There are many theoretical (and realistic) combinations of players the Sixers could acquire with their first two selections in the upcoming draft (13 days, mark your calendars!). Assuming Sam Hinkie stays put at no. 3 (perhaps a wrongful assumption), there aren't a great many directions he could go at that pick -- six or seven possibilities, by my count.
At no. 10, however, there is an incredible amount of possibilities. The selection here should make sense in conjunction with the selection at no. 3, but that may not even be the case. There's also the small matter of the greatly increased probability of trading this pick, to move either up or down in the draft, and that's not even taking into account the future of Thad Young with the team. I won't be presenting either of these possibilities with my list, as the title clearly states the idea of the post (and they have been addressed enough already).
With that said, I will try to take into account every objectively realistic scenario one could imagine occurring on draft night with these two picks. I will waste no further time explaining the semantics - let's jump in.
No. 3 possibilities
Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Just wanted to get this out of the way quickly - I don't believe he has a chance of falling to #3. But I do believe he is our target if we indeed move up to #1, as our 'interest', however passive or aggressive it may be, in doing so has been reported (although reports assume it's for Wiggins). Some may wonder about his fit or the offensive spacing with Nerlens Noel, another defensively-elite, offensively-developing super-athletic big man. (They also wondered about the fit with Hakeem & Sampson and Big Fundamental & The Admiral.) I do not. We need talent. Embiid is talent. Joel & Noel. If only...
Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
You guys obviously know the deal - incredibly athletic, raw, defensively-elite wing. He might not be an elite shooter or scorer out of the gate, but if Michael Carter-Williams can score 17 per, Wiggins should average in the neighborhood of 30. I kid, of course, but that's his game: he is perceived as the perfect fit for this team because we are the fastest-paced, most points-in-transition team in the league.
His one fatal flaw is that he lacks even a rudimentary handle. If and when he develops that handle of his (and I see it as more of a 'when' with Brett Brown coaching him), Wiggins will be a superstar. If he doesn't -- well, you get a jumpy 3&D wing in the mold of a poor man's Paul George. I believe his absolute floor is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Dante Exum, G, Australia
This is the sleeper of these players for this pick. Many within the various internet draft communities place Exum #2 on their boards, behind only Embiid. I am thoroughly fascinated by him. As many have an opinion one way or the other on his potential fit beside MCW in the backcourt, mine is this: I see Exum as more of a slashing, ball-dominant 2-guard anyways; he would probably slot in nicely as the secondary ball-handler.
The only problem of his fit with MCW is that neither of them are decent shooters. Exum seems to have a consistent stroke, but he has not as of yet put it together. But this is the same deal as with a Noel & Joel frontcourt: we need talent. Exum is talent, and he is still young and raw enough to be molded into something that works extremely well within our system, whatever that system is.
Jabari Parker, F, Duke
If it weren't for my respect to the rest of the LB community's opinion, I'd have made Mr. Parker sixth on this list. The more I learn about him, the further down my big board he goes. I don't think he can go lower than his current slot at 7th (6th for the Sixers), at the bottom of my third tier of prospects, but I've been surprised before. DeanOnDraft talks quite a bit about Parker in this article and in its comments--the article is a very good, informational read and I recommend taking the time to look at it even if you are drinking Parker's kool-aid. It has a lot to say about tons of prospects.
Anyways, if Jabari is taken at the 3rd slot by the Sixers, I would, of course, trust Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown with what they see in him. As of now, I don't see that happening. I believe Parker's best value to the Sixers could be his positional versatility and ability to stretch the floor from either forward spot. A Parker-Noel frontcourt has its advantages going forward, though this pick may force Hinkie's hand when it comes to the Thad trade situation.
Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
For as much upside as Gordon possesses due to his incredible athleticism and defensive versatility, to his credit, he may actually be the 'safe' pick of the top-7 prospects for teams not in the market for a point-guard (Marcus Smart). A pick of Gordon at #3, while initially shocking, would be truly awesome. A Gordon-Noel frontcourt would immediately be among the best, defensively, in the league; Gordon was able to guard every position on the court in college, and many believe he can guard 1-4 in the NBA.
He also showed semblances of having a long-range shot at 'Zona, shooting 35% (same clip as Parker, better than Wiggins, on half as much volume) from beyond the arc. The most worrying aspect of his shot is probably his incredibly low 42% from the FT line. This isn't a cause for that much concern for me with Brett Brown as our coach, but still. Lastly, Gordon's ball-handling skill is among the best in this draft for either forward position. He also has the highest 'basketball IQ' of the NCAA players presented so far: his AST/TO and AST%/TO% ratios are by far the best of the four, being the only one who garnered more assists than turnovers in their one-year tenures at college. It's worth noting that a pick of Gordon would also probably force Hinkie's hand in the Thad trade situation.
Noah Vonleh, F/C, Indiana
I love a frontcourt of Vonleh-Noel. Absolutely. Love it. That said, Vonleh scares me just a little. Was he coached out of being potentially dynamic in the offense in college, or was he being covered up (the latter point being evidenced by his horrendous AST%/TO% ratio)? On that latter note, are the basketball IQ questions legitimate? While he did do well in defending opposing big men (in the Big 10, at least, per Mark Titus), why didn't he make plays or cause turnovers, utilizing his incredible length? Et cetera.
However, if I had to make the perfect power-forward to slot Nerlens Noel next to, it would be something frighteningly close to everything Noah Vonleh presents as a prospect, if just a bit more. Long, athletic, big, physically mature (while still incredibly young), can shoot from range, can hold his own against NBA 4's and 5's, can dominate the defensive glass, ... but he would also have a decent handle and passing ability. But you can't have it all. And for Vonleh, to his absolute credit, he comes about as close as you could wish to being the perfect complement to our franchise centerpiece.
(Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State)
The only reason I am including this is because we all know about Hinkie's passion for advanced stats. And just about every advanced model says Smart is a top-4 player in this class. I would not put it past Hinkie to pick Smart at 3 if Brown is confident he can rebuild Smart's shot. But I like Exum's fit next to MCW a whole lot more than I do Smart's; Smart is not a great slasher, is a worse shooter, is less athletic, is more of a traditional point-guard and is more turnover-prone.
No. 10 possibilities
Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
Here's the deal: Randle isn't a great prospect, at least in the modern NBA scouting sense. But I might take a chance on his Elton Brand of basketball at this point in the draft, assuming we didn't land Embiid or Vonleh with our first pick. He has gradually fallen ever since being a top-3 lock coming into the college season, and I would not be surprised, between the relative non-fit of him with the teams slotted 8th and 9th and his fall from glory, if he fell to this juncture in the draft; moreover, I would not be shocked if we passed on him.
However, he does seem to fit nicely next to Noel in the frontcourt with his decent offensive game ('bullyball' in the post) and his physical limitations and lack of playmaking on defense. I would not be upset if we paired the two Kentucky products in our frontcourt, especially because I trust Hinkie infinitely if he picks any prospects that I perhaps unfairly hold in infinitesimal regard.
Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Not many people have done what Saric did last season in the highly competitive Adriatic League, and none of them did it at just 20 years old. He led the league in points and rebounds, winning MVP and leading his team to a championship victory. He will probably be a secondary ball-handler as a 'point-forward' in the NBA, as a majority high-post player in the frontcourt. He does everything well and nothing on an elite level, barring possibly his ball-handling and passing skills as a big.
He's not a very good playmaker on defense, but he does bring solid fundamentals on that end; he is 6-10, 225 with a 6-10 wingspan, so I doubt he will need to be 'covered up' on defense, but he won't ever be a force defensively. (And that's just fine because we happen to have one of only three players to ever get 5 blocks and 2 steals per 40 minutes in college -- the other two: Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson.) I absolutely love his fit with Noel in the frontcourt and Wiggins manning the other forward position. I have waffled on Saric in the past, but I believe I am now firmly in his large camp of supporters.
Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
I love everything Stauskas brings to the table as a prospect. Well, everything but his defense, that is. He is a top shooter in the draft (44% from 3-range, both years). He became a great ball-handler and driver in his sophomore year (he was even asked about playing some point-guard at the combine), probably best suited for a secondary ball-handler role on the next level. He gets to the line at a good rate (>6 FTA per 40) and shoots even better from it (83%). He also demonstrated his work ethic in his two years at UM, gaining over 16 lbs of muscle in the 2013-14 offseason, on top of improving in nearly every statistical aspect, especially his AST/TO and AST%/TO% ratios. His athleticism is also underrated; first, a quote from a must-read article about 'potential' among prospects by VJL:
By far the most useful measurement is no-step vertical (which is only a little better than max vertical, but they are highly correlated measures). Vertical leap seems to be a very good catch-all measure of basketball athleticism, which is consistent with the popular approach to identifying the athletic level of different players.
With that in mind, you may be surprised to find that Stauskas' max vertical, a respectable 35.5", is better than Dante Exum's and the same as James Young's. Stauskas' defense, however... not so hot. Weak fundamentals and weak effort on that side of the court -- his strong work ethic leaves room for optimism here, but it hasn't happened yet. I absolutely love his fit as a secondary ball-handler from the 2-guard spot next to MCW and anyone except Exum/Smart at #3... most notably Wiggins.
Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
Everyone knows the deal by now. A plug-'n'-play shooting-guard who can stroke it from deep and is one of the top perimeter defenders in the class. I believe he has a long future in the league as a solid 3&D off-ball guard. However, if you don't have your core pieces (stars) of the future, I don't believe you should settle for probable sure things with somewhat low ceilings. I do like Harris as a player and a prospect. I just don't believe he should be a pick we make.
Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
There are a lot of secondary ball-handlers available with this pick that would fit absolutely phenomenally with MCW-Wiggins-Noel. Anderson is yet another. He will probably run the second team off the bench in the beginning unless he is picked by a team with literally no talent (like the Knicks, as in my mock), but he has incredible innate abilities in a variety of skills. He is probably the best pure passer in this class, he is one of the best rebounders in the class, he is a good defensive playmaker, he has a very good shooting ability, and he stands at 6-8, 230 with a 7-3 wingspan. Here's a gem of a comment about him I found (from user "badpoet") on CanisHoopus's wild community mock draft, and it just so happened to be about his fit with the Sixers:
A) I think he’s a unique talent for his size. Passing is an underrated skill. Additionally, he averaged 8.8 boards, 2.2 steals and a block a game per 40. Which is pretty decent, all things considered, for a guy that "can’t guard anyone." Now, all of that may more may not translate to the pro game, but he was a pretty good college player and I think he’s worthy of the pick.
B) His FT% is in the area of "good enough" to assume he can become passable shooter. While FT% doesn’t always equate to shooting % (see Rubio, Ricky), I like his shot and I think he’ll become passable.
C) His weight is a problem. If he’s going to play the 3, he’s going to need to bulk up. But, plenty of guys have done that (all the way back to Magic).
D) He’s arguably the best player left on the board. I guess the Sixers could grab Julius Randle (who sucks), Stauskus, McDermott (eww at 10—I could live with Doug going to a team that needs an outside shooter but not until the 20s), Rodney Hood (awful), or Porzingis (who I don’t know as much about).
E) If I’m the Sixers, and I have a bunch of young, athletic dudes, I want a guy who can run the break and who can get boards. Enter Kyle Anderson.
