has now held down the No. 1 spot on our Big Board seven straight times, but what used to be a consensus has strongly eroded. More and more scouts are jumping ship to Team Brandon Ingram as questions about Simmons' shooting, defense and drive abound.
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NBA draft 2016: Complete coverage

From prospect projections to the lottery and draft night, ESPN.com has complete coverage of the 2016 NBA draft.

However, with draft workouts and interviews coming, at least one GM thinks he's about to get his mojo back.

"I think he's going to remind us how special he really is," one GM said. "I think he'll be a different player in the NBA. I love Ingram. Would love to have him on my team. But to my team, Simmons is the one guy in this draft that could be a superstar. I'm not sure how you pass on that."
2. Brandon Ingram

Previous rank: No. 2
Duke
Freshman
Forward

Can Ingram catch Simmons for the No. 1 pick? A lot will depend on how the ping-pong balls land on lottery night (May 17, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). He'd be a great fit in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Phoenix and New Orleans. Those teams may be tempted to take fit over upside.

Ingram's ability to stretch the floor is his most coveted commodity.
3. Jamal Murray

Previous rank: No. 4
Kentucky
Freshman
Guard

Murray continues to rise as the best guard prospect in the draft.
2016 NBA draft

Get ready for Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and the 2016 draft, with analysis from Chad Ford and other ESPN experts.

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Who's in, who's out of the draft?

Coming into the combine, the more teams I speak with, the more it seems like he now has the strongest case for the No. 3 pick in the draft after Simmons and Ingram are off the board.

While his lack of elite athleticism is troubling, Murray does everything else so well that scouts are willing to look the other way.

He's looking -- barring poor workouts -- to be a lock for the No. 3 to No. 5 range in the draft.
4. Kris Dunn

Previous rank: No. 7
Providence
Junior
Guard

Dunn is one of the most talented players on this list. He also can be among the most frustrating.

His size, athleticism and creativity are all attractive, but the turnovers and questionable shot selection at times are difficult to ignore.
5. Dragan Bender

Previous rank: No. 3
Croatia
Age: 18
Forward/center

Bender received the start in Maccabi's last game but played only 11 minutes and scored one point.

It has been a fairly frustrating ride for scouts the past few months. They love Bender in theory but have been given very little to go off of this year, and for the first time his draft stock is slipping a little for some teams.

He's no longer the consensus No. 3 guy and he could slide a little further if scouts can't get a closer look at him on the court over the next two months. Right now it's a toss-up between him and Ellenson for the first big off the board (not counting Simmons and Ingram).
6. Buddy Hield

Previous rank: No. 5
Oklahoma
Senior
Guard

Buddy Hield mania is beginning to wear off. Over the course of the past weeks, I've had enough scouts say that they think he might now be overrated and that they will have to take a closer look in workouts.

Still, Hield's shooting ability, athleticism and legendary work ethic are special qualities, and I think that will cause him to land in the No. 4 to No. 7 range.
7. Henry Ellenson

Previous rank: No. 6
Marquette
Freshman
Forward/center

Ellenson is another guy with mixed reviews from scouts. Some love him. Some aren't sure. But most agree that regardless, he's a top-10 pick.

Mobile big men who can stretch the floor and score in the paint don't come along every day.
8. Marquese Chriss

Previous rank: No. 8
Washington
Freshman
Forward

As with several other players in the No. 3 to No. 8 range, Chriss' upside is tantalizing, but there's are concerns that give pause. For Chriss, those are maturity and inconsistency.

On the other hand, the positives are compelling -- elite size, athleticism and skill for his position.

Of all the players in the top eight, he's the biggest boom-or-bust prospect. He has the talent to be the third-best player in the draft, but could also wash out of the league in a couple of years if he can't focus on the game.
9. Jakob Poeltl

Previous rank: No. 10
Utah
Sophomore
Center

It's a weak draft for centers, which is helpful for Poeltl. Some team in the top 10 is likely to want a center.

