Every now and then, I try to get out from behind the laptop, writing about basketball, and occasionally play some basketball. I do this for two reasons. One, because as Jalen Rose reminded me Tuesday, my opinion as someone who never played in the NBA means less than his, for he is A FORMER PLAYER, so as somebody who OCCASIONALLY PLAYS THE GAME, my opinion has some merit. (Somebody let me know if he said anything interesting on the podcast after that, because I immediately shut it off, never to listen again.) The second is because it's really the only sport where I have any sort of discernible skill left and can compete on a reasonable level.
Growing up watching basketball, I was never crazy about the super-athletic guys who could do incredible dunks. I appreciated it, of course, and it was always impressive, but I was always more intrigued by the guys who could shoot the daylights out of the ball. I realized three was greater than two a lot quicker than many of my peers, so somebody who could make a three point shot was playing on a higher level to me.
So, when I'd play, I'd always want to be the guy that could shoot. Now, that tends to be a problem at a younger age, because, nobody can shoot. (Seriously, youth basketball is the worst.) But as I got older, I developed a pretty decent long-range jumper. It's not great, but it keeps me competitive in games I just have no business being in athletically. Even as I started following basketball more closely and realizing there's more to the game than just jacking up a bunch of threes, I've always had a soft spot for guys who are just pure shooters. They're just a lot of fun. Who doesn't love seeing some bench shooter get hot for periods at a time, the crowd going nuts, Marv Albert yelling "YES!" over and over again. Kyle Korver has sold thousands of jerseys in multiple different cities being that guy.
Pimpin' All Over LB
That's what brings me to my chosen prospect,
Gary Harris C.J. Wilcox.
Wilcox is the definition of a shooter. A 23-year-old senior from Washington, Wilcox shot 39% for the Huskies, where he played legitimate minutes all four years, including being their top scorer the last two seasons. He registered an efficient 60% true shooting percentage in his senior season. He can catch and shoot with the best of them, he's good at running around screens, and as an added bonus, he can also shoot off the dribble. He's great in transition, an excellent fit for the pace of the 76ers. He fills a role from day one on the Sixers.
He's also an interesting physical presence. He's a 6-5 shooting guard with a long 6-9 3/4 wingspan. He's a pretty solid on-ball defender as a result, since he's just hard to get past. Where he struggles defensively is off the ball, where he runs into so many screens, you'd think you're watching a Wile E. Coyote production. He's not particularly strong either.
That's fine though, because the beauty of Wilcox lies in his shooting. Finding good shooters is harder these days than ever before, with more teams valuing the three than ever before. Whereas you could once find plenty of shooters looking for work in July for cheap, basically willing to shoot for food and shelter, today, they are a more highly-paid bunch. Some of them still slip through the cracks, but fewer and fewer every season.
Wilcox is projected by most to be a late first round to high 2nd round talent. For the Sixers, picking a guy like Wilcox who can fit their up-tempo transition pace right away, make a high percentage of his threes, and even defend a little would be a huge coup. If they could get that type of player at #32 or even #39 if they're lucky, it would be absolute larceny.
Wilcox is a guy who can come in and be a rotation player for years to come. He's experienced, and he brings a skillset that could earn him a decade in the NBA coming off the bench. He'd be an excellent pick for the Sixers in the early 2nd round if he gets there. He has been properly pimped.