With the Sixers still in need of depth at the wing position, here are four names to watch if they slip in the draft who could contribute.
When looking ahead to the Sixers roster next season, there is still a lot up in the air. They have just eleven players officially under contract and noticeable holes in-depth at each position. When evaluating the wing position specifically, there is certainly a need for more bodies- especially given the uncertain future of Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz.
Much of the Sixers draft strategy will be based on taking the best player available based on what unfolds ahead of them in the draft. Every year, there are several players who slip far past their expected draft positions, and here are four names that the Sixers should look to pounce on if they are on the board at pick 28.
Josh Christopher – Arizona State
Standing 6’5 with an NBA-ready frame backed by infectious energy, Josh Christopher averaged 14.3 points in his one season in college. The California native will likely play more of a shooting guard-type role in the NBA and could have an off the bench impact similar to guys like Nick Young or Cam Johnson. Christopher is an impressive rebounder for his size and extremely effective in transition. The Arizona State star scored 1.37 points per possession in transition and shot 68.2% from the field on these attempts as evidence of this.
While he shoots the ball with confidence, his numbers are going to have to improve from the 49.6% he shot from the floor and 30.5% from beyond the arc. Christopher has a tendency to over-dribble and can shoot poor shots due to the “tunnel vision” he sometimes exhibits on the offensive end.
While much of this is a product of the scheme and personnel at Arizona State, there is not a ton of evidence to support that Christopher can be an NBA-level playmaker in the way many scouts suggest. The 19-year-old is projected to go in the late first-round or early in the second and is a more realistic target than the rest of the guys on this list. If the Sixers chose to sit still and make the pick at 28, they could do much worse than walking away with the former number 12 ranked high school prospect.
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland – VCU
In addition to taking the crown for the best nickname in the draft class, Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland would be a great addition to the current Sixers roster. Bones is a three-level scorer with arguably the best range in the entire class. He averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals, and shot 44.7% from the field and 37.1% from beyond the arc.
The VCU product is routinely seen pulling up from the logo and knocking it down with confidence and shot an impressive 7.8 three-point attempts per season. He grew up playing street ball, and there is a ton of influence of this seen in his style of play. It may be a little bit of a swing for the fences, but Bones has far more star potential and “it factor” than anyone else in this part of the draft and is certainly worth taking a chance on.
While he is electric on offense, there is still some development that needs to be done for Hyland. He stands 6’4 but weighs just 173 pounds and must add weight to compete at the NBA level. He often forces passes and averaged a worrisome 3.1 turnovers per game as evidence of this. He manages to create separation even with a lack of true explosiveness, but there are some limits to his athletic ability.
The 20-year-old also has an impressive 6’9 wingspan which has proved to be effective at getting in passing lanes. Nah’Shon had six games this season with three or more steals and two games with six steals which is an absurd number. While he was originally pegged as an early second-round pick, Bones has been a hot name leading up to the draft, and it seems very possible he is off the board at 28. If the Sixers are able to add his shooting ability and the offensive magnitude he brings- they should be absolutely ecstatic.
Chris Duarte – Oregon
As the old man of the draft class, Chris Duarte will be looked at make an immediate impact after being drafted. At age 24, Duarte stands 6’6 and weighs 190 pounds. Despite being ranked the fifth-best prospect in New York coming out of high school, Duarte struggled to find a college that matched him and took the JUCO route to begin his collegiate career. He began playing at Northwest Florida State, where he had an accomplished two seasons. Duarte then transferred to Oregon for the remainder of his eligibility, where he started all 54 games with the team.
The New Yorker looks to be a seamless fit as an NBA role player led by his quick trigger, effective off-ball movement, and efficiency as a movement shooter. Duarte took 77% of his shot attempts either at the rim or beyond the arc, which matches what the expectations will be for him in the NBA. He has a willing trigger and can catch and shoot with the best of them. The SG/SF took a massive leap in his second season with Oregon and averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and shot 42.4% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game.
While there is often too much made about age when it comes to the draft, there are certainly concerns about the ceiling of Duarte’s game. He is a below-average on-ball defender and does not add much in the form of a passer. Despite the age and ceiling questions, the Oregon product has risen up draft boards after his recent round of combine workouts. There have been reports that he has been identified as a guy that many teams are targeting in a trade-up, making it seem unlikely that he will not be there at the 28th pick. It is always tough to gauge what is just smoke and what reports are real, so if Duarte is on the board at 28, he would be a fine addition to the Sixers bench.
Josh Primo – Alabama
In terms of expectations for the pick, Josh Primo is the opposite of Chris Duarte. The Alabama guard was the youngest player in college basketball last season and will not be 19 until December. He shows flashes of greatness and has proven himself in every opportunity, but these have not been seen on a consistent basis.
Standing 6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan, Primo has the look and style of play of an NBA wing but is likely a few years away from being a true contributor. In total on the year, Primo averaged 8.1 points and shot 38.1% from beyond the arc on 3.8 attempts per game. He shared the floor with a talented Alabama team that had several established stars, which was also a cause for his limited role.
While the Sixers are in search of a “win-now” player, there is an argument to be made that Primo is worth waiting for. Many expected for the Toronto native to return to school and enter next year’s draft, but a strong combine showing likely secured him a late first-round pick. There are still questions about his play as Primo struggles going left and may lack the necessary athleticism the NBA requires. He is often forced to settle for jumpers as he fails to create separation when attacking the basket, and this is unlikely to change in the NBA.
With that being said, he has advanced defensive footwork and complimentary star potential if he can continue to progress at his current rate. Primo has some experience on the Canadian national team, which is extremely impressive for his age. His catch-and-shoot footwork and fluid release are ideal for the NBA, and he is extremely effective as a shooter off of a dribble handoff. There will certainly be a team that takes the gamble on Primo in this year’s draft, and the Sixers will be right in the range where it is possible.
At pick 28, the Sixers will be forced to sit back and watch for most of the draft. The Sixers did an effective job adding shooting last season but are tasked with the same challenge this year. Daryl Morey took to this strategy last year and managed to snatch up Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed as a result of this. Each of these guys would do an effective job adding offensive pop, create space for Joel Embiid, and contribute to the championship-caliber roster the franchise is attempting to build.