Welcome back to the 19th edition of the LibertyBallers Sixers Mailbag. You can check out the previous installments at our story stream.
Q: Personally, are you happy with getting the third pick?
I am. It's a little bit disappointing not to end up at #1, and going through the commercial break for the second year in a row, getting our hopes up, then quickly dashed with our logo being on the first envelope, was momentarily crushing. But there are a ton of options for the Sixers at the 3rd pick, and the Sixers are only really missing out on one prospect that they likely would have had interest in. That's not a bad situation to be in at all.
Q: Hinkies history shows that he likes 2 way players. So why would people think Russell is the obvious choice?
Well, I think Russell is an obvious choice because of how important shooting is from the point guard spot, how much his ability to pull-up from anywhere on the court will open things up for a post-up player down low, and how creative of a passer he is to cutters and big men diving off the pick and roll.
But your point is valid. Russell is not currently a good defender. Outside of his 6'9" wingspan, which is phenomenal, his other defensive tools are pedestrian. More egregious, his stance, technique, and concentration wane. Those are correctable, but he probably projects as an average defender even if he does correct them.
Unfortunately, there just isn't a "complete" point guard available, as I think Mudiay's jump shot is just as concerning of a flaw as Russell's defense. But it's absolutely a fair point.
Q: Does Winslow measuring only 6'4.5" make a big difference?
Nah. Even if you concede the fact that he was wearing shoes that added 2" to his height, our vision of how tall a player should be is skewed by the fact that most players listed heights are with shoes. In that context, Winslow is a legit 6'6". For example, Iguodala was 6'5.75" without shoes, and Winslow has virtually the same wingspan as Iguodala (6'10.75" vs 6'11") and only an inch less standing reach (8'8.5" vs 8'9.5"), and that didn't prevent Iguodala from being a great defender.
Winslow will be fine defending the perimeter in the NBA.
Q: How does D'Angelo Russell differ from Evan Turner, coming out of college?
There are two things that are similar between Turner and Russell: Ohio State and not being incredible athletes. That's it. And the first one is utterly irrelevant (but the basis for much of this comparison).
Turner did very little during his first season at Ohio State, averaging 8.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. He made a grand total of 23 three pointers that season, which was actually the most he made in any one season in his college career.
Compared to Russell's 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 95 made three's (at 41.1%), there really isn't a comparison at this age in their development. Russell's 6.8 win shares were as much as Turner's junior season, and his 11.7 BPM was 2nd in all of college basketball among freshmen, behind only Karl-Anthony Towns.
Skill wise, Russell is an elite shooter, with unlimited range, who can pull up from anywhere on the court. That's just not Turner's game at all.
Q: Do you see Embiid as a first option and if we draft Russell him as a second option on offense is Covington the 3rd? & Do overpay for Middleton?
Designating one as a first option and one as a second option isn't all that important. I do think Embiid and Russell have the potential to be the top 2 offensive players on a good team, though.
Covington may end up in a 6th man role, and that's fine. I would definitely "overpay" for Middleton (which I'm not sure is really possible with the rising cap), but I think Milwaukee will match. Stretching Larry Sanders and trading away greatly improved their cap positioning for this summer.
Q: All the buzz is that Russell is the guy but we've seen Hinkie go for the Mudiay-type almost always. Will that change?
I think what we've seen from Hinkie and what we will see from Hinkie could be two different things.
Going with a "Mudiay type" with late draft picks, undrafted free agents, or even the 11th pick is one thing. Shooting is a teachable skill, and even if it may not be a guarantee to improve, it almost always *can* improve, and the risk/reward in these spots is almost always in your favor.
However, when investing a top pick on a player that you want to pair with Embiid to form the long-term nucleus of a franchise, a jump shot is important. In this instance, you're more worried about probability than possibility, and having an elite shooter is a very valuable skill. Improving to average isn't necessarily the goal, but being elite is.
Q: Could you give me a percentage in your opinion that the Lakers take D. Russell?
Not an impossibility, but low. I would say ~10%. If Okafor goes #1, I think the Lakers absolutely go Towns. If Towns goes #1, there might be a small chance the Lakers go Russell, but I still think they end up going Okafor, or trading down a few spots.
Q: if Utah offered Exum and #12 for #3, would you take it?
No. I liked Exum last year as a top-5 pick, but this is a deeper draft, and the Sixers can get somebody better at #3, and the 12th pick isn't enough to change that.
Q: Would Hinkie part with some of his assets in a three team trade to try and acquire the Knicks pick?
I don't think grabbing another lottery pick is impossible, nor do I think it's impossible that Hinkie might like somebody else in the lottery enough to give up some of his collection of assets to acquire, but I'm not sure I see a trade with the Knicks (unless it's trading down) all that likely. I think the Knicks want somebody who can help now, and the Lakers pick and the Heat pick obviously don't fit that bill.
Where it could come into play is if Hinkie can get a 3rd team involved, somebody who may have the veterans that the Knicks want, and be willing to give them up for a package that centers around the picks that the Sixers have. I don't want to say anything is impossible with Hinkie's creativity, but getting up to #4 in this draft, without giving up Noel, seems tough to do. But somewhere in the 8 range? That might be possible with the Lakers pick (and, possibly, having to include the Miami pick as well).
Austin (and similar from @Chris_Reichert)
Q: I am all for Russell at 3, but if you look at need and you have a Tony Wroten (coming off an ACL injury) at PG do you think Hinkie would even consider Winslow there at 3?
I'm not sure I really see Wroten having an impact in what they do at the top of the draft. I don't think the Sixers are currently in the stage of filling positions, and they'll take the best talent, almost no matter what (the almost in there because of Okafor).
Wroten, specifically, I don't think is enough of a sure thing to pencil him in as part of the Sixers plans. I think Wroten was the perfect acquisition at that point in the Sixers rebuild: young, could be had for nothing, physical talent, but some potentially fatal flaws. I don't think Wroten has necessarily corrected those flaws, and until he does, I don't pencil him in as a long term piece, and certainly not something that impacts the direction of a top-3 pick.
Would Hinkie consider Winslow? I think Hinkie probably loves Winslow, but I think with options available who could form the 1-2 punch with Embiid for the next decade, he may go in a different direction. But I don't think Winslow's out of the realm of possibility.
Q: D'Angelo Russell - Vasilije Micic backcourt. Big, elite passing, pick & roll point guards with solid 3pt shooting. Possible?
I think there's 3 problems with this.
First, I think we're quite simply just overvaluing Micic. Interesting player, as I like big point guards with a real feel for navigating the pick and roll, but he's a borderline NBA prospect.
Second, the defense between those two would be an issue. Having 2 subpar defenders starting next to each other isn't something I think Hinkie wants.
Finally, I think pairing Russell with somebody whose entire offensive game is pretty much based around having the ball in his hands and operating out of the pick and roll would be diminishing Russell's worth on the offensive end. I'm a firm believer in having good decision makers at all positions, so Micic would be good in that regard, but Micic doesn't do enough off the ball to justify playing heavy minutes with Russell, or justify his defensive weaknesses.
That will wrap it up. Thanks to everybody who submitted questions, and my apologies if I didn't answer yours. If you want to submit a question for next week, either hit me up on twitter (include #sixersmailbag in the tweet) or send me an email.
Please help team Liberty Ballers qualify for the $1 million The Basketball Tournament this summer in Philadelphia! The roster includes great local talent that includes: Reggie Redding (Villanova), Antonio Pena (Villanova), Ryan Brooks (Temple), Garrett Williamson (St. Joe's) and more! Vote for Liberty Ballers here.