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2016 Peachtree Hoops NBA Draft Rankings (March Madness Edition)

The madness of March has arrived and the 2016 NBA Draft is only three months away. While this class is underwhelming overall, there are players to get to know other than LSU's Ben Simmons.

Marquette's Henry Ellenson attempts a hook shot over LSU's Ben Simmons
Marquette's Henry Ellenson attempts a hook shot over LSU's Ben Simmons
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is only three months away and not much has changed--especially in the big picture--since our rankings debuted in October. LSU freshman Ben Simmons remains the top prospect by a more significant margin despite his team's struggles. Three of his fellow freshmen (Skal Labissiere, Cheick Diallo, Malik Newman) have been disappointments in the college season while versatile California big man Ivan Rabb has impressed enough in his debut season to burst into the lottery.

Overall, the quality and quantity of talent in the upcoming draft is underwhelming. The 2014 draft was loaded with quality and depth. The 2015 class was a pleasant surprise as the top prospects exceeded expectations in the 2014-15 college season. Scouts viewed the 2015 high school seniors as a weak class and nothing in this college season has disproved the view. In fact, the overall weakness of talent in the college ranks this season makes evaluation more complicated. The elite production of Simmons, Hield, Utah's Jakob Poetl and Providence's Kris Dunn must be carefully weighed against competition that is weaker than historical comparisons.

Weighing in some of these factors, I would only evaluate 5-10 prospects as typical lottery-level talents and 18-20 players as traditional first-round prospects. The number of prospects who are both productive and athletically gifted is as limited as any recent drafts. That said, players like Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Stephen Curry, Shelvin Mack, Mario Chalmers, and Shabazz Napier all used March to various levels of improving their draft stock. With little differentiation in talent between post-lottery picks and some players outside the top 60, there could be as much fluctuation in the next month as throughout the whole winter. The volatility is further enhanced by the potential for 8-9 international prospects to be taken in the first round.

With these rankings, players are sorted into tiers. Each tier represents players of similar value or attributes.


Tier 1 The Waiter

While some articles will call for Brandon Ingram or even Dragan Bender to challenge Ben Simmons for #1, do not be deceived. Simmons is not the next Lebron but he is closer to King James than the second tier of this class.

1 (1) Ben Simmons, Freshman, PF, LSU (6'10, 239)

Tier 2 Consolation Prizes

Each of these guys have star potential but a glaring flaw. Ingram and Bender have very slight frames that will be challenged by facing grown men. Brown is an explosive, franchise-leading talent but needs to improve an inconsistent stroke.

2 (4) Jaylen Brown, Freshman, SF, California (6'6, 222)

3 (5) Brandon Ingram, Freshman, SF, Duke (6'9, 196)

4 (3) Dragan Bender, 18, PF/sf, Bosnia (7'1, 216)

Tier 3 Professionals

All six players in this tier are NBA-ready talents with various degrees of ability and limitations. They are each connected despite various size and skill with an ability to create easy baskets for themselves and others.

5 (12) Jakob Poetl, Sophomore, C, Utah (7'0, 235)

6 (7) Kris Dunn, Junior, PG, Providence (6'4, 205)

7 (8) Jamal Murray, Freshman, PG, Kentucky (6'5, 201)

8 (13) Buddy Hield, Senior, SG/sf, Oklahoma (6'4, 214)

9 (NR) Ivan Rabb, Freshman, PF, California (6'10, 215)

10 (17) Henry Ellenson, Freshman, PF/C, Marquette (6'10, 231)

Tier 4 Lottery Tickets

These are all lottery-level talents that carry a high risk and a high reward. Any of them have a project-able path to stardom...and a developmental limitation that could result in being a bust. Trier and McDaw are the two highest rated prospects most likely to refrain from declaring for the upcoming draft.

11 (2) Skal Labissiere, Freshman, PF/C, Kentucky (7'0, 216)

12 (6) Cheick Diallo, Freshman, PF/C, (6'9, 220)

13 (18) Diamond Stone, Freshman, C, Maryland (6'10, 250)

14 (10) Caris LeVert, Senior, SG, Michigan (6'7, 200)

15 (15) Furkan Korkmaz, 19, SG/sf, Turkey (6'6, 170)

16 (19) Allonzo Trier, Freshman, SG, Arizona (6'5, 199)

17 (NR) Patrick McCaw, Sophomore, SG/SF, UNLV (6'7, 185)

18 (20) Domantas Sabonis, Sophomore, PF/sf, Gonzaga (6'10, 231)

19 (NR) Wade Baldwin IV, Sophomore, SG/pg, Vanderbilt (6'3, 195)

Tier 5 As Is

With the exception of Denzel Valentine and Brice Johnson, each player in this tier entered the season as strong prospects and their stock has mostly stayed the same. Each prospect has continued to display their strengths while failing to disprove weaknesses. With most in this group likely to play multiple important games in March, each has a chance to show improvement for scouts.

