Back in 2015 the Philadelphia 76ers took on the contracts from the Sacramento Kings of Carl Landry and Jason Thompson in a very bizarre trade. The Sixers sent two international players(who haven’t played in the NBA yet) and also received former lottery pick Nik Stauskas. What makes this trade so relevant is that the Sixers were also awarded the rights to swap first round picks with the Kings in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.
In the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery, the Sixers had the fourth best odds, but fell to the 5th pick. They were bailed out with the pick swap because the Kings won the lottery and were awarded the 3rd overall pick, thus enabling the pick swap. They will pick after Boston(thanks Brooklyn, idiots) and the Lakers who pick first and second.
Because Sam Hinkie was the GM always willing to take on more expensive contracts in trades in exchange for future draft picks, the Sixers have a top 3 pick this year, but it doesn’t end there. Because the Lakers received a top 3 pick, they will receive a unprotected Lakers first round pick in 2018 and a Kings unprotected first round pick in 2019.
The Sixers will be adding a top 3 prospect to a roster that included Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. It’s safe to say the tanking era is over and the compete for playoff seeds is about to begin.
Here is a look at who the Sixers could target with the third overall pick:
I included all of the consensus top 7 prospects here. I wanted to share the good and bad with all these prospects because there is an outside shot the Sixers get any of these kids, more so with a trade up with Fultz, but the rest are all in play at 3.
Markelle Fultz G/Washington- First off, in order for the Sixers to get this pick a few things need to happen. First, Boston has to be willing to trade with Philly, not always a given for division rivals. Second, they have to view the gap between Fultz and the next two prospects as somewhat small. Third, they have to be willing to trade down two spots for a future pick(either Lakers or Kings unprotected first). It’s unlikely unless the Celtics love Josh Jackson, then it becomes a very realistic scenario.
Fultz was a ball-centric point guard in college, but I can see him at either guard spot in the NBA. He’s 6’4 with a 6’9 3/4 wing span. He’s already a pretty good shooter, a great athlete and is only 19 years old. He has the potential to become a longer version of Dwayne Wade or Russell Westbrook, depending on his role.
He does have his issues though. He has a real casual approach at times and gets caught watching the ball off the ball on defense. He doesn’t play with a ton of intensity or emotion and it makes me worried that he will be a very inconsistent defender and a little bit up and down in the regular season on both ends.
Also it’s important to keep in mind that all 7 of this prospects I’m profiling in this post are 19 or 20 year old kids who played one year of college ball. They are all far from perfect players and they are being thought of so highly because of who they can develop into rather than what they are now. I’m going to pick out some things that worry me about each prospect so don’t take that as me bashing a player or trying to convince you that they are the next Anthony Bennett.
Josh Jackson F/Kansas- I am firmly driving the Josh Jackson at bus and I will run over anyone who gets in my way. He’s my number one prospect this year. He and Fultz are close, but I like Jackson’s upside and versatility a little big more. Keep in mind this league is dominated by wings, not ball-centric point guards, though I do think Fultz will develop into more than that.
Emotionally Jackson is the exact opposite of Fultz. He plays with a ton of intensity and you don’t see him playing casual for often. He attacks the rim and gets after it on defense. He can guard most positions and shot 38% from outside despite a sloppy shot form in college. His shot will only get better and that percentage is really encouraging.
He can be immature and had his share of legal troubles in college. He had a few technical fouls in college and gets frustrated easily. It comes with being an emotional player. He’s also pretty thin at this point and does get pushed around at times. He’s only 203 pounds on a 6’8 frame, so adding weight is essential to his development. If he gets up to around 230 and improves his shot I think he can be a top 5 wing in this league in a few years.
Lonzo Ball G/UCLA- I’m pretty anti-Ball to Philly at this point and a lot of it has to do with his clinically insane father. Philadelphia is a major sports market and it would give Ball plenty of opportunities to voice his frustrations after every single loss. No GM has said that LaVar would scare them away from taking Lonzo, but no GM has anything to gain by saying that. I believe that at least half of the GMs picking in the top 10 would consider passing on Lonzo because of his father. It seems really petty, but I promise you there is some truth to it.
Outside of his needy father, Ball has a pretty strong game. Despite a really ugly shot form(that still has a high release), Ball is an excellent shooter. He averaged 1.19 points per shot attempt(FG or FT) in college, which is really impressive. He doesn’t have great quickness, but he has Jason Kidd-like vision and is an outstanding spot-up shooter. His length also gives him a huge advantage on both ends and his athleticism allows him to play above the rim when he has the space to do so.
What I would caution fans about Ball’s game is that he isn’t a number one or even a number two scorer and he won’t create a ton of offense for himself. He will make everyone else around him better, but if you need a big shot from him, you better have someone else on your roster who can create it for him.
Jayson Tatum F/Duke- This kid scares the hell out of me and makes me really question why Coach K doesn’t teach defense anymore, at least not to freshman. It started with Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor and continued with Tatum. None of those players played much defense at all. They lose sight of their man pretty easily and it’s never been a priority for them.
Tatum has a really smooth handle and shot. He can play the 3 and 4 and be a difficult match-up on defense for either position. He can shoot from anywhere and has enough length(6’11 wingspan) to do a lot of damage above the rim. If he isn’t a starter right away he will at least be the type of player who immediately upgrades your bench scoring.
Defense will be a total project for him. He’s not very quick, he has no awareness and you can tell he hasn’t been coached up at that end very much so far in his career. I think he will be a liability at that end early in his career and your hope would be that he improves enough to at least be decent. He’s only 204 pounds so until he bulks up he won’t have a position to defend. Most wing plays will be too quick and most power forward types will be far too strong for him.
De’Aaron Fox G/Kentucky- This is the player that shut down Lonzo Ball in the tourney. He’s the quickest prospect I have seen on tape so far. Even when he plays out of control on defense he has so much speed that he recovers pretty quickly. I’d compare him to Marshon Lattimore in the recent NFL Draft. Pretty raw player, but so much recovery speed on defense that it often doesn’t matter.
Fox is an outstanding player in transition, but he is still learning how to run an offense in the half-court. His quickness on offense would show up more if he could develop an outside shot. He shot under 25% from outside at Kentucky and he certainly got a ton of open looks. My biggest fear with his game is that he will never develop his shot and it will prevent him from being a consistent scorer at the next level.
Malik Monk G/Kentucky- Monk would be the player I’d be pushing for had the Sixers also received the Lakers pick in the 4-6 range. He’s the streaky shooting guard they need to play alongside a Ben Simmons. He’s a fearless shooter who can also get to the rim at will. He’s only 6’2, but his 6’6 wingspan more than makes up for it and he shot a very high percentage on contested shots.
If you put Monk on a team that is just starting its rebuild then I think he will struggle to shot 40% and have a high turnover rate, but if you put him on a team like the Sixers that has several players that are both unselfish and can create offense for their teammates, then I think Monk can be a consistent 10-15 points per game player right away.
I love his fit here enough to take him over Lonzo Ball if Fultz and Jackson are the first two picks. I also think Bryan Colangelo sees enough of a need that he would take him third overall over a Josh Jackson, which does scare me a bit.
Dennis Smith G/NC State- Smith to the Sixers would make me throw up on draft night. For a full season in college he was the bad version of Russell Westbrook. He ignored open teammates to take contested shots, he rarely played defense and he didn’t get along with anyone. Some will blame his situation at NC State, but Fultz was in a much worse one at Washington. The concern with Smith is that he is another Dion Waiters with less shooting ability.
Smith is a really explosive athlete with a ton of upside, but he showed a lot on tape that would make you think that upside will never be reached.