Although the Lakers pick alluded them, the Sixers still came away as winners of the draft lottery. The franchise landed the third overall selection in the draft and is now primed to add a talented prospect to an already young, talented group. After drafting a big man with their top pick in the last four drafts, fans are clamoring for the team to draft a guard, but is that the right decision? I’ll look at the three choices that I believe have the biggest positive impact for the Sixers- short term and long term.
1. Trade Up
I’m not entirely sure how committed Brett Brown is to playing Ben Simmons at point guard next season- or if the experiment will work- but as it stands right now the Sixers could use an upgrade at the position. The center-needy Boston Celtics currently hold the first overall pick in the draft, and the Sixers are rumored to be interested in former Washington floor general and consensus top prospect, Markelle Fultz. The Sixers also just so happen to have a plethora of big men at their disposal. These variables make the franchises interesting potential trade partners and I believe the Sixers can form a package that nets them the top pick in the draft:
Celtics Receive: Jahlil Okafor and the 3rd Overall Pick
Sixers Receive: 1st Overall Selection
The Celtics’ roster is loaded with guards and the team already has superstar point guard Isaiah Thomas, so the franchise may not mind trading back a couple spots and passing on yet another guard. Okafor has fallen out of favor with Philadelphia’s front office (as well as its fans), but still has value due to his upside. The Celtics desperately need depth and talent at the center position and can kill two birds with one stone by acquiring the 21-year old big man.
As for the Sixers, dumping Okafor in Boston and landing the consensus top prospect in the draft would be a move worth praising. Fultz, 19, is a dynamic athlete with a complete all-around game and would be a welcome addition to the Sixers young core. Fultz would not only give Philly their point guard of the future, but at 6’4 he would also allow Brett Brown to run the bigger lineup he desires.
2. Draft Josh Jackson
If the Sixers decide to stay put at third overall I think Josh Jackson makes the most sense for the team. Jackson is an incredibly athletic wing with all the tools to develop into a stud at the next level. The former Kansas Jayhawk is a terrific defender and always seems to give 110% when he’s on the floor. His offensive repertoire is a bit limited at this point and his jumper mechanics needs some work, but at just 20-years old he is only beginning to scratch the surface. Although he has all the tantalizing tools scouts and coaches dream of, but off court issues may cause the team to hesitate or pass on taking him altogether. Jackson threatened to beat a young lady that threw a drink at his teammate in December of 2016. He issued an apology for the incident, but it may cost him on draft night. If the Sixers are willing to overlook his off court baggage I think Jackson makes a lot of sense at No.3.
3. Trade For Jimmy Butler
The Sixers recent first round draft selections, save for Dario Saric, all have either fallen out of favor with the front office or face major injury concerns. The team could use a proven commodity and Jimmy Butler certainly fits the bill. Butler is a 3x All-Star, a lockdown defender, relentless scorer, and at 27 years old could make the Sixers more competitive without being a road block for their future. Butler would give Philly someone who can guard multiple positions on the perimeter as well as a consistent player to rely on over the course of the season. I think the third overall pick alone could net Butler, but the Sixers could also throw Okafor in for good measure. Passing on drafting one of the top prospects in this class in favor of landing Butler makes even more sense when you consider the Sixers own their own pick and an unprotected Lakers pick next year- both of which are projected to be top 10 selections. I’m all for trusting the process but the Sixers need to win a few more games so the young core doesn’t feel like they are in an endless cycle of losing, and Butler would help instill a winning culture.
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports