June 05, 2017
There are less than three weeks left until the Sixers are on the clock with the third-overall pick, and that means we need something to kill time during the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between now and the draft, Rich Hofmann and I will examine a different potential scenario for the Sixers. Some days, there will be trades. Other days, the Sixers may remain at three, but the players left on the board could be different due to another trade or a surprise pick.
And since there are only two teams ahead of them, we should be able to get through a good amount of the most likely possibilities before June 22.
After we've outlined the scenario and offered our thoughts on the likelihood it actually happens and whether or not it should happen, we'll ask you for your thoughts on it. We also encourage you to elaborate in the comments section. When it gets closer to the draft, we'll put the results together in a single post to show you which outcome fans are most hopeful to see play out.
Here's a look back at the scenarios we've already covered:
What if Josh Jackson isn't atop their board? | What if Lakers pass on Ball?
Third pick and more for Klay Thompson | Shipping Dario to Boston for top pick?
An initial offer to move up to No. 1 | Selling 3rd pick back to Kings ... with interest
Let's get right into it:
76ERS RECEIVE: No. 4 pick in 2017, PG Eric Bledsoe
SUNS RECEIVE: No. 3 pick in 2017, PF/C Richaun Holmes
The Phoenix Suns were really, really bad in 2016-17, but Eric Bledsoe quietly continued to be a productive point guard. Devin Booker’s 70-point night rightfully got most of the headlines, but Bledsoe averaged 21, 6, and 5 on solid efficiency.
But when you look at Phoenix’s roster, the potential core pieces (Booker, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis) are all at least six years younger than Bledsoe. With a reasonable two years and $29.5 million left on his contract, would Phoenix consider moving on from Bledsoe if they can move up a spot in the draft and nab a promising frontcourt piece in Holmes? If they covet someone like Josh Jackson, I guess it’s possible.
Should the Sixers have interest in pairing the ball-dominant Bledsoe with Ben Simmons? As a below average but capable enough three-point shooter, he would come to Philly on a very reasonable deal and provide the Sixers with a point guard option. The other nice thing about this move is that moving down only one spot won’t involve as much guesswork.
If the Sixers are zeroing in on someone like Malik Monk, Jonathan Isaac, or even Dennis Smith Jr., I could see them having interest in acquiring Bledsoe to complement their young core. This theoretical trade would also depend on if Phoenix would be willing to part with Bledsoe to ensure they get their guy, whoever that may be, at the third pick.
Trading back may be something more suited for the long view of The Process. So for a rebuilding team like the Sixers who seem ready to begin winning some games after several seasons of mounting losses, it would seem like a step in the wrong direction. But, not so fast...
By making this trade, the Sixers would be getting a solid point guard that could lessen the load on projected point guard (or, at least, primary ball handler) Ben Simmons as he adjusts to the NBA game after just one year of college ball followed by a season spent on the bench recovering from foot surgery. The Simmons-at-the-point experiment is hardly a slam dunk at this point, and given that a number of the other options available to the Sixers are guards, there was a good chance that they were going to select one anyway.
We don't know who the Suns would be targeting with the third pick, but let's assume that it's someone other than Josh Jackson for just a minute. Rich already outlined why this deal makes sense if the Sixers are targeting someone other than Jackson, but the Suns really want him. I'm going to take it the other way. What if Jackson isn't the guy the Suns want to trade up to draft, leaving him still on the board for the Sixers with the fourth pick?
In other words, what if I told you there was a way the Sixers could add a guard who would immediately contribute ... and still get Jackson?
One of the reasons some people aren't sold on Jackson being the pick for the Sixers at three (if Markell Fultz and Lonzo Ball go 1-2) is because he doesn't fit an immediate need for them. But if the Suns want to trade up to ensure they get their guy (who is not named Jackson), and in the process give the Sixers a guard to help fill a need Jackson won't, Bryan Colangelo could then confidently take Jackson with the fourth pick, knowing that he has a stop-gap in Bledsoe to hold down the position until the Sixers find a long-term solution, whether that's in a trade, future free agency or in a future draft.
After all, they still have two first-round picks each of the next two drafts.
So this is a trade back that, because of the veteran player involved, would immediately make the Sixers better. And it would still allow them to grab one of the "six or seven players" Colangelo said they could target with their first pick. I'd definitely do this deal. And I'd still do if I knew the Suns planned on taking Jackson third.
The problem is, like many of our previous draft scenarios, this depends on how badly the Suns want that third pick. But if they don't view Bledsoe as part of their long-term future, parting ways with him might not be as big a price as it originally seems.
And don't forget to leave your feedback in the comments section below.
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