Philadelphia 76ers Draft Board: Post Lottery Edition
Now that the dust has settled and the ping-pong balls have fallen into their respective places, it's time to assess the consequences of Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery results for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers (19-63) went into the night with the second-best chances at securing the No. 1 overall pick (19.9 percent) according to SI.com. When it was all said and done, they ended up with pick No. 3 as well as pick No. 10, courtesy of their 2013 draft night trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Armed with two lottery picks and five second-rounders in a deep draft, the 76ers now have a clearer vision for their immediate future and some idea of what their tanktastic 2013-14 season will yield them.
Here are seven players who could be fits at either No. 3 or No. 10, and what would need to happen in order for them to land in Philadelphia. This isn't a definitive ranking of the seven best players available (notice there's no Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and others), but guys who are legitimate options and schematic fits for their two lottery selections.
7. Doug McDermott
All Doug McDermott did in his four years at Creighton was become one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history (fifth all-time).
McDermott has his detractors and their criticisms aren't without merit. At 6'8", McDermott doesn't have the elite athleticism to match up with some of the far superior athletic wings in the NBA. But what he lacks in lateral agility and length he makes up for in effort and basketball IQ.
His scoring ability is ready for prime time. Whether it's off screens, off the dribble or catch and shoot situations, he can fill up the stat sheet. He's savvy and drove the ball effectively in college, despite his limited explosiveness.
Ideally, McDermott would be best suited as a small-ball 4 rather than a traditional small forward. If he were to get drafted by Philadelphia, he could provide much needed floor spacing and shooting touch to a team desperate for it—he's a career 45 percent shooter from three-point range. His defensive deficiencies could be hidden by Nerlens Noel and whatever complementary pieces they add in the draft.
At No. 10, he wouldn't be a bad consolation prize, but he's not who Sam Hinkie has his eyes on.
Draft Scenario: The more athletic forwards are taken earlier, Hinkie passes on the European prospects and McDermott's sitting there begging to be taken at No. 10. He's a better option than Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris, who would both be in range.
6. Noah Vonleh
At 6'10" (with a 7'4" wingspan), Vonleh's body is ready for the NBA. He's agile, strong and at 240 pounds, he isn't afraid to bang with other bigs.
He creates contact, averaging 6.8 free throw attempts per 40 minutes last season. He's a good rebounder (9.0 per game), which is predicated on his tremendous length and high motor, particularly on the offensive glass. Did I mention his hand is nearly a foot (11.75 inches) long?
He's the second-youngest prospect in the draft behind Aaron Gordon and it shows. He's prone to turnovers, gets into foul trouble (4.1 fouls per 40 minutes) and sometimes gets lost on defense. His post moves need work as well.
His stock has been rising in recent months. From where the 76ers sit with their two picks, Vonleh probably resides in the abyss between the two.
It's going to require one more move from Sam Hinkie to reel in Vonleh with their second pick. Perhaps the No. 10 pick, Thaddeus Young and some of their five second-round picks would be enough to move up a few spots?
Don't count on it, because there's one guy who could be sitting there at No. 10 that's an even better fit.
Draft Scenario: If the two European prospects, Dario Saric and Jusuf Nurkic, jump into the top 10 then all bets are off and Vonleh could fall. All indications are that he will be taken somewhere in the No. 5 to No. 7 range. Barring any kind of trade—which is always a possibility with Hinkie—it'll be difficult to envision Vonleh in red, white and blue next season
5. Aaron Gordon
It's hard to watch Aaron Gordon and not be intrigued.
He's a relentless worker, constantly exuding energy and effort on both sides of the floor. At 6'9" with his explosion, he's a ferocious finisher around the rim. His length and leaping ability allow him to catch lobs and clean up misses around the basket. He was one of three players at the combine (Vonleh was another) who got up to 12 feet on their max vertical leaps.
Other than that, he's extremely raw offensively. He needs to add moves to his post game and he struggles mightily with his jumper. As the youngest prospect in this draft, he has the tools and the time to improve on his mechanics.
He's a warrior on the glass and on defense. His 303 rebounds ranked third in the Pac-12 and he finished first in the entire NCAA in defensive win shares (3.3).
Gordon is the ideal pick for 76ers fans at No. 10. His hustle and explosiveness would be an instant hit with the Philadelphia fans and he could thrive alongside Nerlens Noel as the defensive anchors.
Draft Scenario: Gordon is projected anywhere from Nos. 8-11 according to most scouts, including those on Draft Express. If he's there at No. 10, he needs to be the pick. In terms of tools, fit and upside, there's no one better for the 76ers at that spot.
4. Dante Exum
The sleek 6'6" guard from Australia has a lot to offer. He's an equally efficient scorer and distributor who is extremely quick off the dribble. His length (6'9" wingspan) is a potential nightmare defensively, especially paired with the lanky Michael Carter-Williams in Philadelphia's backcourt.
