Good news! Everyone's favorite draftnik, Chad Ford, has released a brand-spanking new mock draft. It is the rare occasion when Ford actually inserted his own opinion into the piece, rather than quoting anonymous scouts as his sources for what he expects to happen. The premise? Ford was "playing the role of GM for all 30 teams and taking what he believed to be the best possible player and fit for each team."
As a mock draft, Ford was beholden to the restrictions that always limit these sorts of exercises. Specifically, he cannot create any trades to allow teams to pick anywhere other than their own draft slots. Given that the Sixers have five second rounders—and surely only a few of them can make the roster this season—and that Hinkie has shown a proclivity for draft day trades the past two years, this particular constraint means that Ford's projection is likely a far cry from what Hinkie's draft will truly look like. That said, here is Ford's draft for our Philadelphia 76ers:
Overall, this is a draft that I would be relatively pleased with. Pompey recently reported that the Sixers' have an interest in Russell, and while that report does not necessarily mean that Hinkie has eyes only for Russell, the young Buckeye makes sense for this Sixers' team for several reasons. Ford writes:
The Sixers could end up with a monster front line in a few years. What they need desperately is some backcourt help, and I love what Russell bring them. I think the James Harden-Russell comps are right on. Not only does he provide something they utterly lack—shooting—but he also gives them versatility. Russell's ability to play both guard positions allows the Sixers to be more flexible down the road and his shooting could help open up the paint for Embiid and Noel.
Ford's core point—that Russell provides spacing, guard play, and flexibility—is accurate. Russell seems like a logical pick for a team built around the twin towers of Noel and Embiid. However, I wholeheartedly disagree with Ford's assertion that the James Harden comparison is "spot on." The two players are wildly different because the central facet of their games is polar opposite. Both are 6'5, southpaw shooting guards forced to carry the load for teams without a strong supporting cast. Harden's elite ability, however, is driving, where he draws fouls at a close to league-leading rate. If there is a knock on Russell's offense, it's probably that he is too weak of a finisher and shies away from contact at the rim. His biggest weapon, meanwhile, is his shot—he is an elite college shooter he is comfortable teeing it up from anywhere. In that regard, he is certainly a player that Sixers' fans should be excited about seeing in a white and blue uniform, but you should not be expecting a Harden clone.
The rest of the draft seems strong and plausible was well. Ford calls it a "who's who of upside," and that's probably a fair evaluation. I am on record as being low on McCullough, but he is certainly worth a flyer at the 35th pick. McCullough has average size but phenomenal length for a power forward with measurements at 6'9 / 7'3. Before tearing his ACL in January, he sported an impressive block rate for any player, let alone a power forward. His combined blocks and steals per 40 minutes were actually at 5.4, which is more than Karl-Anthony Towns ended up with at the end of the season. While he was inconsistent, he did show some promise as a spot-up shooter, frequently stepping out to 18 feet to knock down jumpers. There are mitigating factors on both of those aspects of his game, but if he can become a shot blocking jump shooter at the 4 spot, he could be a hugely valuable pickup in the second round.
Michael Frazier was a casualty of a year of underachievement in Gainesville (good luck with that, Oklahoma City). At only 6'4, he doesn't have great size for a shooting guard, but he is incredibly long (6'9 wingspan) and is a strong 3-point shooter. He fits the mold of 3-and-D wings Hinkie has taken second round flyers on, and could become an effective wing off the bench.
Vince Hunter, meanwhile, has been a favorite of several posters at LB, and could be a real sleeper if he ever learns how to shoot. He is one of the elite athletes in the draft, and while he played power forward at UTEP, he certainly has the lateral athleticism to play on the wing in the NBA. Hunter was among the best rebounders in all of college ball, averaging 13 boards per 40 minutes. The majority of his offense came under the hoop, whether off of rebounding opportunities or in transition. He rarely took jump shots, attempting only 10 three pointers all year. While he converted them at a strong rate, his poor free throw shooting (59.9%) suggests that his shot has a long way to go.
George de Paula (also known as George Lucas, overlord of the Star Wars franchise) is one of my personal favorites in this draft. He is a very young Brazilian point guard, whose physical tools are off the charts. He stands 6'6 with a 7'0 wingspan, which could make him a defensive menace at the point of attack. He remains very raw, but he has shown tantalizing flashes of talent. De Paula is a true point guard, with excellent vision who looks to involve his teammates first. His enormous hands allow him to handle the ball with ease. Where he struggles is in his decision-making and shooting, both of which are paramount for a point guard. He's certainly a player worth taking a flyer on at this point in the draft.
And finally, I'll be completely honest in that I don't know the first thing about Arturo Gudaitis. I do think it is likely that the Sixers stash a foreign player at some point in the second round, but I have no idea what the chances are that Gudaitis may be that guy.
Overall, I think Ford made some nice selections for this Sixers team. Russell is as likely as any other player for the Sixers to select at 3, and the second round is filled with high-upside players who excel physically but need to improve upon their skills. What do you think? Would you be happy to see Hinkie select this group of players?