What will the 76ers do?
There are several questions surrounding the Sixers heading into Thursday night’s NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The central question: Will they stand pat and keep the 28th pick in the first round and pick 50 in the second round? No one should be surprised if the Sixers trade their first-rounder. They have discussed shopping the selection and Daryl Morey has a history of doing so as the Houston Rockets general manager.
The Sixers are open to trading it for future assets or a veteran player. Perhaps Morey, now the Sixers president of basketball operations, realizes adding a proven veteran will help their quest to win the 2022 NBA title more than a late first-round selection.
» READ MORE: Live coverage of the 2021 NBA draft
Philly is also shopping three-time All-Star point guard Ben Simmons, a two-time All-Defensive first-teamer. So far, potential trade partners have been unwilling to give the Sixers what they believe is fair value: An All-Star player and multiple first-round draft picks, according to sources.
The San Antonio Spurs turned down Philly’s trade request of four first-round picks, three first-round pick swaps and a young player in return for Simmons, according to The Ringer.
Could things change Thursday night, leading to Simmons being moved during the draft?
Time will tell.
The Simmons saga
Let’s be honest. Simmons’ future is the biggest storyline surrounding the Sixers. Yes, 10 times more than the NBA draft.
League sources told The Inquirer that it’s inevitable that the point guard will be moved. While there’s still a chance the Sixers get something done sooner, several league sources believe it could happen in the preseason.
It’s just a matter of dealing with potential trade partners with enough assets to be in the mix. The Toronto Raptors remain a possible destination. The Sixers must also keep monitoring the Portland Trail Blazers situation with Damian Lillard. He would a prime trade target for the Sixers to pair with Joel Embiid.
It would be wise for Sixers followers to keep a close eye on these situations today and in the coming months.
The 28th pick will be the Sixers’ latest first-round selection since acquiring Landry Shamet 26th in the 2018 draft. The sharpshooting Shamet turned out to be a late first-round steal that the team shipped in a trade package to acquire Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 6, 2019.
If the Sixers do keep their first-round pick, Virginia Commonwealth’s Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, Kentucky’s Brandon Boston Jr., Arizona State’s Josh Christopher, and Alabama’s Josh Primo could all be solid options at No. 28 if available.
Hyland is a local guy. He was born in Wilmington, Del., and played at St. Georges Technical High School in Middletown.
Grimes, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard: The Cougar is a solid three-and-D prospect. His presence would benefit the Sixers who like to surround their core players with long-range shooters. Grimes also does a good job of closing out on pull-up shooters and cutting off drives to the basket.
Christopher, a 6-5 shooting guard: The former Sun Devil is an aggressive scorer, but only played in 15 games this season because of a leg injury. Christopher was projected to go in the middle of the first round. But he is sliding down draft boards and could be there when the Sixers pick. One has to wonder if the Sixers will think twice about drafting him. He put together a less than impressive predraft workout at their practice facility, according to sources.
Wieskamp, 6-7 shooting guard/small forward: The former Hawkeye s a good shooter and is athletic. He could fill a role similar to Kevin Huerter, Pat Connaughton, Doug McDermott, Duncan Robinson, and Joe Harris.
Hyland, a 6-3 combo guard: The former Ram is a talented offensive player, who a league scout described as a Lou Williams-type player. Hyland is also hungry to not just make it into the NBA, but to strive in the league. Hyland is a very intense player with a great personality.
Boston, a 6-7 small forward: The former Wildcat is a highly-touted high school player. Boston was regarded a potential lottery pick before having a bad season at Kentucky. It may take a while for Boston to develop, but he could be a key contributor after that.
Primo, a 6-6 shooting guard: Like Boston, the former Tide standout is a high-risk, high-reward type of player. At 18 years of age, he’s the youngest players in the draft. Primo is someone the Sixers may want to take a flyer on because of his potential. But while he’s someone they will have to wait on to develop, Primo has a knack for scoring the ball.
In regards to the second round, Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a solid option. The 6-9 power forward is a fundamentally sound and versatile big man who can play inside and outside. However, he’ll need to be a more consistent shooter on the next level. Robinson-Earl is also a good defender despite lacking superior athleticism.
Iowa center Luka Garza (6-11) and Utah State center Neemias Queta (7-0) could be two other options at 50.
Sixers’ big needs?
On the surface, one would say the Sixers’ biggest needs are a point guard and a center to back up Joel Embiid. In reality, they have a lot of holes to fill not matter happens to Simmons. That’s why free agency may be more vital than the draft to the Sixers.
The Sixers have to figure out if they’ll bring back backup center Dwight Howard, three-and-D small forward Danny Green and sharpshooting reserve wing Furkan Korkmaz.