This Sixers draft preview highlights prospects who can add a shot making dimension to the Sixers offense. Trade rumors are already circulating around Damian Lillard (and other star perimeter players). But this draft is rich on guard depth, and Philadelphia is in a great position to strike at the back end of the first round once again.
GUARDS, GUARDS, AND MORE GUARDS
Philadelphia’s guard play coming into the postseason was a high cause of concern. With Ben Simmons relegated to more off-ball duties, most of the perimeter shot creation fell in the hands of Seth Curry, Tobias Harris and a bench combination of Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton. While Curry led the team in postseason pull up points with an efficient 6.6 per game, those figures lagged far below Luca Doncic’s playoff-leading 21. Without a bonified perimeter guard, Doc Rivers spun his wheels searching for shot makers. The results?
JUST TAKE A LOOK AT HOW PHILADELPHIA FARED IN PULL UP POINTS DURING THE SEASON
It is very likely that Daryl Morey will look for a trade in the form of another star perimeter player. But the draft provides options to win at the margins and add organizational depth. Last year the Sixers hit big with Tyrese Maxey late in the first round. Maxey finished the season shooting 44% on pull up shots, the highest mark among 27 rookies with over 26 pull up points. Adding more players who are comfortable scoring on the ball expands the Sixers scoring repertoire and Morey’s trade capital. Thankfully for Philadelphia, this draft has plenty of shot makers to pick from. So here is a group of names to keep your eyes on.
THE HOME RUN SWING
GUARD: TRE MANN
HOW HE FITS
Tre Mann’s meteoric offensive improvements during his sophomore season have teams very intrigued by his shot making profile. Entrusted with Florida’s main creator role, Mann took on the reigns and displayed a refined offensive game. At 20 years old, he finished the season in the 90th percentile on off the dribble jump shots, showcasing impressive balance and range of a potential starter at the next level.
Mann’s feel as a court general should not be overlooked either. The Gator star was quite effective navigating (and passing) out of the pick and roll. His offensive ceiling is significantly higher under an offensive system that provides define reads in space. But Mann has a LONG way to go defensively, and is likely to never become an impact defender at the next level. Whether he ever makes it on the defensive end, few will argue against his shot making potential. Thus landing Mann as THE name to watch at pick 28.
GUARD: MILES “DEUCE” MCBRIDE
HOW HE FITS
A ball handling wizard in tight spaces, Miles “Deuce” McBride has sky-rocketed up the first round discussion after an impressive NBA combine. Known for his speed and defensive intensity, McBride finished his second season at West Virginia with an impressive 2.54 assist-to-turnover ratio. Deuce, as they call him, has tremendous fluidity as a pull up threat. On the ball, he shakes off defenders with an effortlessly quick stop.
In Philadelphia McBride would slide in as another complimentary bench creator. Known for his defensive impact and ability to generate turnovers, Deuce finished the year as one of only five collegiate players to post 140+ assists, 40+ threes and 50+ steals. But don’t be fooled by just his point guard highlights. McBride shows hints of a capable off the ball player, one that would fit well as a floor spacer alongside Joel Embiid.
GUARD: JARED BUTLER
HOW HE FITS
The anchor of Baylor’s championship run, Jared Butler enters the draft discussion as an experienced combo guard with a NBA repertoire. Butler ran 27% of his possessions out of the pick and roll, an indicator that he may be ready as an immediate offensive contributor. Butler also shot 40% on over 6 attempts per game, displaying the deep shooting range NBA scouts salivate over.
On the ball the Baylor court general is as savvy as they come. Butler is a skilled ball handler who utilizes a mix of moves to create shooting space and passing angles. But a medical concern may force him out of team’s draft boards entirely. Assuming everything checks out, Butler should be very high on the Sixers list, adding a reliable guard to compliment the bench unit.
GUARD: JOSH CHRISTOPHER
HOW HE FITS
Many expected Arizona State’s highest ever recruit to take off after a 28-point outburst against Villanova. But in a roller coaster year Josh Christopher’s breakout season was cut short after only 15 games. This Sun Devils product flashes tantilizing shot-making talent, and the explosion of a bonified Top-15 player.
The questions around this very intriguing prospect are plenty. Can Christopher develop into a refined shot creator that operates within the structure of the offense? Or can he grow into a disciplined defensive player? Getting the right answers to only a few of them may unlock a future star at the next level.
THE LATE BARGAIN
GUARD: AUSTIN REAVES
HOW HE FITS
Lying in the weeds after two subpar shooting seasons at Oklahoma is a guard that is slowly moving up draft boards. Austin Reaves recent rise was a function of a solid combine performance, where he ran scrimmage play with the composure of a seasoned vet. As the Sooners main option, Reaves struggled to find shooting consistency, often settling for contested and off-balanced looks. But this may not be an indicator of the player he can be, as Reaves shot 45% from deep in two lower usage seasons at Wichita State.
Reaves’ swing skill is clearly his shooting. Simply put, 0.92 points per jump shot is not going to earn him any playing time in the NBA. But there is hope he can find offensive cohesion in an off-ball role at the next level. And while Reaves will never be a starting guard, his feel and ball-handling IQ plays well in Doc Rivers’ pick and roll scheme. Keep an eye out for his name late in the draft, as he was one of the few visits Philadelphia scheduled during the pre-draft process.