With the NCAA tournament in full swing, and with Lucy back on track in epic style, 76ers fans watching the NCAA tournament (and if you're a basketball fan, you *should* be watching the NCAA tournament) could be watching a future member of the team this weekend.
Unfortunately a number of prospects likely to be selected near where the 76ers have picked have either already been knocked out, or where never part of the big dance to begin with. Nerlens Noel, while not likely to be available for the 76ers unless they get seriously lucky with the ping pong balls, obviously has been out with season ending knee surgery. Alex Len, Isaiah Austin, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley, and C.J. McCollum all missed out on the tournament (and in McCollum's case, had been injured anyway).
Some, such as Marcus Smart, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad, Otto Porter, and Steven Adams have already been bounced in the first round.
With all that said, the amount of NBA talent to focus on has been somewhat thinned out. But there's still plenty left to watch. Here are some games to keep an eye on as you're looking forward to the NBA draft.
I'm going to be focusing mainly on players available with the 76ers first round pick, but I'll sprinkle in a couple of second round guys I like as well. Again, closer to draft time we'll have mock drafts and scouting reports up.
Saturday, March 23rd:
12:15 PM CBS - Michigan vs VCU
The prize of this game is Trey Burke, who struggled mightily from the field (although still controlled the game masterfully down the stretch). But he's not somebody whom the 76ers are likely to have much interest in come draft time, being that they're set at point guard with Jrue Holiday.
There's some intrigue with Glenn Robinson III, the son of "Big Dog", who has the potential to be a very diversified offensive player. But his weaknesses are a little bit too similar to his fathers for me to have much interest, at least where the 76ers will be drafting, primarily his defense and the fact that he doesn't show much instincts in terms of setting up his teammates.
2:45 PM CBS - Michigan State vs Memphis
I find this game to be fairly interesting from a basketball perspective, as it will be fun to see how Tom Izzo and Michigan State's incredible defense are able to slow down Geron Johnson and Joe Jackson on the perimeter. But from an NBA perspective? Not a whole lot.
Gary Harris is a very good catch and shoot player, a skill set the 76ers certainly need, but he's undersized and doesn't do much off the dribble, and doesn't get to the free throw line much at all, another quality the 76ers do not need in a perimeter player. The 76ers can do better in the lottery\
5:15 PM CBS - Louisville vs Colorado State
Another interesting game without much implications to the 76ers. Colorado State had an impressive showing against Missouri and have a highly ranked offense, albeit not against the greatest competition in the world. They'll go up against the best defensive team in the country, anchored by junior big man Gorgui Dieng.
Dieng is the primary interest from an NBA perspective, a shot blocking threat sporting a 7'6' wingspan, who is an overall extremely versatile defender, and is good on both the offensive (13.2% oreb%) and defensive (22.6%) glass.
Again, though, he would be an extreme reach at the 76ers spot. That being said, if the 76ers can find a way to get back into the late first round, or if he drops into the early second round, he is somebody whom I would have some interest in, particularly if he can show that the improvement he has shown on his mid-range jump shot (over limited sample in the season) is legitimate during workouts.
6:10 PM TNT - Arizona vs Harvard
The main reason to watch this game is Solomon Hill, who has moved more out to the perimeter this season as Arizona welcomed in a good freshman class of big men, and has had some good results. He's a potential second round candidate.
7:10 PM TBS - St. Louis vs Oregon
Honestly, skip this game from an NBA perspective.
7:45 PM CBS - Marquette vs Butler
It's not usual to have a 3/6 matchup without much in the way of NBA prospects, but you have that here. The Davante Gardner / Andrew Smith match-up will be interesting, and Vander Blue is fun to watch, but neither are really legitimate players to be drafted by the 76ers.
8:40 PM TNT - Gonzaga vs Wichita State
The primary interest here is Kelly Olynyk. If you're not used to watching college basketball, find the guy who looks like Thor.
Olynyk is a very versatile offensive player, somebody who can score inside and out, hit from the perimeter and get to the free throw line, and who gives great effort all the time. But his rebounding and defense make me very hesitant to draft him this highly. I just don't see a position he'll be able to defend adequately at the next level, and that's a very risky player to take at this level of the draft.
9:30 PM TBS - Syracuse vs California
The main NBA player in this game is Michael Carter-Williams, but he's another player who is likely not on the 76ers radar because of Jrue Holiday.
From a 76ers perspective, I have some interest in C.J. Fair, but that would mainly be as a signing after the draft. Allen Crabbe of California is the one I'll be watching the most.
Crabbe is primarily a catch and shoot jump shooter, and a very good one at that, but he has worked this year to develop more off the dribble, and even getting to the line with some regularity now. He's not particularly great creating off the dribble, but he's improved just enough that he's able to make defenders pay with overaggressive close-outs. With solid length, strength, and defense, he's somebody to potentially target early in the second round.
Check back tomorrow for a viewing guide for tomorrow's games.