The NBA draft is still months away due to COVID-19 and while it would have been exciting to already know the results, this wait gives us ever-more time to check out the prospects.
The Sixers’ trip to Orlando will have plenty of draft implications as their lone first-round pick is from the playoff-bound OKC Thunder. As of today, the Sixers would pick 22nd overall, but if the Thunder slip in the standings the Sixers are in danger of losing the pick as it is top 20 protected. The Thunder have a rough remaining schedule as six of their eight games come against current playoff teams while five of those are from the western conference. The Thunder have been a surprise team so far so hopefully, they pull off one more surprise and hold their own when the NBA resumes.
The Sixers will have the Thunder’s pick until they don’t so they need to prepare as if they have the pick. The team has quite a few holes, maybe not in star power but they severely lack depth. Thankfully, they have five picks to fix that.
22. (VIA OKLAHOMA CITY): VERNON CAREY Jr, C, DUKE
Probably the Sixers’ most glaring need is for a player to back up Joel Embiid. Now yes, currently Al Horford is filling that void and he honestly is one of if not the best backup center in the NBA. The issue is Horford’s contract, at roughly $27 million a year, the Sixers are likely to attempt to move him so they don’t have so much money tied up at one position.
Many look at Carey and see a player that is in the wrong era, many also see a Jahlil Okafor resemblance. Both are Duke big men who rely on strength and post presence to score. While it is true that Carey is a bully-ball post-up specialist, he differs from Okafor in a few key areas.
First, Carey is at least interested in playing defense. Though his defensive plus-minus (DPM) leaves room for improvement, his defensive rating (DRTG) and Defensive Win Shares (DWS) tell a different story. Here is a list of recently drafted bigs that Carey boasted better DRTG and DWS ratings than: Bam Adebayo, DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr, Jaxson Hayes. While those stats don’t tell the whole story, they do show Carey’s effort and potential to become a serviceable defender.
Second, Carey’s offensive game, while primarily based on his strength in the post, did show room for growth. He may not be Karl Anthony-Towns but he at least shows a willingness to shoot taking close to one three-pointer a game. As long as he’s willing to work on it, he can easily become an Embiid level shooter. Carey also has a knack for getting to the line. In his one year at Duke, Carey finished with a Free-Throw Attempt Rate (FTA Rate) of 63.2% which would’ve placed him third in the NBA this year. Now obviously there is a difference between college and the NBA but for comparison, Okafor only put up a meager 42.6% FTA Rate.
All this Okafor talk isn’t to say that Carey is Jah 2.0 but to show that he is his own player and he will make some noise in this league, hopefully in Philly.
34. (VIA ATLANTA): Paul Reed, PF, DePaul
The Sixers need depth in so many different areas, one of those being backup Power Forward. Mike Scott has manned the position since he came over in the Tobias Harris trade but to call him inconsistent would be generous. There is hope that Scott will find his rhythm in the playoffs but if not, then a successor should be picked.
Paul Reed is an interesting candidate, to say the least. Reed is shockingly comfortable with the ball in his hands for a 6’9″ Power Forward. Athletic, driven, Paul Reed is an electric player who you can easily see thriving on the break with Simmons and Tobias Harris.
Reed is a little post focused which could cause some problems at the next level because of the increased physicality, but he certainly has soft hands which will give him an edge when finishing at the rim.
Reed is also a strong two-way player. Averaging two steals and two-and-a-half blocks, Reed can make an impact in multiple defensive areas. He also has the ability to turn defense into offense, starting and/or finishing the break.
It would be nice to see him increase his range but he adds value to so many other areas, you can live it as long as he keeps defenders honest.
36. (VIA NY KNICKS): DEVON DOTSON, PG, KANSAS
It’s no secret that the Sixers could use a Point Guard to backup their modern-day Magic Johnson. Devon Dotson could be the right fit. A sophomore out of Kansas, Dotson showed off his ability to play two ways this season. Known as a defender first, Dotson showed he’s more than that by increasing his per-game scoring average to 18.1 points.
The Sixers have at least attempted to make their bones on defense at least that’s what they’ve claimed. A defensive-minded guard like Dotson could help slow down guards like Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving when Simmons and Thybulle need a break.
He won’t be confused with the likes of Rondo or Jason Kidd as a passer but we may not have seen the best of Dotson’s passing yet. The 2019-20 Jayhawks were devoid of almost any offense outside of Dotson. In a setting where he isn’t called to score more often than not, Dotson could have a great chance to focus on moving the ball.
While he struggled to shoot from three in college, Dotson can easily improve in time. Even though he shot a disappointing 30.9% from three his projected NBA 3P% is 35.7% per Tankathon. If Dotson can improve his range, he’ll look the part of the ideal backup.
49. Paul Eboua, F, Cameroon
At 6’8″ with a 7’3″ wingspan, Paul Eboua’s measurables are reminiscent of fellow Cameroonian Pascal Siakam. He is a sneaky riser in this draft that should be watched closely. Originally there were questions if he would be drafted at all, then the back end of the second and he will continue to rise from here.
Eboua is one of the best pure athletes in the entire draft but when I say he is raw, he is RAW… but that’s okay. The Sixers would have every opportunity to bring him along slowly so he can work on the minutiae of his game.
Eboua is already an adept offensive rebounder thanks to his length and athleticism, he shows plenty of potential to grow into one of the top rebounders at his position. Maybe that’s asking a lot, Eboua has only been playing basketball for four years. Then again, he’s only been playing basketball for four years. The amount of growth he’s seen in that time is encouraging, just imagine how much more he could grow under the tutelage of an NBA organization.
He’s certainly a project but at 49 overall, a project is just the right kind of risk to take.
59. (VIA LA LAKERS) ISAIAH JOE, SG, ARKANSAS
Speaking of projects, Isaiah Joe at his best could be a contender to win the Three-Point Contest. At his worst well, let’s just say that’s why he’s available at 59. A sophomore for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Joe has made it clear that if there’s one thing he can do, it’s shoot…albeit not efficiently.
During his freshman year, Joe was able to shooter above 40% from both the floor and three. If he can return to those numbers, you’re looking at a player who could make fans forget the name Landry Shamet. Joe was also spectacular from the line making 89.5% of his free-throws this season. All the more reason to hope he can become an elite shooter.
To be frank, he really can’t do much else but maybe that’s okay. The Sixers have a clear need for shooting and in Joe, they could have another player they could bring along slowly. Joe would likely get a chance to work with the Sixers’ G League affiliate the Delaware Blue Coats, one of the finest organizations in the entire G League, especially when it comes to player development.
With the second to last pick in the draft, why not reach for the stars?
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports