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NBA Draft: Previewing the Sixers’ No. 26 pick with The Stepien’s Jackson Hoy

Jackson Hoy once again joins Jake Hyman to discourse about the Sixers’ 2018 draft. Many topics surrounding the No. 26 pick are discussed throughout, and we touch upon a litany of players.

NCAA Basketball: Houston at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of “Woodergate,” head coach Brett Brown, and also newly extended, will control the Sixers’ operations on an interim basis, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Woj mentioned Brett Brown’s ability to steer the ship and touched upon his part in JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli’s signings this past year in a segment with Bob Ley on Outside the Lines.

Brown oversees a roster whose young core and potential free agent additions make for an incredibly promising nucleus. He might also still be serving as the lead decision maker when the draft commences two weeks from now. However, Wojnarowski also mentioned on SportsCenter that the Sixers’ seemingly vacant position will attract plenty of suitors - both aspiring head GMs and some current GMs.

It’ll be exciting to monitor the search, which probably will be more diligent than the previous one, in the upcoming weeks. With the Sixers owning picks No. 10 and 26, among four seconds, I wanted to collect needed insight on potential prospects, how they’d fit the team’s current infrastructure, and in-depth analysis from The Stepien’s Jackson Hoy. Jackson covered a lot of ground last week on the team’s four second-round picks, and he expects there to be many different options who’ll appeal to the Sixers at pick No. 26.

Liberty Ballers: Hi Jackson. How are things going?

Jackson Hoy: Things are going great. I’m working on getting my final top-100 together now that we have our pool of college prospects set and our field of international prospects will be finalized next Monday.

LB: Since last week you’ve unveiled your latest Big Board. A lot of names mentioned in our previous Q&A are among your top-30 players.

JH: Yeah, I definitely do my best to get “my guys” out there for people to see. I think the top 20 or so is fairly agreed upon between most draft people even between #DraftTwitter and the more mainstream sites even if we might disagree on order, but the 20-30 range and there on out varies widely. In my opinion, the guys in the 15-30 range on draft boards who you can snag in the second round are really the prospects who turn a good draft into a great one. Many of the players I mentioned as potential Sixers second rounders in the last Q&A fit that bill, I think.

LB: Within the cluster of players ranked from 22-30, who stands out as some potential Sixers targets at pick No. 26?

JH: From the guys I have ranked in that range, Dzanan Musa, Keita Bates-Diop, Landry Shamet, and Shake Milton all jump out as potential targets. Other possibilities there include Kevin Huerter, Josh Okogie, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, and Jacob Evans, all of whom I have ranked higher than that. All of these players stand out as two-way perimeter players who don’t need the ball in their hands to succeed, traits that I’m sure the Sixers front office will be targeting. If the team is really targeting shooting from the wing, I would zero in on Shamet, Milton, Huerter, and Evans, as each profile as plus shooters at the NBA level. Huerter is likely off the board by 26, but Shamet, Milton, and Evans have a strong chance of being there and are all capable shooters with positional size and smarts on defense, though they’re all fairly limited in terms of high-level athleticism or on-ball creation. Evans, in particular, is an ideal fit thanks to his smarts and switchability on D to go with his compact three-point shot and ability to play on the ball in spurts.

LB: The team mightily struggled containing Boston’s wings in their five-game series. Can Kenrich Williams, Keita Bates-Diop, Jacob Evans or Chandler Hutchison provide 3-with-enough-D to stick on the floor in the playoffs?

JH: I’d be pretty confident that Williams could stay on the floor as long as his jumper translates reasonably well, and I like his chances of hitting threes at a decent clip in the NBA despite his disappointing free throw percentage–he’s comfortable stepping into his shot from NBA range already and has a projectable form. That said, his playmaking ability is crucial to his value on offense, so he’s less pure 3-and-D than some other players in this draft. Defensively, he’s super smart and constantly works his ass off in spite of his below-average length and athleticism. Think Joe Ingles with less three-point shooting. I buy into Bates-Diop’s offense at the next level as a pick-and-pop stretch 4 who can get his shot off over the tops of defenders but I am a little concerned about how his defense translates with just average instincts and athleticism despite his enticing length. He is a useful player who could be a solid third forward for a playoff team, but given Philadelphia’s depth at the position, I’m not sure he’s a great fit; he just isn’t quick enough to consistently match up with NBA small forwards. As detailed in the previous question, I think Evans is a solid fit even though he’s a bit small for an NBA small forward. He can guard 1-3 and play on or off the ball on offense. Generally, he’s a really smart player who competes and knows how to play a role. He might not be the best at slowing down Jayson Tatum in one-on-one defense, but his team defense should be quite valuable. Hutchison is fairly toolsy, but I don’t see 3-and-D as his mold. He is far too inconsistent as a shooter at this stage to add gravity on the perimeter, as he’s at his best attacking downhill and making passes to open shooters on the move. That may be valuable somewhere, but it probably won’t be Philadelphia. Defensively, he certainly has an athletic smoothness and positional size that many wings in this class lack, but his feel for the game is underwhelming and his lack of strength is still a problem. He’d get picked on in a series against a team like Boston.

LB: Who amongst the four provides the best on-ball defense? Or is there another 3-and-D wing do you have in mind that would fit the billing?

JH: None of those four particularly excels on the ball against wings, but Evans is probably the best among the group at this stage. Looking strictly at on-ball defense, I’d take Josh Okogie over all those guys. He combines freakish physical tools with a non-stop motor, which makes him a real pest against almost any perimeter player. I have some concerns about his ability to absorb contact from larger players, but he’s just 19 and has the type of frame that should easily add 15 to 20 pounds. Okogie has his fair share of issues off the ball, as his high motor can lead to harmful overzealousness at times, but he’s an impact on-ball defender.

