Late First, Early Second Round Targets for the Sixers

Patrick Young is a player the Sixers could target in the second round

Patrick Young is a player the Sixers could target in the second round

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It has become the trendy analysis to imagine that we can land the next Manu Ginoboli, Carlos Boozer, or Paul Milsap in the second round. Especially when one considers the number of second round picks the Sixers have (5), and Sam Hinkie’s involvement in landing Chandler Parsons, who has become a key cog for the Houston Rockets.

And while I don’t doubt Hinkie’s ability to land such a second round jewel, the odds are decidedly against that happening. A study of all second round picks from 1980 until 2001 revealed that a team has a 2% chance of a second round pick making even one All Star game.

This study further found that out of the 574 second round picks, 72% were not in the NBA within five years of being drafted, 62% played fewer than 100 games, and a staggering 29% of the players never played a single minute in the NBA.

The other interesting piece of information from this study was the difference in success rate between the last five picks of the first round versus the first five picks of the second round. Specifically, late first round picks are far less likely to be out of the NBA in 5 years (40% vs. 64%). Moreover, twice as many late first rounders became at least solid NBA starters compared to their second round counterparts (19% of first rounders compared to 9% of second rounders).

This is something to monitor as we approach the draft. Odds are the Sixers will not use all 5 second round picks. The Sixers might package a combination of these picks to move back into the late first round to try and grab a meaningful contributor.

With that in mind, I want to focus on prospects the Sixers could target in the late first, early second rounds. I don’t expect any of these players to be all-star caliber talents (although some have the upside), but I think they are being underrated by the NBA because of perceived defects in their game/physical attributes. Hopefully the Sixers can exploit this market inefficiency, because I believe that these three prospects can be meaningful contributors on a championship caliber team.

Late First Round Target: Elfrid Payton, 6’4, 185 lbs, PG, Louis-Laff:


If Payton went to Duke, he would be a lottery pick. And while momentum is building for him to go in the mid-teens, there is still a chance he is there around the mid-20s. I understand that people might hesitate to use a late first rounder on a point guard since that position is seemingly set with MCW. But if Payton is around, his talent might be too good to pass up.

Payton is a great athlete that has two-way potential. He uses his elite athleticism to create for himself, averaging 19 plus points per game last year. He excels in the pick and roll, getting to the rim at will with his explosive first step. But he is by no means a shoot first point guard; he is a great facilitator for his teammates. And my favorite part about Payton is his desire to be a lock down defender. He plays just as hard on D as he does on offense. His lateral quickness and 6’8 wingspan create significant problems for opposing point guards. It also gives him the ability to be used interchangeably on d, since he has the length to guard the two.

He is likely undervalued by teams for three reasons: he played in a smaller conference, he needs to improve his jumper, and he needs to add strength. The jumper is the most concerning weakness, as he shot just 26% from three point range last year and 59% from the line. Unless he improves his jumper, NBA defenses will hang back and make it harder for him to make it to the rim.

Weaknesses aside though, Payton could be a dynamic player for the Sixers as a third guard and a player I hope the Sixers target.

Early Second Round Targets: Patric Young: 6’10, 247 lbs, C, UF:

Young is one of my favorite players and I think one of the most underrated players in this draft. He was a highly touted recruit that excited NBA scouts after his freshman year at Florida. While he still had a successful college career, he never achieved the potential some scouts envisioned. I think it is this lack of fulfillment that has caused him to drop to the second round more than anything. And if the Sixers can target him with the first pick in the second round, I think he would be a steal.

There are few players in this draft that possess his combination of size and athleticism. He was listed at 6’9 in college, but measured at 6’10 at the combine. So I think the concerns about him being undersized are overblown. He is a defensive stopper: great at getting rebounds and protecting the rim, as evidenced by winning the SEC defensive player of the year in 2013-2014.

He has a limited offensive game. He won’t wow you with his low post moves. He relies primarily on hustle and his size/athleticism to get boards for easy put backs. He is a high character guy with a strong work ethic that projects as a high end backup center. Even if we have him start next to Noel in the short term, it would give us two-plus rim protectors with elite athleticism. So we could do worse, especially in the second round.

And Good Lord is he guy ripped.

Mid-Second Round Target: Nick Johnson: 6’3, 200 lbs, SG, Arizona:

Nick Johnson, show me your mean face

Nick Johnson, show me your mean face

What if I told you the Sixers could land a First Team All American, Pac-12 Player of the Year, First Team All Pac-12 player, and two-time All Pac-12 Defensive player in the second round? Those are the awards Johnson accumulated while leading one of the best teams the country in scoring last year.

His defect? He is an undersized shooting guard, measuring in at just 6’3 with a 6’5 wingspan. But if he was 6’5? He would be a top 20 pick, no questions asked. And for the type of roll he would fill — a defensive stopper off the bench — the concerns about his size are overstated. Johnson is one of the most athletic players in this draft–one of the few players that can compete with Wiggins athletically. And he has able to use that athleticism to be a shut down defender. Think a more athletic and offensively inclined version of Avery Bradley, but maybe not as polished a defender. The Sixers should target Johnson in the middle of the second round, especially if they don’t take Payton, to serve as a defensive specialist.

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