Poeltl is big and fluid. He has great hands, rebounds and protects the rim. He just struggles with strong, physical players. But there's hope that he'll put on the strength necessary to overcome that one real remaining weakness.
10. Jaylen Brown

Previous rank: No. 9
Cal
Freshman
Forward

Brown's last-minute decision to declare didn't surprise anyone. Top-10 picks almost always opt into the draft. Still, there was enough skepticism about his stock among NBA teams to explain why he paused.

While he looks the part of an NBA player, his decision-making and ability to create his own shot are considered weaknesses. And scouts seem to be significantly cooling on him as they dig deeper into his time at Cal.
11. Skal Labissiere

Previous rank: No. 15
Kentucky
Freshman
Center/forward

No one benefited more from Ivan Rabb's decision to return to Cal for his sophomore season than Labissiere. He hasn't played a game in nearly a month, yet his stock is on the rise.

His production for Kentucky was awful, but the raw tools are all there to be a terrific stretch-4 who can protect the rim. Someone will take a chance on him.
12. Domantas Sabonis

Previous rank: No. 14
Gonzaga
Sophomore
Forward

Sabonis is hard to place. Everyone likes him. No one really loves him.

The rebounding and basketball IQ will both translate. However, questions about which position he defends and his ability to stretch the floor make him somewhat out of step with NBA trends toward versatility and skill.

Nevertheless, he's starting to appear in the top 10 on some draft boards ahead of Jakob Poeltl.
13. Denzel Valentine

Previous rank: No. 13
Michigan State
Senior
Forward/guard

Valentine is a hot name right now as teams look more and more for playmaking wings and forwards who can shoot the 3 and play multiple positions. Versatility is a major attribute.

Valentine's ability to step right in and play right away might make him especially appealing to a late-lottery team hoping to make the jump into the playoffs next season.
14. Deyonta Davis

Previous rank: No. 11
Michigan State
Freshman
Forward

Davis is another guy who benefited from Rabb's decision. Now he's neck-and-neck with Labissiere.

Labissiere's ability to stretch the floor out past the 3-point line gives him the slight edge among some scouts. But Davis is a more explosive athlete and better shot-blocker.

If he can continue to improve on his range, watch out.
15. Furkan Korkmaz

Previous rank: No. 12
Turkey
Age: 18
Guard

Korkmaz's minutes have been in short supply lately, but scouts have seen enough this year at Efes to think he's the second-best international player in the draft and a potential steal late in the lottery or mid-first round.

That 42 percent from 3 in the Euroleague and 49 percent from 3 in the Turkish league are the numbers that catch everyone's attention.
16. Dejounte Murray

Previous rank: No. 20
Washington
Freshman
Guard

There's no consensus on Murray. Some teams love him. Some think he's a second-rounder.

His size, athleticism, passing ability and toughness are the major appeals. His decision-making and shooting need work, but there's a lot of talent to work with. If he has great workouts, he's not done rising. He has lottery-level potential.
17. Tyler Ulis

Previous rank: No. 16
Kentucky
Sophomore
Guard

He may be small at 5-foot-9, but he also may be the best pure point guard in the draft. Ulis can see the floor, score buckets in crunch time and get at it on the defensive end.

If he were four inches taller, he'd be a top-five pick.
18. Diamond Stone

Previous rank: No. 17
Maryland
Freshman
Center

Stone has his fans, though his lack of elite athleticism draws concerns from teams that wonder if the game is quickly passing players like him by.

But when you look at the skill level, length and hard work, it's not hard to imagine that Stone will find a place in the league.
19. Malik Beasley

Previous rank: N/A
Florida State
Freshman
Guard

NBA teams are hungry for shooters, especially athletic ones, and Beasley is a very attractive option. Not only did he shoot 39 percent from 3 during the season, but he's also a terrific, athletic finisher at the rim.
20. Malachi Richardson

Previous rank: N/A
Syracuse
Freshman
Guard

No one has seen their draft stock get a bigger bump the past few weeks than Richardson. Most scouts didn't see him as a one-and-done prospect, but after his strong performance in the NCAA tournament they've gone back to the film and seen one of the few wings in the draft who can create his own shot.

