As the NBA draft approaches on June 25, Sixers fans and analysts alike have been scouring the talent pool at the top of the draft and have come up with the best prospect in their eyes for the Sixers, who own the third overall pick.
The general consensus for the team is the skilled point guard from Ohio State, D’Angelo Russell, but a slew of other names have begun to gain attention as the draft draws near. Here’s a list of five potential options for the Sixers at No. 3.
D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State
The Sixers are in need of a point guard who can spread the floor for center Joel Embiid’s return next season. D’Angelo Russell fits that billing perfectly.
Last season at Ohio State, Russell shot 41 percent from beyond the arc, while averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 33.9 minutes per game. Also of note is his defensive rating of 94.5, which placed him ninth in the Big Ten Conference as just a freshman.
Questions surround his athleticism over other prospects available at the top of the draft, but nobody questions his talent. In the half court, he’s drawn comparisons to James Harden and Manu Ginobli in terms of his craftiness both scoring and passing. That’s very high praise for the 19-year-old. His shortcoming’s athletically shouldn’t outweigh his incredible basketball IQ on draft night.
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
If for some reason Russell is off the board for the Sixers at No. 3, they should take some serious consideration in drafting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
Mudiay, working out for the Sixers on June, 16 according toSNY.TV, could be the most athletic prospect in the draft. He averaged 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 steals last season for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. Yet, unlike Russell, he severely struggled with his shot. He shot just 34 percent from the outside with a miserable 57 percent from the free-throw stripe with the Tigers and for the Sixers, these are legitimate concerns.
Michael Carter-Williams’ broken jumper was one of the main reasons he was shipped out of town at the trade deadline last season. Sam Hinkie doesn’t want to make the same mistake again.
Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
Small forward Justise Winslow has the makings of the most NBA-ready defender and he’s also one of the top athletes in the draft as well. He can score in a variety of ways, both off the dribble and spot up shooting, and he thrives in transition.
Up until the 2015 NCAA national title game, Winslow had been on a tear in the tournament averaging 17.2 points and 9.0 rebounds in four games. His physicality to both get to the free-throw line and knock down free-throws would be a great addition to the Sixers lineup. He shot 41.8 percent from deep as well, which is one of the biggest focuses in terms of lineup construction for Sam Hinkie heading into the draft.
The main concern with Winslow is his size. At 6-foot-6 it seems like he might be too small to play small forward in the NBA and since he’s not an elite shooter, it could make him an odd fit at the shooting guard spot. Nobody questions his athleticism however, and he would fill an area of need for the Sixers quite nicely – wing scoring and defense.
Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Croatia
One of the players with the most intrigue in this year’s draft is Croatian wing Mario Hezonja. The 6-foot-8, 200 pound shooting sensation for FC Barcelona is an outstanding athlete as well who could develop into a very good player in the NBA. 60 percent of Hezonja’s shooting attempts come from the three-point line, which is much higher than any player currently projected on draft boards. He connected on 57 of 144 (39.6%) of his attempts from beyond the international line on the year.
His main criticisms are his dribbling ability and defense, which may or may not develop overtime, but his shooting ability is likely the highest out of any wing player on the Sixers draft boards.
Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
The biggest reach for the Sixers on draft night would be to select small forward Stanley Johnson, currently projected to be taken at No. 10 on DraftExpress.com, with the third pick on June 25th’s draft.
Where Justise Winslow increased his stock during Duke’s NCAA tournament run this past March, Johnson seemed to have hurt his a good deal. He shot just 7 of 26 (27%) in Arizona’s final three tournament games, while averaging a mere 7.3 points per game.
Johnson had the higher upside of the two heading into the 2014-15 NCAA season, but ultimately fell flat. Concerns about his shooting, finishing at the rim and speed have come to the surface since. There’s no question he’s a scorer, who averaged 13.8 points per game this past season with the Wildcats, but between Winslow and Johnson at this stage in their development, it would be tough to pass up Winslow between the two.