June 16, 2017
The NBA mock drafts are rolling in, and the Sixers are prominently involved in all of them. Here is who the NBA Draft experts are projecting that Bryan Colangelo and the Sixers front office decide to take with the third-overall pick:
With Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball off the board, we're subscribing to the best player available theory. Outside of Fultz I think there's a case to be made for Jackson being the most well-rounded player in this draft class. He passes the ball extremely well for a wing, can attack the rim off the dribble and should be able to defend multiple positions at the next level. There are some concerns with his jumper, but it looked smoother as his freshman season at Kansas went along, and I expect him to become at least an average shooter in the NBA.
With the commitment to letting Ben Simmons run the offense, the question of how to fill out the nominal guard spots is crucial. Do they want Jackson’s defensive versatility and ability to play multiple offensive roles, or would they rather have a more traditional point guard in De’Aaron Fox?
The Sixers still have several workouts to gauge the best fit, so it's premature to put a solid favorite here. Based on the sheer level of admiration for a particular player, it's between Fox and Jackson. I'm giving Jackson the edge right now, but it's a slight edge.
Jackson has now worked out in front of Lakers officials twice - meaning Los Angeles is at least seriously considering selecting him. So he could be off the board by the time Philadelphia picks. But if he isn't, I'll be surprised if the Sixers pass on the 6-8 wing who was tremendous in his one season at KU while averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Jackson projects as a high-level contributor on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. In fact, he's probably the best defensive wing in this draft.
#RichsTake: The mock drafts have spoken! The overwhelming majority of mocks are predicting that the Sixers are going to take Josh Jackson with the third pick. I’m a little surprised the consensus is that strong considering all of the intriguing options at that point in the draft, but hey, it’s what I would do, too.
If Lonzo Ball fell to No. 3, the Philadelphia 76ers would seem likely to catch him. Arguably the top player on the board, he'd also fit with this current roster that needs guards and shooters.
We also just saw him lift a UCLA program from lousy back to powerhouse level. The 76ers finished last in the league in offensive efficiency, and Ball, with his basketball IQ and passing, is a one-man offense enhancer. With Ben Simmons and Ball, the 76ers should suddenly start seeing a lot more open looks. If the Lakers do take Ball, Josh Jackson would seem like the most likely option for the Sixers, assuming no quality trade opportunities surface.
#RichsTake: Despite all of the rumors and rumblings coming out of Los Angeles about the Lakers taking someone other than Lonzo Ball with the second pick, this was the only mock draft I saw that had the Lakers actually picking Jackson.
There is a definite connection between the Sixers and Duke, with the Colangelo's and Coach K having worked closely together with USA Basketball. Obviously that is probably a small factor with who the Sixers decide to select, but could factor in. Tatum would work well with Simmons and Embiid considering his strengths as a mid range shooter. The Sixers could also look at a point guard, as the Simmons at PG idea is both unproven and optimistic. LeBron ended up being more of a facilitator from the wing, and that's probably what ends up happening with Simmons.
#RichsTake: This is a pretty bold mock draft, with the Celtics taking Jackson first and the Sixers passing on Ball to draft Tatum. I’m not quite as down on Tatum as most Sixers fans, but I hope that the fact he went to Duke would have precisely no effect on them drafting him at No. 3.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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