Jun 27 2014

Elfrid Payton’s 15 Minutes of Sixers

Elfrid Payton’s press conference began like all the others; the questions were part generic, part personal, part quote baiting. How does it feel to go to your favorite player’s (Allen Iverson) team. How do you think you’ll fit in alongside Michael Carter-Williams? What can you bring to the 76ers? Bleh Blah Bluh. Payton said all the right things about the Sixers and about Philadelphia. I was kinda starting to like him.

But then two minutes in, this happened:

“Elfrid. Steve Kyler, from Basketball Insiders. “There’s reports you’re going to be traded to Orlando Magic, how does it feel to go to Orlando?”

Payton laughed for a second.

“Uhh, I don’t know, I guess that would be nice too. Anything is a blessing, man.”

It was my favorite moment of the draft. Awkward as hell, sure; here’s a 20-year-old who just 30 minutes earlier, had thought he’d be living in Philadelphia for the next four years. Then, out of nowhere, he’s gone. Off to Orlando. But it wasn’t all that surprising.

Elfrid on the Sixers didn’t make sense. In college, per Draft Express, he was a high-usage player that couldn’t hit threes; he might turn into a good player, though he didn’t seem like a fit alongside Michael Carter-Williams, and he didn’t have the upside to justify that. With Hinkie’s asset exchange program, everybody is fair game.

So Hinkie dealt Payton to Orlando in exchange for Dario Saric (12th pick), a protected 2017 first rounder (Philly’s from the Bynum trade) and a second rounder. A great trade, especially if Saric opts out of his three-year contract by next season. And, hey, Payton said he’s cool with Orlando too. Everybody wins.

That was Hinkie’s only major deal of the night; but you can bet he’ll be making more calls this summer. Nobody is safe. Everyone’s a trade chip.

Elfrid Payton hat struggle on Twitpic
(GIF via Ben Golliver)

Jun 26 2014

5-on-5: Sixers thinking long-term, forever

1. Was Joel Embiid the right pick?

Anthony Calabro: Yes. As frustrating as it is to not get the immediate help the Sixers so desperately need, Embiid is the best player in this draft … and Hinkie got him without giving up assets. Now heal big fella’!

Eric Goldwein: We’ll see. From a value perspective, this was a buy-low opp. All it’ll take is a few months of healthy basketball for his stock to rise above what it is now.  It’s a gamble, but it would have been just as risky to pass him up.

Tom Sunnergren: Yes. Given the options that were available, yes. He isn’t Wiggins, and it’ll be difficult to stomach having the Sixers top pick in consecutive drafts spend the season on the shelf, and he might never really play NBA basketball given the shitty prognosis his injury carries for especially huge humans–but…I lost my train of thought there. Oh, yes. He also might transmogrify into the next Hakeem Olajuwon. That possibility makes him the right pick.

Marc Nemcik: I’d say so. Not getting to see their top selection for a second year in a row will be frustrating for Sixers fans, but it’ll be worth it. Hinkie and the Sixers brass know not to make a shortsighted decision, and they took the guy with the biggest upside for the future.

Daniel Christian: I think so. There was a compelling case to be made for Exum, but at the end of the day, Embiid is the best prospect in this draft class. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be special.

2. Dario Saric is ____

Calabro: Foreign?

Goldwein: Boris Tskitishvili Rentzias.

Sunnergren: I’ve read Dario Saric’s name, because I’ve spent a lot of time the last few months reading mock drafts. It’s a good name. Sounds like a winner. And Hinkie likes him. That’s fine. He won’t be playing in the NBA for the next two years, but, I guess that’s fine too. I’m assuming he’ll be good. Great even. The greatest, maybe.

Nemcik: Another guy we won’t see for a while. Philadelphia considered drafting him at 10, but got two picks in return for the trade with the Magic. It will be interesting to see Noel, Embiid and Saric play together; if they ever do play together.

Christian: Worth the wait. Hinkie is preaching patience with his picks this year, but Saric projects as a lethal playmaker down the road. He’ll be ready to go whenever he gets to Philadelphia, and should add another dimension to the offense.

3. What grade do you give the Sixers?

Calabro: Incomplete: The Embiid pick was the right call,

Goldwein: B. (Assuming they did their due diligence on Embiid). Best case, they get a superstar center, a highly skilled big that comes over next year, and they get their 2017 first round pick back. Worst case, shit hits the fan. Come back to me in three years.

Sunnergren: Incomplete. My head’s spinning. Exactly none of the things I thought would happen–Wiggins, Vonleh, Marcus Smart?–came to pass. I’m more surprised by this than I should be. We won’t be able to grade this draft, even begin grading this draft, for the better part of a decade.

Nemcik: A+ for the trade with Orlando. Hinkie took Payton without a deal in place and got two picks out of it. It’s virtually impossible to grade both Embiid and Saric knowing that neither of these guys will make an impact next season.

Christian: A-? Hard to say.  I love Embiid, but time will tell if he can be who we hope he can be. I love the Saric pick too, but we won’t be able to see if that pans out for another two years. It seems great on the surface, but also feels a little risky. Could go either way down the road, but the initial reaction is a positive one.

4. 10 years from now, we’ll remember this draft as …

Anthony: The Wiggins draft. I think Wiggins is going to be a star in this league. He will develop a jumper, and when he does, watch out world.

Goldwein: The night that divided the Sixers fan base. Tomorrow morning, if you’re crazy enough to turn on sports radio, you’ll hear from the pissed off season ticket holders “that work two jobs and mortgaged their house and sold their children” just to support their team. And as much as I want to make fun of those fans, they have a bit of a point. Losing sucks. And the Sixers are putting a losing team on the floor again. But at Barclays — where there’s a younger, more, internet-friendly crowd — there was a different vibe. That demographic is growing. And when the Sixers finally become good, they’ll be the majority.

Sunnergren: Sam Hinkie demonstrated–finally and fully–that he has testicles that are made of brass. We look back and recall that this was the draft that we learned, mostly through inference, that Hinkie had an accident as a child and his parents, as a purely cosmetic procedure, replaced the testicles that he lost with a pair made out of brass.

Nemcik: The one that worked out beautifully or totally flopped. Embiid is a risky selection with what we know as of now. He could be the next Olajuwon or the next Oden. I think Saric is more of a sure thing, but let’s hope he doesn’t turn into Ricky Sanchez.

Christian: The deepest draft in a long time. A ton of quality of players.

5. Is there more to come?

Anthony Calabro: Oh hell yeah.

Goldwein: Does a catfish have whiskers?

Sunnergren: Yes. Though it’s impossible to guess what. You don’t know Hinkie. I don’t know Hinkie. Hinkie is unknowable. He works in mysterious ways, vibrates at his own frequency, sees things that we’re not just incapable of seeing, but incapable of processing. The Sixers aren’t just going to win a title under Hinkie, the franchise is going to turn into pure energy and fly into the galaxy. A beautiful, bright vortex. So hot with light that it hurts your eyes, but you can’t look away.

Nemcik: We’re in for a long night. The Sixers still have five selections in this draft and you never know what Hinkie has up his sleeve, besides a pocket calculator.

Christian: I’m sure there is. Hinkie is never finished.

Jun 26 2014

For the Sixers, Plan B is Embiid. We think.

With their most anticipated selection since 1996, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted 7-foot center Joel Embiid.

We were a bit surprised, though perhaps we shouldn’t have been.

The Sixers reportedly offered the Cavs three picks — Nos. 3, 10 and 32 — for the No. 1 selection and the right to draft Andrew Wiggins. If that was true, the Sixers turned to Plan B. But maybe they wanted Embiid all along.

A broken navicular bone in his foot discovered late in the draft process will sideline the Kansas star for 4-6 months, and possibly the entire 2014-15 season. Despite the broken foot, a previous back injury sustained in early March, and a loaded draft class, most still felt as though Embiid had the highest upside in the draft. Some think picking him here is a reach — he was projected to slide to the Boston Celtics at No. 6 or the L.A Lakers at No. 7. But the upside was too big to pass up.

At 7-feet tall with a wingspan  of 7’5”, Embiid has the ability to post up in the paint, as well as hit the 10-15 foot jumper. He’s drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon and Serge Ibaka. But for Sixers fans, the easiest (and perhaps, faultiest) comparison here is Nerlens Noel. Yes, Sixers fans, expect more looped B-roll footage of a Sixers big man taking uncontested 5-foot hook shots.

