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My 2016 NBA Draft rankings

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Alright. It’s finally time. After weeks of attending draft workouts and playing catch-up with video scouting after the deep playoff run, I’m finally ready to release my official (!) rankings for the 2016 NBA Draft class.

As a bit of a note, I’m probably slightly less versed on the prospects than the last two seasons. But I’ve played catch-up well, I think. It’s just that in the last two seasons, I was the draft lead at theScore, and because the Raptors didn’t make as deep a run and the draft was more my full-time job than the Raptors, I allotted my time accordingly. I still watched a fair amount of college ball during the course of this season, and since the Raptors’ run ended I’ve been hustling to catch up through torrented games, highlight packages, and a lot of reading.

(The work of Draft Express, Chad Ford, Sam Vecenie, Kevin O’Connor, and Joshua Riddell is invaluable. If you’re curious, I ran regressions for my rankings against there’s, and I’m closest to DX and Vecenie, furthest from Ford, and in the middle for Riddell and O’Connor.)

For those curious, my process is basically as follows: I aggregate the top-100 rankings to create a base ranking (and determine an order in which I’ll try to catch up on guys – I also prioritized players the Raptors worked out, even though that’s only one part of the draft process for the team). From there, I’ll try to watch at least a couple of their games from in the season, and failing that, I’ll look for individual game highlight packages (I realize this isn’t ideal, but game torrents are often tough to come by). Next, I’ll read from the sources cited and try to go back and double-check anything that stands out as something I disagreed with or may have missed. Once I’m comfortable with a prospect, I’ll watch the DraftExpress videos (weaknesses first, always) – they’re the best resource, bar none, but I try to save it for last so I don’t simply trust their opinion as gospel.

Then I look at the updated, aggregated top 100, and adjust for my own personal taste. That personal taste generally skews toward “best player available,” specifically upside. My guiding philosophy for where the Raptors are is basically that the team is too good to reasonably expect someone to come in and contribute from Day One (the public generally overvalues the impact of rookies), and because there’s not a clear path to pushing the team to the next level right now, swinging for ceiling is the best approach for appreciably changing the team’s longer-term outlook. They’re not going to have a top-10 pick again anytime soon (we hope), and even though the free agent market may not have a lot of low-cost help-now options, I’d rather roll the dice on a player being a meaningful piece down the line than trying to slot someone in just to fill a role for 2016-17. That only comes into play sometimes, mind you, particularly at No. 9.

Anyway, those preferences are absolutely up for debate and just my opinion, so I’d imagine there will be some disagreement with the rankings, particularly for the earlier pick. I should also note that the rankings approximate my overall rankings (because I lean best talent/upside), but I created them with the Raptors in mind, so there may be instances of a prospect sliding a spot or two after losing a “tiebreaker” of sorts based on team context, particularly the later-draft point guards.

Enough preamble. What follows is my top 60, and then some tiers (basically, within a tier there’s less separation, and I wouldn’t begrudge you ranking within that table differently). I doubt I’ll have time to wade through comments for arguments/discussion today, but maybe if there are enough names people are curious about, I’ll throw up another post Thursday.

