The Philadelphia Sixers finalized a blockbuster trade yesterday to acquire the top pick in Thursday’s draft. While the deal has been vigorously celebrated throughout the city, it has taken away any uncertainty with who their first round selection will be – Markelle Fultz.
Drafting Fultz alone makes the Sixers a draft night winner. But what they do with their four second round picks, is where Bryan Colangelo and company can truly add additional value to this roster. The team has so many options…but the question is, how can they capitalize?
As of right now, Philadelphia owns the 36th pick (from the Knicks), 39th (from the Mavericks), 46th (from the Heat) and 50th (from the Hawks). Philadelphia doesn’t have the roster flexibility to utilize all of these picks. A combination of these picks could be sent elsewhere in exchange for a post-lottery first round pick if the team is enamored with a player. It seems almost like a forgone conclusion that they’ll use at least one pick for a draft and stash player overseas.
During the second round of the 2015 draft, Philadelphia had five picks. Only one of them is on the roster right now and that’s Richaun Holmes. Willy Hernangomez was sent to the Knicks in a draft-day trade, while their other three picks have never played in an NBA game. J. P. Tokoto for instance, is playing in the D-League. Every Sixers fan is familiar with the other two 2015 second round selections – Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic. Philly traded away their draft rights to Sacramento in exchange for a boatload that included the pick swap that Philadelphia utilized this year to move up from five to three.
When looking at Philadelphia’s depth chart, there’s a lot to be desired. The team’s point guards are Ben Simmons, presumably Fultz (who can play the position), with T.J. McConnell, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. McConnell has become a fan favorite but he’s still a low-end backup. Bayless only managed to play three games last season, and Rodriguez probably will not be back on the team next year. It couldn’t hurt for the team to invest in another point guard. Potential second round point guards include Juwan Evans (OK State), Frank Jackson (Duke), Derrick White (Colorado) and Frank Mason (Kansas). While Evans and Jackson may be off the board by the time Philly picks, expect the front office to give them legitimate consideration.
The Sixers biggest hole is probably at the shooting guard and wing position. A spot that drafting Markelle Fultz will help solidify. But aside from the potential number one overall pick, the depth consists of Gerald Henderson, (he has a team option), Justin Anderson, Nik Stauskas and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. TLC is the only player that could potentially start for a championship caliber team and even that requires a ton of luck. Henderson, Anderson and Stauskas are all easily replaceable and their competition is strong in this draft class. Expect Philadelphia to take someone like Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), hometown hero Josh Hart (Villanova), or Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina). Hart is an all-round fundamentally sound player, similarly to Malcolm Brogdon of last year. The team should be able and ready to select one of these guys.
The Sixers are paper-thin at the small forward position. But, they do have some flexibility having Ben Simmons as the point guard. Brett Brown will be able to play two guards (who are guard size), with Simmons and the LSU product can guard the opposing team’s SF. That type of flexibility will help this team if Brown can find the right lineup.
Right now though, the team’s starting three is Robert Covington. Covington, who after going undrafted has become a lockdown perimeter defender, always taking on the team’s best backcourt player. Covington had his option picked up by the Sixers, but he will be a free agent next year and his salary will jump ten times over, but hopefully he’s looking to stay in the city. In the event he signs elsewhere, this might be the time to find his replacement. The Sixers will consider players like Semi Ojeleye (Southern Methodist), Dillon Brooks (Oregon), and Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson, Philly really liked him last year before he decided to return for one more year).
The Sixers big man situation begins and ends with last year’s rookies. Joel Embiid became a fan favorite the minute he stepped on the court and Dario Saric’s role increased once he got hurt. Both of them after young and oozing with potential, but health is a big red flag. Besides them, the team’s big men are relatively unimpressive – Holmes, Jahlil Okafor, Tiago Splitter, Shawn Long and Alex Poythress.
All of them are replaceable, but Holmes looks like the only one who might be with the team long term. They could take on Tony Bradley (UNC), Johnathan Motley (Baylor), or Alec Peters (Valparaiso). Bradley is only 19; he declared after just his freshman year, but had he stayed, he could’ve shot up draft boards in the coming seasons. Motley, junior, and Peters, senior, have improved drastically over the court of their time in college. Motley became a rebounding moster, similar to Montrezl Harrell who’s now on the Houston Rockets. Peters is a pure shooting big man that could space the floor well with Embiid in the game. His season ended early with a stress fracture in his foot.
It will be interesting to see what Philadelphia does with their four second-round picks, but there’s very little chance they players drafted with those picks will all be on the team come the fall.
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports