NBA mock draft roundup: Who do experts have Sixers taking in round one?


With a week to go before the NBA Draft, experts around the world are doing their best to guess who will take each eligible player and when, with fans furiously hitting refresh to see what the latest mock drafts have to say. I’m here to help you out and put all of those drafts in one place to save you some time.

Here’s what a lot of the big outlets have to say as we close in on draft night.

The pick: Jaden Hardy, G, G-League Ignite

The outlet: ESPN (Jonathan Givony)

The explanation

With James Harden turning 33 in August and on the downside of his career from a physical standpoint, adding more talent in the backcourt could very well be a major priority for the Sixers, if only to protect Harden’s health and ensure he’s at his best entering the playoffs. Hardy still has plenty of upside to tap into as a shot-making, instinctual scorer who is only 19. Adding more shooting alongside Joel Embiid should be an attractive proposition for the Sixers, and Hardy has the type of scoring talent that could allow him to anchor a bench unit down the road if he continues to progress with his frame and decision-making.

Our thoughts: Something that seems obvious to point out but is not always followed in the NBA Draft process — guys who are already good, productive basketball players as teenagers often continue to be good, productive basketball players as they get older. The opposite is also often true. Guys who struggle to consistently produce at lower levels often continue that trend in the pros, even if/when teams believe they have high ceilings should they put it all together.

Hardy, if Givony’s write-up does not make it clear, is viewed as a player with great scoring instincts and upside. He was considered a top-five recruit coming out of high school by basically every major recruiting service off the strength of his off-the-dribble scoring. It is also true that Jaden Hardy shot 35.1 percent from the field in 12 games with the G-League Ignite last season, which doesn’t exactly scream “can’t miss scorer” at an even higher level of basketball. His case to get drafted in the first round rests on his high school resume and the brief flashes of talent in the G-League, the major excuse being that he was competing against grown men and not other teenagers last season.

The optimist’s case for Hardy is that refining his decision-making would allow him to take advantage of a solid frame, good ball-handling, and the shotmaking ability that is probably better than he showed with the Ignite. In a smaller role, which he would certainly have playing off of Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey in Philly, Hardy’s warts may not show up as much. The problem with the optimist’s case is that it rests on Hardy becoming a player you want him to be rather than him continuing to be who he is.

Hardy has the talent to have some wow moments at the next level, but his ambivalent approach on defense combined with a tendency to bite off more than he can chew on offense is why he’s likely to be available in this range.

The pick: Jaden Hardy, G, G-League Ignite

The outlet: Bleacher Report (Jonathan Wasserman)

The explanation: N/A (none provided)

Our thoughts: Certainly seems as though the draft community thinks Hardy will be there at 23.

The pick: Mark Williams, C, Duke

The outlet: CBS Sports (Kyle Boone)

The explanation

Unlikely Williams falls this far — he’s one of the best shot-blockers in the draft — but if he’s still on the board he’s an auto-pick. Lob threat who can finish around the rim and affect shots, potentially serving as a high-level Joel Embiid backup.

Our thoughts: If you read a scouting report of Mark Williams, you could convince yourself that you’re simply reading what people said about Charles Bassey heading into last year’s draft. Williams is a strong lob threat, plays hard at both ends, is an excellent shot-blocker, and is viewed as a player with limited diversity at both ends. Williams is drop-coverage player on defense who isn’t much of a dribbler or passer on the other side of the floor. Williams offers more size than Bassey, with a 9-foot-9 standing reach that beats Bassey by about 6.5 inches, but Bassey is not exactly small himself.

That all being the case, I’m not sure how you justify spending the only first-round pick you have until 2024 on a guy who profiles similarly to a player already on the roster with more pressing needs to fill. The Sixers have not made use of their young bigs enough as it is, and unless the aim is to move one in a draft-night deal before selecting Williams, I don’t see the logic behind putting yet another big on the roster who might not play. Any pessimism here is not about Williams and all about team needs.

(If Rivers had given Bassey some real burn at some point last season and you felt he was out of his depth, I’d be less inclined to pass on a strong backup option for Embiid should Williams be available at No. 23. But if Harden is the guy they are going to pay him to be, Bassey should be plenty good enough to be an innings eater behind Embiid, and Paul Reed has already shown he can hang in a playoff setting.)

The pick: Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Mozzart

The outlet: SB Nation (Ricky O’Donnell)

The explanation

There have been rumors Philly could shop this pick as a sweetener in a deal for veteran help, which makes sense. If they do keep the selection, adding an offensive talent like Jovic would be a great addition for the front court long-term. Jovic is a 6’11 Serbian forward comfortable playing out on the perimeter with a deep bag of scoring tricks. His defense will be an eyesore for the early part of his career, but the shot-making and ball handling at that size should translate.

Our thoughtsThe comp a lot of scouts have made for Jovic is Danillo Gallinari, which you can see almost right away when you see what he can do scoring the basketball. Jovic is tall enough to shoot over guys in the mid-post (though skinny enough that it will take time to do that in the league), crafty enough with the ball to beat closeouts and get to the rim and a threat to hurt you on pull-ups and catch-and-shoot looks. He’s a fluid athlete at his size who should be able to capitalize on NBA floor spacing, not to mention create some of it himself. It’s far from a sure bet that he’ll be able to consistently beat guys one-on-one jumping from the Adriatic League to the NBA, but he will presumably have time to polish up his game and better prepare for that leap in the next year or two.

