Nine All-Star appearances, two All-NBA team selections, three NBA champions. This draft class is one of the most interesting to analyze in the last decade. With all players now having gone through at least one contract, let’s look back at the 2016 NBA Draft: the successes, the failures, and the steals.
Let’s take a look at those accolades mentioned earlier. The nine All-Star appearances come from six different players.
Domantas Sabonis has two and Ben Simmons has three. Pascal Siakam was named to the second-team All-NBA in the same year he won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors as Kawhi Leonard’s wingman, and Ben Simmons was once named to the third-team.
Damian Jones won two rings with the Warriors while Patrick McCaw won three, though neither of the two of them played any significant minutes in any of their championship runs. And those are the accolades, but perhaps that’s as to be expected.
Six different All-Stars in one draft is pretty solid, plus a few more that could reach that level relatively soon. Jamal Murray was on pace until his injury to reach his first All-Star game, and players like Malcolm Brogdon and Caris Levert may have a shot at it one year, the latter of who is still considered a young talent on the rise.
The Top Three
Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown. Before 2016, there actually hadn’t been a top-three of any draft class since 1999 where all three players made at least one All-Star game in their careers.
Those three guys were Elton Brand, Steve Francis, and Baron Davis. And these top three guys from 2016 might be pretty much what we got from the top three in ‘99.
Elton Brand was an All-Star for a couple of years, and kind of fell off a bit but was still a very solid starter and an important piece for his teams. All of this can be said about Ben Simmons. Steve Francis made the All-Star team a few times, was traded while he was young and entering his true prime, and was a reliable scorer. This is what Brandon Ingram’s career is looking like as of right now.
Baron Davis and Jaylen Brown aren’t as comparable, but Davis made multiple All-Star games and an All-NBA team, so he was actually a pretty solid third overall pick considering the lack of production that was drafted behind him. Brown is one pace to make multiple All-Star games but is probably regarded as the top player in his class.
Playing alongside fellow youngster Jayson Tatum has probably stunted some of the growth we’ve seen because he has to share the ball with another offensive star. But Brown is still just 25 years old, and a championship is in his sights.
The rest of the lottery picks, picks 4-14 have provided some stars and role players, along with some busts. Fourth overall Dragan Bender was a complete miss for Phoenix, drafted in a time when the European players had been rapidly gaining exposure.
Kris Dunn at five was quickly traded to the Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler and was a fantastic role player as a defender for a few years, but recently left for overseas.
Former college star at Oklahoma Buddy Hield was traded in his rookie season to Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins where his career, as most do in Sacramento, went mute. He actually averaged 20 a game in his third season, but his scoring numbers have recently regressed.
He’s still an elite three-point shooter though, now with Indiana. He’ll probably be in the league for a good while because of that skill that every NBA team needs in the modern-day.
Jamal Murray, drafted seventh by Denver remains with the Nuggets and is a rising young player with certain All-Star potential. He’s been out this year with injury, but this following his best season last year when he averaged more than 20 a game for the first time in his career.
He’s been the starting point guard for a few years now in Denver and has played better and better each year. He’s sat behind other top-tier guards in the Western Conference for a while now, and he should be next up.
Marquese Chriss and Jakob Poeltl were the next two taken, the latter of who has turned out to be a solid role player to this day. Poeltl’s fame will always be as a part of the Kawhi Leonard trade which sent him to the Raptors where he won them their first NBA Championship.
We can go ahead and skip talking about the Thon Maker experience at 10 and move on to Domantas Sabonis at 11, who has been traded numerous times but has reached offensive star status. Now playing for the Kings, he made himself in Indiana as a multi-time All-Star and one of the most unstoppable big men in the game. Sabonis was surely a steal by Orlando, who traded him to Oklahoma City on draft night, who then went ring-chasing for with Paul George and gave up the rights to the budding youngster.
Taurean Prince has turned himself into an alright role player for the last half-decade, though his NBA career is likely going to be over within the next couple of years. The final two picks of the lottery were Georgios Papagiannis, who has apparently played in an NBA game that I was unaware of, and Denzel Valentine, who has battled injury throughout his career, and is a low-level scoring bench player.
Rest of the First Round
The two main guys to talk about here are Pascal Siakam, stolen by Toronto at the perfect time at number 27, and Dejounte Murray, taken by San Antonio with pick 29. Both of these late first-round picks have been named to the All-Star Game, and Siakam was a key piece on a championship team.
One could argue Siakam has already over-exceeded all expectations, and a championship is something he’ll always have and be a part of.
Murray has been quietly improving with Coach Pop and the Spurs and has made himself an all-around talent. He Averages almost 20 a game now, way up from his previous totals, as well as over both eight assists and eight rebounds a game, also both way up from his previous career highs. He’s a lengthy guard who now holds the reigns of San Antonio basketball in his hands and is thriving.
The rest of the first round has a lot of complete busts, with the fourth-best guy drafted from picks 15-30 is probably Malik Beasley. But at #20, Caris Levert remains with untapped potential. He’s moved around and been traded, actually has his life saved by a trade, and now finds himself with a surprising young Cavaliers squad. He’s an elite scorer, averaging over 20 a game for a few seasons running now, and if he can stay healthy, he’s on track for at least one all-star game if not more.
Second rounds of NBA drafts rarely produce much at all, so I’m not going to judge the lack of current NBA players from the 2016 second round. But, with pick 36, the Milwaukee Bucks got an absolute steal, taking Malcolm Brogdon out of Virginia.
The result of some injuries to the now All-Stars in this draft in the 2016-17 season, Brogdon as a role player on a solid Bucks team won Rookie of the Year. After a three-year stint with Milwaukee, he signed a big contract with Indiana has improved his scoring numbers every season of his career, as he anticipates his first 20 a game year in his career this season.
He’s an excellent passer, and a strong rebounder and defender who doesn’t really turn it over. Brogdon in 2019 joined the 50-40-90 club as its 8th number. He was quite the steal, and will likely be in the NBA for a very long time as an incredibly reliable point guard.
The 2016 class will be looked back on as top-heavy with a few later-pick steals. The top three guys should be forces for years to come.
Jaylen Brown and Jamal Murray probably have the best chances at really jumping up a level in terms of where they are ranked by the NBA community. It’s a draft full of scorers, which is ironic because of the first overall pick’s inability to shoot the ball.
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