Coverage of the 2022 NBA Draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. ET, but at the current Woj rate, we should know the entire draft results by late afternoon. Reports have the Philadelphia 76ers shopping around the 23rd overall pick as part of other maneuverings, but sources told Liberty Ballers they aren’t desperate to move it and are comfortable making the pick. If the Sixers do wind up bringing a new rookie into the fold, let’s take one last look at who draft experts are forecasting them to select.
ESPN, Jonathan Givony - Wendell Moore Jr, Duke
Moore is on the short list of names that have seemed to crop up most in relation to the Sixers. Passing on one forward from Duke five years ago has haunted Philadelphia since. Maybe the selection of Moore could help rectify it? Here is Givony on the pick:
“The Sixers are slated to select here as the Brooklyn Nets elected to defer the pick they received in the James Harden trade to 2023. With Harden turning 33 in August and on the downside of his career from a physical standpoint, and Danny Green out for most or all of next season with a torn ACL, adding more talent on the wing could very well be a priority for the Sixers, who don’t have much in the way of future draft capital to work with to strengthen their roster. Moore has had a strong pre-draft process with excellent showings in several private workouts, helping to solidify himself as a first-round pick. The Duke product has intrigued teams with a strong frame, 7-foot wingspan, passing ability and outside shooting at only 20 years old, with more than 2,500 minutes of college basketball experience under his belt.”
Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman - EJ Liddell, Ohio State
Like Moore, Liddell is another of those names you hear a lot in connection to Philadelphia. Earlier this month, I conducted a draft Q&A with Mark Schindler, who was high on Liddell:
“Although not technically a wing and more of a combo big at the 4/5 slot, I love EJ Liddell. I buy his shot mechanics and touch, he has the ability to put the ball on the deck a few times while attacking, and the defense is legit. He has some switchiness in his toolbox, really excels as a secondary rim protector, and is very good at containing strength based matchups. His help defense alongside Joel could be special. My biggest concern would be how he’s utilized. If you’re drafting him just to screen and pop, I’m a bit mum on that. I like what he could be as a really dynamic roller with some playmaking chops and decision-making that I believe will look better in a honed role. If he’s just chilling in the corner, it’s a bit wonky for me.”
CBS Sports, Colin Ward-Henninger - EJ Liddell, Ohio State
Another nod to Liddell! Here’s Ward-Henninger’s reasoning:
“Liddell makes sense for the Sixers for a few reasons. As a 21-year-old, he should be able to contribute immediately for a team in need of a backup big man. He also is a versatile, defensive-minded forward with an incredible motor, who gets a ton of blocks and steals due to his 7-foot wingspan and instincts. Offensively he can space the floor as a 3-point shooter and also operate as a playmaker in short roll situations. Overall, Liddell seems like the right guy for Philadelphia if he’s still around at No. 23.”
NBA TV, Chris Miles, Steve Smith, Andy Katz, and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman - TyTy Washington, Kentucky
Selecting a guard in the 20s from Kentucky has certainly worked out well for the Sixers in the recent past! Paul Hudrick wrote about Washington for Liberty Ballers just yesterday. Here is what he had to say on Washington’s fit with the Sixers:
“Ideally, a 3-and-D wing that can contribute immediately would be the selection (if the Sixers even make one), but it’s not the only need the Sixers have. They could certainly use another ball handler to help Maxey and James Harden. A reliable third ball handler was lacking during the postseason.
The aspect of Washington’s game that could get him on the floor early in his career is his feel. There’s something to be said for players that simply know how to play the game and exhibit a high basketball IQ. And the Sixers always seem to lack those types of players, quite frankly.
The athletic traits might not be where you want them to be for a first-rounder, but there are mental aspects of the game Washington excels in that also can’t be taught. There are other prospects that might fit the Sixers better, but Washington is the type of player worth taking if he falls into their range.”
Yahoo! Sports, Krysten Peek - Walker Kessler, Auburn
Personally, I don’t see any way the Sixers use the pick on a true center. The wing rotation is so barren and the team already has Paul Reed and Charles Bassey as young guys on the roster to try and fill the backup center void. Nevertheless, here’s Peek on Kessler:
“Kessler led the country in blocks (155) during his sophomore season at Auburn. The rim-running center moves well for his size at 7-foot-1 and has solid footwork, pinning defenders on the block and finishing strong at the rim.”
The Athletic, The Athletic NBA staff, Rich Hoffman making the Sixers’ pick - Malaki Branham, Ohio State
Hoffman goes with a different Buckeye - intriguing! Although he notes he would have gone with Liddell if he was still on the board:
“Playing Daryl Morey’s role for this exercise, there are some mixed feelings with this pick. This represents solid value for Branham, who is typically being mocked higher than in the 20s. The last time that happened to the Sixers was in 2020, when Tyrese Maxey fell down the board. That worked out well for them.
Branham’s ability to create shots off the bounce and rise up over smaller defenders in the midrange shows more polish than we typically see from someone his age. And yet the way the board fell is also a reminder of why the Sixers would be looking to move this pick to bolster their current roster. Players like Eason, Jalen Williams and even Branham’s teammate, Liddell, feel like they have a better chance than Branham to slide into a rotation and help in a supporting role right away.”
We have mere hours remaining of wading through the slop until finding out how the Sixers’ fortunes will turn. Until then, keep it locked here at Liberty Ballers for any developments.