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April 21, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: What is the Sixers' worst possible NBA Draft scenario?

We haven’t done a Sixers mailbag in a while, so I figured it was time to get back on the horse and take some questions this Friday afternoon. How is that for a creative lede?

You kind of answered your own question by describing a Covington extension as “spending wisely.” And judging from Bryan Colangelo’s public comments last week, it does seem like the Sixers are interested in coming to an agreement with RoCo.

As for the first question (I reserve the right to change my mind after watching a little more film on these guys), I would go with Jackson even if the jumper scares me. As a freshman at Kansas, he shot 38 percent from three but just 57 percent from the line and 38 percent on two-point jumpers. And from watching him play, the form on his jumper can vary from shot to shot. Jackson is a good athlete and finisher at the rim, showed solid playmaking for a wing, and has the defensive versatility that could be fantastic paired up with Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and of course, Joel Embiid.

His off-court behavior is something the Sixers and all teams have to look into, also. But as long as that checks out, I would take Jackson ahead of Tatum with the hope that at least his catch-and-shoot jumper can be enough of a weapon in the NBA to allow the rest of his game to shine.

The second question is more interesting to me because Jackson and Tatum project as three-four type of players. I wondered yesterday why the Sixers would be targeting stretch-fours in free agency, and maybe that is exactly what Tatum becomes in the modern NBA. Should they draft one?

If Tatum is the best player on their board, yep. Especially at the top of the draft, you’re shooting for the best player as opposed to fit. And with the scarcity of good two-way wings in the NBA, any concerns would be trumped by simply wanting a player with Jackson and Tatum’s skill set on the Sixers.

So, the tl;dr answer to your question is probably, “Yes, but ultimately no.”

Who is Paul Millsap?

Kidding. Millsap is a very good player and would be an excellent fit next to Embiid as a power forward. But the “stretch” part of his game has taken a hit in recent years as his three-point shooting has declined every season from 2013-14, all the way down to 31 percent this season.

And he is also 32 years old. Millsap would no doubt make the Sixers a better team next season, but with max offers in the four-year, $153 million range and Ben Simmons/Dario Saric already on the roster, I’m not sure he’s the player they should be targeting.

This point was brought up a little bit yesterday, and it does make sense that other teams would guard Simmons with 3s. That way, the foot speed advantage for Ben is cut down and the opponent isn’t sacrificing much size. Brett Brown said last week that the Sixers will post Simmons against any traditional point guard.

Here is my counter: If the Sixers don’t want to cross-match, why not just play Robert Covington and Dario Saric at the 4 in what could be versatile, switch-heavy, largely positionless lineups? I still don’t quite see the need for heavy investment in the 4 position in free agency.

Worst case is 6 and 7*, which has a 0.8 percent chance of happening. Worst realistic case is 5 and 6, which has a 9.52 percent chance of happening. And when you look at those two scenarios, the worst cases aren’t all that bad, generally speaking.

* Probably should  have clarified that once we get to 6 and 7, I'm OK with rolling the dice for next year's Lakers pick.

As far as players, it’s hard to say. I don’t particularly like De’Aaron Fox’s fit for the Sixers, but there is a chance his jumper can improve to the point where his size and ludicrous speed overwhelms opposing defenses.

On the topic of stretch-fours, Lauri Markkanen’s weaknesses scare me and I would rather the Sixers take someone like Jonathan Isaac over him. But Markkanen is an elite shooter who is never going to get his shot blocked, which could be very appealing to a Sixers team that needs shooting if he can at least hold up defensively.

So, even in my worst-case scenario, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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