Sixers Draft: Statistical superlatives for the top draft prospects

Mar 23, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) shoots during practice the day before the South Regional semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) shoots during practice the day before the South Regional semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Monk the best shooter? Is Ball the best passer? Is Tatum the best all-around scorer? Everyone has a different opinion on who’s really good at what, but numbers never lie. The Sixers should be taking each elite skill into consideration.

Best Shooter

Lonzo Ball. It’s not even close. Funky shot or not, the kid is far and away the most effective and efficient shooter in the class. This bodes well for the Sixers if he were the pick come draft night.

TS% EFG%2P%3P%
67 677341

Ball’s True Shooting and Effective Field Goal percentages ranked 12th and 6th best in the entire country. His two-point percentage ranked 3rd best nationally, which is simply absurd for a point guard.

For comparison, Malik Monk had the 2nd highest EFG% of the top guard prospects at 54. So say what you want about his awkward delivery, it works. If the Sixers are lucky enough to have Lonzo Ball available at number three, they should literally sprint to the podium and call his name. 

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Best Passer

Hey Lonzo, long time no see. Ball also happens to be the best passer as well, as he boasted a nation-leading 7.6 assists per game, with a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio. Under his leadership, UCLA’s offense finished with the best team FG% in all of college basketball since 2006. His size at 6’6” allowed him to overpower smaller guards while using his vision to find open shooters, whether it be on fast breaks or half-court sets.

Not to be overlooked however, were Dennis Smith Jr.and Markelle Fultz, who averaged 6.2 and 5.9 per game respectively, good enough for 13th and 15th in the nation. Here’s a look at their assist percentages(percentage of team’s field goals assisted while on floor).

Assist %
Smith Jr  34.2

The Sixers need offensive help in the worst way. Lonzo Ball has a “Magic-esque” aura about him the way he is a pass-first point guard who truly elevates the play of his teammates.

Best Rebounder

Jonathan Isaac slightly edges out Lauri Markkanen here.

Markannen   7.21017.514

While all of the these top forward prospects averaged similar rebounds per game, the difference in percentages is what sets Isaac apart. He grabbed a staggering 25% of opponents’ missed shots while on the court. His length and athleticism allowed him to clean up boards and not allow opponents second chance opportunities.

Rebounding isn’t a “sexy” stat but there is a reason it’s one of the fundamental principles of the game. Controlling the glass can be the difference in close games. As the 76ers continue their rebuild, they may find themselves in many close games that could come down to something as simple as rebounding the ball.

Best Defender

This one is tricky. Evaluating single-player defense using numbers can be very tough and imperfect, especially for college players with so many programs running zone-based schemes. But only two players stand out in particular as elite defenders.

Jonathan Isaac and Josh Jackson



Jackson and Isaac’s Defensive Box-Score Plus-Minus(player’s value to their team defensively) are both well above the other top prospects. Isaac’s ability to block shots and Jackson’s ability to create turnovers are what make them special defenders. The 76ers are potentially one special-defender away from being an elite unit, as their size and length could really bother opposing offenses.

Best Scorer

By far the toughest to decide, but Markelle Fultz gets the nod over Malik Monk. Fultz averaged 23 points per game, good for 6th in the nation, as opposed to Monk’s 20. Even more impressive was Fultz’s 12 games with 25+ points compared to Monk’s 9, despite playing 13 fewer games. What truly sets Markelle Fultz apart is his three-point shooting at 41.3 percent. Efficient shooting from behind the arc has become a necessity for guards if they are to become elite scorers in today’s NBA.


Smith Jr   18

Markelle Fultz could be the dynamic scorer the Sixers need, and unlike at Washington, he’d finally be surrounded with guys who can play. This would give him much more room to operate and allow him to do what he does best, score in bunches.  

Most Overrated Player

Jayson Tatum is far and away the most overrated scorer of the top prospects. The 19 year old Duke product has been mocked to the 76ers at 3rd as he is lauded for his offensive game but the number suggest otherwise.

Here’s how he compares to his fellow big men:


Notice how he’s placed at the bottom. For all the love Tatum has received for his offensive game, he simply wasn’t efficient. Even while playing at Duke with other all-americans, his shooting was pedestrian at best. The most alarming number is his 50 percent shooting from two-point range. Tatum settled for a lot of mid-range jump shots, the single most inefficient shot in basketball. Not only did Tatum take these shots often, he missed often. He will need to either move his game beyond the arc, or use his 6’8” height to become more effective from inside.   

For an offense that finished last in the league in efficiency last season, Jayson Tatum just doesn’t really make sense. The Sixers would be wise to pass on Tatum at number three.

The 76ers are certainly considering all of their options for the upcoming NBA draft, as their pick(s) could determine the success of their franchise for the next decade.  

While college stats aren’t always indicative of a prospect’s potential, they do tend to paint a good picture of what players will become. Poor three-point shooters usually don’t come into the NBA and drastically improve.

Great rebounders and passers tend to continue to be great rebounders and passers. Defense usually always translates.  Even at 18,19, or 20 years old, most players have been playing basketball for 10+ years and have developed aspects of their game that just won’t change, whether it be for better or for worse.

Next: Sixers look to follow in Golden State's footsteps

So in the words of coach David Fizdale, take that for data!