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2017 NBA Draft Mailbag: Projecting Anzejs Pasecniks and Jonah Bolden

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers-Press Conference James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

So no, I’m not Shamus, who is definitely Mailbag Guy. But with all the draft-and-stash noise Thursday night I thought I had to get into the mix. Talked Anzejs Pasecniks and Jonah Bolden specifically, and a couple bigger picture roster questions.

@senortalone: explain the appeal of Pasecniks? Shooting #’s (ft% and 3pt attmpts) are horrific. As are block #’s. Plus he is almost 22. What is the upside?

I did a brief write-up on Pasecniks on draft night, but it definitely bears repeating: This is a unique skill-set attached to an older prospect with some glaring weaknesses in his profile. So expectations need to stay tempered, despite him being a first-rounder.

While he’s a late bloomer and it’s unfair to cap his potential with the strides he made this past year, this is still realistically a change-of-pace bench piece. He’s a total non-rebounder at 7-foot-1 and doesn’t project to protect the basket at sufficient enough levels to crack legitimate starter status given the landscape of the league right now.

While Pasecniks’ strongest skill at this stage is his finishing around the basket, it comes more often than not by way of pick-and-roll play, where he has great timing, hands and bounce to finish above the rim. He’s outrageously agile and coordinated for his size and throws down some serious dunks, both in traffic in the half-court with alley-oop finishes and rim-running in transition.

The idea with him is that with his mobility, floor-running, willingness to defend and finishing ability, he can eventually hopefully give you enough on both sides of the ball as a dynamic physical specimen to offset his rebounding/shot-blocking woes. And if he continues getting comfortable shooting the ball 10, 15 feet away from the basket, you could really be in business. There are plenty of differences, but on paper it’s actually not a totally dissimilar potential package from what Richaun Holmes brings the Sixers now.

@legsanity: how many rookies will the Sixers actually have this season?

With Pasecniks still under contract with Gran Canaria in the ACB, Jonah Bolden heading to Red Star Belgrade and Mathias Lessort joining Bamberg, I think it’s safe to say none of the three are likely to join the Sixers this season. I’m not informed enough on the potential NBA outs in their contracts to say for certain, but reports indicate the three will be staying overseas for the foreseeable future.

That leaves Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Furkan Korkmaz, who’s now expected to join the team this season. You never say never with Summer League and Training Camp, an UDFA could always blow them away and earn a full-time roster spot. But with the team widely expected to stay active in free agency this year, three rookies on the primary 15-man roster seems like a good bet. I’d expect any more rookie additions to be targets with the two new flex roster spots reserved for two-way contracts.

@ouch_thatBURNS: what is a realistic floor/ceiling for Jonah Bolden

Bolden’s tricky to evaluate. He made the move from a UCLA team that didn’t look prepared to give him enough minutes to a featured role in a professional league competing with grown men. And that’s impressive for sure. But it’s not all that outlandish to suggest that the Pac-12 was more talented in 2017 than FMP Beograd and its competition in the Adriatic League and Serbian KLS. Actually, it almost definitely was, and Bolden had significant athletic advantages at this level he wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of with the Bruins.

Bolden’s got a lot of interesting skills for an NBA four in 2017. He can shoot, make plays for others from the perimeter, grab-and-go and make plays in transition and willingly defend. His game still lacks control and structure though, and he’s pretty unrefined. Playing for Red Star in the Euroleague is going to be a serious test for him. Are his skills for his real, or did he just out-athlete an athletically challenged league playing on a crazy long leash? And if he was so talented why wasn’t he up to the challenge to compete for minutes with TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu?

Comps are hard to come by for Bolden, he’s a pretty unique mold. Realistically, a median-ish outcome could be a big forward like Austin Daye, who spent six years bouncing between the NBA and D-League but was ultimately never quite skilled or assertive enough to stick. If his skills continue to develop, Trey Lyles isn’t a bad name either for a versatile four caught between wing and big man skills who can hurt you in all sorts of ways, but Lyles was also a lottery pick. The Ringer’s Draft Guide floated Al Harrington as a name too, and that’s a solid one if his jump shot emerges as his headlining skill.

All in all, like Pasecniks, he has a chance to be a really interesting, dynamic bench piece. This was a weaker international class than years past but the Sixers still managed to get their hands on the most interesting draft-and-stash candidates available Thursday night.

@BrownCB5: Out of our Euro Stashes over the past 3-4 years, who is likely to make the biggest impact and when?

Just due to the certainty of having a decent first year of NBA basketball under his belt, Dario Saric seems like the obvious answer here (if he ever comes over).

Now the Sixers already have a point forward who’ll likely need to guard fours in the NBA, and they invested the No. 1 pick in the 2016 Draft in him. So it still remains to be seen how exactly Saric fits into the picture when Fultz and Simmons hit the court. If he’s eventually phased out, next in line here would be Furkan Korkmaz, who has the benefit of upside and the seamless fit into the team’s core going for him. In which case, if his body translates to the NBA level, he could be more impactful on the aggregate.

As for the rest, Vasilijé Micic probably won’t see the floor for Philly. Pasecniks, Bolden and Lessort don’t have the upside Saric and Korkmaz do, in my opinion.

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