While most teams have been connected to a typhoon of rumors about who they’re interested in, the 2017 NBA Draft plans couldn’t be more mysterious on the Sixers’ end. They have yet to have a big-name prospect in the building, and they haven’t been reported to be enamored with any one prospect.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman didn’t exactly tie them down to one guy, but he does have a feeling he knows who the Sixers might draft. He spoke to Boston’s WEEI about the top-three in an appearance over the weekend, and he said he thinks the choice is going to come down to Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum.
Nothing in a workout or what I hear from a workout is really going to change [anything]. From what I was told, Fultz didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well in his workout in Boston, but they know he can shoot the ball. It’s one workout, it’s a one-on-zero deal. I was there after that workout, and then I came out to LA for Lonzo Ball’s workout here, and then I sat with LaVar and Lonzo yesterday for a while in Chino Hills.
So I still think it’s going to be Fultz at one, Lonzo Ball at two, I think Magic [Johnson] is enamored by Lonzo Ball. and then I think three is a little bit of a tricky choice for Bryan Colangelo and the Sixers, do they go with Josh Jackson, do they go with Jayson Tatum? It’ll be one of those two, I have a feeling.
It’s not earth-shattering to say, “the Sixers will take one of the two highest-rated prospects,” but Goodman seems confident that some of the other names getting spotlighted locally—Dennis Smith Jr., Jonathan Isaac, and Malik Monk to name a few—are not real considerations at the spot. This premise also assumes the recent speculation about Jackson getting a promise from L.A. is bunk, because Ball being in the mix at No. 3 would change the whole equation.
Both prospects are spoken of as if they’re completely different players, but Jackson and Tatum are similar in that they fit the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none archetype. While Tatum is a younger prospect and a better bet to shoot, he’s also less athletic, and a significantly worse playmaker at this stage. If not for concern over Jackson’s shot, it probably wouldn’t be a debate at all, but his fit alongside another potential non-shooter in Ben Simmons can’t be dismissed.
As with any player debate in Sixers land, the discussion has been too polarized on either side. Tatum is not just some thoughtless gunner, and Jackson’s skill level is much higher than a lot of guys who enter the league with shooting concerns. There is a credible case to be made for both players.
I happen to be a much bigger believer in Jackson than I am in Tatum, but Marc illustrated that a lot of concerns with the latter are myths. One other thing worth noting—a guy having played for a specific university is not a credible reason to pass on drafting them, even if Duke is always and forever the worst.
Do the Sixers think they need someone who can get buckets, or will they focus on building a defensive juggernaut? We’ll know in just over a week whether Goodman was just talking out of his butt or offering genuine insight. Prepare for anything!