But this isn’t an ACL injury. There’s a lot more unpredictability here. Best case, he’s a superstar center. Worst case, he’s Greg Oden. Hinkie gambled. We’ll see if it pans out.

Jun 26 2014

Second Annual Hoop76 Mock Draft

We’ll leave it to Chad Ford to determine what will happen. Here’s what should happen.

1. Cleveland: Andrew Wiggins

May never be a superstar, but he’s an established defender with all the tools to develop offensively. I’m with Dan Gilbert on this one. (Sentence I never thought I’d write).

- Eric Goldwein

2. Milwaukee: Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker isn’t the athlete Andrew Wiggins is, but at the moment he’s a much better basketball player. The bet Milwaukee’s making here is that if he drops a few lbs, and picks up some quicks in the deal, he can round into form on the defensive end.

- Tom Sunnergren

3. Philadelphia: Dante Exum

Unlike the real Sixers, I don’t have access to Joel Embiid’s medical records, which steered me right to Dante Exum. He’s a four-years-younger Michael Carter-Williams with freakish quickness, length and athleticism, which should help him fit right into Brett Brown’s up-tempo offense. (Relatedly: MCW is now on the trading block.)

- Bryan Toporek

4. Orlando: Noah Vonleh

Vonleh gives the Magic a nice frontcourt tandem with Nik Vucevic.

- Anthony Calabro

5. Utah: Aaron Gordon

Utah wants to win now, and although they don’t hit a home run with a star here, Gordon could be a terrific role player. He’ll be ready from day one to guard positions 1-4 and lock up the pick-and-roll. But at 18, he’ll also have plenty of time to develop offensively.

- Wesley Share

6. Boston: Joel Embiid

Stress fractures, ailing foot and all, Embiid is simply too good a talent to slide past No. 6. The Celtics are in no rush to expedite their teardown/rebuild, and should be content to wait out Embiid’s rehabilitation process.

- Angus Crawford

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart

The choice comes down to Marcus Smart and Julius Randle, but the Lakers should side with the Oklahoma State guard to study behind Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. His competitiveness should fit well in Los Angeles.

- Marc Nemcik

8. Sacramento: Nik Stauskas

Sacramento may look to trade this pick, especially if Smart and Embiid are gone. If the keep it, look for them to target Stauskas. He can provide some much-needed depth as a secondary ball handler and he’s one of the best shooters in the draft.

- Daniel Christian

9. Charlotte: Doug McDermott

The Bobcats want buckets. McDermott, who averaged 26.7 as a senior, will provide.

- EG

10. Philadelphia: Julius Randle

Great value here. There are questions about Randle’s athleticism–his steal rate was staggeringly low, and this matters a lot–and now his health, but he’s an aggresive interior scorer with a high motor. The Zach Randolph comparison here is kind of obvious, and that’s why I’m going to make it. I think he could develop into a Zach Randolph.

- TS

11. Denver: Zach LaVine

Denver needs help in the backcourt, and at No. 11, they’re in position to gamble on the upside-heavy LaVine. He’s likely the rawest prospect to be taken in the lottery, but his combination of freakish athleticism and great size for a combo guard could pay serious dividends down the road.

- BT

12. Orlando: Elfrid Payton

The Magic are desperate for point guard help, and Orlando is hoping they found this year’s Damian Lillard.

- A Cal.

13. Minnesota: Gary Harris

With Kevin Martin likely on his way out and Flip Saunders looking to win now, Harris would be a great fit. He’ll shoot the ball as well Martin, act as the wing-stopper Martin never was — and for a fifth of the cost.

- WS

14. Phoenix: James Young

The Suns are blessed with a bunch of assets that now need to be converted into talent, and Young’s length and shooting capabilities would fit in nicely along side the Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt.
- A Cra.

15. Atlanta: Dario Saric

Saric won’t play in the NBA for another two years, but he is a good fit in Atlanta and will be ready to contribute immediately once he does come over.

- MN

16. Chicago: T.J. Warren

Chicago has been looking for a scoring punch to complement Rose for a while now, and Warren could fill the role. Tough to pick him over the rangier Rodney Hood here, but Warren’s defensive potential should appeal to Thibs.

- DC

17. Boston: Adreian Payne

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here but a Kevin Love-Adreian Payne front court would be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. If nothing else, it’d make for some really terrible Twitter puns.

