Mock draft roundup: What options might Sixers have at No. 23?


Under three weeks remain before this year's NBA draft and the Sixers know they've got the 23rd pick.

Let's dive into some recent mock drafts and see who president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is projected to take in his third offseason with the Sixers: 

Raphielle Johnson, NBC Sports Edge 

E.J. Liddell, Ohio State 

Johnson: “There may be some who rush to compare (Liddell) to another Ohio State product in Jae’Sean Tate, but Tate was not the perimeter shooter coming out of college that Liddell is. He shot 37.4% from three on nearly four attempts per game, and the free-throw percentage (76.5%) is another indication that Liddell can be an effective perimeter shooter at the NBA level. Something else that shouldn't be overlooked is his defensive ability, as Liddell blocked 2.6 shots per game. Liddell would be a good fit in Philadelphia, which needs more consistent options to plug in alongside Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey.” 

Jonathan Givony, ESPN 

E.J. Liddell, Ohio State 

Givony: “Most NBA teams operated under the assumption that the Nets would punt this selection to 2023 and gamble on the Sixers sending an even better pick next year if the wheels come off in Philadelphia. … Philadelphia could very well look at adding a versatile big man like Liddell who can protect the rim, switch on the perimeter and has a high floor as a prospect after improving his shooting significantly as a junior. His productivity and toughness make him a solid option for a Sixers team looking to win now, one that needs to find value on rookie-scale contracts.”

Liddell, who measured in at 6-5.5, 243 pounds at the draft combine, led the Big Ten in blocks. Hard to imagine he’s that effective swatting shots in the NBA, but Liddell is strong and skilled, and he did a lot of things well his junior year. Grant Williams is an obvious recent comparison. Going back further, we see a few ways in which Liddell resembles Anthony Mason. Of course, anything close to Mason’s career would be fantastic for a player taken late in the first round. 

Basketball News 

Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite 

Basketball News: “Jaden Hardy is a pure scoring prospect who has the potential to fill up the box score when locked in. At 6-foot-4, Hardy has good athleticism, shot creation, handles, crafty finishing to go along with a healthy amount of confidence, all of which allow him to score the ball at a high rate. Hardy already possesses deep range as an outside shooter.”

Cody Taylor, USA Today’s Rookie Wire 

Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite 

Taylor: “Hardy, who called himself the top prospect in the draft, could be a good option for the Sixers to consider. He was once viewed as a top-five pick but slipped a bit due to a variety of issues. However, he would bring a nice scoring punch to Philly, which proved to be an area of concern."

Morey noted after last draft that the Sixers selected two prospects who were top high school recruits in Jaden Springer (No. 28) and Charles Bassey (No. 53). Hardy was a clear five-star recruit before choosing a professional route. Efficiency and decision-making were weaknesses this year. In 12 G League Showcase Cup games, Hardy posted 17.7 points per contest but shot only 35.1 percent from the floor, 26.9 percent from three-point range, and recorded more turnovers than assists. One encouraging nugget from Hardy averaged 1.17 points per catch-and-shoot jumper, which ranked in the 76th percentile. 

Hardy has worked out with James Harden and told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that the 10-time All-Star taught him about creating space on step-back jumpers. 

Adam Spinella, The Box and One 

Tari Eason, LSU 

Spinella: “Whether this is based on gut feeling or based on intel, we can see Tari Eason having a little bit of a slide on draft night. The feel really just isn’t there for him, while the natural tools are insane. I think the Philadelphia 76ers want to assemble a roster of athletes and defenders around Joel Embiid, and Eason can come in and at least play that role right away where he’s not going to be asked to do too much on the offensive end. In a switchable context guarding one through four and sometimes one through five, Eason is one of the better (players) in this draft class. … On the offensive end, he’s very good slashing and attacking the basket, but only to his right hand. He gets to the free throw line a ton and was productive on a permanent basis. The jump shooting is the concern. Both in terms of catch-and-shoot areas and pull-ups, I think it limits his offensive arsenal as well as his lack of feel. Eason at 23 to Philly would be a solid fit for a developmental project.”

Eason transferred from Cincinnati to LSU for his sophomore season and won SEC Sixth Man of the Year. He finished second in the conference in steal percentage and fourth in block percentage. That outstanding ability to force turnovers is similar to Matisse Thybulle’s. Like Thybulle, Eason’s length (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism help with recovering and making defensive highlight plays that opponents don’t expect at all. His jumper isn’t quick or pretty, though Eason did convert 80.3 percent of his free throws on a healthy volume (5.7 foul shots per game) and hit 35.9 percent of his threes this past season. You’ll find most mock drafts have Eason higher than No. 23. 

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