Your Armchair Critics’ guide for the 2016 NBA Draft

Whilst we rightfully bask in the warm glow of giddiness that comes with another Aussie winning the NBA title, let’s not get too carried away with a championship-sized hangover. The NBA season may well and truly be over, but the NBA never sleeps.

Draft night is just around the corner and this year we have six Aussies with their proverbial names in the hat, ready to dip their toes into the big time.

The draft can be chaotic. It’s hard enough keeping tabs with the number of prospects, let alone the random front office transactions that can further muddy the waters.

So whether you’re sitting comfortably in your armchair and soaking in the delights on ESPN, or feverishly refreshing your browser in your work cubicle, we’ve got you covered.

From the notorious Ben Simmons, all the way to somewhat mysterious Boise State alum, Anthony Drmic, we’ve compiled a quick-hitting draft guide of our Aussie talents. We take a look at their best case scenarios, worst case scenarios, and do a little crystal-balling into the future.

Ben Simmons

Best case scenario: Presumptive number 1 pick

Worst case scenario: Bryan Colangelo, President of Basketball Operations and General Manager for the Sixers, overthinks this, and takes Brandon Ingram, sending Simmons to the Lakers…wait, what?!

Projected NBA future: LeBron James, with a little bit of Evan Turner in him.

Remember way back in March when draftnik, Jonathan Givony, wrote that Simmons had been described as a “taller Rajon Rondo, a more athletic Evan Turner, or a skinnier Royce White”? Do those gaudy comparisons really warrant the number 1 overall selection?

Well, Simmons hasn’t exactly tried to hose down speculation over his tainted jumper and perceived character flaws. He’s declined from attending any individual workouts (before he acquiesced and worked out with Philly this week), raising concerns over how committed he really is to becoming the best player he can possibly be.

But as the draft hedges closer, the normal attrition of narratives comes into play; the wider prism of how an athlete has been viewed over time resurfaces. Simmons was number 1 on most draft boards for a year now. He’ll go number 1.

Besides, no one cares about all this anymore when you can juggle a ball, soccer-style, gather, and then swish the resultant jumper. I mean, that’s totally a basketball play right there, right?! Am I right??!


— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) May 29, 2016

Plus the Sixers seem hellbent on drafting him. It’s what The Process would have wanted.

And if the Sixers get cold feet? Sigh. I suppose he’ll have to settle for that LA weather.

Thon Maker

Best case scenario: Indiana Pacers nab Maker with the 20th pick, ushering in Larry Legend’s clearly very-well-thought-out plan of running-and-gunning.

Worst case scenario: Maker falls to the second round. Remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!

Projected NBA future: Wants to be KG, reminds one of Andray Blatche.

Maker took what we call the Exum route, something that sounds like a dental procedure, but is in actual fact entirely all about basketball. The mystery man of the draft eschewed college hoops -- in the process denying NBA scouts the opportunity to grade his play against college prospects – instead, returning for another year of high school. If you read that sentence again, yes, it is all very confusing.

Still, we’ll always have this:

Maker has flooded the pre-draft workout circuit like a proverbial bee to the honey pot, and has been at pains to describe himself as a modern version of Kevin Garnett, whenever he’s had the chance.

“I see myself as more as a modern version of Kevin Garnett. I’ve been saying that same message over and over again, because that’s what it is,” he told reporters after his workout with the Hornets. “I can space the floor out a little bit more than KG used to. [I] communicate really well, both on offense and defense now.”

I mean, anytime the next KG is available you’ve just got to nab him, right Larry? Can you imagine an Indy frontline of Myles Turner, Thon Maker and Paul George flying to the hoop in transition, and swallowing up opponents on D?

If you haven’t read Jonathan Abrams’ seminal book on high school prospects jumping to the NBA, do yourself a favour and have a gander.

Abrams talks about [SPOILER ALERT] how another high school prospect that jumped straight to the NBA, Tyson Chandler, envisaged himself as the second coming of Rasheed Wallace, heading into the pros; he thought of himself as a mobile 7-footer who could can perimeter jumpers.

The lesson here?

