The Sixers lost last night’s fairly meaningless game vs the Raptors 125-121, but the real contest was between the Thunder and Heat, where an OKC victory secured a first round pick for Philly in October’s NBA Draft.
Back in the 2016 Jerami Grant trade, the Sixers secured a top-20 protected first round pick that was long assumed to convey as two second round picks in the (assumed) event that OKC would likely be rebuilding in 2020. The Thunder, of course, defied expectations this season, and after a decent showing (4-3) in the bubble they remain in line to be a top 10 record in the NBA.
With the pick falling outside of the top-20 protection, the Sixers find themselves with a first round pick and a handful of second rounders (34, 36, and two more later in the draft). It’s still TBD as to where exactly the OKC pick will fall, but as of writing the pick sits at 24, with the possibility that it could still climb up to 22 or 23.
There isn’t a whole ton of reasons for optimism around the Sixers right now, but the OKC pick conveying is undoubtedly news worth celebrating for a team that will need this pick to add another role player next to Embiid and Simmons. The front office is somewhat hamstrung in terms of moves they can make to improve the makeup of the team around their stars, and this presents a strong opportunity.
While there’s a playoff series to worry about next week, for now we can rejoice in this small victory. Here are four names in the draft class who the Sixers might target with this first-round pick.
1. Grant Riller, Sr.
G, College of Charleston
6’3” 190 lbs.
Key Stats: 21.9 ppg, 36.2% 3P // career 59% inside the arc
Riller is a name you possibly haven’t heard yet due to his playing at a small-school, but his stock is rising fast as one of the most complete scorers in this class. Riller can fill it up from all three levels, as he’s elite at getting to rim and scoring through traffic, and capable of pulling up from mid-range and knocking down shots from the perimeter as both a spot-up shooter and off the dribble.
While he’s certainly capable of filling it up from deep—something Sixers fans are particularly concerned about—the most exciting part of his game is his eye-popping ability to get to and finish around the rim/in the paint. His tight handle and explosive first-step allows him to take any defender off the dribble, and his strength, athleticism, and elite body-control allows him to finish around traffic and through contact with a level of ease that has scouts drooling.
The ability to finish at tough angles is the biggest “tell” a prospect can have in terms of determining whether or not production around the rim and in the lane can translate to the NBA, and Riller’s ability to do this at a high-level is what scouts will cite as reasons to believe in this small-school prospect.
In terms of fit on the Sixers, he’s the perfect off-ball point guard to pair with Simmons, as he can knock down spot-up threes (40%) and attack a close-out while also being able to lead a second unit—which is where his value is most intriguing. The Sixers have long sought an elite pick and roll partner for Embiid (Redick ran a ton of DHO’s, and Harris runs plenty of side pick-and-rolls with him now) but they still haven’t found the perfect fit. In college Riller spent 28.6% of his possessions as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, where his 1.109 points-per-possession and 55.4 adjFG% ranked in the 97th percentile. His ability to make defenders pay for going under the screen while also being able to turn the corner on anyone makes him the ideal man for this role.
The Sixers can use Riller as an off-ball guard next to Ben, as the backup point guard running the P & R with Embiid on the second unit, and potentially as an isolation scorer in late-clock situations. He may not be much of a presence on defense, but if the team needs spacing and players who can create their own shot then they won’t do much better than Riller at this spot in the draft.
2. Patrick Williams, Fr.
F, Florida State
6’8” 225 lbs.
Key Stats: 9.2 ppg, 46% FG, 22 mpg // ACC sixth-man of the year
Williams is an impressive athletically who won’t blow you away statistically, but he’s a high-IQ, instinctive player who lets the game come to him.
At 6’8” 225 (6’11 wingspan) he matches up perfect on 4s, has the lateral quickness and looseness in his hips to guard some 3 and switch on the perimeter, and while you wouldn’t throw him at 5 to create mismatches for yourself, he’ll be able to run with the occasional 5 when the opponent goes small. The best case scenario Williams’ projection is a versatile defensive player who can hang in both the paint and on the perimeter.
