While the Sixers decision to trade up for the No. 1 overall pick certainly takes away from some of the night’s intrigue, general manager Bryan Colangelo will still need to figure out how to utilize the team’s four second-round picks. Philadelphia owns picks 36, 39, 46 and 50, and although they’re unlikely to keep all four, Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said the team is prepared to use them.
“We feel we are going to utilize all of those picks,” Eversley said. We will be able to select four solid players. The groups that we've had come in, we feel we're going to get a pretty good player.”
With plenty of talent set to fall into the Sixers lap early in the second round, Jake Pavorsky and Marc Whittington discussed who may be of interest to them.
Jake Pavorsky: So Marc, the Sixers have four second-round picks this year in a class that is generally regarded as one of the deeper group of prospects in some time. It's unlikely that they keep their selections in the latter part of the round (No. 46 and 60), but they could certainly find some gems at 36 and 39. Who in particular do you like?
Marc Whittington: I’m actually amped about the early second round selections. There’s some potential for the draft to be wonky in terms of subverting our expectations (like last year’s was), but provided the current projections are largely on point, there are lots of enticing perimeter the Sixers could select to bolster their backcourt.
The first guy to stand out to me is Josh Hart, fresh off a Player of the Year caliber season at Villanova, where he ran the point, played solid defense, and was their go-to scorer down the stretch. There have been some questions about his ability to shoot, but he has improved steadily over the course of his career, and shot 38.9% from deep on 530 attempts. He could be a great backcourt addition to a team starved of creation and shooting.
JP: I've got a first-round grade on Hart, so if he's there at 36 I think it makes too much sense to take him there. I don't think he excels at any one aspect of the game, but he's a solid all-around player, and he'll morph into a solid rotational player at the next level. The Sixers could use a solid combo guard like that.
Speaking of guards, one name who I think isn't getting nearly enough credit is Iowa State's Monte Morris. The numbers he put up this year were phenomenal - 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, shot nearly 38 percent from three on four attempts per game. This is a guy who broke the NCAA record for assist-to-turnover ratio (5.21) which he had already previously set as a freshman. He shoots the ball well from all three levels, is a hound on defense, and is really young for a senior (turns 22 five days after the draft). I'm not saying he turns into a starting point guard, but a consistent backup who knows how to run an offense? Everything I've seen from him makes me think he's capable of it.
MW: That’s probably the right read on Morris, although I can’t say it’s one that excites me. Any guy whose selling point is, “He doesn’t turn the ball over that much!” isn’t exactly mouth-watering. You can get a DJ Augustin on the open market almost every year, and Morris, while a very different player, doesn’t project to be much better than that.
If I were to take a shot on a smurfy point guard in the early second, I’d want it to be Jawun Evans. No one exemplifies the idea of an untrappable waterbug quite like Evans, who nearly broke my unassisted rim FGA’s metric by attempting over 9 per 40 minutes. He has the speed and the handle to get wherever he wants on the court, but his finishing has been a major issue. If he can turn some of his attempts into dump-offs to Embiid or Richuan, and improve his floater and shotmaking ability, he has some tail upside that I don’t think Morris is ever likely to reach.
JP: I've never really been enthralled by Evans. A lot of it definitely has to do with his size, and as you mentioned he's gonna have a on of issues scoring amongst the trees. Don't know what he can do to mitigate that issue other than to lay it off to teammates. I think he and Morris are pretty comparable players.
I think Frank Jackson basically being forced out of Duke could really work to the Sixers advantage. I've got him 20th on my big board. Definitely a boom or bust type guy, but in the second round who really cares? He's a 19-year-old kid with an NBA ready frame, a 6-foot-7 wingspan and a 42-inch max vertical. That's the type of player you'd want to take a shot on. I think the Sixers coaching staff would really have to work to morph him into a distributor, but he's an effective scorer that could really come into his own after a couple years of development. Would definitely expect to see him spend some time in the G-League next year.
