In previous years, I used to immerse myself in scouting to NBA Draft. But my situations and my responsibilities have evolved, leaving me to focus elsewhere. To help me and Philadelphia 76ers fans gearing up for Thursday, I enlisted the help of Jake Rosen of Cerebro Sports. Jake is among the finest draft minds available to us. Follow him on Twitter @JakeInThePaint if you haven’t already and read his work. You’ll be a more finicky basketball consumer, I’m sure.
Alright, starting with more than one macro question here. How do you – or how would you – differentiate the draft philosophy for a team rebuild from a team like the Sixers looking to finally take the final step and become a title contender?
The Sixers have no time to waste. Joel Embiid is at the peak of his powers and the Sixers have a responsibility to surround him with a team capable of competing for a title. Needless to say, this adds some pressure to win at the margins, pressure that other organizations might not feel. Philosophically, Philadelphia doesn’t have much time for projects or prospects that might take two or three years to acclimate. They need players who can step in from day one and make a contribution.
Similarly, how should this philosophy inform Philadelphia’s approach to this project?
Stay away from swings or bets. There are plenty of older, more projectable prospects that should linger when Philly comes around. As I’ll get to later, there are a handful of goals I’d really like for Philadelphia, and they all seem to be thrown into their range. I would stay patient, drop the board as best I can, then make a smart choice based on the production and provide a necessary skill set that can help Philly in some way this year.
What do you see as the most pressing needs for the Sixers and does this draft offer solutions to those issues?
I think Philly can choose one of three ways here. I would say his needs are the creation of additional guards, the help of stable wings and a save center. I’m not very excited about any of the greats outside of Jalen Duren and Mark Williams who will likely be removed from the board in 23 years, so I’d rather fill that need in free agency or in-house, depending on your confidence In you. Paul Red.
I expect another leap from Tyrese Maxey, but James Harden’s future as a mega-creator looks a little murkier than Philly might hope. With Matisse Thybulle’s offensive limits showing up in the playoffs, I think it’s essential to acquire more help on the wings, emphasizing the complementarity of Embiid and guards.
The 2022 draft is pretty thin on guards, so Philly might be better served in the FA veteran market, but there’s a target I really like for them. The wing group is certainly deeper and filled with proven, scalable and projectable players that Philly can consider being part of the rotation.
Who are your favorite targets for the Sixers at 23 and why?
The only guard is Kennedy Chandler. He is lightning fast and has shown the ability to decimate defenses with his speed and maneuverability. Chandler is a very capable PnR handler who can help create assists in the half court. More importantly, despite being only 6ft tall, he excelled on the ball as a mover, threat and cutter. Along with his creation chops, the comfort and ability to make an impact playing more established Philly talent make him an intriguing fit.
As for wings, Jalen Williams is my favorite name here. At 6-foot-6, he’s one of the best PnR handlers in the entire draft, while also being capable of floor-spacing for Philly’s stars. Casting him as a secondary creator is seamless, and while he doesn’t provide the shine that Chandler possesses, his frame and positional size make him an easier bet to contribute immediately.
Another name I’m going to throw out is Marjon Beauchamp. He doesn’t bring the same creative fairness as Williams, but if his one-time jumper can become consistent, Beauchamp can be a valuable two-way winger who successfully fills gaps.
*Editor’s note: Chandler and Beauchamp are among a handful of prospects with +1000 chance of Draft Kings making it into the top five. So there’s definitely a chance neither will be on the board when the Sixers pick at 23.
Philadelphia has often been talked about wrapping that pick in a trade. Obviously, you don’t know what this hypothetical trade is, but in a vacuum, would you advocate keeping or trading this choice? For either answer, why?
I think there are a number of good targets for Philly at 23, but on his timeline, I certainly wouldn’t blame them for wrapping him up for more established NBA talent. I think the Sixers know what their needs are, and if they feel they can tick that box better in the short term with a trade, I would definitely understand and support them.
The Sixers currently have no second-round picks. Are there any potential undrafted players that you think might make sense to them?
UDFAs are always a gamble, but I like Michigan State’s Gabe Brown here. He shot 38.2% from deep on 10.8 3PA for 100 possessions at 6-7 with a lanky frame. He won’t offer much juice on the dribble, but Brown might be able to carve out a few minutes as a ground spacer with good size and defensive versatility.
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