- EG

18. Phoenix: Jusuf Nurkic

The late riser is–from what I’ve read–very big and very skilled. Chad Ford likes him to the Bulls at No. 16. If that doesn’t shake out, I think Phoenix likes him.

- TS

19. Chicago: Rodney Hood

After adding T.J. Warren at 16, the Bulls get another wing player who can light it up from all over the court in Hood. The Duke sophomore could slide in as the Bulls’ starting 2, or he could help spell Jimmy Butler from having to play 40-plus minutes a night.

- BT

20. Toronto: Tyler Ennis

Good value here. Assuming Lowry comes back, Ennis upgrades Toronto’s bench for now and will be the heir apparent when Lowry’s time is up.

- A Cal.

21. Oklahoma City: Kyle Anderson

Although he’d be a second-unit presence, the Thunder need shot creators. Anderson isn’t the sharpest defender, but with Steven Adams and Kendrick Perkins covering for him on the low block, his strengths (passing, mid-range shooting) will be best utilized.

- WS

22. Memphis: P.J. Hairston

Even with an improbable 82 games of Mike Miller in tow and the likely return of Quincy Pondexter from an extended absence, the Grizzlies need to continue adding shooters. Hairston has size and strength, and could help fill that void.
- A Cra.

23. Utah: Jordan Adams

Utah bolsters its bench by selecting one of the most versatile and complete scorers in this draft.

- MN

24. Charlotte: Jordan Clarkson

Charlotte needs some backcourt depth behind Kemba Walker. Enter Clarkson, one of the best athletes in the draft, is capable of playing both wing positions, and has defensive potential on the perimeter.

- DC

25. Houston: Shabazz Napier

Morey takes him just to mess with the Heat (and tempt LeBron).

- EG

26. Miami: Mitch McGary

I know who Mitch McGary is. Not only have I heard of him, but I’ve watched him play competitive basketball on television. Mitch McGrary is my pick here.

- TS

27. Phoenix: Clint Capela

The Suns, armed with three first-round picks, can afford a late-first-round draft-and-stash. Capela is exceptionally raw at the moment, but his length, athleticism and defensive potential should have Phoenix drooling.

- BT

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Patric Young

Gives Doc a rugged interior guy who can perhaps turn himself into a Udonis Haslem-type player.

- A Cal.

29. Oklahoma City: K.J. McDaniels

McDaniels can run the floor with the Thunder’s second and third units. Plus, he can add to the Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones core of upside-y youngsters that are dangled in every last trade scenario — and never dealt.

- WS

30. San Antonio: Walter Tavares

Tavares continues to climb up the board, and with his 7-3 frame and raw skill set, is the perfect candidate for San Antonio to add to their pool of stashed overseas picks.
- A Cra.

Jun 26 2014

The Hoop76 Lottery Big Board for Armchair Sixers GMs Who Can’t Draft Good

Going last-to-first, just to keep you in suspense…

On the bubble

Dario Saric: Fell out of my top 10 after he signed the three-year deal overseas.

Kyle Anderson: A forward who can’t defend or play off the ball; no thanks.

Zach LaVine: He can jump high and he can shoot. Sometimes. Maybe he’s the next Jamal Crawford. But I’ll pass.

14. Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, C

Age: 19 (b. Aug. 23, 1994)

Scout’s take:

Via Chad Ford:

Nurkic is 6-foot-11, has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and weighs 280 pounds. That’s his biggest calling card right now. He’s also very skilled, with soft hands around the basket. The athleticism is not there, however, which limits his upside.

Outlook:

A seven-footer with a polished post game, Nurkic is the Spencer Hawes replacement we’ve all been waiting for. But seriously, the 6-foot-11 center is regarded as one of the few true big men in this draft. A possible fit next to Nerlens Noel.

13. Doug McDermott, Creighton, SF/PF

Age: 22 (b. Jan. 3, 1992)

Scout’s take:

Outlook:

He’s going to be a train wreck no matter where a coach sticks him on defense, but they don’t call him Dougie McBuckets for nothing. His offensive game is more diverse than he’s given credit for, and if there’s a front court fit for him anywhere in the lottery, it’s Philly (or Charlotte).

