What are the Sixers options with the 16th pick?

Sixers Daryl Morey
Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference before an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With the 16th pick in the 2024 NBA draft…

The Philadelphia 76ers currently hold two selections, the 16th and 41st picks, in the 2024 NBA Draft. While that is the case for now, it could all change by the time the draft ends. Effectively, the Sixers have four options on the table, particularly as it pertains to the 16th pick. They could make their selections as they stand, or they could trade up in the draft, trade down, or trade out of the first round altogether.

Here’s a brief overview of those options:

Option #1: Stand pat

Duke guard Jared McCain (0) and guard Tyrese Proctor (5) reacts after McCain scored a 3-point basket during the first half of a second-round college basketball game against James Madison in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

If Philadelphia opts to remain at 16, which is far from a certainty, there are a number of options that could benefit the team in either the short or long term. While it’s doubtful a rookie plays a significant role on a title hopeful, Nick Nurse has at least shown a willingness to play his rookies, be it a highly selected player like Scottie Barnes or one undrafted like Terence Davis or even Ricky Council IV this past season.

This draft, in particular, appears volatile, with players sliding up and down rankings and draft boards. That could easily work in Philadelphia’s favor come draft night. With players like Tristan da Silva, Ja’Kobe Walter, and Jared McCain expected to go in this range, there’s no shortage of potential contributors for the Sixers.

In da Silva, the Sixers could add perhaps the most NBA-ready player in their range. A two-way forward with impressive range, da Silva could immediately slot in and play a role off the bench for the Sixers. An adept movement shooter, da Silva has the versatility to play in a variety of lineups alongside Embiid, Maxey, or whoever else the Sixers will employ this upcoming season. A lack of ability to handle and create hangs over his head, but he’s far from the only prospect in this range with that flaw.

Ja’Kobe Walter has an impressive talent for shot-making and is a tenacious defender. One could even consider him the guard equivalent to da Silva, but three years younger. While he shares da Silva’s strengths, he also shares his weaknesses as a ball-handler, which severely limits his ceiling. However, if his comparisons hold true, landing a true three-&-D two-guard would be far from the worst thing for Philadelphia.

Then there’s Jared McCain, the shot-making guard who put on a show in the NCAA tournament, averaging 21 points while shooting an incredible 50 percent from the floor, 50 percent from deep, and 94.4 percent from the line. He’s more of a microwave scorer than a consistent scoring threat, and moving from Duke’s Filipowski-centric offense to one revolving around Joel Embiid may not change his usage drastically, but if the Sixers lean into his movement shooting ability and play him in similar dribble-hand-offs to want Tyrese Maxey currently does, there’s a viable path for a contributing role.

Of course, if the Sixers wanted to target bigger game, they could always trade up.

Option #2: Trade up

Providence guard Devin Carter (22), center, passes under pressure from Marquette guard Tyler Kolek, left, and forward David Joplin (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Providence, R.I.

The first thought that probably comes to mind is about the Sixers’ ability, or rather lack thereof, to move up in this draft. Their assets are not necessarily limited so much as they are spoken for, being saved for an eventual move for a third star to pair with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Still, if the team is confident in its approach to free agency, it could sacrifice a small amount of draft capital for the opportunity to land a next-level difference-maker.

If teams have interest in Paul Reed or Ricky Council IV, who are both on non-guaranteed deals, then perhaps a move can be made without sacrificing draft capital, but there’s little reason to move either on their affordable deals.

If the Sixers were to trade up for a player, it would have to be one with a skillset worthwhile. With Nikola Topić and Ron Holland II currently projected to slide, both names make sense as trade-up targets, while Devin White, one of the draft’s biggest risers, has made a name for himself in recent months.

Topić, skills-wise, is arguably the top pure point guard in this draft. As a passer, he tops every name. As a shooter, he’s not as sure a product, but there’s hope for significant improvement. He’s a bit more ball-dominant than the Sixers are likely looking for, but if he can adapt to playing off-ball at times, Philadelphia would have one of the top passers in the league at their disposal. A partially torn ACL and the rise of several other prospects have led to him falling in draft boards, but his value is clear, as it would be to another team if the Sixers are looking to move their selection after draft night.

Ron Holland II is another imperfect prospect who has seen his draft stock take a major hit thanks to the rise of others. Initially projected as a potential top pick, Holland’s draft stock has fallen quite a bit since last year. While he largely showed off as the top option for the G League Elite this past season, his lack of ability to create or consistently shoot fairly has given some pause in his ceiling at the next level. Still, his athleticism, finishing ability, and defensive potential could prove too much to pass on.

