For good reason, most of the attention building up to the draft will go to the results of May 16th’s draft lottery, and after that, which prospect(s) Philadelphia will select at the top of the first round. The lottery is where the Sixers may find a third star to complement Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, or at least another quality player to fill out the starting lineup.
The Sixers also have three second round picks in the upcoming NBA draft, picks 39, 46, and 50. Bryan Colangelo could use all three picks in hopes that one becomes a contributor, or package the picks to move up earlier in the second round or into the late first if he becomes infatuated with a certain prospect. Here are a few players the Sixers should target in the late first or early second round.
Harry Giles, Freshman PF, Duke
The Sixers do not NEED another big man, but Jahlil Okafor is likely on his way out, and, whether we want to admit or not, Joel Embiid will always be an injury risk. Besides, late in the draft, upside is more important than fit. That is why, if possible, the Sixers should take a shot on Duke product Harry Giles.
Giles entered his freshman year still recovering from an ACL tear that he suffered during his senior year of high school, and he missed the beginning of Duke’s season after requiring another knee surgery. Giles was not able to regain the explosiveness and ball handling ability he showcased in high school, a skill set that Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress now refer to as “a distant memory.”
After being ranked as one of the top players in the country throughout his high school career, Giles is now projected to be taken somewhere in the 20s according to most mock drafts. Pre-draft workouts will likely have a large impact on where he ends up, as scouts will we want to see if he has recovered his former athleticism since the NCAA season ended. A strong pre-draft showing from Giles could propel him into the middle of the first-round, which would put him out of reach for Philly. If he is available in the mid-to-late 20s, however, the Sixers could trade up to acquire Giles.
The Sixers organization would be a great place for Giles to develop. Philadelphia already has its franchise cornerstones in Embiid and Simmons. Giles would come into a low-pressure environment where he could develop with other young players. Brett Brown has a penchant for player development and could help Giles rebuild his once-coveted skill set. If Embiid and Richaun Holmes are taking up most of the available big man minutes, Giles could make the short trip to Delaware to play with the 87ers. The only issue with Giles coming to Philadelphia is that the Sixers’ medical staff is not exactly trustworthy. For that reason alone, Giles should probably stay as far away from Philadelphia as possible.
Hamidou Diallo, Freshman SG, Kentucky
If the Sixers miss out on drafting a guard at the top of the first round, they could take a flyer on Diallo, an athletic wing guard who enrolled at Kentucky for second semester, but never played a college game. Diallo’s physical tools are what will get him drafted. He measured 6’5 in shoes at the combine (okay) with a 6’11 wingspan (now we’re talking). He also posted a 44.5 inch max vertical leap, which would be the highest ever for a drafted player. His measurements paint a picture of a formidable perimeter defender and transition finisher, which is what he was in high school. The questions lay in his offensive game, especially his shooting touch. After the USA Basketball U18 Training Camp last June, DraftExpress’s Schmitz and Givony listed Diallo’s strengths and weaknesses. While his form “doesn’t look bad,” he still shot 17% from three and 64% from the line on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer. Diallo also “doesn’t have an exceptional feel for the game,” and “can get very wild at times,” according to DraftExpress. Diallo would be a long-term player development project for Brett Brown and his staff, but the rewards could pay off in the future. If his jumper progresses to even an adequate level, Diallo could be a fit in lineups with Ben Simmons, playing off the ball on offense and guarding the opposing point guard on defense. Picking Diallo is a low risk, high reward proposition for Bryan Colangelo. Other than Thon Maker last year, the NBA has not seen a player enter the draft straight out of high school since 2005, making teams wary of spending a high pick on an unproven talent like Diallo. He could flop, but he could also be a star at the 37th pick. The only way to know for sure is to draft him.
A Foreign Draft and Stash Guy
For some reason, the second round of DraftExpress’s mock draft is largely devoid of foreign prospects, even though each year, the final ten picks of the draft are mostly filled with unknown international prospects, many of whom will never make an NBA roster. Teams do this to save money and roster spots. Also, most college players would rather go undrafted than be selected late in the second round, so they can choose the destination where they will most likely make a roster.
If Colangelo holds on to all three second round picks, at least one should be a foreign player willing to play overseas for a few years. We will see if Colangelo makes any moves during the draft or free agency, but right now, the Sixers are looking at bringing back a large majority of last year’s rotation. With one or two lottery picks and a free agent or two entering the mix, playing time will be scarce. There is no need to clog the roster even more with multiple second round picks who will only warm the bench.
Jordan Bell, Junior PF, Oregon
Both Giles and Diallo have extremely high upside, but they have not realized their potential at the college level. Jordan Bell, on the other hand, has given scouts and general managers plenty of evidence showing that he is already good. He averaged 11 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game as a key cog for Oregon’s first Final Four team since 1939. Bell’s draft stock rose exponentially during the NCAA Tournament, as he almost single-handedly defended the paint for the Ducks after senior center Boucher suffered a torn ACL. During Oregon’s upset of top-seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight, Bell shined with an 11 point, 13, rebound, 8 block performance. As far as his NBA future stands, Bell has the tools to be a productive energy big man off the bench. He can finish at the rim on offense and protect the rim on defense, all while attacking the glass relentlessly on both ends. His athleticism should also allow him to switch onto guards on the perimeter when necessary. Bell is already 22 and could be ready to contribute at some point during his rookie season.
Frank Jackson, Freshman PG, Duke
Jackson recently signed with an agent and ended the possibility of returning to Duke for his sophomore season, despite only being projected as a second round pick. Jackson fits the Jerryd Bayless mold of the ideal point guard in a lineup with Ben Simmons. On a crowded Duke team with Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Jayson Tatum all demanding the ball, Jackson often played off the ball. He averaged 10.9 points and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 39.5% from three as a freshman. Jackson also posted impressive numbers at the combine, measuring 6’3.5 in shoes with a 6’7.5 wingspan. He had the best time in the shuttle run and the second best max vertical leap. Those numbers bode well for his defensive potential. If the Sixers miss out on a point guard at the top of the draft, Jackson would be a good option to plug in next to Simmons in the coming years.