For seemingly the first time this offseason the draft is at the forefront of discussion in Philadelphia. There are a ton of different opinions here at Liberty Ballers, so here is everyone’s thoughts in our latest roundtable.
What area do the Sixers need to target the most during the draft?
Adio Royster: Wings and shooting. Shooting and wings. With JJ Redick (maybe) leaving, there’s a hole in the three point shooting department. I say more wings because, let’s face it, the Sixers need them if they’re gonna have to contend with Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown for the next five years. 3-and-D guys should be at the top of the list.
Kevin Love: The Sixers are a team that is still developing and the draft romanticizes potential (as it should). Yet we know the Sixers are good enough to compete next season. So the Sixers should target at least 1 player who can step in and contribute right away. That doesn’t have to be done at #10 (it could *coughs* Mikal). But if they’ve got grand plans this free agency period, they may be pressed for cash when filling out the roster. Getting a 2nd unit role player on a rookie contract would be extremely valuable if the Sixers hand out the max this summer with their sights set on the 2019 Finals.
Tyler Monahan: It’s pretty obvious that the lack of wing depth killed the Sixers once the playoffs started, so this is their chance to improve that. Poor defense combined with streaky shooting needs to be fixed if they want to make any noise next year. If the Sixers can get some players that are defense first and can hit some jumpers they should feel happy about their group of players.
Jake Hyman: My admiration for taking a defender at pick 10 has been pretty apparent on Twitter. The Sixers generally need good perimeter defenders, whether it be POA or wings that could switch on a dime. Wings are becoming an en vogue position and wing creators are more prevalent than ever before.
Roy Burton: Ideally, they would use the first pick a strong wing defender who can get buckets. Now if that person happens to be a shooter? Even better. That said, I don’t think there will be a player on the board at 10 who has all three of those traits. But Mikal Bridges comes pretty close.
Adam Aaronson: As was made clear in the Boston series, the Sixers are desperate for wings who can guard multiple positions, play off the ball and shoot well from deep. Otherwise, the Celtics will continue to torch them with wings like Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Kevin Rice: Wing Depth is by far the biggest spot of emphasis the Sixers need to address for their future. In a modern NBA that is shifting towards positionless basketball, wing players who can handle, shoot from deep and defend are going to become the sexiest of players. Especially in an Eastern Conference that looks like it will be led by the Celtics and Sixers for the next couple of years, it’s important that we arm ourselves with wings for the future.
Andy Driscoll: I think wing depth has to be the primary focus heading into draft day. The Celtics series showed the need to add wings who can both defend multiple positions, as well as put the ball on the floor and hit from the outside. The “switch everything” mentality isn’t going away anytime soon, and the more versatility the better. Additionally, I think a potential target later in the draft would have to be a backup 5.
Caleb Turrentine: The Sixers obviously need wing depth and it should be the top priority. There may be a few players (Doncic, JJJ, Porter) that they would not be able to pass on if they drop to 10th but there’s not a great chance of that. If a scoring guard is available in guys like Collin Sexton and Trae Young, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster if they went with a smaller guard over lengthy wings in that situation.
Do you believe Brett Brown can successfully navigate the NBA Draft after everything that has happened this offseason?
AR: As crazy as this off-season has been, you have to admit that Brett Brown doesn’t really know what a NORMAL off-season is at this point. This off-season was #BurnerGate. Last off-season, Simmons was hurt during training camp. The season before that, there was Embiid’s injury. If there’s anyone more qualified to navigate something important despite chaos, it’s Brett Brown.
KL: I’m going to use a cop-out here: I’m more comfortable with Brett running the show than rushing a GM in and having him erect a strategy a week before the draft.
Oh you’re holding me to a real answer? Okay, fine. Do I believe he’ll draft successfully? Sure. Do I think he’ll knock it out of the park? Doubt it. So much goes into draft night other than selecting a player. I’m not sure I’m choosing Brett as my representative at the negotiating table over a veteran GM. Or, I trust Brett to pick the best player for the team, a guy that Brett sees potential in. But maybe a potential GM knows the same player will still be on the board later and thinks, “Let’s trade back and dump Bayless, I can swindle this team.” That’s an extreme example, but you know what I’m saying.
TM: Brown obviously isn’t going to have this role for long, and it is a hell of a lot better than having Colangelo stick around. I think having the head coach technically calling the shots will end up being a good thing, because he’ll take a player he believes he can get the most out of in the long run. Let’s get weird I guess.
RB: Brett has a better grasp on what he needs and what players will fit well with the current core than any random GM who they might have brought in. And with Marc Eversley (who has more than a decade of experience under his belt) at the table, I’m not worried about what will happen on Thursday.
AA: I have confidence in Brett maintaining stability until the new GM is in town. He’s as smart as they come, and after all, it’s not as if the entire front office has been wiped out- Brett can rely on a scouting department that almost assuredly has already put their draft board together, and two high-ranking executives in Marc Eversley and Ned Cohen who were as involved in this offseason’s strategizing as anyone without the last name “Colangelo.”
KR: I feel that we are set up very well that Brett won’t do anything dumb on draft night. Monty Williams, who we just brought in as Brett’s new head assistant, was the former VP of Basketball Operations for the Spurs, so we have an insurance blanket to make sure we don’t get swindled.
AD: I’m comfortable with Brett from a position of leadership, as I don’t think he’ll be operating in terms of a total authority on draft decisions. I think the team in place around him is probably pretty secure in a draft board, and I trust Brett to not deviate from sound advice.
CT: Having a general manager is almost always better than not having a general manager. Maybe not in this case though. Brown is incredibly intelligent when it comes to building the team and filling needs so I still trust him with this. There will still be a full war room to help out with the decisions and I don’t see how having Bryan Colangelo in the room would make it any better.
Who is your dream prospect with the 10th selection?
AR: Luka Dončić? That’s my dream prospect. If you mean my dream prospect within a realistic construct, then Mikal Bridges. Bridges has improved his shooting every year at Villanova, and he’s one of the best defenders in this draft. In a sense, we’d have Robert Covington in the starting lineup, and a player compared to Robert Covington coming off the bench. I just have to figure out what to call Bridges if Roco is “Lord Covington”. I’m not too educated on courtesy prefixes in feudal times, yet.
KL: Given who I think will be gone, the best prospect is probably Mikal, Miles, Zhaire or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, depending on what mood I’m in. I wouldn’t call any of them a “dream” though. The dream would be Luka falling to the Sixers somehow. Or maybe Michael Porter Jr., if he’s fully healthy, fully motivated and buying in to spending next season developing and refining his game instead of chucking. Dare I say, a REDSHIRT SEASON?! I don’t know if there’s a reality though where MPJ is fully healthy and the back/hip stuff is completely behind him.
TM: I think drafting a guy like Wendell Carter Jr. if he is available would be a shocking, yet great move. Carter would be solid Embiid insurance and can also play alongside him as a power forward. I know wing depth is the most important need this offseason, but the Sixers have five other picks in this draft. If Carter is still available I’d have a tough time passing up on him.
JH: I think Zhaire Smith is the best overall athlete this class has to offer and I’m obsessed with his blend of two-way ability, pure athleticism and budding shooting approach. Mikal makes the most sense from a fit perspective and would be my guess as to who they take at 10, but Smith could create all sorts of chaos on both ends of the floor and gives Brett Brown a capable wing defender they lacked against Boston in May.
RB: If people are scared off due to his injury history, I wouldn’t be opposed to taking Michael Porter Jr. at 10. I’m not blown away by anyone pegged for the back end of the lottery, so it makes sense to try and swing for the fences and get the guy with the highest upside.
AA: It has to be Mikal Bridges. While his upside may not be as high as some other lottery picks, it is hard to imagine him not becoming a high-caliber shooter and defender on the wing in the NBA. He is an elite jump-shooter off the catch, and projects to be an elite defender against multiple positions.
AD: I’m all in on Kevin Knox. For a large portion of this draft process, I’ve thought he was the most overlooked great prospect, although it seems that he’s gaining hype daily. He’s got great shooting form and scoring instincts, and I like his potential to develop into a multi-positional defender moving forward.
