76ers' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2021

76ers' Top Draft Needs Ahead of 2021-22 NBA Season

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia 76ers have myriad questions to answer this summer after failing to turn the East's top seed into more than another second-round exit—their third in four years—from the NBA playoffs.

    Among those inquiries is what to do on draft night.

    For now, the Sixers are armed with the 28th and 50th picks, though one or both could be in play should Philly opt to reshuffle the roster through trades. But if the Sixers stand pat, here's what it makes sense to seek out.

Perimeter Scoring

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    When teams throw the kitchen sink and any other appliance they can get their hands on at Joel Embiid, the Sixers need more counterpunches in their arsenal.

    There were playoff games where Philly's offense devolved into Embiid, Seth Curry or bust. That's obviously not a championship formula, so the Sixers might spend the bulk of their summer finding more options.

    Florida's Tre Mann could be a fun place to start. He has the handles to ditch his defender and the soft touch to pull from anywhere. He could be a microwave scorer next season and something even greater down the line.

    Two other names stand out here: Arizona State's Josh Christopher and VCU's Nah'Shon Hyland. Christopher's uneven season with the Sun Devils pushed him out of the lottery conversation, but it might have also created a big buy-low opportunity. He has an NBA build, an ability to separate from defenders and significant potential on defense. Hyland is a quantity-plus-quality shooter who can find his own shots and bury them off the bounce.

More Shooting

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Maximizing this attack around Embiid shouldn't be too difficult.

    He's a brilliant one-on-one scorer who can shred nets from the post to the perimeter. It might be impossible for Philly to put too much shooting around him. The Sixers certainly aren't in danger of doing that now, as they ranked 23rd in three-pointers and 26th in three-point attempts this season.

    Virginia's Trey Murphy III could help those numbers in a hurry. He splashed 40.1 percent of his threes across three college campaigns—two at Rice, the final with the Cavaliers—and shot better than 42 percent from range in two of the three.

    West Virginia's Miles McBride pairs shooting improvement (30.4 percent from three as a freshman, 41.4 as a sophomore) with great ball control (4.8 assists against 1.8 turnovers). Oregon's Chris Duarte has a three-and-D game that's rotation ready right now. Baylor's Jared Butler, assuming he gets medical clearance, could scratch several itches as a shooter, shot creator and pesky perimeter defender.

Frontcourt Depth

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Sixers fielded a brilliant first team frontcourt tandem at the 4 and 5 spots with Embiid and Tobias Harris. But things got dicey in a hurry when coach Doc Rivers needed to go to his bench.

    Dwight Howard was fine in small doses, but he plays a limited role at both ends of the floor. Mike Scott was a shooting big who couldn't find his shot, so he often didn't hit the hardwood. Both are 30-somethings entering unrestricted free agency. They obviously aren't part of the long-term plans and might not be on the short-term blueprint, either.

    The Sixers can find some alternatives on draft night.

    Villanova's Jeremiah Robinson-Earl plays a glue-guy game at both ends of the floor. Auburn's JT Thor has rocketed his draft stock thanks to an interesting blend of size, length, shooting and defensive versatility. Kentucky's Isaiah Jackson is a high-motor rim runner with major bounce. UNC's Day'Ron Sharpe isn't the most skilled away from the basket, but he maximizes his impact with strength and hustle.