The NBA Draft is less than 24 hours away and Daryl Morey is predictably working the phones in search of a win-now trade to improve the Sixers roster. However, in the event that a deal doesn’t materialize—a real possibility given the franchise’s lack of valuable/tradeable assets—Morey won’t have a choice but to use the selection on a rookie. Whether he chooses to then spend that pick on a high-upside lottery ticket with future trade value, or on a win-now prospect with more likelihood to contribute in year one or two is anybody’s guess (though history suggests he’ll opt to chase upside).
Either way, this year’s NBA Draft class is one of the deepest in recent memory, and the crop of talent to choose from in the Sixers range (23rd overall) is nothing to balk at. Here’s ten prospects who could realistically be available and fit the team’s somewhat broad range of “needs” (two-way wings, wings with size, on-ball D, dynamic glue guys, backup-5).
1. Tari Eason
The skinny: An elite defensive prospect with enough tricks in his bag to find a role in any offense.
Relevant measurables: 6’8” (7’2” wingspan) 217 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Wing stopper/mobile big) Eason has the strength to bang in the post, length to disrupt at the rim or in passing lanes, and foot-speed to stay in-front on the perimeter. He plays with infectious energy on this end, and possesses a high-IQ and anticipation skills to boot. He can handle wing stopper responsibilities on the opponent’s top perimeter scorer, or operate as a big in any ball-screen coverage. This is the full-package in terms of what pro teams look for in a modern defender.
Offensive skillset: (Athletic finisher) Eason is quick-twitch finisher who will excel as a roller or working out of the dunker spot. He shows the ability to win off-the-dribble out of faceup looks or when driven off the line. Despite inconsistent mechanics there’s reason to believe his shot will continue to develop as he ages; he connects from deep already and displays the requisite touch on free throws and around the rim.
Swing trait: Three-point range
Role/fit on the Sixers: Defense/athleticism off the bench
2. Jaden Hardy
Guard, Ignite (G-league)
The Skinny: A bucket-getter with an improving eye for playmaking and the tools to be a disruptive point-of-attack defender.
Relevant measurables: 6’4” (6’9” wingspan) 190 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Point of attack/chaser) Hardy is still developing as a defender but possesses the length and twitch required to stay in-front of and disrupt ballhandlers.
Offensive skillset: (Shot creator/secondary ballhandler) Hardy is a natural shot creator who can get to the rim, score in the mid-range, or pull-up from deep with ease. A tight handle and developing playmaking chops make him the full package offensively. He’ll need to learn how to protect the ball and take smarter shots, but that can be taught in ways that his physical/athletic gifts can’t. There’s All-NBA level scoring in this skillset.
Swing trait: Improved efficiency/decision-making
Role/fit on the Sixers: Bench scorer
3. Jalen Williams
Forward, Santa Clara
The skinny: A playmaking wing with the savvy to win anywhere on the floor, and the length/anticipation to blossom into an elite off-ball defender.
Relevant measurables: 6’6” (7’2” wingspan) 210 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Helper) Williams has one of the longest wingspans in this class and knows how to use that length to stalk passing lanes off-ball. He’s an overall smart defender but lacks the foot speed required to handle quicker guards and wings. He’ll develop into a versatile defensive piece but will always be better served haggling shooters around screens and sagging off the corner in help defense.
Offensive skillset: (Primary ballhandler/shot creator) Williams is a methodical ballhandler who knows to work angles and manipulate the defense to create for others or get to his own shot. His skillset is maximized with the ball in his hands, but he also excels off-ball as a shooter or timely cutter. He can be ‘the guy’ in second units with the ability to blend in as a role piece when need be.
Swing trait: On-ball defense
Role/fit on the Sixers: Playmaking wing off the bench
4. EJ Liddell
Forward, Ohio State
The skinny: A big wing with inside/out value on both ends of the floor
Relevant measurables: 6’7” (7-foot wingspan) 243 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Helper/wing stopper) Liddell has the requisite size to bang in the paint, and is at his best operating as a weakside help defender where he can deter/alter shots at the rim. After displaying real growth as an on-ball defender in college he’s expected to develop into a capable wing stopper at the next level. In terms of on-ball/off-ball and inside/out role versatility, Liddell checks all the boxes that NBA teams search for in modern impact defenders.
Offensive skillset: (Stationary shooter/face-up big) Liddell mainly profiles as a spot-up shooter at the pro level (more lift and a sharper release could take him from average to elite). He displays great feel as a screener, where he’s a threat to pop, slip, or roll hard to the rim. He’ll never be a dynamic threat on this end of the floor, but his ability to attack closeouts, make the correct reads, and punish mismatches in the post are enough to round out his skillset.
Swing trait: Tighter handle/sharper playmaking
Role/fit on the Sixers: Three-and-D/switchable-4 off the bench
5. Jake LaRavia
Forward, Wake Forest
The skinny: A sneaky athletic 4-man with ample skill, a sweet shooting stroke, and an elite feel for the game.
Relevant measurables: 6’8” (6’9.5” wingspan) 227 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Helper/perimeter big) Laravia plays long and sturdy on this end of the floor, and understands how to stalk the rim/passing lanes off-ball (where he’s most capable of making an impact). His lateral quickness is passable, and good instincts allow him to hang as an on-ball defender with the ability to switch 1-5 if need be.
