The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23. Since the Nets decided to defer the pick owed to them as part of the James Harden trade, the Sixers will select 23rd overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll look at several prospects that could fit the Sixers and be realistic possibilities at No. 23.
On a team that featured the likes of Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, and Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. put together a strong, and by far his best, season as a Duke Blue Devil in 2021-22.
In 39 games, Moore logged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game, the latter two being team-highs. He played a key role on a Duke squad that won an ACC regular season title and ended up reaching the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.
Currently projected as a late first or early second-round pick, Moore is likely to be very much in play for the Sixers come draft night. Being a team that is clearly in dire need of an overhaul of their wing rotation, Moore’s versatile skillset is something that could prove to be valuable to the Sixers.
Moore was a jack of all trades on offense for Duke this past season. While Banchero carried a majority of the scoring load, Moore served as one of the team’s primary ball-handlers. He initiated out of the pick-and-roll, brought the ball up, and even served as their go-to inbounds passer. He showed real flashes of being a capable secondary playmaker at the next level.
When he’s not finding open teammates, he has a solid enough handle to attack driving lanes to get into the paint. He doesn’t exactly have explosive leaping ability, but he makes up for it by being a crafty, ambidextrous finisher inside.
As an off-ball player, aside from being a skilled, capable cutter, he’s improved a great deal as a spot-up shooter. He went from shooting 21.1 percent from deep on less than one attempt per game as a freshman to hitting 41.3 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts per game last season, showcasing a smooth, repeatable stroke in the process.
Defensively, he has the size and length to be very good on that end of the court, measuring in at a little over 6-foot-4 (without shoes), 217 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan at the combine. When engaged, he can defend at the point of attack and could become an effective, multi-positional defender.
A majority of the questions about Moore revolve around his overall upside aside from developing into a higher-end role player.
For one, most don’t project him to be a go-to, volume scorer. He doesn’t have a super-advanced handle, lacks an explosive first step, and is, for the most part, a below-the-rim finisher. To start off, he’ll most likely be best off in a complementary role for whoever ends up taking him.
There have also been questions about his focus on defense, as it tends to wax and wane at times. While he possesses all the necessary tools to be an above-average defender and has shown flashes off-ball, some believe he’s still a little too inconsistent in that regard. Fully locking in on that end would go a long way towards helping him establish a clear role on a team.
Whether or not his improvement as a shooter is sustainable is another lingering concern. Given his early-career struggles from deep, it’s reasonable to wonder whether or not his junior year output was an outlier despite it coming at a higher three-point volume than his previous two seasons and Moore being a consistently good free throw shooter. As draft expert Mark Schindler noted in a recent Q&A with our own Sean Kennedy, without a respectable shot, his other intriguing attributes could suffer.
Fit with Sixers
Fortifying their depth at the wing is likely to be a top priority for the Sixers this summer. These past playoffs exposed how flawed that end of their rotation really was and how badly they lacked overall versatility. Finding playable, low-maintenance, and, especially, cost-friendly wings to add to the roster will certainly be on the mind of Daryl Morey and Co.
That being said, Moore’s well-rounded game would be a pretty flawless fit next to the big three of Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. Having a guy that can run secondary actions, attack in transition, spot-up from the perimeter, and serve as a dynamic defender would be a pretty welcome sight. It’s an infusion of talent that they very much need.
On top of that, being one of the older players in the draft (he’ll be 21 by opening night), he could hypothetically contribute right out of the gate. If other higher-upside players are off the board and the Sixers still decide to use their pick, Moore certainly wouldn’t be a bad fall-back option by any means.