With the NBA draft now eight days away the order in which players are selected is getting clearer although no one truly knows. Not the media, not the draft “experts”, and not even I can claim to know for sure how things will play out next Thursday night.
The Sixers are in an enviable position as they hold picks number 3, 10, 32, 39, 47, 52, and 54. That’s seven picks total which is generally unheard of. What the Sixers are hoping to accomplish by the end of the draft is to have acquired a franchise player to go along with the core of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. After all that is the whole reason behind the team “tanking” last season away to the second worst win/loss record in the NBA.
There are several possible moves the Sixers could make in the draft to get the players they want. They could trade any of their picks and they could also trade veterans Thaddeus Young and Jason Richardson to move up or to acquire future assets. Let’s focus on the first round and assume that the draft order stays exactly the same with no moves made.
At pick number three I have the Sixers selecting the highly coveted Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is a freak athlete who fits the Sixers perfectly. His strength is running the floor in transition where he can get good looks and finish at the rim. But that’s not what Wiggins’ game is limited to either. He possesses the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court with a good stroke that should translate to the pro’s however his offensive game isn’t as polished as Jabari Parker’s right now. His defense has the potential as a lock down defender with proper coaching but it’s already very good just based on sheer athleticism. Wiggins second jump is ridiculously quick just like Thaddeus Young and Nerlens Noel. If he misses at the rim, by the time the defender is coming back down, Wiggins is already putting the ball back up and into the basket. Wiggins upside is what really has teams and scouts salivating. Considering Brett Brown and the rest of the Sixers staff are seen as player developers Wiggins fits well for the Sixers. If indeed he is not there at three for the SIxers you really can’t go wrong with either Parker or Embiid as consolation prizes. Wiggins has the potential to become a Tracy McGrady like player when he is fully developed.
Here is the real question for most fans. What do the Sixers do with pick #10? Almost everyone I’ve talked to, and the posts I’ve read, want the Sixers to trade up from #10 to the #6-8 range if at all possible in hopes of landing another impact player. Specifically one of the top three bigs; Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, or Julius Randle.
Each of these players has their own style of play. Vonleh has the range to be a stretch four that would complement Noel perfectly plus he can rebound. Vonleh may be 6’9″ but he has a 7’4″ wingspan that allows him to effectively play the power forward spot.While at Indiana he averaged 11.3 points, 9 rebounds, shot 52.3% from the floor and 48.5% from three grant it he didn’t take all too many shots from three, 16 of 33, but it shows he has range if needed.
Aaron Gordon is by far the most athletic big in this draft if you can consider him a big. He’s more of a Thaddeus Young in the sense that he’s stuck between being a power forward and a small forward. He would certainly be a nice show running the court with Noel and Wiggins but his offensive game is very raw. He needs to rebuild his shot much like what Brown did with Noel this past season. If he does that and improves his ball handling then he could play on the wing. He also doesn’t have any inside moves either like Noel. I doubt the Sixers will want Gordon though as that would put them in a situation they are already in with Thaddeus Young plus if you have MCW, Wiggins, and Gordon….who’s making outside shoots besides an average shot from Wiggins?
Randle is your more traditional power forward with his size and how he plays. He is dominate down low in the post where he uses his strength to bully pass his man. He can also face up and take his man off the dribble. Randle didn’t show his jump shoot all that much last year at Kentucky but he has a nice shot, just look at his high school videos and some workout ones. This was due to John Calipari wanting Randle to dominate down low. People are worried about his defense because he has a short wingspan but with Noel protecting weak side I don’t think it should be as much of a concern. Randle is as competitive of a player I have seen coming out of college with a win at all cost attitude. I’d compare him to a Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies.
If Randle were to fall to the Sixers at ten that would be perfect because then they could trade Thaddeus Young and some seconds to move back into the lottery and grab a shooter such as James Young out of Kentucky or a potential filled Zach LaVine. But in the event Randle doesn’t slide expect the Sixers to trade up to select one of the three bigs.