12. James Young, Kentucky, SG

Age: 18 (b. Aug. 16, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Because of his age, it is difficult to label Young; he really is a ball of clay. What we do know is that he can jump out of the gym, has good size for his position, has a nice stroke from about 21 feet and will burn a calorie defensively. There are guys who have been drafted with much less promise than that, and his work ethic will likely dictate how much (or little) he develops. – Chad Ford

Outlook:

Some may be looking for more of a sure thing with the No. 10 pick, but Young isn’t Zach LaVine. He’s got real basketball skills, and at 18 years old, plenty of time to develop them . 

11. Nik Stauskas, Michigan, PG/SG

College: Michigan

Age: 20 (b. Oct. 7, 1993)

Position: PG/SG

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Most NBA GMs and scouts consider him one of the best pure shooters in the draft. He has a super quick release on his jumper and can get it off against just about anywhere on the floor. In a league devoid of great shooters, Stauskas is an instant commodity.

He has an excellent handle, can play the point in a pinch and has a high basketball IQ that allows him to score in other ways besides 3s. The only real knock on him is on the defensive end.  - Chad Ford

Outlook:

Like most avid basketball watchers, I love quick releases. So, predictably, I’ve fallen for Nik Stauskas; not just for the Sixers (who could surely use a perimeter shooter), but for any NBA team in need of a shooter.

10. Adreian Payne, Michigan State, PF

 Age: 23 (b. Feb 18. 1991)

Scout’s take:

Via his DraftExpress Scouting Report:

Not only did he score at a prolific rate [this season], he was also highly efficient (54% 2P%, 42% 3P%, 79% FT%) at that. His 61% TS% ranked 13th overall among Top-100 prospects….

Payne is more susceptible to fatigue, as he has smaller lungs than the average person his size.

Outlook:

Hear me out. Yes, he’s 23. But he has a well-rounded offensive game. He’s a stretch four with the tools to be a terrific defender, and he moves exceptionally well for his size (6-9 and 239 lbs). Might not have the biggest upside, but there’s a lot of teams he could help out right away, and in the long term.

9. Gary Harris, Michigan State, SG

Age: 19 (b. Sep. 19, 1994)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Harris is one of the true two-way players in the draft. He’s equally effective on both ends of the court, which is a large part of his appeal. Harris can score in multiple ways, both by driving to the basket and from the perimeter and he’s capable of guarding both backcourt positions as well.

His lack of elite size for his position is the biggest knock scouts have against him.  - Chad Ford

Outlook:

As noted in his SB Nation scouting report, he’s an off-ball threat who can score off all types of screens. More importantly, he’s a pest defensively. He wouldn’t be the sexiest pick in the world, but like his MSU teammate, his floor is high and he’d contribute immediately.

8. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, PG/SG

Age: 20 (b. Mar. 6, 1994)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

He’s got a strong, stocky frame, and he knows how to keep defenders shielded from the ball. Smart is an excellent finisher at the rim, even through contact, and knows how to initiate it and follow through. He’s an awful perimeter shooter, from 2- or 3-point range, but that doesn’t deter him from pulling up for them.

Defensively, he has great anticipation and strong “athletic hands,” which allow him to rip the ball away. I like the fact he’s an excellent defensive rebounder for a guard.

- Amin Elhassan

Outlook:

He projects to have the highest WARP among all draft prospects at 3.6, thanks to his proficient steal rate (which Pelton correlates to NBA success) and rebounding ability. Fit could be a problem with MCW but if he’s there at 10, he’d probably be the best player on the board.

7. Julius Randle, Kentucky, PF

Age: 19 (b. Nov. 29, 1994)

Scout’s take:

Via his DraftExpress Scouting Report:

Randle was criticized for much of his freshman year for a low steal and block rate, which many attributed to having short arms. He put that rumor to rest by registering a 7-foot wingspan, more than adequate for his 6-9 (in shoes), 250-pound frame, even if his standing reach leaves something to be desired at 8-9 1/2. The 6-9 250 pound Randle measured similarly toKevin Love, who came in at 6-7 ¾ without shoes, 255 pounds, with a 6-11 ¼ wingspan and 8-10 standing reach.

Outlook:

If the foot injury causes him to slide, he’s a solid selection at 10, and even a possible trade-up target. He’s got a solid post game, he can rebound, and he’s a surprisingly good ball-handler.

