The NFL Draft gets all the attention, but ironically it’s the Flyers’ lottery success and the upcoming Sixers draft that will have the most impact on our local teams. The Flyers incredibly landing the number two pick could shape their roster for the next decade. And what the Sixers do over the next few months could be all the difference in whether the process ever yields a championship or goes down in flames.
Thus far, Bryan Colangelo has had very little freedom. He needed to do something with either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor (I think he killed his leverage, panicked, and traded the wrong guy, but that’s a different post), and he made the obvious pick of Ben Simmons. He hasn’t had to do much else that will truly impact the Sixers’ long-term success.
But with the third pick in the draft, the Sixers will have countless options, each of which will move the rudder and send them off in a different direction. There’s no consensus player to be taken at three, no consensus position the Sixers need to fill right now (other than the concept of guard), and they have the means and flexibility to trade both up or down. Their decisions will likely be dictated by how they view Ben Simmons. Obviously they want the ball in his hands to maximize his playmaking ability, but is he a true point guard or more of a LeBron-like hybrid player? I’m not so sure they know – which concerns me because it could lead to them making the wrong decision on which position to fill – and that should make things interesting.
Let’s go over all the options they will have.
There are four players the Sixers will most likely target:
Each is very different. Most experts believe the talent level between 3 and 10 is pretty even, so all of these guys are solid options with varying weaknesses.
Jackson is probably the most talented and has the most upside of the bunch. He’s a classic shooting guard-wing type NBA player with next-level athleticism. Many believe the Sixers will take him, mostly because he’d be considered the best player available. But he’s not a great shooter. The Sixers need one of those.
Malik Monk: HE’S A SHOOTER. Plain and simple. His ability to be more of a combo guard isn’t there yet and he’s not great defensively. But, again, he’s a shooter and on paper makes sense for the Sixers. The problem is he probably won’t be the best player available at three, and drafting him there could represent the Sixers reaching to fill a need.
Jayson Tatum, a small forward from Duke, is maybe the least exciting of the bunch, but he might be the most NBA ready of any of these guys. He’s a bonafide scorer who excels in isolation and in the triple-threat and can also shoot the three, though not as consistently as some other guys in the draft. He has an excellent array of skills that translate well to the NBA. He lacks athleticism and size but masks it with his skill. Stop me if this sounds like Jahlil Okafor.
De’Aaron Fox is a potential star guard who is quick and possesses elite athleticism. And though him not being a great distributor wouldn’t pose much of a problem since he’d be playing alongside Simmons, his lack of shooting ability would. Again, the notion of drafting another guard who can’t shoot doesn’t make a ton of sense for a team that would really benefit by having a stud shooter.
I saw some conjecture on Twitter that the Sixers could package Jahlil Okafor and a future pick to leap over the Lakers and take Markelle Fultz with the Celtics’ pick. On its face its doesn’t seem crazy since the Celtics already have Isiah Thomas, but by all accounts they’re not going to miss out on the opportunity to draft the potential star in this draft in Fultz. Unless they want to trade the pick and obtain, say, Jimmy Butler…
Trading down? I’d have more confidence in Sam Hinkie to draft Jackson, hold him hostage and move back a pick or two to take Monk, but it’s still a possibility. Ideally, Colangelo could pull this off and get something else out of it… but that requires cooperation on the part of the Suns or Kings, and Colangelo, you know, actually being able to do it.
Trading for D’Angelo Russell
With the Los Angeles Lakers coming away with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft following Tuesday night’s lottery, multiple NBA teams are evaluating trade packages for D’Angelo Russell, league sources told SI.com.
Securing the No. 2 overall pick clears the way for the Lakers to likely select UCLA point guard and Chino Hills, Calif. native Lonzo Ball, which could render Russell’s skillset somewhat redundant.
Part of me wants to see how LaVar Ball would react to his son playing alongside Russell, but I’m guessing the Lakers have little interest in seeing that dynamic play out. The Sixers have continually been linked to Russell – both before the 2015 draft and in trade rumors since – so it’s not unreasonable to think they’d have some interest here. How well Russell, who’s a bit nuts, would fit with Simmons is unclear. It seems he prefers to be a scorer rather than a distributor, so he should mesh well with Simmons, and he can shoot the three, if inconsistently.
Now we get to the Kyle Lowry part. Bryan Colangelo was on the 97.5 morning show today and he twice addressed the need to bring in veterans to help the young guys progress. While that might have just been filler, he also volunteered the notion that bringing in a veteran free agent can accelerate the process. A lot of the hardcore process folks hate this idea, but I don’t think it’s as misguided as some. Is it ideal? No. But can Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and [insert draft pick] form a very competitive team right now? Yeah, I think so. My gut tells me that Colangelo takes the best player available in Jackson and then signs Lowry. From Day 1, you would have a balanced roster.
The amazing thing about all this is that there is no consensus. The Sixers can draft a guard, trade for one, or sign one. They can take best available or fill a need. They can trade up or trade back. Each decision will address a different need in a different way.
Later today and tomorrow, we’ll take a look at each of the four likely draft targets in-depth.