Offensive skillset: (Movement shooter/athletic finisher) Laravia is a highly-skilled offensive player who can shoot, playmake, and finish at the rim. He has a feathery touch from deep, tight handles, patient post moves, excellent feel as a cutter, and powerful finishing ability. To boot, he’s a willing ball-mover who reads the defense at an elite level. He could be featured as a shooter, point-forward, or blend in as a glue-guy.
Swing trait: Improving on-ball D
Role/fit on the Sixers: Glue-guy/shooter/switchable-4 off the bench
6. Dalen Terry
The Skinny: A lanky two-way wing who pairs plus-defensive traits with a dose of playmaking and catch-&-shoot ability.
Relevant measurables: 6’7” (7’1” wingspan) 195 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Wing stopper) Terry profiles as a disruptive on-ball defender who can handle stopper duties 1 through 4. He’s dangerous lurking in passing lanes off the ball, and uses those opportunities to spring transition buckets. Added muscle will allow him to disrupt at the rim more frequently. There’s All-Defense potential here.
Offensive skillset: (Secondary ballhandler/stationary shooter) Terry is an athletic wing who can do a little bit of everything: handle, slash, playmake, space the floor, rebound, you name it. He’ll be the consummate glue-guy in pro-offenses, with the ability to operate as lead ballhandler in second units.
Swing trait: Added self-creation/shot making
Role/fit on the Sixers: Glue guy/wing stopper
7. Kendall Brown
The Skinny: A bouncy defender with a feel for knifing to the rim on/off ball and finishing at an elite rate.
Relevant measurables: 6’7.5” (6’11” wingspan) 201 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Wing stopper/PoA) Brown is capable of locking down on-ball matchups against premier wings and guards, and has the tools to make a similar high-impact in off-ball responsibilities. He’s a legitimate option defending 1-4 and with added muscle can develop into a small-ball-5. There’s All-Defense potential in this skillset.
Offensive skillset: (Roll + cut/slashing wing) Brown has a good feel for impacting an offense without the ball in his hands. He’s an instinctive cutter, a freak in transition, and a savant finishing around/above the rim. While he’s not currently a reliable shooter from deep, the peripherals—good free throw shooting, touch around the rim, solid mechanics—point to a safe projection as a spot-up threat in the NBA.
Swing trait: Perimeter shooting
Role/fit on the Sixers: Athletic wing/stopper off the bench
8. Nikola Jovic
The Skinny: A lanky forward with elite shot creation, soft touch, and solid playmaking for his size.
Relevant measurables: 6’11” (7’ wingspan) 223 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Helper) Jovic has all the tools to be a positive-impact defender but needs time to develop on this end. His length should allow him to disrupt as a weakside shot-blocker sooner than later, but he’ll need to add more bulk/muscle in order to truly hang down low as a pro. His defense on the perimeter is a major work in progress, but if he’s able to translate impressive footwork from the offensive end then he can become passable on-ball in due time.
Offensive skillset: (Movement shooter/secondary playmaker) Jovic is one of the top shot-creators in the class, with an ability to manipulate space and get off a shot from anywhere. His efficiency is already impressive relative to shot-difficulty, and he displays the requisite soft touch to develop into an elite shooter—both off-dribble and off-the-catch. He also uses a tight handle to knife into the lane and playmake for others at an impressive rate for his size.
Swing trait: On-ball defense/awareness
Role/fit on the Sixers: Playmaker/shooter with size off the bench
9. Jaylin Williams
The Skinny: A versatile inside-out defender with elite playmaking chops, good feel around the rim, and untapped potential as a shooter.
Relevant measurables: 6’10” (7’1” wingspan) 237 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Mobile big) Williams is a strong interior defender who can bang in the post, execute drop coverage, and deter shots from the weakside. Plus-athleticism allows him to switch on the perimeter and harass in trail position on drives. That inside-out versatility paired with elite positioning, IQ, rebounding, and energy makes for a projectable and highly-valued defensive skillset.
Offensive skillset: (Versatile big) Williams understands how to facilitate to and from every spot on the floor—atop the key, in DHO sets, Hi-Lo looks, from the post, outlet passes in transition, and displays a good feel for finding cutters, the dunker spot, and skip passes on pin-ins. As a cutter and lob-man he shows the twitch and touch to finish over and around pro rim defense. If the jump shot develops—he’s a willing shooter with good touch (albeit awkward mechanics)—then he’ll have real value on this end of the floor.
Swing trait: Three-point shooting
Role/fit on the Sixers: Glue-guy/versatile big
10. Walker Kessler
The skinny: A towering defensive anchor who erases shots at the rim and takes care of the small things on offense
Relevant measurables: 7’1” (7’4” wingspan) 256 lbs.
Defensive skillset: (Anchor big w/ some mobility) Kessler will be an All-Defense quality anchor big from day one. His ability to prevent and erase shots at the rim is next to none in this class, and he possesses the requisite agility to slide on the perimeter in a pinch if need be. Plug him in the middle of a defense and forget about it.
Offensive skillset: (Roll + cut big) Kessler is a no-frill offensive player who sets good screens and is an efficient roller/cutter/finisher at the rim. He plays with a high IQ, knows how to handle/protect the ball (for a big), and keeps an offense moving. If he’s able to further develop a sometimes-decent catch-and-shoot ability then he’ll have All-Star potential.
Swing trait: Three-point range
Role/fit on the Sixers: Backup-5/Harden rim-runner