Offensively, he's inconsistent with his jumper. While the Carter-Williams/Exum pairing is worth salivating over on the defensive end of the floor, it's also maddening on the offensive side. Both are poor shooters whom the defense doesn't need to account for from the outside. Both do their damage via penetration and creating off the bounce.
The biggest issue with Exum, like all foreign players, is the unknown. He's only 18 years old and no one has seen him go against top-level competition.
Draft Scenario: This is actually one that could very well be a reality come draft night. 76ers head coach Brett Brown is very familiar with Exum during his time coaching the Australian national team. He'll need to make his outside shot more consistent, but Exum has the tools to be an efficient scorer in the NBA. If it's him and Joel Embiid sitting there at No. 3, don't be surprised if Exum's the pick and he moves to shooting guard alongside Carter-Williams.
3. Joel Embiid
No one in this draft scares me more than Joel Embiid.
A seven-footer with an iffy back is nothing to brush off. It was a major red flag when Embiid didn't go to the NBA Draft Combine last week. Sure, it's customary for the projected top picks to bypass it, but not when you're in Embiid's position.
If you were healed from your back injury, wouldn't you want to showcase that to potential teams? Wouldn't you want to prove that you're worthy of a potential No. 1 pick?
76ers beat writer Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News shared similar sentiments in Tuesday's column:
What would fan reaction be if Embiid's balky back, which kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this past season, forced him to miss considerable time in his rookie season? Would they be willing to take that chance?
"There are two injuries that you seriously worry about with a big man, and that's a knee or a back," said one scout in Chicago. "Of course every team will be diligent in their exams on him, but you never know. Perhaps the risk turns out to be slim. But risk is risk, and for a team that sort of got burned on the Bynum situation, you wonder if they'd lean towards being cautious."
Embiid could very well go on to be the next Hakeem Olajuwon, but he can just as easily be the next Greg Oden. And for the team who has had to deal with significant injuries to big men over the last few years, how inclined are they to dive right back into those shark-infested waters?
However, when he was healthy, he only had the highest player efficiency rating in the Big 12 (28.2). You worry about the fit with Noel the same way you do with Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum, but this pairing might be too enticing to pass up.
Draft Scenario: Exum and Embiid are very close, but Embiid gets the nod because of his body of work this year and his upside. If the back checks out in predraft workouts and the possibility of the Embiid/Noel Twin Towers 2014 is too much for Sam Hinkie to pass up, then he's the selection. Lots of red flags, but if he's healthy, he's worthy of the No. 3 pick. Hinkie's not scared.
2. Jabari Parker
There's a chance the most NBA-ready player in the draft will fall right into the 76ers' lap at No. 3.
Jabari Parker's offensive repertoire was on full display during his one season at Duke. He scored from everywhere on the floor, featuring a complete inside-outside game that drew comparisons to Carmelo Anthony. He ranked second in the ACC in scoring (19.1) and player efficiency rating (28.4), and first in rebounding (8.7).
Where Parker worries you is on the defensive side of the ball. In his lone NCAA tournament game, he was routinely pulled out of position on defensive possessions against Mercer. His attention and effort sometimes drift.
Parker gets the slight edge over Joel Embiid and Dante Exum, partially because he's a safer pick and partially because he's the best scorer in the entire draft. His deficiencies on the defensive end can be hidden when he's surrounded by athletic teammates, and his ability to jump in right away and contribute is too much for Philadelphia to pass up.
Draft Scenario: The guy to watch is Embiid, who could easily be taken by either Cleveland or Milwaukee prior to the 76ers' pick. If that's the case, then Parker falls right to them at No. 3 and the 76ers are getting exactly what they need—a stud perimeter scorer who can create his own shot.
1. Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins is the clear-cut No. 1 pick in the draft and it's not that close.
He's a gifted athlete. In case you didn't catch his 44-inch vertical, go see for yourself. That was higher than anyone who tested at the combine.
He has a natural shooting stroke, even if it wasn't always consistent during his freshman year at Kansas.
He has the length, quickness and agility to be a defensive terror. He would be the ideal complement to Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel on that side of the ball, which gives him the edge over Parker. In terms of fit, Wiggins would be the perfect building block for Philadelphia and its current assets.
The biggest knock on him is his motor and his ability to "turn it on." Scouts wonder about his competitive fire. They are talking about the same kid who said on ESPN First Take earlier this week, "I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else. That's just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself."
He may give an impish smile to reporters and be reluctant to boast, but deep down this kid is an assassin waiting to be unleashed.
Draft Scenario: Cleveland wants to "win now" and takes the safer Jabari Parker while Milwaukee goes with Joel Embiid. While I wouldn't be surprised if Embiid went to either one of these teams, I think even Cleveland realizes Andrew Wiggins is the pick at No. 1. It's unlikely that Wiggins slips to No. 3, but until Adam Silver says his name there's still a glimmer of hope.
Advanced statistics courtesy of Sports-reference.com.
Combine stats via NBA.com.