With the Sixers in need of added bench production, here are three under-the-radar names that could be worth a flyer on during the draft.
This year’s NBA Draft class is headlined by the superstar potential of several players who are known for their shot-making ability. While most of these names are projected to go off the board early, there are several players who could add an offensive spark for the Sixers who can be found deeper in the draft. Here are three more potential wing players to watch as the draft approaches.
Trey Murphy – Virginia
After spending two seasons at Rice University, Trey Murphy transferred to Virginia, where he has ascended to a legitimate NBA prospect. He stands at 6’9 with a 7-foot wingspan and fits the mold for a three-and-D prospect. Murphy averaged 11.3 points and 3.4 rebounds and posted impressive shooting splits of 50.3% from the field, 43.3% from beyond the arc (4.8 attempts), and 92.7% at the free-throw line.
The North Carolina native has climbed into the backend of the first-round conversation after an impressive combine showing. His defensive potential is extremely intriguing as he moves his feet well on the perimeter and is still effective in the post. Murphy has the potential to guard positions one through four and would be a seamless fit for the Sixers, or any other NBA team, because of this. The effort he flashes off the ball is admirable, and he seems to be a very good team player.
Offensively Murphy stays in his lane but is effective in this. He is a terrific cutter and scored 1.73 points per possession as a cutter which ranked number one across college basketball amongst players with over 25 recorded shots off of cuts. The swingman has a solid catch-and-shoot release and flashes the potential as a pick and pop player. He struggles to create his own shot, and his foot severely dips when he shoots on the move. His size and style of play show shades of Mikal Bridges, although Murphy is not as developed offensively. Murphy is a great fit for the direction the NBA is going and would be a near-perfect addition to the Sixers.
Isaiah Livers – Michigan
One of the rare four-year players in the draft, Isaiah Livers, shares a lot of similarities to Trey Murphy. He was a key member of Michigan this season, and the foot injury that kept him out of the NCAA tournament is credited for playing a major role in the team’s disappointing exit. While his numbers don’t necessarily pop, Livers played 31.6 minutes and tallied 13.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. The 22-year-old was very efficient and shot 45.7% from the field, 43.1% from beyond the arc, and 87% at the free-throw stripe.
The shooting numbers that Livers posted have been extremely impressive throughout his college career. Livers shot the highest percentage of his career from deep this season at 43.1% but shot over 40% in three out of his four seasons at Michigan. He looks extremely comfortable shooting from the corners and appears unbothered by closeouts. The Michigan native took 51% of his shot attempts off the catch-and-shoot and can be effective without needing the ball a ton on offense.
Once again, this limitation is not a major deal because of his style of play, but Livers struggles off the dribble. He is a less than elite finisher and is not effective in creating this own shot. There are some athletic concerns, and his 6’7 frame makes his fit as a small-ball power forward less likely. This would be a pick that the Sixers would likely feel much more comfortable within the second round but could prove extremely successful at this spot.
Kessler Edwards – Pepperdine
A three-year starter at Pepperdine, Kessler Edwards stands 6’8 with a 7-foot wingspan. His footwork is slightly slow, which limits his ability to match up with guards, and resulted in Edwards spending most of his time in college matched up with opposing power forwards. He may find himself as more of a fit for the “Mike Scott minutes,” but this is a role that is necessary for the Sixers to fill nonetheless.
The California native flashes an all-around game and averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1 steal per game this season. Although he has a unique shot where he lands in somewhat of a front-back split, it has proven to be effective. Edwards shot 37.8% from beyond the three-point arc this season on 4.4 attempts from deep. He proved to be even more impressive the previous season, in which Edwards connected at a 43.7% rate. The Pepperdine forward has an effective hop step at the base of his jumper and flashes serious pick and pop potential.
On the negative side, Edwards lacks isolation scoring ability largely due to a lack of a first step. For a player as long as he is, Edwards’ first step seems abnormally small. His unique shooting form does not translate off the dribble, and there seems to be little upside above a catch-and-shooter. The 20-year-old can also be caught flat-footed at times on the defensive end. Kessler Edwards is somewhat of a project but would be a great target with the 50th pick and, if he develops, could reach a PJ Washington-type style of play.
It is unlikely for any of these players to develop into more than a role player, but each could effectively fill a role on the Sixers bench. The abundance of players in the draft that fit the playstyle perfect for NBA bench players is extremely appealing, and all three of these players fit that category.