CT: My dream for the 10th selection is probably a different team making the pick. The Sixers getting a steal and moving into the top five to take a sliding Doncic. If this dream scenario is only using the 10th pick then it has to be Mikal Bridges. The fit is too good and the whole Philly thing doesn’t hurt either.
Who are the players the Sixers will leave the first round with?
AR: I have to think that someone will think it’s a good idea to take Mikal Bridges before pick #10. Cleveland at #8 or the Knicks at #9 make a lot of sense. Assuming that’s the case, my best, educated guess is Miles Bridges at 10, and I’ll go out on a limb and say Donte DiVincenzo at 26. The perfect storm would be Mikal Bridges and Khyri Thomas. A happy medium would be Zhaire Smith and Jacob Evans. I know I answered this question three different ways, but that’s because the NBA Draft is nuts. You have to be prepared for everything.
KL: Whoever is most likely to be prematurely and unfairly accused of having unfavorable personality traits immediately after being drafted.
TM: I think the Sixers reach a little and end up drafting Kevin Knox with the 10th pick to give the team some much needed wing depth on the bench. At 26 I believe Creighton guard Khyri Thomas will be the pick because he brings a nice touch from outside as well as stingy defense. In a perfect world I would love to see a combination of Wendell Carter and Kevin Huerter, but we can’t always get what we want.
JH: I’d say Mikal Bridges at 10 and Jacob Evans at 26.
AA: If I had to guess, I’ll say the Sixers get their man in Mikal Brides at #10, and then package the 26th pick with a few second-rounders to grab Jacob Evans, a prototypical 3&D wing out of Cincinnati, who can fit in perfectly with what the Sixers need on their second unit. If they stick at #26 and Evans is off the board, look out for any of the following names: Khyri Thomas, Josh Okogie, Dzanan Musa, or Donte DiVincenzo.
KR: Once we get Mikal, I would try to package 26+Bayless+38+39 and try to move up to get Zharie Smith or SGA. If we decide to keep the 26th, I would try to snag Khyri Thomas from Creighton. So my final prediction- we leave the first round with Mikal and Khyri.
CT: I wouldn’t be shocked to see a trade on draft night that involves the Sixers and while predicting the prospects is safer, that’s no fun. Predicting Woj Bombs is fun. So my official prediction is the 76ers leave Thursday night’s first round with Kawhi Leonard. And if you care for a more realistic prediction, you will see Philadelphia selecting between Miles Bridges, Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox.
Who are the potential second round players that stick out to you the most?
AR: I’m looking at The Ringer’s NBA Draft guide, so here’s who they have in the second round that piques my interest:
Josh Okogie, G/F Georgia Tech (Defense. Has a jumper, but inconsistent.).
Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy (Young with upside, but incredibly raw).
Gary Trent, Jr., G, Duke (40% shooter from 3).
Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State (44% from three on 5.1 3PA per game).
KL: Draft and stash: Isaac Bonga and the big guy Kevin Rice introduced me to. (Goga Bitadze. Because one Anžejs Pasečņiks is never enough.) Play immediately: Jevon Carter is someone I’m interested in.
TM: If the Sixers plan to go with wing players in the first round I would like to see them get some big men in the second round. A guy I really like is Villanova center Omari Spellman because he is the prototypical new age center. Shooting, rebounding, blocking, he can really do it all.
JH: Jevon Carter, Melvin Frazier, Kenrich Williams, Kevin Hervey, Donte Ingram, Ahmad Thomas and Gary Clark.
KR: Shake Milton from SMU seems worthy of a 2nd round pick. He’s lengthy and can shoot very well from beyond the arc. With some motivation on the defensive end, he could become a very key piece in depth to helping this team win.
AD: I like Shake Milton’s game a lot, and I’d look at Omari Spellman, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel as low-end high-upside picks towards the back of the draft.
CT: I fell in love with Malik Newman when he was a college recruit and then I forgot about him for a couple of years. Then he went off for Kansas in March and I remembered why he was so hyped up to begin with. He’s a talented scorer and could find a good fit with the Sixers.