20 (23) Taurean Prince, Senior, SF, Baylor (6'7, 215)

21 (25) Demetrius Jackson, Junior, PG, Notre Dame (6'1, 194)

22 (24) Melo Trimble, Sophomore, PG, Maryland (6'3, 190)

23 (11) Nigel Hayes, Junior, PF, Wisconsin (6'7, 235)

24 (21) Tyrone Wallace, Senior, PG/sg, California (6'5, 200)

25 (30) Josh Hart, Junior, SG, Villanova (6'5, 202)

26 (NR) Denzel Valentine, Senior, SG/SF, Michigan State (6'6, 223)

27 (NR) Brice Johnson, Senior, PF, North Carolina (6'9, 185)

28 (26) Damian Jones, Junior, PF/C, Vanderbilt (6'10, 248)

Tier 6 Wild Cards

Each of these prospects have obvious talent but limited experience or exposure on a major stage. The freshmen in this group are the most likely prospects to ride a successful March to improving their draft stock.

29 (NR) Zhou Qi, 20, C, China (7'2, 209)

30 (NR) Deyonta Davis, Freshman, PF/C, Michigan State (6'10, 230)

31 (29) Shawn Long, Senior, PF, Louisiana-Lafayette (6'10, 256)

32 (NR) Gary Payton II, Senior, PG, Oregon State (6'3, 175)

33 (NR) Malik Beasley, Freshman, SG, Florida State (6'4, 185)

34 (NR) Marquesse Chriss, Freshman, PF, Washington (6'9, 225)

35 (9) Malik Newman, Freshman, SG/pg, Mississippi State (6'4, 179)

36 (NR) Timothe Luwawu, 21, SF, France (6'7, 205)

37 (16) Aleksandar Vezenkov, 20, PF, Bulgaria (6'9, 225)

38 (NR) Stephen Zimmerman, Freshman, C, UNLV (7'0, 235)

39 (NR) Thomas Bryant, Freshman, C, Indiana (6'9, 225)

40 (NR) Jalen Brunson, Freshman, PG, Villanova (6'2, 200)

Tier 7 Floor Leaders

Each of these prospects is limited in athleticism or size but their skills and gifts are undeniable. The four college prospects will be hoping to lead their teams to a Kemba-like run through the NCAA Tournament to blind scouts to their obvious limitations.

41 (NR) Tyler Ulis, Sophomore, PG, Kentucky (5'9, 160)

42 (NR) Monte Morris, Junior, PG, Iowa State (6'3, 175)

43 (NR)Juan Hernangomez, 20, PF, Spain (6'9, 220)

44 (NR) Malcolm Brogdon, Senior, SG, Virginia (6'5, 215)

45 (NR) Perry Ellis, Senior, PF, Kansas (6'8, 222)

Tier 8 Slot Machine

All of these prospects are easy to like--except when they are not. They have moments they look like lottery picks and moments that you wonder if they are even worthy of being drafted. Selden defines this category well. Bird is a sleeper prospect that has started to reach his potential in recent weeks.

46 (NR) Wayne Selden, Junior, SG, Kansas (6'6, 223)

47 (NR) Robert Carter, Junior, PF, Maryland (6'8, 247)

48 (NR) A.J. Hammons, Senior, C, Purdue (7'0, 278)

49 (NR) Deandre Bembry, Junior, SF, St. Joseph's (6'6, 210)

50 (NR) Jabari Bird, Junior, SF, California (6'6, 199)

51 (NR) Justin Jackson, Sophomore, SG/SF, North Carolina (6'8, 201)

52 (NR) Troy Williams, Junior, SF, Indiana (6'6, 195)

53 (NR) Alex Poythress, Senior, SF, Kentucky (6'8, 239)

Tier 9 Foreign Stock

I do not pretend to be an expert on international players. As I read reviews of international scouts and consult trusted voices, I like the potential of these prospects over the remaining college options. Any of these guys could end up as first-rounders but none have made enough of an impression in limited film study for me to give such a lofty evaluation.

54 (NR) Jonathan Jeanne, 19, C, France (7'2, 195)

55 (NR) Petr Cornelie, 20, PF, France (6'11, 220)

56 (NR) Isaia Cordinier, 19, SG, France (6'5, 190)

57 (NR) Ante Zizic, 19, C, Croatia (6'11, 240)

58 (NR) Nedim Buza, 21, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina (6'8, 199)

59 (NR) George De Paula, 20, PG/sf, Brazil (6'6, 194)

60 (NR) Paul Zipser, 22, SF, Germany (6'8, 210)