Sixers could use late first-round picks to finally balance their roster


The most heavily discussed area of the Sixers’ roster is the frontcourt given the overabundance of bigs and forwards projected at the No. 1 pick. The team has so much size, in fact, it most likely will have to make a trade at some point to free up the logjam and address other needs. 

The Sixers aren’t faced with the same situation at other positions. They do not have a starting point guard on the books next season (Ish Smith is entering free agency) and they lack depth in both the backcourt and the perimeter. The Sixers could address those needs with their 24th or 26th picks. 

“I think this will be one of the first opportunities we have to think about fit,” vice president of basketball administration Brandon Williams said Wednesday following a pre-draft workout. “It’s always: You want talent. You don’t sacrifice great fit for poor talent. But considering all things being equal, we have an opportunity to balance our roster and we may be able to do that as we get to the 20s.” 

The Sixers' frontcourt already is stacked with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Carl Landry, Richaun Holmes, Jerami Grant (non-guaranteed contract), and the heavily-anticipated Joel Embiid, when he is cleared to play. Dario Saric, who Brett Brown has described as a “three-four” could join the Sixers next season from Europe. 

The depth thins out from there. Nik Stauskas is the only guard with a guaranteed contract. Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall have non-guaranteed deals for next season. The Sixers have a team option on Hollis Thompson, and Isaiah Canaan has a qualifying offer. 

“Right now I think it’s pretty clear that we have fantastic bigs, and so it’s not clear that we need anything there,” Williams said. “We’re focused mainly on the development of the guys that we have. It’s not misleading to say we’re lightest on the perimeter and at our guard spots. So those are some of the places that we’ll work to identify the best fit there.” 

Perimeter players and guards projected to be available at the 24th and 26th picks include St. Joe’s small forward DeAndre' Bembry, Washington combo guard Dejounte Murray and Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson. 

The results of medical evaluations could impact who is on the board at those spots. According to Basketball Insiders, Michigan State shooting guard Denzel Valentine (knee), Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis (hip) and Florida State shooting guard Malik Beasley (leg) could fall because of injuries. 

When it comes to fit, the Sixers are looking at how a player will mesh with their style of play. An ideal prospect for them would be a two-way player who can make an impact on both ends of the court. 

“We’ve started to establish a base that’s uptempo with a court that’s spread and open,” Williams said. “We want to take advantage of the freedom of movement. ... This is not as physical a game as it used to be. It’s a game where you can showcase and highlight athleticism.” 

Versatility is sought-after in today’s style of play. It is highlighted as the Cavaliers and Warriors battle for the NBA championship. As the Sixers rebuild, they would like to incorporate that into their roster. 

“Looking at the Finals, we need to be able to make shots but we have to be able to defend,” Williams said. “We need guys that are athletic and mobile, can chase shooting perimeter (players). We want athleticism because you have to be able to attack the rim and draw fouls. So we’re looking for those types of players. However their size and however their physical characteristics, players that have the ability to make those plays.” 

Of course there is the possibility the Sixers trade one or both of the late first-round picks. According to a source, the team has been considering packaging both 24 and 26 to move up in the round. They also could trade down to the second round — remember they don't have a second-round pick — move just one of the two selections, or draft an international player who will remain overseas next season. 

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