76ers 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Roundup of B/R Staff, Expert Picks

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVJune 20, 2022

76ers 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Roundup of B/R Staff, Expert Picks

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 10: LSU Tigers forward Tari Eason (13) stars a laugh with an official during the SEC Tournament between the Missouri Tigers and the LSU Tigers on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Philadelphia 76ers are on the doorstep of NBA championship contention, but they're still waiting on their breakthrough.

    It's hard to imagine that transformation will take place during Thursday's draft, since the Sixers hold the No. 23 pick and nothing else. However, Philly's sole focus should be closing the gap on the Association's elites, and turning this pick into a rotation player could be hugely helpful on that front.

    To get a feel for who might end up in Philadelphia, we're examining three recent expert mocks.

Bleacher Report: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite

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    STOCKTON, CA - MARCH 6: Jaden Hardy #1 of the G League Ignite dribbles the ball during the game against the Stockton Kings on March 6, 2022 at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    Philly has enough talent on the roster to take a big swing if it chooses.

    Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman sees the Sixers going that exact route with Hardy, who just last summer was regarded as a top-three prospect in this draft.

    Obviously, things didn't go great this past season, as he struggled mightily with decision-making and shot selection. Still, he has every shot-creation move in his bag, plus an ignitable three-ball and the ability to run pick-and-roll.

    This is a swing for the fences, but if it connects, it could be a moon-shot home run.

The Ringer: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame

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    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 20: Blake Wesley #0 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drives to the basket during the first half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on March 20, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The idea of what Wesley could become in time is intoxicating. It's tempting enough that The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor thinks Philly could roll the dice on him.

    "A raw, high-upside player like Wesley would have wide appeal," O'Connor wrote. "If the Sixers keep [this pick], taking a swing could pay off since they don't have a first again until 2024 after the Nets deferred this year's pick to take Philly's 2023 selection instead."

    Wesley lacks polish, as evidenced by his underwhelming 40.4/30.3/65.7 shooting slash and the fact he nearly matched his 2.4 assists with 2.2 turnovers. Still, if the Sixers can be patient with his development, the reward could eventually be enormous.

    He could create space inside of an elevator and keeps defenses off balance with dribble moves and speed changes. If you squint, you can see him becoming both an off-the-dribble shooting threat and a primary playmaker. His defense is ready to contribute right now, and the same goes for his transition finishing.

Sports Illustrated: Tari Eason, PF, LSU

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 11: LSU Tigers forward Tari Eason (13) tries to make a move on a defender during the SEC Tournament between the LSU Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday, March 11, 2022 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    If the Sixers balance their budget with a Tobias Harris trade this offseason, they'll need to find a new power forward.

    SI.com's Jeremy Woo thinks Eason could be an option to fill that void.

    "Eason would be a pretty interesting option here, considering his analytics-friendly production and his potential fit as a big, rangy defender," Woo wrote. "Eason's basketball IQ is a bit suspect, and he's foul-prone and an average shooter, but if he can iron those things out he should be able to help a team."

    Eason could immediately make his mark with energy, athleticism and open-floor finishing, but Philly would hope he could tap further into his intriguing offensive skills. There are flashes of high-level passing and perimeter shooting that could raise his ceiling several stories if he ever fully harnesses them.