Ranking the Philadelphia 76ers' Biggest Needs in the 2015 NBA Draft

Zachary Arthur@Zach_ArthurSLCCorrespondent IIMay 4, 2015

D'Angelo Russell is one of Philadelphia's targets for the upcoming draft.
D'Angelo Russell is one of Philadelphia's targets for the upcoming draft.Greg Wahl-Wtephens/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers are finally in a position to evaluate their biggest needs during the 2015 NBA draft—and to eventually execute on them.

It has felt like a decade, but we are finally at a point where we could be seeing the in-your-face tanking strategy begin to turn around.

Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric offer youth and potential as they make up the Sixers' future core. Robert Covington and Tony Wroten have also proved how valuable they could end up being in Philadelphia's second unit.

The majority of the foundation has been laid.

Philadelphia must now take advantage of one of the offseason's most exciting events to secure the final pieces.

Let's rank some of the team's biggest needs when the draft rolls around on June 25.

3. A Breakout Second-Round Selection

Ginobili and Gasol were both second-round picks.
Ginobili and Gasol were both second-round picks.Darren Abate/Associated Press

It's easy to switch the channel after the first round of the draft ends since the biggest and most recognizable names are usually off the board. A number of NBA teams seem to check out at this point as well.

Still, though, the issue with doing so is that you could miss out on players like Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Paul Millsap and DeAndre Jordan.

All second-rounders.

K.J. McDaniels' performance with the Sixers before he got traded to the Houston Rockets proved how valuable someone taken outside of the top 30 can be during his rookie season. He averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 0.8 steals in 25.4 minutes per game after he was drafted with the No. 32 pick by Philly.

McDaniels did a lot of really positive things for the Sixers as a second-round pick.
McDaniels did a lot of really positive things for the Sixers as a second-round pick.Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Philadelphia owns five second-round selections in this year's draft, and it must focus on landing a number of people talented enough to immediately contribute.

Now, Philadelphia doesn't need to acquire someone who gets to that kind of level, but it does have to understand that it is possible. There's no need to waste any of the team's selections. Each one has to be seen as an opportunity to get better.

There's no reason as to why it can't make it happen.

Georgia State's R.J. Hunter falling past the first round would be a dream scenario as he has the ability to heat up like a microwave and put points on the board in a hurry. It could be a long shot after his impressive performance in the NCAA tournament against Baylor, though.

Also look for people like Cliff Alexander and Brandon Ashley to generate some buzz as the draft nears. Neither is a first-round talent, but each bring size and the ability to rebound to the table.

Those are two factors that translate into the NBA relatively smoothly.

The Sixers literally own one-sixth of the NBA's second-round picks. A successful selection could provide immediate help as well as long-term depth in the future.

2. Get a Franchise-Caliber Point Guard

Emmanuel Mudiay's potential is almost limitless.
Emmanuel Mudiay's potential is almost limitless.Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell.

Those are the names you need to know before Philadelphia announces whom it will take in the 2015 draft.

Mudiay is a bit of an unknown, as we never got the chance to watch him play on national television during the college basketball season. Instead, he has spent the past year playing professionally in China.

Bleacher Report featured columnist Tyler Conway wrote an article about some of the top prospects in this year's pool of players. He doesn't speak lightly when it comes to Mudiay:

Unlimited potential. A bit like Dante Exum last year, Mudiay is a ball of potential who is going to see a flock of scouts at every workout. He was one of the top high school players in the country before eschewing college ball for China, and he is a powerful slasher who seeks out and plows through contact. His most natural comparisons are Russell Westbrook and John Wall, which should tell you all you need to know about his NBA ceiling.

Mudiay easily has one of the highest ceilings among this year's draft class. His athletic and explosive style would compliment the speed that the Sixers already have. There is a question mark surrounding him, as few have had many opportunities to actually see him play, though.

Russell is a bit of a different story, as he could end up competing at either point or shooting guard.

He easily has the passing ability necessary to go with a ridiculous amount of court vision. Combine a tight handle with a smooth left-handed jumper, and he ends up looking like one of the most NBA-ready prospects.

Russell should be able to easily improve Philly's second-worst scoring offense by adding to its 92.0 points per game. Being skilled enough to play at two different positions doesn't hurt, either.

He also seems to be the guy Philadelphia has its eye on.

The Sixers can't go wrong with either choice. Both prospects have a good shot at being great NBA players.

Philly just needs to make sure it lands one of them. There's no other way around it. 

1. One of the Top Four Picks

Philadelphia could use some good luck when the lottery gets decided.
Philadelphia could use some good luck when the lottery gets decided.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The Sixers won't be able to acquire a point guard good enough to build an organization around unless they get one of the first four picks in the draft.

Mudiay and Russell are the only two 1-guards with the upside to lead a franchise, and they are ranked as two of the four best players on most big boards.

Finishing the year with an 18-64 record left the Sixers with the third-worst record in the league. Being in that position gives them a 15.6 percent chance of winning the lottery. More importantly, they have a 46.9 percent chance of landing a top-three selection.

Things get a little dicey if luck isn't on their side when it comes to the Ping-Pong balls, though.

There's a reason to be optimistic about getting one of the highest picks because there are 27 other teams that had better seasons than Philadelphia. The scary part is that the Sixers' first-round pick could end up being as low as No. 6.

It will be incredibly difficult for the team to have a successful draft if it isn't among the top four teams making a pick.

Something like that would be devastating.

At this point, there isn't anything that Philly can do in order to help itself get one of the first four spots in the NBA draft. Both management and fans need to cross every finger and toe in hopes of improving the Sixers' luck.

Zachary Arthur is a Featured Columnist for the Sixers on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for thoughts on everything basketball.


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