Philadelphia sits in a good spot. They don’t have a single contract guaranteed past 2019 and own five picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. With an ample amount of cap flexibility and a coup of promising young players, the 76ers could attack the draft in a number of ways.
The Sixers would love to grab one of the top two point guards (Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball), but both are likely to be off the board by the third pick. If the Sixers stick with drafting the best player available – a strategy that nabbed them big men in three consecutive lotteries– they would likely take Kansas’ Josh Jackson with this selection.
Although he doesn’t seem like a perfect fit on paper, there is quite a bit Jackson can bring to this Philadelphia team. For one, he would give them a defensive identity. His versatility on that end would allow the Sixers to switch on nearly everything. Jackson’s impact on the defensive end would add to an already stout group including multiple plus-defenders in Joel Embiid, Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell.
If the 76ers decide to take more of an offensive-approach, then Duke’s Jayson Tatum would make more sense. Tatum has some of the best shot-creating ability in the draft – a skill that is sorely lacking for Philadelphia’s wings. His size would allow the 76ers to play a frontcourt of Ben Simmons-Tatum-Embiid, which would be one of the more athletically gifted fronts in the league.
As far as point guards go, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox is the next on the board if Fultz and Ball are gone. Fox is a speedster that could up the tempo for this young Sixers squad, but the former Wildcat’s lack of outside shooting is an area of concern. With Simmons getting the chance to run some point guard in his first season, it’s unlikely that Fox would thrive in an off-ball role given his shooting woes.
For as talented and youthful as the 76ers are, they still have one glaring need: shooting. It’s an eclectic mix of athletic and gritty players that will require a good spacer to help the offense flow smoothly. That’s why the perfect prospect pairing for the 76ers is Fox’s Kentucky teammate, Malik Monk. Monk is a flamethrower from beyond the arc, able to heat up in a heartbeat. His value off-the-ball would pay dividends next to Simmons and Embiid, allowing for good floor spacing and clear lanes.
Selecting the talented Monk with the third overall pick wouldn’t be a terrible reach, but he’s more likely to get taken off the board in the 6-10 range. Philadelphia could explore some trade options, especially with a team that wants to jump Phoenix and draft Kansas’ Jackson. Likely partners that could facilitate that trade would be Orlando or Minnesota (selecting 6th and 7th respectively).
If Philadelphia is committed to grabbing one of the top point guards, a trade-up isn’t completely out of the question. The Lakers don’t seem likely to trade down, but equipped with a bevy of picks and an intriguing commodity in Jahlil Okafor, it’s not impossible to see the 76ers packaging a deal to grab Boston’s No. 1 overall pick.
The 76ers front office could have had the perfect draft lottery had the Lakers pick fallen out of the top three, but they’re still in prime position to nab an impact player in the upcoming draft. In all likelihood, Philly will stick to their guns and take the best player on the board when they’re on the clock. The biggest question is exactly when they will be on the clock.
THE VERDICT: A trade-down here is the best bet for Philly, and a sharpshooting Malik Monk will be a welcomed addition to this young, up-start team.
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