F) If Noel pans out to be the player most people think he’ll be, their defense will be better as a team as a result. Yes, Anderson will have trouble in theNBA defensively, but there are plenty of players who do and not a lot of guys with his size and his passing ability or ability to run an offense.
G) This draft isn’t going to fix everything that’s wrong with the 76ers. There’s no silver bullet here. So, you take what you consider to be the best guy available and he happens to be a pretty good fit.
That comment sums Anderson up quite well. Now, the parts I haven't talked about: his athleticism and his defense. If it's any hint, his nickname was "Slo-Mo," and this was in college ball. He seems to do everything at his own pace, and that pace is slooooooooooow. A nice change of pace off the bench or a bad fit for our team going forward? Come to your own conclusions about that. He might be the least explosive player in the draft. And, as a logical following of this, his defense is also pretty horrendous. Like noted defensive juggernaut James Harden, instead of working on his fundamentals and plain effort on that end of the court, Anderson opts to go for reach-around steals, and he is quite good at exploiting his incredible length and doing so.
If Anderson finds a true niche in the NBA that plays to each of his skills, he can be a very special player. If he doesn't, he'll probably end up like Boris Diaw, and that's not so bad. He has been a point-guard his whole life, but he will need to transition to a combo- or power-forward role in the NBA, if still being given some freedom to run the offense as a point-forward. He will need to bulk up from his current 230 if he wants to guard the majority of NBA 4s, but I don't see it as too much of an obstacle at this point. He is a sleeper for this pick because the advanced stats are incredibly high on him, and I'd personally love to see it happen. Wiggins-Anderson-Noel? Yes pleeeaaase.
Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
I don't like LaVine as a prospect very much. However, he possesses truly incredible athleticism. Like, generational-type stuff. The most glowing endorsement I've heard about him is that his per-40 stats are very similar to Russell Westbrook's, and a bit better than Westbrook's freshman stats. There is, however, one vital difference between the two, as proven in the earlier-linked DeanOnDraft article: Westbrook is an elite slasher. One of the best in the game, and that was among, if not his best skill coming out. LaVine, however, has the worst slashing (getting to the rim and converting) stats of any guard in this class. I don't see him being successful on the next level, though I would love to be proven wrong, especially if he ends up in a Sixers uniform.
Jordan Adams, G, UCLA
All three of these UCLA guys have lottery-potential, all for quite different reasons. Adams isn't talked about nearly as much as his two counterparts, but most advanced stats/projection models place him in the top-4 prospects of this class. Adams is a cerebral player who shoots about as well as any of the good-not-great shooters at 35% from deep (Parker, Harris, Young), shoots very well from the line (84%), is very proficient at creating turnovers on the defensive end (>3 steals per-40), does well as a ball-handler and passer (1.5/1 AST/TO and AST%/TO% ratios), and rebounds his position very well at over 7 boards per-40, due to his fantastic length at 6-4, 210 and 6-10 wingspan.
He is a mixed bag defensively because he employs the same bad fundamentals and reach-around move as Anderson, but he was also very efficient in using his length to great advantage with the move. I would be shocked with a pick of Adams at 10, but he's a deep sleeper here because of his awesome placement in the class with advanced stats.
James Young, G/F, Kentucky
Most people here know Young's deal: he's a long, lanky lefty who, among other things, won the deeeep battle for playing time on the wing at Kentucky and shot the most 3's in the nation last year. His 35% from such a high clip may have been skewed downward by how many he took that were contested -- 77% of his attempts were contested, and he made those at a 32% rate; his uncontested looks, however, were drained at a very respectable 49% clip.
Young has the prettiest shooting form in the class, and solid length and athleticism with potential to be a better slasher than he showed in college. His defense wasn't pretty, at times lacking in effort and always lacking in fundamentals, but he has the potential to improve in this regard too. I don't love a pick of Young at 10, but I'm fully behind it if it happens.
