Sixers Twitter exploded with excitement last week when Jake Fischer reported that the team was in the market for a second-round draft pick. The Process indeed lives on when it comes to the draft.
Who or where the Sixers are targeting in the second round remains a mystery (and hopefully it stays that way for their sake). Looking at their roster construction, however, one can assume they’re likely targeting a wing player for two primary reasons:
- You can never have enough switchable wings in today’s NBA.
- Their backcourt is loaded and it seems like both Jalen McDaniels and Paul Reed might be returning. Factor in a possible Niang return and their “big guys” in the front court seem pretty loaded.
With that said, let’s take a look at several prospects they could be considering when/if they land a second-round draft pick:
Emoni Bates, 6-9, G/F, Eastern Michigan
On paper, Bates would make a ton of sense for the Sixers. He has the size to eventually defend multiple positions in the NBA. On the offensive end, he does most of his damage on the perimeter. He’s capable of spotting up or shooting off of movement. He’s proven to be one of the better scorers in this draft, and has four 30+-point performances and two games with 8+ made threes. Factor in his younger age at 19 and there’s plenty of room for improvement too.
So, why is a huge wing that’s capable of hitting shots projected to go so low? Bates isn’t incredibly athletic and has a slower first step. He’s struggled against quicker guards and forwards. While he has the physical tools he wasn’t much of an impact defender at all, as Eastern Michigan was one of the worst defensive teams in college basketball. He’ll also need to add some weight, as he’s paper thin.
Also, there’s off-the-court concerns: Bates was charged with a felony gun charge prior to Eastern Michigan’s season, although they were eventually dropped.
It’s worth noting that Bates is one of the few prospects that we know has met with the Sixers ahead of the draft. If Bates can stay out of trouble off the court and improve defensively, he has the tools to eventually become a coveted 3-and-D type player at the next level.
Terquavion Smith, 6-4, G, NC State
If Shake Milton departs in free agency, there’s a chance the Sixers will look towards someone capable of handling the ball.
Terquavion Smith has developed into a capable combo-guard at NC State. He’s not shy about letting shots fly (made over 90 threes in both college seasons) and is very capable of creating off the dribble or in the pick-and-roll. While playmaking is a work in progress, he did nearly double his assist average from his first year to his second, where he averaged 4.1 assists per game. Smith also flashed some defensive potential and uses his 6-foot-7.5’ inch wingspan well.
Most of Smith’s weaknesses come from his frame, where he’s very light and hasn’t gained much muscle mass — something that might be a much bigger issue at the next level. His decision making could also use some improvement, as he often tried to shoot himself out of slumps and doesn’t necessarily have a “natural feel” to be a full-time point guard.
Most mock drafts have Smith going in the early second round for good reason: he’s a proven shooter that’s capable of playing on or off the ball. In the event he falls in this draft, the Sixers could do a lot worse with a theoretical second-round pick.
Julian Phillips, 6-8, F, Tennessee
Out of this entire list, Julian Phillips is probably the rawest prospect. He’s only 19 years old with plenty room to grow. Most project him to develop into a 3-and-D player with time.
Phillips is one of the most athletic players in the entire draft. He thrived on the defensive end for Tennessee and did a lot of the dirty work on tough rebounds and hustle plays. His overall game needs refining (more on that below), but he has the physical tools to succeed at the next level with a nearly 7-foot wingspan.
Phillips’ entire offensive game needs development. He struggled shooting the three ball (23.9 percent). While most would turn away at the sight of that, he did shoot above 82 percent from the line, which is a good indicator on where prospects’ shots actually are.
The Sixers are in win-now mode, but with Nick Nurse and Rico Hines aboard maybe they’d consider banking on Phillips. Given time, he could very well go down as a potential steal in this draft.
Sidy Cissoko, 6-7, Wing, G League Ignite
Sidy Cissoko played with the Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite last season; meaning he was going up against fully grown men every game. Not only did Cissoko show promise, he was one of their best players last season.
Cissoko has a big, study frame for only being 19 years old. Unlike other wings, he was capable of playing on ball on a regular basis and has underrated playmaking ability. Though his decision making isn’t flawless, the makings are there for him to be a talented playmaker. One of the biggest draws to Cissoko is his switchability on defense. He’s more than capable of guarding guards and small forwards and showed excellent effort.
Cissoko, however, isn’t a dominant scorer or shooter, as he only shot 31.4 percent from three and 64.3 percent from the line. He’ll need to polish up his jumper with time. He also isn’t a prime athlete and doesn’t have much burst with or without the ball athletically.
Tall playmakers seem to thrive in the NBA and Cissoko could very well contribute defensively on the right team.
Jordan Walsh, 6-7, F, Arkansas
If you want defensive-minded players, it’s hard to find someone better than Jordan Walsh in the second round. Walsh made a name for himself on that end with the Razorbacks.
Walsh has strong, long arms (nearly a 7-foot-2 wingspan) and knows how to use it well. He has great defensive instincts and is a great on-ball defender with good help defense skills. Walsh also has above average athleticism and can finish above the rim with ease. If any player in the second round can help a defensively from day one, it’s Walsh.
Offensively, he’s more of a work in progress, where he struggled in the half court. He shoots the ball high, but his release is slow and he lacks touch. The skills for him to become a slasher are there, but there is definitely work to be done on nearly everything offensively.
If you can bank on his offense improving, Walsh can become an excellent two-way player with time. A huge wingspan with switchability and athleticism is hard to pass on for some teams.