On offense he’s selective with his shot and has a good feel for moving the basketball. He has a great understanding of interior spacing, timing, and how to attack from different angles that allows him to excel as a cutter—a more open NBA floor will allow this skillset to flourish. He’s also a high-energy contributor on the offensive glass, where he uses long arms and a quick vertical to get easy put-backs.
Williams’ potential, however, hinges on his ability to stretch his spot-up shooting out to the three-point line. He shot 32% from three in his lone season at FSU, but a consistent stroke, high release, and good FT shooting (83.8%) has evaluators bullish on his ability to become a knockdown shooter at the next level. He’s also a decent shooter on the move—despite an albeit small sample size, he averaged 1.08 points-per-possession on 61% aFG in pick-and-pop situations (80th percentile), and excelled as a pick-and-roll ballhandler (89th percentile) both getting to the rim and pulling up for a jumper.
There’s enough mobility and skill here to develop Williams into a fairly versatile offensive player, but his value in the NBA will mostly be as a three-and-D 4 who offers some versatility on defense. His length suits the Sixers, and he would fit well off the bench in a lineup with either Embiid or Simmons. If he becomes the spot-up three point shooter some think he can then he’ll be a steal at 22, if he’s even available.
3. Tyrell Terry, Fr.
6’1” 165 lbs.
Key Stats: 14.6 ppg, 40.8% on 4.9 3PA, 1.4 spg
Terry is a shooter, plain and simple. His range is limitless, and his release is lightning quick. He can shoot off-the-dribble, running off screens, in spot-up situations—16/38 (42%) on spot-up; 30/60 on all catch-and-shoot plays (99th percentile). Throw in a modest pull-up game and good feel as a pick-and-roll player and he’s basically a Trae Young-lite.
The obvious “but” that comes with a player of his size and skillset is poor defense. Terry would be the lightest player in the NBA at his weight, and isn’t the elite-level athlete he’d need to be to consistently keep in front of his man. When you’re drafting him you’re getting a bomber, but you better be prepared to hide him on defense—which isn’t the biggest issue when you consider how Embiid has helped cover Redick, Belinelli, and others.
Overall he’s as safe of a gunner as the Sixers can add at this point in the draft, and if they need spacing and a scoring punch off the bench then he should be on their radar. His versatility to play on and off-ball will work well with Simmons, and I like the idea of pairing him with Embiid in pick-and-roll and DHO situations to lead a second unit offensively. Terry doesn’t have a high-ceiling but he’s an obvious role player, and that’s what a contender should be eyeing in this range.
4. Jahmi’us Ramsey, Fr.
SG, Texas Tech
6’4” 195 lbs.
Key Stats: 15 ppg, 54 TS%, 4 rpg, 2.2 apg
Ramsey certainly won’t be for everyone, but for a Sixers team in need of spacers who knock down spot-up threes and attack closeouts he should be welcome at this point in the draft. Connecting at 42.6% from deep on 5.2 attempts per game, Ramsey is a bona fide shooter who also excels at attacking the rim as a slasher and in transition. He’s a decent athlete with good bounce and should have no trouble scoring at a modest rate from all three levels in the NBA.
A team like the Sixers could use him off the bench, where he can come in next to the starting lineup as a spacer running around screens for catch-and-shoot situations, or as the go-to scorer for a second unit. What limits him as a prospect is his lack of potential on defense. At just 6’4” he’s a tad undersized for a modern shooting guard, though his long wingspan and decent twitch should allow to be somewhat disruptive in passing lanes and as a help defender—he has some good moments on tape here.
Overall, Ramsey is high-floor, low-ceiling prospect. Given the league-wide need for outside shooting, he’ll almost certainly find a role in this league off the bench. He’s a versatile scorer who can shoot off-the-dribble, off-the-catch, and he’s able to attack the rim off the dribble and as a cutter.
While the scoring package is impressive, as a freshman he was predictably inconsistent, and when you combine that with his size concerns, he becomes one of the big losers from missing out on the pre-draft process. I’m sure he would love the opportunity to show-off a stronger body and a more consistent shooting stroke, and any team that takes him will be making a gamble that the weaker aspects of his college game will develop.
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