K.J. McDaniels, G/F, Clemson
I love McDaniels as early as 10 if we don't nab Wiggins at the top of the draft. He is an uber-athletic, defensively-elite, very lengthy wing. He racked up blocks and steals like no one else in college did from the wing in his three years; he initially came in to college an unranked recruit and made huge strides in each of his three seasons at Clemson. He doesn't possess a very good outside shot, but his awesome 84% from the line (up from 58% and 68% his first two years..) and 41% when shooting uncontested from beyond the arc leaves some room for optimism.
There's really nothing to dislike about McDaniels besides his immediate possible spacing issues, but even that's overblown (and not too much of a worry for us for a couple of years). He is an extremely hard worker and a true sleeper to sneak higher than he's being projected into the lottery as a huge motor and heart kind of guy. Love him.
Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette
Another probable riser on draft night here. I absolutely love both of these prospects' games as high-motor, high-ceiling, very long and athletic, offensively-developing and already defensively-elite players coming into the league. My comparison for Payton is a skinny Marcus Smart, and that's pretty damn spot-on. He's a very long guard with upside in bunches who produced as a great driver/finisher and who struggled with turnover issues, especially against elite competition. His worst trait is his awful (and probably broken / in need of a rebuild) outside shot. I love him as a backup point-guard immediately and potential starter with superstar upside down the line in a two-PG offense for us. Works fine with any pick except Exum/Smart at #3.
Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
Elite shooter - probably the best one in the draft. And some other stuff that worked in college. (Ugh.) I have a real hard time seeing Hinkie giving a single thought to McDermott at #10, so excuse me here.
In reality, the Sixers could end up with just one of these players listed and as many as three or even four. In this world, we are assuming they stand pat at #3 and #10 and that Thad Young is either traded for a lesser asset that is not one of these players or he stays on the team and leaves in free agency next year. With that said, my favorites are...
Andrew Wiggins and Dario Saric
I would also be extremely happy with Kyle Anderson in that slot if Hinkie picked him. They both represent secondary ball-handlers on the offense with ability to bring so much more in so many different ways. Saric already has a very well-developed game and championship/MVP experience. We may not get him for up to two or (hopefully not) three years, but if it's one or two, that also presents a good situation salary cap-wise for the Sixers down the line.
Dante Exum and James Young
With a backcourt of MCW and Exum, you need spacing (and non-ball-handlers), and it can't come in the form of a true guard. Young provides just that with his ability to play the SF position and great upside. It's tough because no one else from the whole list really works at all with Exum, but such is the price for going with your BPA over fit.
Jabari Parker and K.J. McDaniels
The problem with matching Gary Harris with Parker, as is so common (LOOKING AT YOU, CAREY), is that it's not exactly the right way to counteract Parker's ineptness on the defensive side of the court. Harris is a 6-3 (on a good day) guard that will guard the shorter or better-shooting guard of the opposite team in a backcourt of him and MCW. Parker is a combo-forward that will have trouble with the explosiveness of NBA 3s and the size and physicality of NBA 4s - where's the logic in picking Harris to cover up Parker? McDaniels, on the other hand, does just that. A very good combination of skills, length and star-upside between the two, if you ask me.
Aaron Gordon and Nik Stauskas
Gordon has a good enough handle and passing ability for it to be considered a big plus in his favor, but not good enough for him to ever be in consideration for being a secondary ball-handler or point-forward for a team. This definitely seems like a very good complementary match on both sides of the court. Love it.
I don't see a logical scenario where we move up to #1 without giving up #3 and #10 in the process and getting back scraps, at most. However, I like Embiid enough to list him here as someone who potentially contends with all of these pairs for my favoritism. He is the best prospect in the draft. If Dante Exum is your #2 guy, is James Young really worth the difference between Exum and Embiid? Et cetera. I would not be disappointed at all with a move up to #1. Always trust Hinkie. Always.
Anyways - what say you? What are your favorite pairs of prospects to be acquired with these two selections?