With the Sixers in the midst of a playoff run and push for the sixth seed (only half a game behind the Knicks), the NBA draft is likely among the last things Sixers fans are thinking about. However; if you're an obsessive draft freak like myself, there's never a time not to be thinking about the draft.
As the NCAA tournament creeps closer, things are beginning to heat up in the college basketball universe. A Saturday stuffed with conference games, tourney implications, and prospects, paired with the off-days for both the Knicks and Sixers makes now a great time to familiarize yourself with a few more prospects the Sixers could potentially take in June's draft.
My personal wish list consists of eight prospects, ranging from late-lottery to second round. Brief descriptions of the prospects and how they'd fit with the Sixers can be found here and here. Make the jump as I add five more college prospects to my wish list.
Thomas Robinson (ESPN: 16, DX: 31)
Robinson's a sophomore on the number two ranked team in the country, but only receiving 15 minutes a game behind the Marcus and Markieff Morris. In the final moth of his second season at Kansas, he is still inexperienced and raw; if he enters the draft teams will be drafting him based on his defensive potential and explosive athleticism.
At 6'9", 230 T-Rob possesses terrific size and athleticism for a guy who should be able to play both forward positions in the NBA. Although the sample size is fairly small he's putting up Faried-esque rebounding numbers this season, with a 20.6 OREB% and a 29.6 DREB%. For perspective, Faried himself – the best rebounder in the nation – has an OREB% of 20.1 and a DREB% of 31.7.
Robinson could fill one, possibly two needs for the Sixers. One, as a legitimate rebounder off the bench, and two, a replacement for Thaddeus Young should he leave via free agency. And his athleticism and ability to finish in the open court would fit right in.
I wouldn't be surprised if Robinson returned to Kanas, but if he enters the draft he'll probably shoot up some draft boards after the combine and individual workouts.
(Robinson had 15-13 against 22nd ranked Missouri in just 17 minutes earlier today.)
Tristan Thompson (ESPN: 20, DX: 30)
I'm not a huge fan of Thompson because he's a terrible defensive rebounder as a four, and I think he lacks the offensive game to play small forward in the NBA. The reason he makes my wish list is because I think he can be a nice bench player for the Sixers, and he's another guy who could adequately replace Thad.
Thompson gets to the free throw line at an absurd rate, but converts only 49% of the time. His most endearing quality to me, is his defense. With a block percentage of 6.6 and a 7'2" wingspan he could provide the Sixers with some much-needed shot-blocking. Draft Express does a good job of summing up his overall defensive potential:
A versatile defender on the NCAA level, Thompson's blend of length, strength, and lateral quickness allow him to defend both forward positions effectively.
(Thompson and the Longhorns face-off against Perry Jones and the Baylor Bears at 9 EST, if you're interested. A nice match-up for Thompson.)
Markieff Morris (ESPN: 22, DX: 29)
Standing 6'10", 240 Morris possesses intriguing size for a Sixers team in search of some. He's isn't the "sexiest" prospect out there, but he's been extremely solid in every area during his junior season at Kansas. His impressive stats include an offensive rating of 119.3, a DREB% of 25.5, a true shooting percentage of 64.8, a block percentage of 5.0, and a three-point percentage of 41.7% – albeit on 48 total attempts.
For someone with his size and decent athleticism I find it somewhat disappointing he doesn't have a refined post game, nor does he attempt as many free throws as I'd like. Defensively Morris is also solid, but not great.
If he continues to rebound at a high rate, defend averagely, and continually improve as he has during his three years at Kansas, I see no reason he can't start next to Elton Brand next season. For a variety of reasons he's a better big man option than the threesome of Hawes, Speights and Brackins.
(Morris had 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 fouls, and 4 turnovers in Kansas' early game.)
Mouphtaou Yarou (ESPN: 50, DX: 27)
Yarou has decent size at 6'9", 240, and the potential to be a nice NBA big man. Unfortunately, that's really all he has to hang his hat on at this point. He's shown flashes at various points this season, but never with any consistency. He's another unpolished big who'll get drafted based on his size and potential.
Yarou is someone to keep an eye on as a second round target. I consider him nothing more than a project – maybe a D-League candidate, but there's nothing wrong with taking a flier in the second round.
(Yarou finished with 5 points, 5 boars in Villanova's game with Pittsburgh earlier today.)
Festus Ezeli (ESPN: 51, DX: 60)
Ezeli could be another second round target for the Sixers. He's a beast of a human, standing 6'11", 255 pounds, which makes his horrific 15.9 DREB% even more disturbing. Playing such an underwhelming defensive rebounder at center creates a massive liability for any teams.
On the plus-side Ezeli is a very good shot-blocker, with an 11.1 block percentage on the season, and despite his embarrassing DREB%, he's among the best in offensive rebounding, with a rate of 14.8.
First, Ezeli has developed a go-to-move in his reliable right-handed hook shot, so he is longer reliant on getting an angle to use the glass to score. That dependence was partially responsible for how turnover prone he was last season, since he often forced the issue with his dribble instead of being able to score right over the top of his defender. Second, Ezeli has been exponentially more aggressive when establishing position, earning some easy looks for himself by simply being assertive when going to work down low.
Again, nothing wrong with taking a guy like Ezeli in the second if you're the Sixers, even if he's more of a project and/or a tenth man/emergency big man.
(Ezeli is currently playing on ESPN against Florida. He has 9 points (on 4 shots), 1 rebound and 1 block at half.)
Unofficial Sixers Draft Wish List - 03/05
- John Henson
- Kenneth Faried
- Thomas Robinson
- Chris Singleton
- Lucas Nogueira
- Markieff Morris
- Jordan Hamilton
- Tristan Thompson
- Patric Young
- Tyler Honeycutt
- Mouphtaou Yarou
- Festus Ezeli
- Aaric Murray