The 2016 NBA Draft yielded arguably the most scrutinized and debated rookie class in recent history.
A lot has happened since 2016, both in the world at large and in the NBA. It’s hard to imagine a more interesting and hotly contested collection of players than the 2016 rookie class. From the controversy at the top (Ben Simmons vs. Brandon Ingram vs. Jaylen Brown) to the multiple second-round picks and undrafted free agents who have since led impressive NBA careers, there’s much to talk about.
Who would go No. 1 overall if the 2016 NBA Draft were held today?
With the benefit of hindsight, we can safely say that the 2016 NBA Draft was never short on talent. Several All-Stars have emerged in the years since. Some from the top of the draft, some from the bottom. We can also say that many of the high-profile names have left us with more questions than answers. Ben Simmons, the original No. 1 pick, has missed two full seasons now, one to injury and one to mental health concerns. Jamal Murray, Fred VanVleet, Dejounte Murray, Malcolm Brogdon — all of them have faced severe injury hurdles interlaced with moments of true stardom.
So, using that very same hindsight, how would the 2016 NBA Draft play out if re-drafted today? Let’s dive right in.
It’s tough sledding for 6-foot guards in the NBA right now, but Yogi Ferrell has proven to be a fairly prolific 3-point shooter who can manage ball-handling duties. He’s a decent third-string point guard.
A solid pinch-hitter who started 18 games for the Hawks last season, we haven’t seen the last of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. He’s a slippery athlete and versatile defender who hit 36.1 percent of his 3s with Atlanta. Contenders looking to round out their roster would be wise to look his direction.
Kris Dunn flamed out rather spectacularly as a lottery pick, but his defensive acumen deserves some recognition. He’s a stingy point of attack defender with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. Unfortunately he shot nine percent from deep with the Hawks last season — that won’t cut it.
Historically a poor outside shooter, DeAndre’ Bembry actually hit 41.7 percent of his 3s in 48 appearances for Brooklyn last season. The volume is practically nonexistent right now, but it’s a positive indicator for someone who’s an impact defender on the wing. That being said, he’s currently recovering from a torn ACL.
A bulky wing defender who can guard all over the floor, David Nwaba has consistently scrapped his way to minutes in the NBA. Like others in this stage of the re-draft, however, he’s a below-average shooter whose offensive shortcomings are frequently exploited.
Furkan Korkmaz’s NBA career has been something of a roller coaster. His production varies widely from season to season, but he’s a good movement shooter with some playmaking chops and plenty of confidence.
Bryn Forbes has made several contenders happy in recent years because of his ability to fly around the perimeter and bomb 3s. He’s small and easily exploited on defense, but Forbes is one of the league’s most underrated 3-point marksmen.
Something, something, Bo Cruz. It’s fitting that he should end up with Boston. Juancho Hernangomez played for three different teams last season. He’s becoming something of a journeyman, but Hernangomez’s blend of size and shooting keeps him on the NBA radar.
Derrick Jones Jr. is a dunk-contest athlete who can thrive in various different roles defensively. Unfortunately, he too is a poor 3-point shooter who can be schemed off the floor in critical moments.
Georges Niang can shoot the rock. He won’t do much else, but good golly can he shoot the rock. A brawny forward with great competitive spirit, Niang can help contenders win in the regular season (if not so much in the playoffs).
Damian Jones weighs in at 245 pounds with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He’s naturally quite adept at blocking shots and causing issues for opposing offenses around the rim. A good rebounder too, Jones has emerged as a bankable two-way backup.
Taurean Prince’s production has gradually tapered off after his impressive sophomore season, but he shoots a healthy volume of spot-up 3s and can defend multiple positions at 6-foot-7. In a league built around floor-spacing and versatility, Prince should have several years left in the tank.
Gary Payton II finally broke through last season, operating as strong connective tissue in the Warriors’ championship-winning second unit. In keeping with his namesake, Payton creates havoc on defense. Offensively, he’s a smart passer who does the dirty work to ensure his team’s success. He also posted career-best 3-point numbers last season.
Danuel House Jr. has found his second wind in the NBA. He’s the quintessential Morey Ball wing — he gets up a healthy dose of 3s and doesn’t linger too long with the basketball in hand. House can also handle difficult defensive assignments on the wing. His smart, team-first approach should keep him relevant for a while.
Malik Beasley has quietly become one of the most prolific volume shooters in the NBA. He doesn’t score very efficiently inside the arc and he’s a passable defender at best, but Beasley’s shot versatility and gravity make him a valuable role player with untapped upside.
A hulking presence in the lane, Ivica Zubac has been a steadfast presence in the Clippers’ starting lineup since 2019. He blocks shots, he gobbles up rebounds, and he can finish with touch or power at the rim. The lack of shooting or defensive switchability makes Zubac exploitable in certain matchups (especially in the playoffs), but it’s hard to overstate the value of a reliable everyday starter at this point in the re-draft.