In prior years, I used to immerse myself in scouting for the NBA Draft. But my situations and responsibilities have evolved, leaving me to shift focus elsewhere. To help myself and Philadelphia 76ers fans prepare for Thursday, I enlisted the help of Cerebro Sports’ Jake Rosen. Jake is among the best draft minds available to us. Shoot him a follow on Twitter @JakeInThePaint if you haven’t already and read his work. You’ll be a headier basketball consumer, I’m sure of it.
All right, starting with more of a macro question here. How do you differentiate — or how would you — differentiate the draft philosophy for a team rebuilding vs. a team like the Sixers who are looking to finally take the last step and become a title contender?
The Sixers have no time to waste. Joel Embiid is at the pinnacle of his powers and the Sixers have a responsibility to surround him with a team that can compete for a title. It goes without saying that this adds a certain layer of pressure to win on the margins, one that other organizations might not feel. From a philosophy perspective, Philadelphia doesn’t have much time for projects or prospects that might need two-three years to get acclimated. They need players who can step in from day one and make a contribution.
Similarly, how should that philosophy inform Philadelphia’s approach to this draft?
Stay away from the swings or gambles. There are plenty of older, more projectable prospects that should be lingering around when Philly is on the clock. As I’ll get into later, there are a handful of targets that I would really like for Philly, and they all seem to be projected within their range. I would stay patient, let the board fall as it may and then make a sound pick based on production and providing a necessary skill set that can help Philly in some manner this year.
What do you deem the most pressing needs for the Sixers and does this draft offer solutions to those problems?
I think Philly can either go one of three ways here. I’d say its needs are additional guard creation, steady wing help and a backup center. I’m not very enthused by any of the bigs outside of Jalen Duren and Mark Williams who will likely be off the board by 23, so I’d prefer to address that need in free agency or in house, depending how confident you are in Paul Reed.
I expect another leap from Tyrese Maxey, but James Harden’s future as a mega-creator seems a bit murkier than Philly might hope. With Matisse Thybulle’s offensive limitations rearing their head in the playoffs, I think acquiring more help on the wings, with an emphasis on complementing Embiid and the guards, is essential.
The 2022 Draft is pretty thin on guards, so Philly might be better served in the veteran market in FA, but there is one target I really like for them. The wing group is certainly deeper, and filled with proven, scalable and projectable players that Philly can envision being a part of the rotation.
Who are your favorite targets for the Sixers at 23 and why?
The one guard is Kennedy Chandler. He is lightning quick and showed the ability to decimate defenses with his speed and handle. Chandler is a very competent PnR handler that can help aid creation in the half-court. Most importantly, despite being just 6-feet tall, he excelled off the ball as a mover, spot-up threat and cutter. In addition to his creation chops, the comfort and ability to make an impact playing off of Philly’s more established talents makes this an intriguing fit.
As for the wings, Jalen Williams is my favorite name here. At 6-foot-6, he is one of the best PnR handlers in the entire draft, while also being able to space the floor for Philly’s stars. Projecting him as a second-side creator is seamless, and while he doesn’t provide the burst that Chandler possesses, his frame and positional size make him an easier bet to contribute immediately.
Another name I’ll throw out is Marjon Beauchamp. He doesn’t bring the same creation equity that Williams does, but if his spot-up jumper can become consistent, Beauchamp can be a valuable two-way wing that successfully fills in the gaps.
*Editor’s note: Chandler and Beauchamp are among a handful of prospects with +1000 odds on Draft Kings to go top five. So, there is certainly a chance neither is on the board when the Sixers pick at 23.
There’s often been talk about Philadelphia packaging this pick in a trade. Obviously, you don’t know what that hypothetical trade is, but in a vacuum, would you advocate for keeping or trading this pick? For either answer, why?
I do think there are a number of good targets for Philly at 23, but on its timeline, I certainly wouldn’t fault them for packaging it for a more established NBA talent. I think the Sixers know what their needs are, and if they feel that they can better check that short-term box with a trade, I would definitely understand and be supportive.
The Sixers don’t have any second-round picks currently. Are there any potential undrafted players you think could make some sense for them?
UDFA’s are always a gamble, but I like Michigan State’s Gabe Brown here. He shot 38.2% from deep on 10.8 3PA per 100 possessions at 6-7 with a rangy frame. He won’t offer much juice off the dribble, but Brown could maybe carve out some minutes as a floor-spacer with good size and defensive versatility.