6. Joel Embiid, Kansas, C

Age: 20 (Mar. 16, 1994)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Embiid is a long, fluid, explosive athlete who runs the floor well and moves with a ton of grace on the court. It’s hard to believe that he’s been playing the game for only four years, as he exhibits the type of feel and anticipation at 20 years old that some players go whole NBA careers without showing.

- Amin Elhassan

Outlook:

Embiid’s entire body has amounted to dust and his career is over because, Greg Oden. OK, no, it’s not quite like that. But it’s not an ideal situation. He had a bad back, then a stress fracture in his foot and while I’m no doctor, that sounds like a bad combination for a 7-footer whose future depends entirely on his ability to jump high, block shots, and dunk basketballs.

Still, Embiid is a possible top-five pick. That tells you what people think about his ceiling. Let’s hope these are two random, nonrecurring injuries — and that he miraculously slides to 10.

5. Noah Vonleh, Indiana, PF

Age: 18 (b. Aug. 24, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Vonleh is a long, active athlete with great agility and fluidity. He has a very soft shooting touch as a big, with range that stretches out to the college 3-point line, where he shot 16-of-33 this season. He’s an excellent runner in transition, can change direction and avoid defenders trying to draw contact.

Defensively, he’s an excellent rebounder who will board outside of his area, using his length and agility to cover lots of space.  - Amin Elhassan

Outlook:

His freakish 7-4 wingspan gives him an advantage at the four, and he can utilize that size nearly everywhere on the court. He’s a plus defender/rebounder and an above average shot-blocker for his position. Pelton compared him to Chris Bosh.

4. Aaron Gordon, Arizona, PF

Age: 18 (b. Sep. 16, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Offensively, he’s a diamond in the rough, but has some very defined skills. He’s an excellent finisher around the rim, and extremely active on the offensive glass….It should be noted that he has an inconsistent release on his jumper, but it’s not totally broken. Plus, he shot at a decent clip from 3-point range (16-for-45), and improved throughout the season.

On the defensive end, Gordon has impressive lateral ability and can move his feet and stay in front of opponents of any size. – Amin Elhassan

Outlook:

I made my case in a draft profile a few weeks back, and I’ll make it again. Gordon is the best and most polished defensive player in this draft, and though his offensive game is lacking, he has a half-decent 3-point shot (36 percent last season), and more importantly, time. He’s only 18.

Worst case, Gordon is a defensive-minded role player who doesn’t need the ball. His ceiling is much higher. Think mid-2000s Shawn Marion or Andrei Kirilenko.

3. Jabari Parker, Duke SF/PF

Age: 19 (Mar. 15, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

Parker combines a good feel for the game with a big frame (6-foot-8, 240 pounds) and length. He makes quick decisions with his touches and isn’t prone to holding on to the ball to try to get what he wants. He has good handles for a guy his size, but he seems to struggle getting the separation to get by guys and as a result will resort to step-back shots and pull-up jumpers off the dribble.

As far as defense, Parker shows good awareness, but he’s not very comfortable or confident on the perimeter. His lateral quickness is an issue, and he doesn’t seem to know how to effectively use his length and size as a cushion. – Amin Elhassan

Outlook:

Parker is a great fit for the Sixers; he can score efficiently and Philly doesn’t have anyone that can do that at his position (or any position, for that matter). Defense, though, is a major concern.

2. Dante Exum, Australia Institute of Sport, PG/SG

Age: 18 (b. Jul. 13, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Outlook:

Interesting tidbit from Chad Ford on Bill Simmons’ draft edition of the B.S. Report: with help from Brett Brown’s basketball mob connections in Australia, the Sixers were able to get their hands on 36 of Exum’s games this season. That’s, like, a lot of game tape. Exum is a combo guard with arms longer (6-10) than Julius Randle’s body (6-9). He’s raw, and there are questions about how he’d fit next to MCW. But if Brown is on board, so am I.

1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, SG

Age: 19 (b. Feb. 23, 1995)

Scout’s take:

Via his ESPN 360 Draft Profile:

While scouts and GMs wring their hands over the fact that Wiggins isn’t a complete player yet (his jump shot and handle both still need work) and have fretted over his lack of aggressiveness (especially at the beginning of the season), there’s a general consensus that has been out there since the beginning that he’s still the best long-term prospect in the draft.

