Speedy freshmen guards go to Sixers in recent mock drafts


As always, more mock drafts have poured in since our initial roundup. 

With the Sixers holding the 23rd pick in the June 23 NBA draft, here’s a look at the latest: 

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated 

Tari Eason, LSU 

Woo: “… Considering Daryl Morey’s historical distaste for using draft picks, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Philly try (to) flip this one. That said, Eason would be a pretty interesting option here, considering his analytics-friendly production and his potential fit as a big, rangy defender. Eason is a bit of a work in progress despite already being 21, and he’s an acquired taste amongst teams, but this could be a sensible landing spot. Eason’s basketball IQ is a bit suspect, and he’s foul-prone and an average shooter, but if he can iron those things out he should be able to help a team.”

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports 

Tari Eason, LSU 

Parrish: “Eason was a breakout star at LSU after transferring following a so-so first season at Cincinnati. He's a versatile frontcourt option who can guard multiple positions and punish defenses in transition opportunities.”

Morey last year pointed to having “three guys in their 20s in their prime” as a key reason he didn't deal away the Sixers’ first-round picks in 2020 and 2021. The complexion of the team has considerably changed since. The four top players on the current roster are Tyrese Maxey (21 years old), Joel Embiid (28), Tobias Harris (29) and James Harden (32). A prospect’s ability to contribute right away would surely be appealing. For Eason, the optimistic projection is that he’s capable of being an impactful NBA rookie and will improve offensively with skill development work like lefty ball handling and tweaking his jumper. His fantastic off-the-bench production as a sophomore (16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game) makes it a bit easier to buy that idea. 

Krysten Peek, Yahoo Sports 

Jalen Williams, Santa Clara 

Peek: “Williams was the best player on the court in both days of the draft combine scrimmages. He got to the basket with ease, shot the ball well and had some of the best finishes in transition. Defensively, he fought through screens to keep his man in front and was effective in help-side defense, shooting the gap for steals and tips. Last year, Josh Primo (No. 12 pick, Spurs) and Bones Hyland (No. 26, Nuggets) were the biggest surprises of the first round, and Williams could be that guy this year.”

Williams’ stock seems to be climbing fast, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a playoff team before the Sixers like the Bulls or Nuggets grab him. If that doesn’t happen, he’d undoubtedly be a logical pick for the Sixers.

Bryan Kalbrosky, USA Today’s For The Win

Blake Wesley, Notre Dame 

Kalbrosky: “… These guys aren’t the same player, so bear with me for a second, but I think drafting Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley would be a similar type of pick (to Tyrese Maxey). Much like it was with Maxey, this would be a gamble on Wesley’s development once in their system. If it works out, like it did with Maxey, it would be outstanding for Philadelphia. Wesley, who only recently turned 19 years old, still needs to improve his efficiency. But his abilities as a shot creator at the rim and on the perimeter make him an enticing project.”

Wesley actually told Andy Katz (via NBA.com) that he studies Maxey’s game, so he’s on board with the comparison. His three-point percentage was close to Maxey’s in one college season (30.3) and he only made 65.7 percent of his foul shots. Like with Maxey, Wesley’s pure speed would grow more menacing if his long-distance shooting gets better. It’s worth keeping in mind that shooting leaps as vast as Maxey’s aren’t common.

Jonathan Givony, ESPN 

Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee (Best fit)

Nikola Jovic, Mega Mozzart (Best available) 

Givony: “With James Harden turning 33 in August and on the downside of his career from a physical standpoint, adding another talented ball handler to the backcourt will likely be a major priority for the Sixers, if only to protect Harden's health and ensure he's at his best entering the playoffs. After a rocky start, Chandler emerged as one of the premier college point guards in the second half of last season, showing blazing speed, dynamic ballhandling and passing ability, and an increasingly consistent pull-up jumper. His measurements (6-1, 172 pounds with a 6-5¼ wingspan) are what might keep him out of the lottery position his talent suggests, but didn't prevent him from playing outstanding defense and leading the SEC in steals. The fact that he proved capable of playing off the ball in two- and three-guard lineups should be attractive as well.

“If the Sixers prefer to swing for the fences for upside, a prospect like the 18-year-old Serbian Jovic could be an interesting gamble. Standing 6-11, Jovic is a seamless fit in the modern NBA as a combo forward who can shoot, handle and pass. While he saw most of his minutes at small forward last season, his 9-foot standing reach suggests he could slide up to the center position as his frame fills out, making him an interesting pairing with a skilled big man such as Joel Embiid."

Would the Sixers go with back-to-back Tennessee freshmen in Jaden Springer and Chandler?  The 19-year-old Chandler posted 1.28 points per catch-and-shoot jumper, according to NBA.com (89th percentile), which supports the notion that he could be effective alongside guards like Harden and Maxey. More speed and turnover creation also wouldn’t hurt for the Sixers, though it’s valid to question whether Chandler’s lack of size will limit his capacity to cope on defensive switches and ultimately be a playoff regular. 

In Woo’s mock draft, he has Jovic going 20th to the Spurs and writes, “The sense I’ve gotten is that Jovic is hoping to come over to the NBA next season, so this won’t necessarily be a stash pick.” Morey has made one stash selection with the Sixers so far in big man Filip Petrušev, a second-round pick last year. Jovic would be a bold one. He turned 19 years old in the few days since Givony's mock draft, but we'd still call that quite young.

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