• The Class of 2016

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    Raffy Ledesma

    Raffy Ledesma

    While the basketball world has been awash with stories of the improbable series win of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Golden State Warriors, teams are now focused on the fresh batch of talent that will invade the NBA.

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    Good picks from the draft usually make or break a team’s medium term outlook. For instance, the Detroit Pistons picked Darko Milicic after LeBron James, and ahead of players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Milicic proved to be one of the biggest busts in NBA history. Draymond Green, meanwhile, was picked 35th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and now plays a key role in a champion team.

    This year’s class is definitely more talented than previous batches and here is a quick analysis of the top 5 picks.

    1) Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) – The 76ers finally have the No. 1 pick since 1996 when they chose Allen Iverson after years of tanking. This is a team that lost 72 games last year to improve their draft chances. Ben Simmons is the best player in the draft and most likely to become an NBA superstar. He is a freakish athlete who has point guard control at 6-10. He is quick, is a good passer, and has great court vision. His only weakness is his shooting. In the small-ball NBA, a guy who can play 5 positions is definitely valuable. He can very well be the next LBJ.

    2) Brandon Ingram (Los Angeles Lakers) – The Lakers are on full rebuild mode and the retirement of the shadow called Kobe Bryant will make it easier for the team to transition to a new era. Ingram is the best choice for the Lakers since at small forward he can easily fit in between youngsters D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. At 6-9 with a 7-3 wingspan and smooth outside shot, Ingram is already being compared to Kevin Durant.

    3) Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics) – Everybody thought that the Celtics were going to grab Kris Dunn who is the best point guard in the draft. But instead of going for the best player which teams usually do, the Celtics opted for the perfect fit. The Celts are already loaded in the backcourt and added Brown instead, a high impact wing with elite slashing skills and agility. With his NBA-ready body, he can be an elite defender but for him to achieve his potential, he needs to make his jumpers.

    4) Dragan Bender (Phoenix Suns) – Bender is a 7-footer who can shoot the three, a good fit for the Suns who have been looking for a stretch four. However, Bender has limited experience playing at a high level and he may be more of a project than an instant impact player.

    5) Kris Dunn (Minnesota Timberwolves) – The Timberwolves got a steal at No.5 with Kris Dunn who could’ve gone as high as No. 3 with the Celtics. He will definitely contribute immediately with his quickness, wingspan, agility and elite body control. Minnesota’s pick might very well signal the end of Ricky Rubio who has been more of a frustrating problem than an asset. The Celtics may very well regret not picking him.

    raffyrledesma@yahoo.com

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