There’s just waaaaaay too much development left for these kids to truly understand who they are as pros. We don’t even have a clue yet.

For example, I can’t shake the belief that Maker really reminds me of Andray Blatche.

You know what? Screw it. I’m all in on the Thon Maker bandwagon!

Majok Deng

Best case scenario: The Nuggets take Deng with pick 56, nurture him to be the next Darrell Arthur.

Worst case scenario: Deng becomes the next Darrell Arthur.

Projected NBA future: It’s too late -- I’m all in on the Arthur comparison now.

Deng worked out with the Nuggets last week and hoped to impress with his work ethic. Time will tell if his interviews with Nuggets executives worked a treat.

“You never know. You never know what can happen,” he told media after his workout. “You just come in, give it [your] all, and try and give yourself a chance to maybe get a job.”

It’s not about how high you go at this point. Getting drafted will represent a massive win for Deng. And for someone that sounds like a genuinely good bloke just hoping to give it a go, we hope he does get selected.

Deng has already signed a two year with the Adelaide 36ers, so the draft is bonus at this point.

Emmanuel Malou

Best case scenario: Some team takes a second round flyer on Malou.

Worst case scenario: Undrafted, and Draft Express still doesn’t know his age.

Projected NBA future: If he makes it? Darius Miles, people.

I used to have this French teacher in high school who used to check on us individually if we'd done our homework. Every class, one-by-one, he'd march over to each desk and look over your exercise book.

One day I didn't do it. Naturally, I did what any kid would do -- I stuck my head below the desk and rummaged through my school bag, pretending that I was busy looking for my homework. I hoped that he would pass me by, and forget me in his haste. No such luck.


For Australian hoops fans, Malou is basically me, and the NBA draft is his French class. He's trying to quietly sneak in through the backdoor but I'm not sure if league execs are buying it.

Malou actually has a super interesting story whereby he declared for the NBA Draft as a backup plan, in case his college eligibility fell through.

It seems the point was moot. Malou ended up ditching the chance for college ball and signed an agent anyway, going all in for the draft.

Anytime you have a 6’9” wing player with a birthdate of 00/00/0000, and no publicly listed body measurements, on the influential is always a positive.

We like to be optimistic here at The Pick and Roll, and hope Malou’s name gets called.

If not? The NBL is always an option.

Venky Jois

Best case scenario: Sacramento Kings draft him with the 59th pick.

Worst case scenario: Um…Sacramento…Kings…?

Projected NBA future: Uncertain, but NBL and European offers are securely in the back pocket.

Venky Jois impressed the Kings last month in his workout with the team.

Eastern Washington forward Venky Jois speaks with media following today's Pre-Draft Workout #KingsDraft

— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) May 24, 2016

The former East Washington standout had a stellar college career and is hoping that his energy and athleticism can help to secure his NBA dream.

Venky Jois auditioning for #NBAJam #BigSkySlams #GoEags

— Big Sky Conference (@BigSkyConf) February 22, 2016

If he goes undrafted, Jois reportedly has plenty of offers in the bag from NBL clubs, and also interest from Europe.

Jois hasn’t featured much in most mock draft boards, but he’d be right up there in our mock meanest-stubble-rankings, if we ever had one.

Anthony Drmic

Best case scenario: Someone correctly pronounces his surname.

Worst case scenario: Someone mispronounces his surname.

Projected NBA future: If we must go there…Sasha Vujačić, less the annoying part.

Anthony Drmic, brother of Frank Drmic, had a stellar career with Boise State. At 6’6”, with decent size for a swingman and a good 3-point stroke, you’d think that he’d be a prototypical rotation player in the modern NBA.

The knock on him has always been his relative lack of athleticism, and no real elite skills to compensate for that deficit.

Drmic has already signed with the Adelaide 36ers for two years, so he’s already locked in his short term future.

Still, you never know if an NBA team might bite.

So there you have it – a snapshot of the Aussie prospects in Friday morning’s draft. Whether you're on board the Simmons hype train, or you're just rooting for the Aussies battlers to be given a shot, hold on tight to those arm rests. Friday morning promises to be one heck of a ride.