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A lot of basketball fans seem to think the Sixers are a lock to get Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell in the upcoming NBA draft. While I think he is definitely the best option for the Sixers at number 3, he might not be available when it is time to make a selection.
With the first pick in the draft, the Timberwolves, who are in need of a big man, will probably select Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns. If they part ways with the injury-prone Ricky Rubio, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if they drafted Russell with the first pick. Even if Rubio is out of the picture, I still think that they will select a big man because guys like Towns and Okafor only come around every so often. Plus, either of them would look damn good playing with Andrew Wiggins.
The team I am more worried about is the Lakers (and not because they wined and dined Russell on Sunday).
I am most worried about the Lakers because of what they could potentially do in free agency. Not only do the Lakers need a big man, but they also need help at the guard position. Kobe Bryant is going to retire. Jeremy Lin is not cutting it. Jordan Clarkson could be solid but he is not a player to build a team around. Wayne Ellington is mediocre at best. And do I even have to mention Swaggy P?
Last year, the Lakers selected Julius Randle in the first round, only to lose him to a leg injury in the first game of the season. Randle, who appears to be on pace to play in summer league, is only 20 years old and could be the big man the Lakers are looking for if he stays healthy.
To make matters for the Sixers worse, this years free agency class is filled with talented forwards and centers. The guards in this years free agency class are rather weak.
Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Brook Lopez, and Al Jefferson could all be options for the Lakers in free agency. It is unlikely that the Grizzles let Gasol go and the same goes for Aldridge and the Blazers. Love has already said he wanted to stay with Cleveland and it is very doubtful that the Clippers would let Jordan go play for the Lakers. However, Los Angeles is a desirable place to play and any of these players could decide they wanted to play for the Lakers if the price is right.
In terms of free agent guards, the best two options would probably be Goran Dragic and Rajon Rondo. While there has been many rumors about Rondo possibly going to the Lakers, he struggled with Dallas last season and might not be the best fit in LA. Plus, Rondo doesn’t look as good on paper with Kobe set to retire after this season. Dragic has already hinted that he wanted to stay with the Miami Heat and he has the player-option to do so.
Besides Rondo and Dragic, Brandon Knight (restricted), Reggie Jackson (restricted), Patrick Beverley (restricted), and Lou Williams (unrestricted) are arguably the best guards in free agency. While Knight and Jackson have plenty of talent, I think I would much rather have Russell to build my franchise around.
So, the question is now…what do the Sixers do at pick number three if Russell is off the board? I say screw it, Pick Okafor or Towns and have three tree trunks on the floor. Forget about Emmanuel Mudiay and go big or go home. This way, if Embiid doesn’t work out, we have Towns or Okafor to make up for it.
Only time (and Sam Hinkie) will tell.
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