I know you’re dying for Bryan Colangelo news, or more Eagles vs. Donald Trump content, but let’s take a quick break to look at a few more Sixers draft prospects.
This is part three of a series that I’ll keep doing until I no longer feel like it. We’re going three players at a time, and started on Monday with Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, and Jevon Carter. Tuesday I touched on Wendell Carter Jr., Trae Young, and Collin Sexton.
Today we’re gonna take a look at Michael Porter Jr., Lonnie Walker, and Grayson Allen, and that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so.
Michael Porter, Jr. (Mizzou)
There’s always some guy who enters the draft with injury concerns, and this year it’s the 6’10”, 210 pound Missouri combo forward.
Porter played just 3 games during a freshman season that was almost entirely wiped out due to spinal surgery. In fancy medical terms, he needed a “microdiscectomy of the the L3-L4 spinal discs.” In layman’s terms, he was suffering from herniated discs in his back, went under the knife, and missed the majority of the year.
Drafting a guy with injury history might be a non-starter for Sixer fans who are weary from the Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons situations, but look at how those guys turned out after getting healthy. There’s an element of risk involved, certainly, but the upside is there, and Porter was seen as a potential lottery pick coming out of high school.
For starters, he’s just got a wonderful athletic profile, a tall and fluid player who strides in transition and just makes a lot of things look really smooth. We obviously didn’t get much film from his short stint at Mizzou, but he looked like a future pro at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 championship, where he played alongside Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba, Jarrett Allen, and others:
That was two years ago.
And the competition wasn’t amazing, but you see some Kevin Durant in him, don’t you? He’s got smooth mechanics (maybe a bit slow and deliberate) and a high release that should let him shoot over pretty much anything at the next level. He glides around the court and I could easily see him getting a bunch of transition opportunities running the floor with Simmons and others.The first minute of that video is basically all transition offense before he starts knocking down three pointers.
Similar to Durant, one knock seems to be his overall strength. Defensively, I don’t know how he’d match up in the post against a bigger power forward with more meat on the bones. He’s got a monstrous wing span and sort of engulfs smaller players, but he doesn’t slide his feet at an elite level and sometimes is a bit slow to rotate or recognize what’s going on in that half of the court. That said, there’s plenty of room to grow, and he should be able to guard most NBA twos and threes relatively well.
Because of the injury, Porter lands all over the place on mock drafts. I’ve seen him listed as high as four or five in some mocks, while Adrian Wojnarowski thinks he’ll fall out of the top-10 entirely:
Woj said he doesn’t think Michael Porter Jr will be a top 10 Pick. You may roll your eyes but think about how well connected Woj is. He said he expected Fizdale to be a strong candidate for the Knicks the day after Hornacek was fired.
— Daniel (@DanielM2k2020) June 4, 2018
For what it’s worth, Porter told media at the combine that he felt like he was the best player in the draft. There’s no shortage of confidence there, and if he was fully healthy throughout the year you’d probably see him in the conversation at #2 along with Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley, assuming Deandre Ayton is a lock to go to the Suns with the first pick.
There obviously isn’t a lot of college game film to look at, but he came back towards the end of the year to play in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the losses to FSU and Georgia, but you see the occasional flashes of brilliance:
If he falls to #10, it’s going to be hard to pass him up.
Lonnie Walker IV (Miami)
Lonnie hails from the ALMIGHTY Berks County and is a Reading High School product. Reading is a good school, but not as good as Boyertown, in my opinion.
The 6’4″ shooting guard will reportedly work out for the Sixers on Monday:
Former Miami guard Lonnie Walker (@lonniewalker_4) will participate in a group workout with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, June 11, league sources told The Athletic.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 6, 2018
Scotto says Miles Bridges will also take part in that workout.
Walker is seen as a guy who likes to have the ball in his hands, an excellent spot-up shooter who can also explode to the basket and finish through contact. He’s got good body control, not dissimilar to the way that Alabama’s Collin Sexton attacks the rim. He’s also got a quick release, not at a Trae Young level, but he’ll get the ball up and out with relatively ease and smoothness.
In these clips, you’ll see him curl off screens, square up, and fire:
He’s a 2-guard but did play a bit of point at Miami, so you can put him in the pick and roll and work off of that. That’s not something the Sixers did a lot of with two non-shooting point guards last season, preferring to run JJ Redick in dribble hand-off and off-ball designs instead.
Defensively, Walker does have the tools to defend different positions, hitting the scale just below 200 pounds and featuring a 6’10” wingspan. In the video above, you see the segment where he sometimes would leave his feet early or lose that first step and not be super competitive trying to body an opponent on a drive.
One of the other negatives with Walker is his offensive consistency.
He’d score in the single digits for a pair of games, then fluctuate into double digits and sometimes crest 20 points, but there were definitely some poor shooting nights during his Miami season, a year in which the Hurricanes went 22-10 and 11-7 in a competitive ACC.