Overall Top 60

* – indicates # of publicly-acknowledged workouts with Raptors

My Rank Name Out Of Position Age
1 Ben Simmons LSU PF 19
2 Brandon Ingram Duke SF 18
3 Kris Dunn Providence PG 22
4 Jaylen Brown California SG 19
5 Dragan Bender Croatia PF 18
6 Marquese Chriss Washington PF 18
7 Jamal Murray Kentucky SG 19
8 Buddy Hield Oklahoma SG 22
9 Deyonta Davis Michigan State C 19
10 Timothe Luwawu France SG 21
11 Skal Labissiere* Kentucky PF 20
12 Jakob Poeltl* Utah C 20
13 Wade Baldwin IV Vanderbilt PG 20
14 Domantas Sabonis* Gonzaga PF 20
15 Furkan Korkmaz Turkey SG 18
16 DeAndre’ Bembry St. Joseph’s SF 21
17 Patrick McCaw* UNLV SG 20
18 Denzel Valentine Michigan State PG 22
19 Taurean Prince Baylor SF 21
20 Malachi Richardson* Syracuse SG 20
21 Juan Hernangomez Spain PF 20
22 Ante Zizic Croatia C 19
23 Malik Beasley Florida State SG 19
24 Malcolm Brogdon* Virginia SG 23
25 Tyler Ulis Kentucky PG 20
26 Demetrius Jackson* Notre Dame PG 21
27 Ivica Zubac* Croatia C 19
28 Dejounte Murray Washington SG 19
29 Damian Jones* Vanderbilt C 20
30 Diamond Stone** Maryland C 19
31 Henry Ellenson* Marquette PF 19
32 Chinanu Onuaku* Louisville C 19
33 Brice Johnson* UNC PF 21
34 Cheick Diallo Kansas C 19
35 Gary Payton II* Oregon State SG 23
36 Rade Zagorac Serbia SF 20
37 Paul Zipser Germany PF 22
39 Thon Maker Canada PF 19
39 Isaia Cordinier* France SG 19
40 A.J. Hammons* Purdue C 23
41 Petr Cornelie France PF 20
42 Guerschon Yabusele* France PF 20
43 Caris LeVert Michigan SG 21
44 Dorian Finney-Smith** Florida PF 23
45 Pascal Siakam* New Mexico State PF 22
46 Michael Gbinije* Syracuse PG 24
47 Ben Bentil Providence PF 21
48 Robert Carter* Maryland PF 22
49 Georgios Papagiannis Greece C 18
50 Kay Felder Oakland PG 21
51 Zhou Qi China C 20
52 Jake Layman* Maryland PF 22
53 Joel Bolomboy Wichita State C 22
54 Jarrod Uthoff* Iowa PF 23
55 Stephen Zimmerman Jr.* UNLV C 19
56 Anthony Barber NC State PG 21
57 Isaiah Cousins* Oklahoma SG 22
58 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall SG 21
59 Wayne Selden Jr. Kansas SG 21
60 Fred VanVleet* Wichita State PG 22

Top prospects by tiers

Tier 1

1 Ben Simmons LSU PF 19
2 Brandon Ingram Duke SF 18

Tier 2

3 Kris Dunn Providence PG 22
4 Jaylen Brown California SG 19
5 Dragan Bender Croatia PF 18
6 Marquese Chriss Washington PF 18
7 Jamal Murray Kentucky SG 19
8 Buddy Hield Oklahoma SG 22

Tier 3

9 Deyonta Davis Michigan State C 19
10 Timothe Luwawu France SG 21
11 Skal Labissiere Kentucky PF 20
12 Jakob Poeltl Utah C 20
13 Wade Baldwin IV Vanderbilt PG 20
14 Domantas Sabonis Gonzaga PF 20
15 Furkan Korkmaz Turkey SG 18

Tier 4

16 DeAndre’ Bembry St. Joseph’s SF 21
17 Patrick McCaw UNLV SG 20
18 Denzel Valentine Michigan State PG 22
19 Taurean Prince Baylor SF 21
20 Malachi Richardson Syracuse SG 20
21 Juan Hernangomez Spain PF 20
22 Ante Zizic Croatia C 19

Tier 5

23 Malik Beasley Florida State SG 19
24 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia SG 23
25 Tyler Ulis Kentucky PG 20
26 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame PG 21
27 Ivica Zubac Croatia C 19
28 Dejounte Murray Washington SG 19
29 Damian Jones Vanderbilt C 20
30 Diamond Stone Maryland C 19
31 Henry Ellenson Marquette PF 19
32 Chinanu Onuaku Louisville C 19
33 Brice Johnson UNC PF 21
34 Cheick Diallo Kansas C 19
35 Gary Payton II Oregon State SG 23
36 Rade Zagorac Serbia SF 20
37 Paul Zipser Germany PF 22
39 Thon Maker Canada PF 19
39 Isaia Cordinier France SG 19
40 A.J. Hammons Purdue C 23
41 Petr Cornelie France PF 20
42 Guerschon Yabusele France PF 20

Tier 6

43 Caris LeVert Michigan SG 21
44 Dorian Finney-Smith Florida PF 23
45 Pascal Siakam New Mexico State PF 22
46 Michael Gbinije Syracuse PG 24
47 Ben Bentil Providence PF 21
48 Robert Carter Maryland PF 22
49 Georgios Papagiannis Greece C 18
50 Kay Felder Oakland PG 21

Tier 7

51 Zhou Qi China C 20
52 Jake Layman Maryland PF 22
53 Joel Bolomboy Wichita State C 22
54 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa PF 23
55 Stephen Zimmerman Jr. UNLV C 19
56 Anthony Barber NC State PG 21
57 Isaiah Cousins Oklahoma SG 22
58 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall SG 21
59 Wayne Selden Jr. Kansas SG 21
60 Fred VanVleet Wichita State PG 22

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