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Mocks on Mocks: 3 approaches to the Sixers Draft and Free Agency

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers’ offseason can go in multiple directions. Signing LeBron James is one way, while striking out on LeBron and pursuing the next best free agent (Paul George) is another. And of course, the Sixers could miss out on a worthy max player entirely, and roll their cap space over to next summer. With the multitude of options for the Sixers, three of us here at Liberty Ballers participated in a Sixers’ mock offseason, including the NBA Draft and NBA Free Agency.

First, we split the Sixers into the same team three times: Sixers Red (GM Adam), Sixers White (GM Sean) and Sixers Blue (GM Kev). So each of us starts with the same roster. And on the roster, we all have: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, Justin Anderson, TJ McConnell and Jonah Bolden. For the purpose of this exercise (to give ourselves the maximum amount of cap space possible entering free agency), we’ve shipped out Richaun Holmes, Jerryd Bayless, Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

  • Richaun Holmes, Jerryd Bayless and pick 39 to the Brooklyn Nets for Brooklyn’s 2021 2nd round pick (top 55 protected). Brooklyn gets a pick and project for taking on Bayless. Sixers get basically nothing in return but clear cap.
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz to the Orlando Magic for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2020 first round pick (protected 1-20). Orlando gets two wings to experiment with. Sixers get a pick that could fall in the same range they selected Korkmaz and clear a bit more cap.

After those two moves, Sixers Red, White and Blue have all amassed, in total, $36,607,794 in cap space. That already factors in soon-to-be-made draft picks.

Each team has eight of the same players. We’ll be adding six players each, to get to a roster of 14 players. Three players will come from the draft (picks 10, 26 and 38) and three players will join via free agency. We can share only to the players already on the Sixers roster. In other words, we all have Joel Embiid. But we can’t all have Mikal Bridges.

We’ve randomized the draft order, as well as the free agent “draft” order. Whoever is chosen in the draft by Sixers Red, then becomes unavailable to Sixers White and Sixers Blue. Got it? Good.

NBA Draft

The 10th Pick - Order: Sixers Red, Sixers White, Sixers Blue

  • Because all three teams have to make their pick as if it was #10, we’ve cleared some names from the board to start: Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., Deandre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young, Marvin Bagley III.

“With the first #10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Sixers Red selects: Mikal Bridges, from Villanova.”

Adam: Bridges is the perfect fit for what the Sixers need: he’s an excellent shooter who can guard any wing there is thanks to his length, quickness and IQ. At Villanova, he displayed his ability to be the prototypical 3&D player. He is already 22 years old, so his upside may be limited compared to other players in this range — but it is very hard to envision him not being an incredibly useful role player on the wing, something this team is desperate for.

“With the second #10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Sixers White selects: Miles Bridges, from the Michigan State University.”

Sean: With Philadelphia’s young stars starting to come up on their second contracts, it’s crucial the Sixers obtain guys on cheap rookie contracts who, at a minimum, are able to serve as valuable rotation members. Mikal Bridges has the highest floor of guys who might be available at #10, but with him off the board, I like the selection of the other Bridges. Miles has good mechanics on his shot, shooting 37.5% from three and 77.6% from the foul line in his Michigan State career. While his handle isn’t highly advanced, Bridges has a lot more to his offensive arsenal than the typical 3-and-D prospect, which gives him some upside in addition to that floor I mentioned.

Defensively, Bridges has a short wingspan, but is strong and has enough quickness to switch between wings and larger forwards. Being a plus rebounder with a high basketball IQ, I’m confident Bridges will prove to be an asset on that end of the floor. He meets a need on the wing, can space the floor around the team’s established stars, and won’t get pushed around by the opposition in isolation situations like Philadelphia’s previous wings against Boston last month. He’s not Mikal Bridges, but he’s my Bridges.

“With the third #10 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers Blue selects: Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech”

Kev: Considering Mikal Bridges was off the board, we’re happy to select Zhaire Smith. We wanted a wing above all else, and Smith’s upside could be even higher than Mikal’s.

Zhaire provides Sixers Blue a body that should be able to defend at the NBA level immediately. He’s athletic as hell, and has good size at 6’5” (with a 6’10” wingspan) and 200 pounds. And Smith’s athleticism could also be useful next to Ben Simmons in transition. If Smith’s 3PT shot comes around — and from the workouts we’ve had with him, it will — we’ve gotten an absolute steal here. Two-way players!

The 26th Pick - Order: Sixers Blue, Sixers Red, Sixers White

  • Players off the board: previous pool + Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, Lonnie Walker, Collin Sexton, Zhaire Smith, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Robert Williams, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Troy Brown, Kevin Huerter, De’Anthony Melton, Chandler Hutchison, Elie Okobo

“With the first #26 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers Blue selects: Dzanan Musa from Boznia and Herzegovina.”

Kev: A quick-triggered European with pretty footwork and a smooth handle, Musa provides Sixers Blue another wing prospect. Just 19 years old, Musa has great size for a shooter at 6’9”, but we do wonder a bit if that size will go to waste defensively, as he’s a stick figure without a lot of speed. That’s really the key here with Musa — can he become good enough on defense to stay on the floor? The offense is there. If Brett Brown & Co. are able to coach Dzanan up defensively, we think we’ve nabbed a rotation scorer. Most importantly, he’s got arguably the best name in the draft, which has to count for something.

“With the second #26 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers Red selects: Jacob Evans, Cincinnati.”

Adam: In Jacob Evans, the Sixers would be getting a wing who defends his butt off, and has made 39.5 percent of his threes over the last two years. Like with Mikal Bridges, this pick would not be an example of shooting for upside. But again, the Sixers would be getting someone with a very high chance of succeeding as a two-way wing who can help the Sixers come playoff time.

“With the third #26 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers White selects: Khyri Thomas, Creighton.”

Sean: When you get this late in the draft, I like to look for guys who have clearly defined skills that will translate to the next level. Although he operates primarily as a spot-up shooter, Thomas was right around 40% from three each of his three seasons at Creighton. Moreover, he’s an elite defender, quick enough to latch onto guards and with a 6’10.5” wingspan to deal with larger wings. His lack of a well-rounded offensive game means Thomas will likely never be a star, but it’s easy to see a path to his being a valuable two-way contributor within a winning team’s rotation. Plus, the Sixers will be able to match Boston “Khyri” for “Kyrie”.

The 38th Pick - Order: Sixers White, Sixers Blue, Sixers Red

  • Players off the board: previous pools + Keita Bates-Diop, Donte DiVincenzo, Aaron Holiday, Khyri Thomas, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa

“With the first #38 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers White selects: Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech.”

Sean: In the continued search for 3-and-D wings, I would love for the Sixers to grab Josh Okogie. The 6’4.5” guard shot 38% from three in each of his two seasons at Georgia Tech. He has a slow, low release on his jumper, but that could be correctable with the right coaching staff. Okogie is a committed defender, who used his 7’0” wingspan to average 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game last season. You could also make the case that Okogie is the best athlete in this draft class; he led everyone in the three quarter sprint at the combine and tied with Donte DiVincenzo for the best max vertical leap (42”). Those tools would make Okogie a steal if he fell to Philadelphia in the second round. I’d be in favor of the Sixers maybe packaging another one of the second round picks to move up a few spots and ensure they get him.

“With the second #38 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers Blue selects: Isaac Bonga, from Germany.”

Kev: This is a draft-and-stash move — which means Sixers Blue will have to make four free agent signings — on a player that’s somewhat of a poor man’s Ben Simmons, in theory. He’s a 6’9” forward with playmaking skills and a desire to initiate. He’s got a very long way to go, evidenced by the fact that he seems like his legs are brand new to him. But he’s still only 18, possessing massive upside. He could be a versatile NBA player someday, both offensively and defensively.

“With the third #38 pick in the NBA Draft, Sixers Blue selects: Shake Milton, from the Southern Methodist University.”

Adam: Milton’s stock has fallen rapidly ever since a putrid Draft Combine performance, but this late in the Draft, his tools are just too attractive to pass up. He’s an elite shooter in the class, averaging 18.0 points per game, including an extremely impressive 43.4 three-point percentage on a healthy 5.9 attempts per game. He also averaged over four rebounds and assists per game, showing he has all-around ability, and has the potential to become a player who guards three positions due to his fantastic size at the guard position, with a 6’5.5”, 207 pound frame and a 7’0.75” wingspan.

We will reveal the free agency period tomorrow, in which all three teams will take turns drafting 2018 NBA free agents.

For now, following the mock draft, the teams look like so:

Sixers Rosters after Draft

Sixers Red Sixers White Sixers Blue
Sixers Red Sixers White Sixers Blue
Joel Embiid Joel Embiid Joel Embiid
Ben Simmons Ben Simmons Ben Simmons
Robert Covington Robert Covington Robert Covington
Dario Saric Dario Saric Dario Saric
Markelle Fultz Markelle Fultz Markelle Fultz
Jonah Bolden Jonah Bolden Jonah Bolden
TJ McConnell TJ McConnell TJ McConnell
Justin Anderson Justin Anderson Justin Anderson
Mikal Bridges Miles Bridges Zhaire Smith
Jacob Evans Khyri Thomas Dzanan Musa
Shake Milton Josh Okogie Isaac Bonga (DnS)

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