The 76ers have the third pick in the NBA draft and the consensus is that they can’t make a bad pick.
In the 2015 draft, they also had the third pick and selected Jahlil Okafor, who played well in an injury-shortened rookie season, but never got on track or meshed with Joel Embiid during his sophomore campaign. Monday morning quarterbacking shows that the Sixers passed on Kristaps Porzengis, the 7-foot-3 stretch power forward, who would fit in much better with Embiid.
Porzing is is looked on as future superstar, if he can stay healthy. He has had trouble with a sore Achilles but still played 66 games this past year and averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in a rookie year that was shorted to 53 games due to knee surgery.
This past year, with the return of Embiid, who missed the previous two years due to two foot surgeries, Okafor wasn’t as effective. He is a low post player and Embiid has proven to be dominant there. Their games are similar and Embiid does everything better.
This past season Okafor averaged 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 50 games. There was one point the Sixers held him out because they thought he was going to get traded.
Yet president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo says he won’t give Okafor away.
There still could be a team that will take a flyer on Okafor so he still could be traded on draft night (June 22). It’s just that the Sixers shouldn’t expect the value of a No. 3 overall pick in return.
The Sixers (and every other team) want to draft freshman point guard Markelle Fultz from the University of Washington. The Boston Celtics appear to be a lock to select Fultz first.
UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is expected to be selected second by the Los Angeles Lakers, but count this reporter as being skeptical.
Ball was soundly out played by Kentucky freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox in the NCAA Tournament.
During Kentucky’s 86-75 Sweet 16 win. Fox outscored Ball, 39-10. Even though Ball is an excellent passer, he’s not a great athlete by NBA standards.
Athletic ability isn’t Fox’s problem. He is the fastest player in the draft. He’s just not a very good shooter, having shot just 24.6 percent from three-point range.
That said, Lakers director of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who knows a little bit about the point guard position, should select Fox if Fultz goes first to Boston. Even though the Sixers need shooting, they should take Fox if Fultz and Ball go first and second.
The 6-foot-4 Fox has two of the three main requirements for a star player – he can be an absolute great playmaker and a lock down defender. If he ever perfects his shooting, he will be an all-star.
The Sixers will likely mull picking Kansas forward Josh Jackson (another elite defender who isn’t an accomplished shooter) or Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk, who is the best shooter in the draft, but at 6-3 he is a little undersized for a shooting guard.
The Sixers could also trade the pick. Sacramento, which by public accounts is enamored with Fox, has the No. 5 and 10 picks. What if the Kings offered five and 10 for the Sixers pick at three? That would likely be too tempting for Colangelo to turn down.
Either way, the draft should have plenty of intrigue and the Sixers have many ways to go as they attempt to take that all important next step during the process.
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