The Philadelphia 76ers are locking themselves in for another top 3 pick with a rough start to the season, but how has the big board changed since the summer?
College basketball is in season, which means Philadelphia 76ers draft watch season has begun as well. The Sixers have once again placed themselves amongst the worst of the worst in the league, which will do wonders for them come June.
Another exciting/worrying development for the Sixers have been the hot start of the Los Angeles Lakers, whose top-3 protected pick could also fall into their lap. What’s worrying is the outside chance the Lakers have of making an improbable playoff run.
Either way, the Philadelphia 76ers could end up with two top-10 picks, or at worst two top-20 picks. Here’s how the Sixers’ draft board has shaken up in the early glimpses of the NCAA season.
1. Markelle Fultz, G, Washington (Previous Rank: 1)
Fultz has been the perfect fit for the Philadelphia 76ers since he reached the top half of his high school class. He’s a 6’4″ point guard who can absolutely light it up from the outside. He has no glaring weaknesses, and is strong enough to finish around big defenders down low. His NCAA debut didn’t disappoint, as he dropped 30 points on 64.7% shooting. His 6 assists and 7 rebounds shows off his potential to be an all-around combo guard.
With Ben Simmons expected to control the Sixers offense for years to come, Fultz would be the perfect complementary piece. He can be effective without being ball dominant, but can also handle the ball as a secondary playmaker. Fultz can defend point guards or shooting guards, making him versatile on both sides of the ball. The top pick is Fultz’s to lose this season, and in his first game he showed off why that spot is his.
2. Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas (Previous Rank: 2)
Josh Jackson is the most interesting player in this draft. His aggressive mentality and length already make him the nation’s top perimeter defender in the NCAA. He’s quick, confident with the ball, and an able shooter from the outside.
His consistency along the 3-point line is a major concern, but other than that, Jackson is a surefire NBA star. Drafting Jackson would still leave the Sixers with a void at guard, but he’s versatile enough to play next to Robert Covington and serve as an oversized guard. Ideally, his defensive ability with Covington should clean up the team’s laughable defense and overlook the inefficiency in fit on offense.
Josh Jackson’s aggressiveness on both sides of the ball was shown in his win against Duke. Jackson went 7-9 from the field for 15 points, but fouled out late in the 2nd half. It was impressive to see Jackson work with the ball in his hands, but his off-ball activity on offense was stagnant most of the night.
Jackson might not be that explosive rookie right out of the gate in the NBA, but with continued to development the sky is absolutely the limit for this lengthy, pesky, defender.
3. Dennis Smith, Jr., PG, NC State (Previous Rank: 4)
Dennis Smith, Jr. is the best guard not named Markelle Fultz in this draft. Smith is an incredible playmaker, but that doesn’t take away from his ability to change the game with his dynamic scoring. He’s undoubtedly the most athletic freshman of his class (Duke’s Frank Jackson right behind him), and his ability to facilitate the offense could be attractive for the Sixers.
He’s not the greatest fit next to Simmons, but improvement on the outside could leap frog him over Fultz as the top guard. Through two games, he’s 0-for-5 from the outside, and has relatively struggled from the field as well. Smith, Jr. will feel his way through the first couple of games, but expect him to be one of the top prospects in the draft despite an underwhelming season.
4. Harry Giles, PF, Duke (Previous Rank: 3)
Harry Giles has the injury issues and the positional fit may not be what Philadelphia 76ers fans want. But Giles is far and away the best big man in this class, and fits the mold of what today’s NBA big men are asked to do.
He can defend 5’s or 4’s, he can stretch the floor to some extent. He rebounds he scores he defends. Harry Giles ending up as the Sixers pick will be the best worst fit this team has had.
Giles timetable for return is 6 weeks, and until then it’ll be a waiting game.
5. Jayson Tatum, F, Duke (Previous Rank: 5)
Tatum is the second of Duke’s injury casualties. He’s a nice forward who can make the outside shot, as well as post up on smaller defenders. The heavy reliance of iso-ball is somewhat concerning, but most top prospects at his position are forced to take that role on in high school.
Tatum must show quickness and smart passing to make up for the average athleticism he shows at his position. His lack of ball movement also puts his effectiveness in a system where he wouldn’t be the primary ball handler or scorer in question.
6. Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State (Previous Rank: 6)
7. Frank Ntilikina, PG, France (Previous Rank: 8)
8. Malik Monk, PG, Kentucky (Previous Rank: 9)
9. De’Aron Fox, PG, Kentucky (Previous Rank: 7)
10. Ivan Raab, PF, California (Previous Rank: N/A)
The college season will once again bring change to this draft board, with the top 5 being interchangeable talent. This might be the most important NCAA season the Philadelphia 76ers follow to add their final young core piece before looking for some polished talent.