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May 17, 2017

With Josh Jackson, Sixers could choose between drafting best player vs. fit

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Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is now faced with the same question that his predecessor dealt with, albeit at a different stage of the rebuild: best player available or drafting with fit in mind.

The way that the ping-pong balls bounced, the Sixers could very well see the top two projected players, who both happen to fill a need on the roster, off the board by the time their draft pick rolls around. That would be lead guards Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz, if you’re keeping score at home.

And as I wrote last night, the best player available might be swingman Josh Jackson, whose jump shot is major question mark.

So again, BPA or fit?

“There’s been a lot of discussion about that,” Colangelo said on Wednesday at the Sixers practice facility. “We’re in a situation in where, again because of those knowns with the roster and our team, probably affords you more of an opportunity to talk about fit. But being in the third spot here in this draft, we can probably talk about a scenario where we can address both, the best talent and the best fit for the organization.

“So, we’re going to look at everything as we make a decision but both things will be strongly considered.”

The Sixers have been consistent with this message (progress!). Now that Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and others are in the fold, they will look more at how prospects complement those players. But at the third pick, it also feels irresponsible to pass on the prospect that the team believes has the best chance of becoming an All-Star level player.

Maybe it was just my fondness for Game Show Network as a kid, but Jackson’s shooting might be considered a “whammy” for the Sixers. Essentially, no matter how good he is at all of the other stuff, the questionable jumper could overshadow it.

But again, Jackson doesn’t really have another weakness. So, is the shooting going to project more like Kawhi Leonard or Justise Winslow? If it’s the former, Jackson is an excellent fit with any team, including the Sixers.

We know Colangelo values shooting next to a playmaker like Ben Simmons because he told us just that a month ago.

“You want to have guys that are on the floor that can shoot,” he said. “Catch-and-shoot, catch, fake, drive, drive-and-kick, all the things that are so important; pump-fake, step-side shot – it would be great to have more shooters on this team.”

Zeroing in on Jackson might be getting ahead of ourselves. There are other players who the Sixers might have rated higher on their draft board that fit better. Maybe the Sixers will use the pre-draft process to try to balance out the two ideas. Maybe the Sixers are already comfortable with Jackson’s shooting.

“Versatility, size, skill, and character are the things that we’re aiming for,” Colangelo said.

Versatility, size, and skill sound a lot like Josh Jackson. Well, except for that one skill, the one the Sixers desperately need.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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