NBA mock draft: Where will Damian and Wade land?

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Thursday night will be an exciting one for both Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV, as the two former Commodores will finally achieve what’s been a lifelong dream for both of them in making the leap to the NBA. A sincere congratulations to both of them; each has made Commodore fans and students proud, and hopefully they will find success in the NBA. There are sure to be many twists and turns in this year’s draft, and maybe some will involve Damian or Wade. Let’s take a look at how the draft could play out, as I reveal my 2016 Mock Draft. My selections are based off of a combination of consensus player rankings, team needs, and the select media reports that I deem to be reliable or close to it. My personal player rankings, which don’t account for any international players aside from Dragan Bender, Furkan Korkmaz, and Timothe Luwawu, are listed in parentheses. I’ve got some quick notes on both Damian and Wade under their respective spots.

1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, PF, LSU (1)

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke (2)

3. Boston Celtics – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence (7)

4. Phoenix Suns – Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky (4)

5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia (3)

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Jaylen Brown, SF, Cal (5)

7. Denver Nuggets – Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington (10)

8. Sacramento Kings – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma (6)

9. Toronto Raptors – Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky (14)

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah (8)

11. Orlando Magic – Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State (12)

12. Atlanta Hawks – Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga (18)

13. Phoenix Suns – Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette (9)

14. Chicago Bulls – Wade Baldwin IV, PG, Vanderbilt (15)
After many mock drafts had Wade going to Chicago over the past week, DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com have both moved Denzel Valentine into the 14 slot today. Ford cited specific sources that suggested the Bulls could take Valentine, but this could be a smokescreen of sorts. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein has reported Atlanta is looking to trade the No. 12 pick, so there’s incentive for Chicago to leak that it likes Valentine in order to discourage teams below it to trade up to 12 to snatch Wade. While Chicago may indeed just take Valentine at 14, the Derrick Rose trade makes it hard for me to believe the Bulls won’t take a point guard. If Chicago does pass on Wade, Memphis at 17 and Detroit at 18 represent likely landing spots.

15. Denver Nuggets – Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State (23)

16. Boston Celtics – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia

17. Memphis Grizzlies – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse (NR)

18. Detroit Pistons – Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington (22)

19. Denver Nuggets – Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey (11)

20. Brooklyn Nets – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State (20)

21. Atlanta Hawks – Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia (N/A)

22. Charlotte Hornets – Juan Hernangomez, SF/PF, Spain (N/A)

23. Boston Celtics – Timothe Luwawu, SG, France (19)

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Deandre Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph’s (21)

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame (13)

26. Philadelphia 76ers – Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV (24)

27. Toronto Raptors – Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt (16)
Most mocks have Damian going late in the first round or early in the second round, and although I’ve got him ranked as a mid-first round prospect, there’s been little indication that teams in the teens are looking at him. Damian worked out for the Suns, Grizzlies, Raptors, Spurs, and Celtics (and maybe more, but definitely these five), four of which pick in the 23 to 29 range. Memphis needs shooting more than interior play, and I’m betting that Damian’s pectoral injury could discourage the Grizzlies from (arguably) reaching for him at 17. Charlotte still makes the most sense for Damian to me, but there’s been no talk about this pairing. Toronto is prepared to lose Bismack Biyombo in free agency, so they need another center.

28. Phoenix Suns – Cheick Diallo, C/PF, Kansas (30)

29. San Antonio Spurs – Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor (17)

30. Golden State Warriors – Zhou Qi, PF/C, China

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