The Philadelphia 76ers possess the 28th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. There has been some speculation about what the Sixers might do with that pick, with one possible scenario being that they trade it. Given Daryl Morey’s past use of draft picks (flipping or packaging them for established players), that seems very possible. However, in the SB Nation Mock Draft, I played the role of Daryl Morey and did so with the full intention of selecting a player at no. 28.
Picking so late in the first round, I did not commit myself to any one player, operating under the assumption that any player I focused on would be gone by the time I was up. Instead, I prioritized the guard positions. Some names I had on my radar were James Bouknight, Jared Butler, Tre Mann, and Miles McBride. Bouknight and Butler went in the lottery to the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers, respectively. Tre Mann was selected by the New York Knicks at no. 19 and Miles McBride went shortly before it was my turn to make a pick, being taken off the board by the Houston Rockets at no. 23.
With the first tier of players I was targeting off the board, I began considering sleepers at guard as well as players at other positions who had the talent to be a first round pick. There was one player I kept coming back to as a potential diamond in the rough at the guard position. When it came time to submit my pick, I was happy to type out Nah’Shon Hyland.
28. Philadelphia 76ers - Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU
In search of players who can score and create off the bounce, the Sixers go with Nah’Shon Hyland, guard out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Hyland shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc over 331 career attempts at VCU and he has different-area-code range. With shooting chops like that, Hyland could find minutes early in his career as a spark plug off the bench. Hyland’s poor assist-to-turnover ratio would be concerning if the intention were to play him at point guard. But with Tyrese Maxey already on the roster, Hyland makes more sense as a two-guard. The bigger concern surrounding Hyland is his size, standing 6’3” and weighing 165 pounds. He’ll be fast tracked into a training program to bulk up.
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland spent two seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University before declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft. Initially projected as a 2nd round pick, Hyland performed well at the NBA Draft combine and as a result, has boosted his draft stock.
Hyland’s most glaring asset in terms of what he can offer the Sixers is distance shooting. Over two seasons at VCU, Hyland attempted 331 threes and connected at a rate of 39.9 percent. While his 3PT percentage dropped from his freshman season (43.4 percent) to his sophomore season (37.1 percent), he attempted over three more threes per game year-to-year (4.7 3PT/gm to 7.8 3PT/gm). And if the dip in percentage scares you a bit, consider that the opposite trend was true for his free throw percentage: he went from 66.7 percent (on just 24 free throw attempts) to 86.2 percent (on 109 free throw attempts). All things considered in regards to shooting, Hyland’s above average 3PT percentage (even with a dip during his sophomore season), solid free throw shooting, and overall confidence as a shooter with range and volume are enough for me to buy in as a shooter.
When it comes to playmaking, it’s not as clear to me that Hyland has the chops. Hyland averaged 2.1 assists per game compared to 3.1 turnovers per game during his only season as a starter (2020-21). However, with Tyrese Maxey on the roster, and assuming Ben Simmons is on the roster or involved in a trade that brings a ballhandler back to Philly, Hyland is being selected here with the intention of being a two guard, secondary creator. With a solid handle and impressive agility, Hyland can create for himself. And with an increase in talent around him, it’s possible we see a corresponding increase in assists from Hyland.
As noted in my blurb from above, Hyland’s size is an area of concern. He measures in at 6’3.5” in shoes and he was the third lightest player weighed at the combine at 169.0 lbs. But putting on weight is certainly easier than gaining height and Hyland’s 6’9.25” wingspan makes him longer than what first meets the eye. Some size concerns alleviated. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical about a Maxey-Hyland backcourt defensively.
It can be hard to find value late in the first round if you are not Masai Ujiri. Hyland gives the Sixers a high-ceiling, low-floor option relative to what else was available to them at 28. If he can hit threes at an above average rate, he provides spacing at the least (provided he’s not so ineffective defensively that he’s unplayable). If he can do that as well as get his teammates involved while holding his own defensively, the Sixers have themselves a solid bench player plucked late in the draft.