After the Nets deferred the first-round pick they received from the Sixers in the James Harden trade to 2023, Philadelphia officially has a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
With the big day fast approaching on Jun. 23, here’s a roundup of recent mock drafts to check in with some experts and see who they have going to the Sixers with the 23rd overall selection.
Krysten Peek, Yahoo! Sports — Jalen Williams, 6-foot-6 guard, Santa Clara
Krysten Peek included Jalen Williams as one of the biggest risers in this mock draft, aided by his standout performance at the draft combine. Here’s Peek’s quick breakdown of Williams to the Sixers at 23:
Williams was the best player on the court in both days of the draft combine scrimmages. He got to the basket with ease, shot the ball well and had some of the best finishes in transition. Defensively, he fought through screens to keep his man in front and was effective in help-side defense, shooting the gap for steals and tips. Last year, Josh Primo (No. 12 pick, Spurs) and Bones Hyland (No. 26, Nuggets) were the biggest surprises of the first round, and Williams could be that guy this year.
It’s an interesting pitch on Williams, and extra offensive punch (especially from someone with solid size) is always welcome off the bench. Williams is a bouncy vertical athlete, he’s a pretty savvy ball-handler and passer, he’s shown scoring ability at all three levels, and has some defensive versatility to switch across a few positions with excellent length, too (he has a 7-foot-2.5 wingspan).
At both ends of the floor, Williams is definitely an interesting target, as our own Paul Hudrick discussed here.
Jonathan Givony, ESPN mock — E.J. Liddell, 6-foot-7 forward, Ohio State
ESPN’s draft expert Jonathan Givony completed a new full mock on May 31 after the NBA Draft combine and selected E.J. Liddell for Philly. Here’s a quote from Givony on what Liddell would have to offer:
Philadelphia could very well look at adding a versatile big man like Liddell who can protect the rim, switch on the perimeter and has a high floor as a prospect after improving his shooting significantly as a junior. His productivity and toughness make him a solid option for a Sixers team looking to win now, one that needs to find value on rookie-scale contracts.
To give the Sixers some much-needed athleticism and defense against forwards, Liddell is definitely an exciting prospect to consider in their range.
Givony also published a new mock on Jun. 7, making two picks for each team — one for the best fit, one for the best player available. For the Sixers’ needs, Givony went with Kennedy Chandler, the 6-foot-1, 19-year-old point guard from Tennessee:
After a rocky start, Chandler emerged as one of the premier college point guards in the second half of last season, showing blazing speed, dynamic ballhandling and passing ability, and an increasingly consistent pull-up jumper. His measurements (6-1, 172 pounds with a 6-5¼ wingspan) are what might keep him out of the lottery position his talent suggests, but didn’t prevent him from playing outstanding defense and leading the SEC in steals. The fact that he proved capable of playing off the ball in two- and three-guard lineups should be attractive as well.
For the best talent available, Givony chose Nikola Jovic, a 6-foot-11 forward from Serbia who’s just turned 19:
If the Sixers prefer to swing for the fences for upside, a prospect like the 18-year-old Serbian Jovic could be an interesting gamble. Standing 6-11, Jovic is a seamless fit in the modern NBA as a combo forward who can shoot, handle and pass. While he saw most of his minutes at small forward last season, his 9-foot standing reach suggests he could slide up to the center position as his frame fills out, making him an interesting pairing with a skilled big man such as Joel Embiid.
Chandler is an intriguing offensive talent, but the Sixers’ lead guard duties are already well covered by James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. With Shake Milton as Doc Rivers’ likely next trusted guard plus any potential veteran signed in free agency, signing a rookie guard really shouldn’t be the priority for the Sixers, in my opinion.
For one, they simply wouldn’t get on the floor much (if at all in any meaningful way) for Rivers’ team. Secondly, the Sixers simply have a far bigger need for reliable wing play. Following Matisse Thybulle’s struggles in the playoffs and Danny Green’s ACL injury that could keep him sidelined for most, if not all, of next season (if he stays on the team), they clearly have far less depth and fewer reliable options there. With some of the wing prospects who could be available in Philly’s range of the draft, addressing that position should be the Sixers’ priority if they keep the pick.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated mock — Tari Eason, 21, 6-foot-8 forward, LSU
The latest mock from SI has the Sixers getting a forward who could be one of their best potential acquisitions in this draft class. Here’s what Woo had to say on the selection of Tari Eason:
Considering Daryl Morey’s historical distaste for using draft picks, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Philly try and flip this one. That said, Eason would be a pretty interesting option here, considering his analytics-friendly production and his potential fit as a big, rangy defender. Eason is a bit of a work in progress despite already being 21, and he’s an acquired taste amongst teams, but this could be a sensible landing spot. Eason’s basketball IQ is a bit suspect, and he’s foul-prone and an average shooter, but if he can iron those things out he should be able to help a team.
There’s a reason a lot of mock drafts have Eason being selected no later than just after the lottery or the late teens. At the moment, it seems unlikely he’ll be available when the Sixers are on the clock. However, if there’s any way Eason does fall past the lottery and into the Sixers’ range at 23, by all accounts he’d be a great pick. LB’s Harrison Grimm explained why in more detail here.
Basketball News — Jaden Hardy, 6-foot-4 guard, G League Ignite
Basketball News also have the Sixers opting to draft a guard in their latest mock. This is their quick summary of Jaden Hardy’s game:
Jaden Hardy is a pure scoring prospect who has the potential to fill up the box score when locked in. At 6-foot-4, Hardy has good athleticism, shot creation, handles, crafty finishing to go along with a healthy amount of confidence, all of which allow him to score the ball at a high rate. Hardy already possesses deep range as an outside shooter. Hardy is projected to be a First Round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
If a player falls to you that’s too good to pass up, drafting for the best available talent rather than need or fit can obviously be the smart option. However, as I mentioned above, the Sixers should really try to prioritize addressing their need for wing depth.
We’ll be sure to keep you covered with all news updates as the draft approaches, as well as providing more in-depth breakdowns of first-round prospects who could be targets for the Sixers.