Devin Carter is a player many Sixers fans rightly became enamored with as he rose up draft boards. A two-way combo guard, Carter offers much of the same appeal seen in pending free agent De’Anthony Melton or Celtics guard Derrick White. White can shoot, slash, pass, and defend, all while being an impressive rebounder for his size. There’s effectively nothing not to like about the guard save for perhaps his draft age, but that experience has only added to the value many teams see in him.

While trading up remains an unlikely possibility, trading down seems much more likely.

Option #3: Trade down

Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II (15) celebrates his team’s victory over Nevada after a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 21, 2024

Trade down and gain further assets. It’s a timeless method that could reasonably help Philadelphia in a variety of areas, from adding future draft capital to lowering the cap hit to increase the size of their wallet come free agency.

With players like Da’Ron Holmes, Tyler Kolek, and Jaylon Tyson expected to be available in the 20-30 range, Philadelphia would still have the opportunity to land an impact player in round one.

Homles is another fast riser who, according to recent speculation, could go as high as the lottery. Should he remain in his expected range, Philadelphia could have their cake and eat it too by trading down and selecting DaRon Holmes. Due to the maturity of his game, Holmes is an ideal prospect for teams looking for an immediate impact, like Philadelphia. Most of his points will come around the basket as a finisher, but he can certainly stretch the floor off the catch. In his first year, he could play a role similar to Dereck Lively II or Trayce Jackson-Davis with range.

Tyler Kolek has improved his draft stock into a legitimate first-round prospect thanks to the intensity with which he plays and a solid run in the NCAA tournament. Particularly against an impressive Colorado squad, Kolek looked the part of an NBA-caliber guard, orchestrating Marquette’s offense to the Sweet 16 appearance against a red-hot NC State squad. Interestingly, Kolek shares some traits with former Process Sixer TJ McConnell. Both are talented floor generals who rely on crafty play offensively and tenacity defensively to make up for athletic shortcomings. Picture, if you will, TJ with a jump shot; that’s Tyler Kolek.

Jaylon Tyson has gone through one of the more interesting college careers in recent memory. Playing at Texas, Texas Tech, and Cal over the past three years, the decision to swap schools has paid off for Tyson, who now finds himself as a potential first-round pick. A well-rounded prospect, Tyson is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. He stands at 6’7″ but boasts guard-like tools and is a capable defender at the very least. Drawing comparisons to Caleb Martin, Jaylon Tyson looks the part of the perfect role player on a contending team.

Option #4: Trade out

Philadelphia 76ers’ Paul Reed, center right front, battles Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso, left, for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Finally, the Sixers have the option to trade out of the 16th pick altogether. This has often been perceived as the most likely outcome, considering the Sixers’ desire need to contend. There are plenty of names who have been speculated as fits for Philadelphia including Alex Caruso, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Caruso is the most frequently mentioned name for Philadelphia. The one-time summer league Sixer has carved out an impressive career and remains one of the top perimeter defenders in the game today. Caruso is the epitome of a role player on a contending team, averaging 10.1 points and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 40.8 percent from deep and being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team. Chicago has the self-awareness to know this. Unfortunately, they do not have the self-awareness to understand how far from contention they are as a team, which has led to a vice grip on Caruso, but perhaps the 16th pick could grease the wheels of a deal.

Dorian Finney-Smith has long been mentioned as a potential target for Philadelphia. One of the NBA’s premier three-&-D players, Finney-Smith contributed to a good deal of postseason success with the Dallas Mavericks, though they ultimately came up short. With the Nets looking to prioritize cap space ahead of the 2025-2026 NBA offseason, moving Finney-Smith for draft compensation makes complete sense. For the Sixers, replacing Tobias Harris for Finney-Smith also makes complete sense. The only difficulty here is his nearly $15 million cap hit.

Finally, there’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Walker contributed significantly to the Minnesota Timberwolves postseason run this past year, and at just 25 years of age, it’s fair to wonder if the Wolves would part with a potential role player for years to come. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Walker is set up for a solid pay raise after next season, and as a team already operating above the second apron, they will have to make tough decisions regarding the formation of their roster moving forward. Securing talent on an affordable multi-year deal makes sense for Minnesota, and adding a young, athletic three-&-D wing makes sense for Philadelphia.