LB: Furkan Korkmaz, the team’s 2016 No. 26 pick, might have a role as a shooting wing off the bench. Can the Sixers find a player who could provide similar offense but contribute in more areas?

JH: Shake Milton and Landry Shamet are the two high-level shooters who project to be available at 26 that really make sense there, and I think both of them should add more complementary skills than Korkmaz. Milton played point guard throughout college at SMU despite standing 6-foot-5.5 with a 7-foot-0.75 wingspan, so he adds some dribbling ability and on-the-move passing that a lot of shooting wings don’t. Milton is well below average in terms of athleticism, so he may struggle to get to the rim and defend on the ball, but his positional size and IQ prevent him from being a complete zero on D. Shamet is quicker than Milton but has less length and a similarly thin frame. However, he’s a better off-movement shooter and arguably a better on-ball playmaker. Both players are likely 2-guards in the NBA. Shamet looks like a better shooter, but Milton may offer more versatility.

LB: You mentioned Josh Okogie stood out at the Combine. Who do you see him playing next to in the backcourt for the Sixers?

JH: It would be pretty awesome to see a defensive backcourt of Markelle Fultz and Okogie, as that would immediately be the NBA’s best backcourt in terms of racking up chasedown blocks. I think Okogie can capably defend both 1s and 2s, so he could pair with many different options at point from Ben Simmons to TJ McConnell to Fultz. His three-point release is somewhat slow so he may be better served playing next to more of a floor-spacer at the 1, but it’s not like he’s a non-shooter. At this point, Okogie may be a bit redundant with Fultz, but they could be compatible pieces.

LB: If the Sixers opt to go for the pure two-guard route, who among Jacob Evans, Troy Brown and Landry Shamet do you prefer?

JH: I think Troy Brown is closer to being a 4 than he is to being a 2, mainly due to his limited quickness, so he’s out despite being my favorite prospect of this group. I’d pick Evans over Shamet, as I think the added defensive value he projects to bring is worth more than the marginal difference in jump shooting between the two players. He’s one of the legitimate two-way players who should be available at 26, and I think he’s an excellent fit in Philadelphia.

LB: Sounds like Evans could be a great value if he’s still on the board at pick No. 26. Who amongst the potential available guards do you project to shoot best off of the dribble and create their own shot?

JH: Both the potential international guys (Dzanan Musa and Elie Okobo) are excellent shot creators and off-dribble shot makers, and I think Okobo, in particular, is in contention for the best non-Luka Doncic/Trae Young off-dribble shot maker in the draft. If Kevin Huerter is available, he’s an excellent shot creator, as his handle is extremely underrated relative to other wings in this draft. I doubt he is available, but Huerter is the guy at 26 who could realistically add gravitational shooting, valuable defense, and shot creation all in one package. I have him rated higher than any of the prospects I’ve mentioned throughout for this reason. He’s the rare prospect who can fill a 3-and-D role while also adding real shot creation for himself and for others.

LB: Local Nova fans might want to see the team possibly pair Mikal Bridges at pick No. 10 with Donte DiVincenzo at pick No. 26. Do you anticipate DiVincenzo being available at the time and how does he compare to the other wing prospects in terms of creation?

JH: With the hype he’s garnered, I wouldn’t be surprised if DiVincenzo isn’t available, but I could foresee him being in play at 26. He grades out well in terms of creation in comparison to other wings in this range, but I see him as more of a combo guard than a wing at just 6-foot-4.5 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan. He’s not consistently defending NBA 3s at that size and will probably struggle against a lot of bigger 2s. DiVincenzo could be a nice instant-offense bench guy–maybe in the mold of a more efficient Jordan Clarkson–but I’m not sure where he fits on Philadelphia as a guy who projects poorly on D and who is very streaky as a 3-point shooter.

LB: If the team throws us a curveball and decides to draft a big to replace Richaun Holmes in Brett Brown’s rotation, who are some prospects we should be monitoring?

JH: In my opinion, there are only two bigs who project to be available who also make sense at 26: Mitchell Robinson and Goga Bitadze. I’m a lot lower than most on Robinson just due to all the off-court red flags around him, and I’d probably choose to stay away from him if I was the one calling the shots. That said, at this point in the draft with a second first-rounder, I might take a flier on his obvious physical talent. I covered Bitadze in our last Q&A, but if the Sixers want another international big to stash he’s an option. Still, I’m one of the biggest Jonah Bolden fans you’ll find, and I think he’s better than any of the options in this range, so I wouldn’t target a wing.

LB: Ditto on Bolden. He could be a viable 3-and-D big on this roster in this upcoming season. To conclude, what is your ideal scenario for pick No. 26?

JH: Kevin Huerter would be the dream pick at 26. I’m definitely in the minority on this, but I think he’d be worth it at 10, so getting him at 26 would be a total coup. He’s exactly what Philadelphia needs: a versatile perimeter defender who adds gravitational and off-movement shooting and on-ball creation on offense. If Huerter is off the board (he’s rumored to have a promise higher), I think Jacob Evans would be a great pick among players who should be available. He’d plug a lot of holes on defense and add consistency and shooting on offense.

LB: Thanks, Jackson! You can follow Jackson’s work here at The Stepien, and follow his podcast at @HardwoodHomies.

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