You see the ups and downs in this chunk of his game log I clipped, where the parameters from left to right are minutes played, field goals, three pointers, and finally his total points on the far right:
Definitely some hot and cold there – 5 points, 16, 19, 12, 25, 23, 16. He had some clunky shooting games and needed a ton of shots to get his points against the better ACC teams. Look at those losses against Clemson and Duke in there, where he shot 12-33 overall. He wasn’t a guy who was always able to impose his will on the game.
I’ve seen some mocks sending Walker to Charlotte at 11. Others have him in the bottom end of the lottery, maybe 13 to the Clippers. If the Sixers have one of Mikal or Miles Bridges available at 10, or Michael Porter somehow continues to fall, I don’t think Walker will be in the equation, but they could do worse than a guy who can score the basketball at a high level when he’s on his game.
Grayson Allen (Duke)
He was in Philadelphia for a workout Wednesday, according to Keith Pompey.
You probably know about the disciplinary issues he had, the accusations of tripping opponents and the petulance he showed on the bench. He was a controversial player and a classic villain, so teams are gonna have to dive into the interview and determine where his head’s at.
But no one ever really talks about his skill as a basketball player, so let’s reroute in that direction.
Allen was a four-year player at Duke, a 6’4″ shooting guard who put up these numbers:
He had his best year as a sophomore, scoring 21.6 points per game on the strength of 46.6% shooting and a 41.7% mark from three. Those numbers dipped significantly as a junior, but came back up slightly during his senior year. He finished with 14.1 PPG on 43% shooting after four years in Durham.
And that’s really the first takeaway here; you’re getting a guy with experience. 99% of the guys projected to go in the top-ten are one-and-done players with a ton of upside but also plenty of question marks due to their small overall body of work. Allen won a national title as a freshman and played alongside the likes of Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram and against guys like Dennis Smith Jr. and Justin Jackson and Donovan Mitchell. There really isn’t going to be much of a curve for him; what you see is what you’re going to get. The floor and ceiling are pretty much known quantities.
The question is whether that’s good enough. Allen is a nice shooter and is sneaky athletic, but not elite in that department. He doesn’t look like he has the first step to beat NBA defenders and I don’t see him finishing consistently at the rim at the next level. You’d probably need to spring him with screens and off-ball movement to find open looks for him, and the Sixers already have enough guys on this squad who can’t really create their own shot. Robert Covington, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Jerryd Bayless, and Justin Anderson all had that covered last year.
One of the things he does really well is stay consistent with his mechanics. He gets his feet set, squares up, and shows good balance as a perimeter shooter, which you see a lot of here:
Beyond that, he was pretty aggressive driving in the half court and also transition and drew a good chunk of fouls in the process.
Defensively, he’s capable, but not going to light the world on fire. Experts seem to think he can make up for his lack of tools on this end with effort, and he can definitely be a high-energy pest on a second unit. Problem is, he seemed to turn off completely at times, especially when put in the pick and roll, which is NBA bread and butter.
Some people wonder if Allen has already plateaued because of the ceiling he hit as a junior, but he had a strong combine and tested very well. He worked out for the Jazz, who pick at #21 overall and could use a second unit scorer. And that’s probably going to be his NBA role, an energy guy off the bench who isn’t going to blow the doors off, but he’ll knock down some open shots and hustle and become one of those guys who you love if he’s on your team, but you hate if he’s on the other team. Most mocks have Allen going late in the first round or in the top half of the second round, so while I think it would be premature to use the 26th overall pick on him, the Sixers could take a chance with #38 or #39.
For what it’s worth, Duke Vitale says this:
I agree. 6th or 7th guy. Valuable rotation guy that can play multiple spots. Steve he has a keen passion & a chip on his shoulder to prove that the naysayers r wrong / someone taking him around 20 in the @NBADraft will be rewarded .
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) June 5, 2018
And listen, I hated JJ Redick in college. Most people did. And yet here he is, more than a decade later, playing well for the Sixers as one of the more respected guys around the league. If Allen evolves his maturity issues into that cliche of “Philly tough” behavior, he could certainly become a T.J. McConnell-esque fan-favorite. Say the right things, dive into the stands for a loose ball, ya know, that kind of stuff. It doesn’t take much.
I posed the question to Twitter to gauge the temperature of the fan base:
As a huge Duke fan not sure how he fits in today's NBA. Although athletic can he guard guys who he needs to? Can he get his shot off?Luke Kennard had a combine just like him last year and he hasn't impressed me in the NBA.
— Jawn Connors (@Joe_Connors81) June 7, 2018
He can shoot which is needed to eventually replace jj (if jj resigns)… read reports saying he is better at defense… depending on when they draft him wouldn’t hate it. If BC stays though doubt they draft him. They use late picks at draft and stash. Kinda his MO
— rob manoff (@manoffrm) June 7, 2018
Love. Will be a Marcus Smart type player. Good Defense. Hit some shots.
— alex armstrong (@ArmstrongAlex) June 7, 2018
Ted Cruz lookin headass. Don’t want him.
— Nick Carraway (@_Silence_Dogood) June 7, 2018
And, of course:
he’s not an NBA player, the stuff he did at Duke won’t work against elite athletes
— Philip Keidel (@PhilKeidel) June 7, 2018