Joel Embiid has never been one to hide his thoughts from the public, and after the Sixers found out they would be picking third in the 2017 NBA Draft the Rookie of the Year candidate shared who he thinks could be his newest teammate.
Courtesy of CSN’s Jessica Camerato:
"I think the two guards (Markelle) Fultz and Lonzo Ball are going to be one and two," Embiid said. "I like Josh Jackson a lot and Jayson Tatum. So I expect one of those guys to be at three with us."
That’s a pretty logical expectation. Fultz is likely locked into going No. 1 overall, and there’s a good chance Lonzo Ball is the next name called, although Draft Express’s Jonathan Givony says De’Aaron Fox will be considered at No. 2.
Regardless, Tatum and Jackson feel like the frontrunners for the Sixers selection.
The 20-year-old Jackson averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals in 30.8 minutes per game.
Tatum, nearly a year younger than his counterpart, averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Both are largely considered top-five talents, with Jackson receiving the edge from most pundits.
Based on Jackson’s defensive versatility, ball handling and slashing ability, he seems like much more of a natural fit on this Sixers team than Tatum does. His shot is the only thing holding him back from overtaking Fultz as the draft’s top overall player, and the concerns are warranted.
He has a noticeable hitch in his jumper, and shot just 56.6 percent from the free throw on the year.
However, Jackson did finish the year shooting 37.8 percent from three on 2.8 attempts per game, and he looked much more fluid in catch-and-shoot situations towards the end of the season. It’ll take some time, but the hitch can likely be polished out with some time. A summer living in the gym should definitely help in that department.
In terms of growing the Sixers core of rangy players who move the ball well and play aggressive defense, Jackson definitely fits the bill.
Perhaps the size of Tatum and potential growth in his offensive game will win over the Sixers front office, but he needs the ball in his hands to be most effective, and it stays glued to him once he gets it.
Tatum’s three-point numbers weren’t nearly as good as Jackson’s, although he did have 27 more attempts from long distance on the year than the Kansas forward. Still, the pair had very considerable numbers shooting within the three-point line. Tatum’s field goal percentage on two-point jumpers (39.4 percent) is just a hair better than Jackson (38.1 percent), according to hoop-math.com. Jackson was also a better finisher around the rim, converting on 69 percent of his shots as opposed to Tatum’s 62 percent.
In essence, the Sixers would be making a large mistake by letting Jackson slip through their fingers. Selecting anyone other than him would just be overthinking it.