He has elite size and elite athletic abilities for his position. He’s already a lock-down defender. He’s a hard worker and a great teammate. He already possesses a ton of NBA tools and won’t have to face zone defenses every night, which should open up the game for him. If he keeps working on his game and stays healthy, there’s no reason he can’t become a Paul George-like player in the NBA. – Chad Ford

Outlook:

He can jump over the sun. His athleticism is second to none. Plus, Wiggins and Noel on fast breaks would be an illegal amount of fun. I’m done. (I’ll show myself out).

Jun 26 2014

Draft Profile: Wistful for Wiggins

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

For a minute, the Sixers looked like they were going to land their (reported) top prospect, Andrew Wiggins. The Cavaliers were settled on Joel Embiid and the Bucks were in love with Jabari Parker, leaving Philly with the player who, only a year ago, was touted as the next big thing.

Then Embiid’s foot injury happened, and chaos ensued. Now, all indications are that Wiggins and Parker will be off the board when the Sixers are up at No. 3.

That’s unfortunate, though it could be worse. If there’s one takeaway from Wiggins’ freshman season at Kansas, it’s that he’s not a LeBron-like prospect. He can’t shoot (yet), he can’t finish (yet), and looked passive in some of the Jayhawks’ biggest moments. He’s not a once-in-a-generation talent.

Still, you won’t find many prospects with more upside. Listed at 6’8.75 with a 7’0 wingspan and an 8’11 standing reach, coupled with a 44’ vertical leap, he’s an athletic freak.

Wiggins strength is in his defense; his length and athleticism give him all the physical tools he needs to become a lockdown wing. That showed in his freshman season, where he struggled offensively, but was one of the best wing defenders in college basketball. Considering that LeBron and Kevin Durant may dominate the NBA for the better part of the next decade, a versatile defensive ace is one of the most valuable commodities a team could have. Just ask Gregg Popovich; the Spurs don’t get by the Thunder and Heat without Kawhi Leonard.

Though Wiggins averaged 17.1 points last season, he didn’t live up to expectations as a scorer. His 26.3% usage rate fell well below those of Parker, Doug McDermott and Marcus Smart. Concerns about his handle and decision-making are also legitimate.

The advanced stats aren’t friendly to Wiggins either. Kevin Pelton ranked him 19th (insider required) in the 2014 draft class in WARP projection; that’s in part due to his low usage rate and his turnovers and his shooting. His jump shot is a work in progress. He was only 33.6% on midrange jumpers, as per hoop-math.com, and 34.1% on 3-pointers.

And perhaps, more importantly, he hasn’t demonstrated an ability to finish. NBA Draft analyst Dean Demakis suggests his low dunk rate and poor rim-finishing percentage at Kansas are red flags, considering he’s a world-class athlete. Granted, Bill Self’s oft-stagnant offensive system may explain part of Wiggins’ underwhelming production. But questions remain regarding his assertiveness and his ability to take over games.

Wiggins could certainly turn some of his weaknesses into strengths. He has the work ethic and, as noted by Amin Elhassan in his 360 draft profile (insider required), he possesses preternatural command of his body and physical gifts. He’s also lethal in the open floor, a quality that would be welcomed in Brett Brown’s up-tempo offense, which led the NBA in pace. His athleticism and high motor also equate to effective offensive rebounding and explosive finishes on put-backs another skill that would be useful for the 76ers, who had the second-lowest shooting percentage in the NBA in 2013-14.

Fit:

If Wiggins develops offensively, he’d be a perfect fit for the 76ers. Hell, a guy like that would be a perfect fit for any team. He’s (potentially) a two-way star: a versatile, lockdown defender, and though his offense is a work in progress, he has the athleticism and work ethic to make it work.

Still, there’s a more than decent chance he doesn’t won’t pan out on offense, and he might be closer to Luol Deng than Paul George. For a No. 3 pick, that’s not bad. But for a No. 3 pick and Thad Young and/or a No. 10 pick, that’s a borderline disaster.

Wiggins likely won’t fall to No. 3, but if he really is the Sixers’ guy, Hinkie may find a way to get him. Prepare for any and all trade/draft possibilities.


Older posts «

» Newer posts