2020 NBA mock draft: Trading up for a shooter in this Sixers-only mock draft

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With no basketball being played, it’s the perfect time to take a look at which college prospects would make sense for the Sixers in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

If the current draft positions hold, the Sixers will have picks 22 (via OKC), 34 (via ATL), 36 (via NYK), 49 and 59 (via LAL).

Here’s our first Sixers-only mock draft:

17. TRADE – Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

What would the NBA Draft be without a Sixers-Celtics trade? In this case, the Sixers trade picks 22, 36 and 59 to Boston for No. 17. With so many talented perimeter players, the Celtics will still be able to find a decent big man prospect at 22. With No. 17, GM Elton Brand drafts Nesmith.

Nesmith ticks a couple huge boxes for the Sixers. He’s the best pure shooter in draft, having hit 52.2 of his threes and leading the nation with 4.3 made threes a game. He has an NBA-ready frame at 6-foot-6, 213 pounds, and should be solid enough on the defensive end to be playable as a rookie. 

He's not the shot creator some Sixers fans may crave, but he’ll be 21 by the time the next NBA season starts. As we learned last year, Brand is looking for older players that can contribute immediately. Nesmith and Matisse Thybulle could become a young, potent wing combo off the Sixers' bench for years to come.

34. (via ATL) – Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State

The Sixers don’t necessarily need another big man, but they could use an infusion of youth. Joel Embiid is their youngest big under contract next season (26). Most of the Sixers’ youth —Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith — is on the perimeter.

There's also a chance Brand could look to trade Al Horford after seeing the awkwardness of the offensive fit, freeing up minutes at the four and five.

Tillman has a Horford-like skillset that could help the Sixers. He’s skilled as a passer, he’s an outstanding screener and roller, and his jumper is a work in progress that shows promise. He’s a strong on-ball defender in the post, winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year this past season. 

At 21, he has room to grow but could help immediately as a backup center. If he hits outside shots more consistently, he could fit next to Embiid in bigger lineups. He was often paired with fellow big Marcus Bingham last season.

49. Markus Howard, PG, Marquette

In the Sixers’ everlasting quest for shooting, we land on Howard here. The Marquette product hit 434 threes in his career, tied for seventh most in NCAA history. Howard took such a high volume of treys but still managed to hit 42.7 percent. He’s also 21st all-time in points, averaging 27.8 per game his senior season. Even after four years in college, Howard just turned 21 last month.

So how is a player with such gaudy numbers available here? He’s 5-foot-11. If Howard were 6-3, he’d be an easy lottery pick. On a team like the Sixers that has so much size, perhaps a player like Howard can fit in. Howard isn’t the most explosive athlete, but his prolific shooting forces teams to play him tight. He’s also excellent at creating just enough space to get his shot off.

Howard was primarily his team’s point guard, but also spent a lot of time off the ball flying around screens. He’s the type of guard that could play with and back up Ben Simmons.

I look at Howard as the 2020-21 version of Marial Shayok, an experienced college player drafted later in the second round that will likely go down to Delaware and light it up in the G League, giving the Sixers something to think about for the future.

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