A lot of the concerns Jovic faces come down to his inexperience and how that manifests on the floor. Scouts see wild swings back and forth within a game, Jovic capable of high-level playmaking and frustratingly dumb turnovers alike. In some cases, risk-taking can be seen as a positive in playmaking prospects, a sign that they are seeing and trying to get passes through windows that other players cannot or will not. Within a Sixers context, play finishing will be more important, and Jovic feels like a player who might be able to help them as a floor spacer, timely cutter and secondary creator as he develops.

And look, don’t expect this kid to defend for a while, as my friend Ricky points out. But there’s a good chance he’s the best offensive talent available by a decent margin when they make their selection.

The pick: Tari Eason, F, LSU

The outlet: Sports Illustrated (Jeremy Woo)

The explanation

The Nets chose to defer their rights to this pick and send it to the 76ers, instead obtaining Philadelphia’s unprotected first-rounder in 2023, which immediately becomes a pretty interesting trade chip for Brooklyn. Considering Daryl Morey’s historical distaste for using draft picks, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Philly try and flip this one. That said, Eason would be a pretty interesting option here, considering his analytics-friendly production and his potential fit as a big, rangy defender. Eason is a bit of a work in progress despite already being 21, and he’s an acquired taste amongst teams, but this could be a sensible landing spot. Eason’s basketball IQ is a bit suspect, and he’s foul-prone and an average shooter, but if he can iron those things out he should be able to help a team.

Our thoughts: Eason is a guy that a lot of people in the broader draft community and Sixers fandom seem to love. I think the easiest way to describe him is as a souped-up version of Paul Reed who produced in a power conference rather than the husk of the Big East. Like Reed, Eason has a reputation for playing as if he was shot out of a cannon, and he gets his hands on the ball by any means necessary. He was as disruptive as anybody in college basketball last season, forcing turnovers on and off-ball and compounding that by serving as a threat to dunk all over you on the ensuing break.

Again, the problems here are not so different from what we said about Bassey/Williams. Do you want to spend a first-round pick on a guy who is similar to a player you have on the roster who is further along in his development on a team trying to win now? Eason is another guy in that weird Reed mold where he’s not quite big enough to be a full-time five and not trustworthy enough as a shooter yet to believe he can play the four regularly. Eason knocked down threes at a decent clip (35.9 percent) on low volume last season, but the Sixers need high-volume shooters at most positions on the floor.

To be clear, Eason is a player I like a lot and he would represent good value if he’s there to be had at 23. If you give me a guy who competes his butt off, makes an impact defensively, and has definable skills to build out from on offense, I’ll take the chance that you can eventually turn them into a useful rotation player in the league. I’m just not sure if this is the situation that will bring out his or his team’s best. He has the size and athleticism they need, but the in-between nature of his skill package could leave him in no man’s land for a rotation spot.

(A quick note: Woo’s latest mock is from June 6, with his top-100 current as of Tuesday. Eason ranks No. 22 on the general big board.)

The pick: Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame

The outlet: WatchStadium (Jeff Goodman)

The explanation

The South Bend product exploded onto the scene out of nowhere this season. Wesley didn’t shoot it well from deep, but he did everything else. He’s a strong, athletic wing with good size who can put it on the floor, get to the basket and also pull up from mid-range.

Our thoughts: Wesley has a terrific first step, and at all levels of basketball, that can often be enough to carry you to a long and prosperous career. He was not expected to be a one-and-done guy this season, but Wesley’s ability to beat his man and get to a spot to score or set up a teammate allowed him to enter the draft early and put himself in a position to make a lot of money. Combine that burst with pull-up shooting ability and good size and you’re off to a good start, with Wesley able to wrestle control away of the Fighting Irish last season despite playing with a bunch of upperclassmen.

On the other hand, Wesley has some things to prove in the NBA, namely that he can be an efficient enough finisher to take advantage of the space he creates for himself. Wesley has been knocked for subpar finishing around the basket, and it’s hard to know what to make of his outside shooting at this stage. He was a high volume shooter but not a high efficiency shooter from deep, and his free-throw numbers were ghastly, 65.7 percent from the stripe across 143 attempts last season. That’s not the best sign for his future, obviously.

The pick: Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee

The outlet: The Ringer (Kevin O’Connor)

The explanation

The Ringer does scouting reports rather than a true, full mock, so pieces from both sides of O’Connor’s write-up:

Pluses:

Advanced ball-handler who operates like a veteran. He values possessions and limits turnovers while still exploiting defenses. And with his change-of-pace moves, he can manipulate a defense to find open teammates.

Fluid shooter off the dribble. He’s comfortable pulling up from 3 or midrange. He also shot 40.5 percent on 79 catch-and-shoot attempts. With a quick release and tight handle, there’s upside for him to become a lethal shooter if he develops consistency.

Minuses:

At 6-foot-1 with a lean frame, he’s an undersized guard, which will make him a target on defense no matter how much he’s hustling.

Streaky 3-point shooter who made only 60.6 percent of his free throws and 32.4 percent of his floaters, according to Synergy. This raises questions about his upside as a perimeter scorer.

Our thoughts: To be blunt, I don’t think the Sixers need or have much use for anybody this size on the roster unless this offseason ends with a Tyrese Maxey trade of some sort. The Sixers should be trying to get bigger and more athletic all over the floor. Chandler competes on defense and certainly has a lot to like in his offensive skill set, but I just don’t see how they benefit in the games that matter by putting yet another guy who could potentially be hunted in size mismatches. To justify a pick like this, the Sixers would have to believe Chandler is an absolute dead-eye shooter, and I don’t think even his boosters would tell you that’s how he projects. Very good at a lot of stuff, but probably not good enough that you’d bet on him to be an outlier impact guy for his size.


Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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