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Sixers don’t have to look far for talent in NBA Draft

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It’s literally all around them. Let me explain.

Philadelphia 76ers Introduce Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Kyle O’Quinn, and Raul Neto Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020 NBA Draft will be one for the ages (as I recently discussed in this post). Teams will need to put together a scouting report on prospects without a large amount of data, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Limited information for the upcoming draft may encourage teams to take nontraditional approaches in choosing young players to add to their rosters. Two variables may contribute to this unique draft’s unprecedented decision-making: player location and age.

In past drafts, the Sixers have chosen prospects outside of the Pennsylvania border. Two recent examples include Matisse Thybulle — who played four seasons at the University of Washington — and Furkan Korkmaz, who played internationally in Turkey.

The Sixers’ scouting department does their homework well, and they have selected recent prospects wisely. Still, travel bans and a COVID-19-fueled nationwide shutdown will make scouting challenging.

The Sixers may opt for a different approach with the upcoming draft, looking to prospects who have played for years in their backyard. Players with several years’ experience at nearby colleges and universities may make good choices in these uncertain times.

One example of this type of player is Penn State’s senior forward, Lamar Stevens. Stevens, a 6-foot-8, 225-lb player who played his high school years in the Philadelphia region, has a powerful resume well-known to Nittany Lion fans. After all, he was just 7 points shy of becoming Penn State’s all-time leading scorer.

Stevens is a solid NBA prospect who will be draft eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft. He is a Pennsylvanian who has spent four successful years in Penn State’s basketball program. Stevens’ high basketball-IQ and physical build allows him to slot at either forward spot. As a strong player who is projected to go in the second round, Stevens, who is coming off of a successful 2019-20 campaign where he averaged a respectable 17.6 points per game, is someone the Sixers might look to add to their current roster.

Players who put up consistently impressive numbers offer solid data to scouts. NBA teams may appreciate Stevens’s 135 career games with playoff experience over a 30 game “one-and-done” player’s statistics.

With the NCAA season being cut short, teams may do well to draft multi-year players with proven records and solid data to use for draft reports. It would be an arguable risk to hedge bets off a 30-game sample size with no-tournament players.

Philadelphia is fortunate enough to have many D1 basketball programs in its surrounding area, including: Temple, Villanova, and Penn State, among others. Many fans may not realize that the NBA features numerous NBA players from some of these same programs. Players like Tim Frazier, Kyle Lowry, Cameron Johnson, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo — all locally sourced — have put together solid NBA careers.

The Sixers’ season may have been cut short, but we are left with one main takeaway: the team needs more depth. One of the positives of a mostly-lacklustre season was late second-round pick Shake Milton, who singlehandedly gave the team a feel-good story. The Sixers could use more of that.

The good news is Elton Brand and company will have four separate second-round picks in the draft where they can find their next diamond in the rough. Let’s hope they d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶s̶e̶l̶l̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶p̶i̶c̶k̶s̶ hit on some talent. They might even find it in their own backyard.