After Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery special, the NBA mock draft 2017 speculation began to really kick into high gear. Teams, fans, and sports analysts finally learned which spot each team in the lottery will make their NBA draft picks from on June 22. Two of the most storied franchises in NBA history wound up with the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks this June, and now, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are sitting pretty. However, a team that snuck into the top three thanks to the luck of the draw was the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers had a shot at getting two top 10 draft picks but wound up with just the No. 3 this year. That’s not a bad consolation as they could have landed outside of the top three spots.
With Philadelphia now holding the No. 3 pick, mock draft speculation is trying to figure out which player they’ll draft after Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are selected. Leading up to the NBA Draft Lottery, there almost seemed to be a consensus that it would be Fultz from Washington first, Ball from UCLA second, and then Josh Jackson from Kansas. However, there are several other players that may appeal to the Sixers at this spot. The team already has a young talented core which could give them a lineup of last year’s No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, big man Joel Embiid, former top pick Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and then whoever is drafted this year.
A recent mock draft report at RotoWorld indicates that Duke’s Jayson Tatum is the player that Philadelphia needs to draft. Tatum averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists as a freshman for the Blue Devils in just over 33 minutes of time per game. It’s mentioned that the Sixers could go after either Jackson or Tatum, but of the two, Tatum is considered better in terms of his offense and shooting consistency. The report notes that Jackson would provide a better defender and that either player would be a smart choice in this spot.
The wing position is considered an area of need for Philadelphia, but some analysts contend that a point guard is also an area of need. As Matt Lombardo of NJ.com mentioned several days ago, the Sixers already have a loaded front court with Saric, Embiid, and Okafor. Ben Simmons could end up running the point position quite a bit once he’s part of the system. There were also recent NBA trade rumors that mentioned the possibility of Philadelphia finally trading Jahlil Okafor in exchange for Phoenix Suns’ guard Brandon Knight. That would address their need in the short term while Simmons learns the offense and becomes the team’s key ball handler.
However, the Sixers could also shock people with their NBA Draft choice by taking one of the remaining talented guards after Fultz and Ball. Those players include two Kentucky guards in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. For the season, Fox averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in just under 30 minutes of time on the court per game. Fox also showed his skills on the court during the NCAA Tournament by scoring 39 points against the UCLA Bruins and limiting Lonzo Ball to just 10 points.
Because of his point guard skills and defensive abilities, CSNPhilly‘s Amy Fadool contends that De’Aaron Fox would be the smartest pick to make at the three spot.
“…if Simmons is at the point on offense to distribute, is he then guarding point guards on the defensive end? I don’t see how that can work. And that’s not a knock on Simmons. That’s the issue with having a point-forward. You can’t expect Simmons to stay in front of Isaiah Thomas, John Wall or Kyrie Irving. But Fox can be expected to do that.”
Fadool mentions that Fox shot almost 48 percent from the floor in the last 14 Kentucky Wildcats’ games of the season, showing his rapid improvement. His teammate, Malik Monk, even praised Fox at the NBA Draft Lottery show for his speed and skills. That seems like plenty of endorsement to make this point guard the No. 3 pick for the Sixers as he’ll be tasked with guarding the other future star guards of the league including Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz.
Still, Philadelphia may opt for a bigger wing player to add to the mix and find a point guard elsewhere. So don’t be surprised if Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum’s name is called for the No. 3 pick simply because teams tend to draft the “best player available” at the draft spot. As it stands, adding any of the aforementioned players to a roster with talented players like Simmons, Daric, and Embiid, probably won’t hurt, though.
Basketball fans, which college player should Philadelphia take with the No. 3 pick; Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, or one of the Kentucky guards?
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