The Philadelphia 76ers dropped a full spot in the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, but thanks to a boneheaded trade by the Sacramento Kings, they still moved up into the top three, landing third with their ability to swap picks with the Kings. After drafting Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, they can now add another top player.
It’s not ideal. Landing Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball would have fit perfectly with their team. But the Celtics and Lakers are likely to take those two. Josh Jackson is widely regarded as the third-best prospect, but he comes with bigger question marks. His shooting numbers in college were good, but his mechanics are inconsistent. The Sixers are going to need shooting, and Jackson’s on-ball playmaking is a little suspect. The defensive ability is high, but the Sixers are going to need better offense.
However, there are still a lot of good players available, and Jackson is one of them. Jayson Tatum brings shooting and athleticism at the four spot.
But there are also more inventive options. If the Sixers were to trade down to a lower spot for a team that’s eager to get Jackson, they could acquire an asset and still be able to take a quality player. One of the issues with both the third pick and moving a few slots down is that the Sixers can’t take a guard who can’t shoot, which rules out De’Aaron Fox (24.6 percent from 3-point range). But moving back opens up the possibility of not only getting another asset, but taking Malik Monk or Jonathan Isaac.
If the Sixers get Joel Embiid back healthy, and Ben Simmons back healthy, and if they can find a trade partner for Jahlil Okafor and get any sort of return, and hit with this draft … they’re going to be good, not just now but in the future. Meanwhile, if Lonzo Ball doesn’t push the Lakers into the playoffs, they’ll have their own pick next year … and the Lakers’ unprotected first-round pick.
They still need a lot to go their way, They have to get those guys healthy, and they have to figure out how to grab the right players to fit next to a point forward who struggles to shoot and Embiid’s specific talents. But the Sixers are going to have so many top-five talents, as long as some of them pan out, they’re going to be a relevant NBA team. The days of the Sixers being a joke are over — if they can get healthy.
And if not?
Still more picks to come.