SPORTS

The 5 Safest Picks In The 2016 NBA Draft

"Safe" is a relative term, but these five players are as safe as it gets.
Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (left) and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, both seniors, are about as "safe" as it gets when projec
Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (left) and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, both seniors, are about as "safe" as it gets when projecting NBA success.

"Safe" becomes a relative term when it comes to projecting NBA talent. As in the NFL, young talent can be hard to come by, and often comes with great risk.

Certain skill sets do not transition as well from the college or international game to the NBA game. And certain players -- oftentimes, the one-and-done freshmen -- require more development than expected.

As a measuring stick, previous players I loved and correctly profiled during the draft process include: Stephen CurryKlay Thompson, Dennis Schroder, Giannis Antetokounmpo and C.J. McCollum. Previously profiled busts include: Anthony Bennett, Michael Carter-Williams, Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel.

With that in mind, here are the five safest picks of the 2016 draft. 

  • Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
    Hield is perhaps&nbsp;the <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2626350-why-best-player-in-america-buddy-hield-has-okla
    Ronald Martinez via Getty Images
    Hield is perhaps the purest shooter to enter the league since Stephen Curry. Remember, nobody made more threes last season. But as a senior, Hield -- who averaged 25 points per game while earning the Naismith College Player of the Year award and the John R. Wooden Award for college basketball's best player -- also honed his in-between game, as well as his ability to finish at the rim. An average athlete, the 6-foot-4-inch Bahamas native (who didn't start playing hoops until he was 13) overcomes it with excellent footwork and a quick-trigger, vintage release that will allow him to thrive as a NBA two guard.
  • Domantas Sabonis, PF-C, Gonzaga University
    The 6-foot-10-inch Sabonis is a double-double machine. A fierce two-way player whom his coach, Mark Few, described as a <a hr
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The 6-foot-10-inch Sabonis is a double-double machine. A fierce two-way player whom his coach, Mark Few, described as a 1,000 pound Siberian tiger, Sabonis -- who is young for his class -- can shoot it comfortably out to 18 feet, but prefers to mix it up in the paint. Although not a great leaper, he is strong and mean enough that it hardly matters, and his left-handed skill set only continues to expand.
  • Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State Univeristy
    One NBA head coach picking in the lottery told me he really liked Valentine. It's shocking that Valentine -- the AP Player of
    USA Today Sports / Reuters
    One NBA head coach picking in the lottery told me he really liked Valentine. It's shocking that Valentine -- the AP Player of the Year -- isn't being regarded as a top 10 pick. All he did as a senior was average 19 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting over 44 percent from deep for an elite team. Is he a great athlete? No. But neither is fellow Michigan State product Draymond Green, and he turned out just fine. Valentine is so smart and skilled that his weaknesses are never magnified. At 6 feet 6 inches, he can play multiple positions because his distributing skills are so well-refined, and he is lethal off the bounce.
  • Tyler Ulis, PG, University of Kentucky
    Ulis, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year, offers&nbsp;a sudden burst of explosive ability and creati
    USA Today Sports/Reuters
    Ulis, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year, offers a sudden burst of explosive ability and creativity at the point guard position. At 5 feet 9 inches, his lack of size will always be a question mark, but his quick hands and surprising strength help compensate. Despite his high usage rate, Ulis rarely turns the ball over and almost always makes the correct basketball play. Whether he becomes a starter or third guard, we can expect the 20-year-old to enjoy a productive NBA career. Very few prospects can run an offense as efficiently.
  • Jaylen Brown, SG-SF, University of California, Berkeley
    <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/22-best-college-basketball-freshmen_n_56af9e53e4b057d7d7c79c10" target="_blank">Brown
    Leon Bennett via Getty Images
    Brown is just a pro: He has an NBA-ready body with tremendous bounce and lower body strength, though he will need to improve as a finisher. As a wing in transition, there are few players in this class who can match his above-the-rim ability. Brown's capacity to become a lockdown defender at the next level makes him that much more intriguing, as does the fact that he is just scratching the surface of an already impressive offensive repertoire. Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin should have asked more of his star freshman, but that hardly matters: Brown is going to be a stud.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com, ask me questions about anything sports-related on Twitter at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report. Also, check out my SiriusXM Radio show Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 PM ET on Bleacher Report channel 83.

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