MW: Jackson just missed the cut on my LB Big Board and I agree, he is definitely a player I’d be interested in seeing the Sixers take a stab at. As a shooter and a slasher, Jackson was overqualified for his role at Duke, and his efficiency numbers (60 percent True Shooting) reflect his potential to take on a larger role. Defense will always be a question, but with Simmons enabling him to actually guard point guards, he could be a reasonable Malik Monk facsimile, but at a fraction of the cost.
So too could Tyler Dorsey, the spark plug shooting guard who lit it up from deep for Oregon’s Final Four squad. As with Monk, he’s a somewhat one-dimensional scorer, but he showed a good ability to get to the rack (albeit, while aided by Oregon’s pristine spacing), and would be a very low cost play at fulfilling that same skill set. Are there any other shooters with a little ball handling and passing juice you’re talking yourself into?
JP: Ignoring the passing aspect of your question, I've become fond of Dillon Brooks. He reminds me of most of the things I liked about Denzel Valentine from a scoring perspective. He's a strong dude who can score at all three levels, although he's probably more isolationist that I'm usually comfortable with. Brooks carried that Oregon offense through spurts last year, and was their go to guy when they needed a big bucket. He came through for the Ducks on multiple occasions. I'm not sure where he fits in positionally, or if he's got the agility to hang with NBA wings, but it's hard to teach scoring. No problem with taking him in the 40s range.
Who you got?
MW: Hey man, Brooks can pass! He played a ton of point for that Ducks team and had an assist rate of 23 percent this year. The far more lauded Josh Jackson’s AST% was 18 percent. I’m a fan of Brooks and think he can slot in as a SG who guards the weakest opposing player.
The last two guys I’d really like to see the Sixers make an effort to get are Derrick White and Sterling Brown.
The Derrick White-Malcom Brogdon comps might have been the most predictable development ever, but they may also do a disservice to White’s potential. His senior season was better than any of Brogdon’s, and he showed real capability both as a shooter off the dribble and as a defender (peep that 4.9 percent block rate!) and distributor. Outside of the top guys at the top of the draft, there are few players who fit as cleanly with what the Sixers are hoping to do, and his story is a great one.
Sterling Brown (and Jeremy Morgan, whom I do not expect to get drafted) is the 3-and-D prospect who might be hiding in plain sight. He shot 45 percent from 3 for his career at SMU on 284 attempts, and was one of the better wing defenders in the NCAA, capable of guarding any wing player. He never took on a big role in college, but he has shown himself capable of succeeding in a small one, and he could be a new age Danny Green.
JP: I mean, Brooks did only average 2.7 assists per game. Considering Oregon didn't really have a point guard and Brooks' usage rate was considerably higher than anyone else's on the team (31.6 percent), he was bound to throw a couple dimes. I'm not sure it'll be a large part of his game when he gets to the NBA, but alas.
Any big men you feel that are worth targeting? Can't say I'm in love with any of those guys. Indiana's Thomas Bryant has some of the tools but he's incredibly lanky and is also so overly emotional on the floor that I actually think it hurts his game. Don't think Johnathan Motley ever puts it all together, but I wouldn't be mad if the Sixers took a flier on him. I have no idea where Caleb Swanigan fits into today's NBA games.
You strike me as a Jordan Bell kind of guy.
MW: I am a Jordan Bell kind of guy! He’s the best defender in the draft, and I think he’s going to find a way to stick in the league despite being undersized and lacking ideal length. He put up really good block numbers all three years at Oregon, he broke the record for lane agility during Combine testing, and I think he’ll just make it work despite being undersized.
I’m not sure that there’s a big role for him on the Sixers— he’ll be most useful in a playoff series providing bench defense in space, and ideally we’d want Embiid to be playing enough minutes so that our backup C is quasi-irrelevant. But I think he’s an intriguing prospect and worth a look for sheer value alone.
Beyond him, I mostly hate this class of Bigs. They’re a bunch of 4/5 tweeners who can’t shoot, defend in space, or protect the rim, and I just don’t have much use for players like that. The multitude of mediocre bigs expected to be picked in the mid-first round is encouraging to me, though, as it means the better wings are likely to be pushed closer to the Sixers’ range.
Anyone else that you’re particularly interested in?
JP: Nope, we’re done here.
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