With a great combine he might not be done rising.
21. Ante Zizic

Previous rank: No. 21
Croatia
Age: 19
Center

Zizic is the hottest international name at the moment, with more and more teams telling me that he's now the third-best (and for some teams the second-best) international long-term prospect in the draft.

His size, athleticism and terrific rebounding numbers are especially appealing. So is the fact that teams can either bring him over now (he has a reasonable buyout) or leave him in Europe another year.
22. Ben Bentil

Previous rank: No. 26
Providence
Sophomore
Forward

At times last season Bentil looked more like a potential NBA star than his teammate Kris Dunn did.

He can score from everywhere and plays really hard. His measurements will be a key. If he's 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, then he's probably ranked too low. If he's shorter, he might be ranked too high.
23. Demetrius Jackson

Previous rank: No. 23
Notre Dame
Junior
Guard

By this point in the draft, many teams are just looking for rotation players who fill a niche, and Jackson seems like the perfect candidate to be a very good backup point guard.

He's a tough, athletic guard who can shoot and play defense. He doesn't do any one thing great but has very few weaknesses.
24. DeAndre Bembry

Previous rank: No. 24
St. Joseph's
Junior
Guard/forward

Bembry is a point forward who has the potential on both ends of the court, especially if he polishes his shot. He is big and athletic and can really pass the ball.
25. Jared Uthoff

Previous rank: N/A
Iowa
Senior
Forward

Uthoff's ability to stretch the floor, protect the rim and guard multiple positions has won him a lot of fans.

He's thin and he isn't always as aggressive as scouts would like, but he has earned enough supporters that he looks likely to land somewhere in the 20s.
26. Thon Maker

Previous rank: No. 19
Australia
Age: 19
Forward

Maker is currently working with Drew Hanlen in Florida on his skills and will soon make his way to P3 to begin athletic training.

Maker is smart, and intensive training could do wonders for his skill and athleticism. But workouts will reveal whether he has what teams are looking for.

If he excels, he can go higher than this. If he struggles, he could easily slide into the second round. For the moment, No. 26 is a fair spot for him.
27. Stephen Zimmerman

Previous rank: No. 28
UNLV
Freshman
Center

Zimmerman is a project -- a major one. But it would be tempting for some teams to take a flier on a mobile, athletic big who can stretch the floor and protect the rim.

He wasn't great as a freshman, but the raw tools are there.
28. Timothe Luwawu

Previous rank: No. 18
France
Age: 20
Guard/forward

Luwawu is generally considered an ideal 3-and-D prospect, though lately I've heard more and more teams come back a bit disappointed after scouting him overseas.

He may be on the underrated-then-overrated curve right now.
29. Brice Johnson

Previous rank: No. 27
North Carolina
Senior
Forward

It's tough in any draft for seniors to get love. Johnson, after three so-so years, is still trying to convince scouts he's better than they believed.

Teams have always loved his athleticism and how hard he plays. Last season, he became a legitimate rebounder and scorer. Lack of strength continues to be a significant issue.
30. Josh Hart

Previous rank: N/A
Villanova
Junior
Guard

Hart's stellar play in the NCAA tournament convinced a lot of scouts that he can be a Danny Green type of player at the NBA level.

He's tough and physical, he rebounds like a power forward and he can score from anywhere.
Next five in

Guerschon Yabusele, PF, France; Caris LeVert, G/F, Sr., Michigan; Taurean Prince, F, Sr., Baylor; Ivica Zubac, C, Bosnia; Isaiah Whitehead, G, So. Seton Hall.
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