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March 07, 2017

2017 NBA Draft: Sixers mock draft roundup, version 2.0

Last month, when Nerlens Noel was still in town and everyone thought Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons could still play this season, we debuted our Sixers mock draft roundup. Much has changed since then (for instance, the sky is falling), and for Sixers fans, it might be time to start looking ahead to the 2017 NBA Draft.

With the Sacramento Kings losers of five straight, the Sixers have a real shot at securing the fifth and sixth-most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. That would give them 50.6 percent odds at a Top-3 pick and 15.1 percent odds at No. 1 overall. No need to look so confused, Doc:

The drill is the same as last time. We link to the mock drafts and then I offer some analysis. Five of the six mocks have the Sixers choosing one of two players, Kentucky’s Malik Monk or North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr.

Sports Illustrated: Malik Monk (5th)

Some people watch Malik Monk and see Lou Williams 2.0, others see Steph Curry. Even if he's in the middle of that spectrum, that's an All-Star. He can shoot out to 25 feet while spotting up, and he's just as deadly off the dribble, a skill that's even rarer. In general, his offensive game is shockingly refined for someone who's 19 years old—look at this jumpstop through traffic. Meanwhile: if the Sixers are committed to Embiid and Simmons, the frontcourt is already set. If they see Saric as the small forward of the future, that probably eliminates some of the giant wings, as well. So let's give them Monk. His shooting would be perfect next to Simmons, and he can play either guard spot.

Bleacher Report: Malik Monk (5th)

Malik Monk's scoring and microwave shooting should be too enticing for the Philadelphia 76ers to pass up. He just went off again, this time against Florida on Saturday, when he poured in a ridiculous 30 second-half points and carried Kentucky to a win.

Monk has a captivating ability to take over stretches with high-level shot-making. It's something the Sixers could certainly use, seeing how neither of their current starting guards—T.J. McConnell and Gerald Henderson—average more than 10 points per game.

ESPN: Malik Monk (4th)

Falling to No. 4, paired with the Lakers moving up to No. 3, is a bit of a worst-case scenario for the Sixers when it comes to the draft lottery. But this draft is so loaded, it won't stop them from landing another major building block. (Sacramento's potential to slide without DeMarcus Cousins also helps Philly's lottery odds).

Monk makes a lot of sense for the Sixers. Ben Simmons can play the point, so what they need is a dynamic scorer and shooter to pair with him. Monk is the most electric scorer to come into the draft in some time. He can be streaky, but when he gets going he's difficult to stop. He should be able to instantly transform the Sixers' offense.

Rich’s Take: All of these mock drafters are playing up the fit with Monk and the Sixers, especially Simmons. I still need to watch more of the rest of Monk’s game to truly make an educated guess on how he translates to the NBA, but the list of recent college players who could catch fire at his level is short. This may be a bit of a hot take, but I feel like Monk is going to end up somewhere between Steph Curry and Jimmer Fredette. Embrace debate!

ESPN’s Chad Ford and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, both projected the Sixers take Monk ahead of Smith. Speak of the devil…

Draft Express: Dennis Smith Jr. (5th) Dennis Smith Jr. (5th)

Rich’s Take: NC State has had a pretty disastrous season, as head coach Mark Gottfried is going to get fired. Still, Smith put up some impressive numbers en route to winning ACC Freshman of the Year. Smith is an incredible athlete, and while the fit with Simmons seems a bit trickier on paper than an off-ball assassin like Monk, he is shooting a respectable 37 from deep and 72 percent from the line.

If Smith and Monk are both available at 5 and that is where the Sixers end up picking in the draft, it will be interesting to see who they go with. Heck, maybe they pass on both and draft someone like Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac or Duke’s Jayson Tatum.

CBS Sports: Lonzo Ball (5th)

Imagine, just imagine, what Ball’s ability to put the ball exactly where it needs to be will do to solve Joel Embiid’s turnover rate, the biggest flaw in his game. The Sixers as a whole suffer from this problem, with a turnover percentage of 15, just ahead of Brooklyn for 29th worst in the league. Ball will have ample space to shoot his unconventional but effective jumper, but it is his passing that could turn the 76ers into contenders, assuming at least some good health.

Rich’s Take: I wrote about Ball’s potential fit with the Sixers last month when he took on Markelle Fultz. I wouldn’t mind if his father shut up for, like, a day. If Lonzo falls all the way down to this spot in the draft, the Sixers would have to think hard about taking him.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann