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July 22, 2021

Sixers mock draft roundup: What experts are saying a week before the draft

With exactly one week to go before the 2021 NBA Draft, there have been few concrete rumors concerning the Sixers' selection at No. 28. It's a nice change of pace compared to the telegraphed draft promises they made prior to Daryl Morey's hiring, and it's a reflection of the bigger trade talks Philadelphia is involved in at the moment. 

But right up until Philadelphia trades the pick, No. 28 is something we have to factor into their plans. While there isn't a consensus or anything close to it from the various experts out there, the names connected to Philadelphia should be recognizable at this point. Let's see who a panel of experts believe will go to Philly late in the first round.

(One quick note before we get started — it is absolutely wild to me that the crew at ESPN, formerly of DraftExpress, have not turned in a mock update in over three weeks. DX used to be the king of shifting boards throughout the pre-draft process, I feel like the public is getting a raw deal here.)

Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois

Mocker: Sam Vecenie, The Athletic

Here's Vecenie on Dosunmu, an ultra-productive player for Illinois:

Dosunmu was one of the best players in college basketball this past season, posting 20 points, six rebounds and five assists while leading Illinois to a terrific season. Simply put, he’s pro-ready and should be able to make an impact early due to his athleticism, vision, defensive ability, length and poise. Having said that, I can tell you there are scouts who are not enamored with him because of his jumper. He hit 39 percent this past season on under 100 attempts, and over the course of his career, he’s hit 34.5 percent of his 300-plus 3-point attempts. It’s a bit of a wonky shot mechanically that scouts worry about in terms of consistency. Teams also aren’t sure if he’s a lead guard or an off-guard from a vision and playmaking perspective. But he’s also considered a leader and a high-character guy, so there is some faith he’ll keep improving. [The Athletic]

Dosunmu was one of college basketball's best and most productive players in his junior season, basically averaging 20-6-5 for the Illini, and his 39 percent mark from deep during his junior season was an encouraging step forward. He faces two big questions making the leap to the next level — is that shot trustworthy enough, and does he have the playmaking chops to be a lead guard at the next level? The latter question is not something the Sixers really need to be concerned about at pick No. 28, where they'd be able to celebrate getting a player with his all-around ability and high character as the foundation for (at the least) a solid role player. He's long, intelligent, and composed on both ends, and for a franchise looking to continue improving their culture, he'd be an excellent fit.

The jumper is another story, with Dosunmu a below-average shooter on middling volume over the full duration of his college career. Anyone drafting him has to decide if the progress he showed last season was real, and whether that progress combined with the aforementioned character/work ethic is enough to take the long-term bet on him. The mechanics questions Vecenie brings up aside, there's less room for uncertainty in an offense where he'd spend a lot of time playing off of an Embiid post-up or waiting for catch-and-shoot opportunities generally. That's particularly true if they decide to hold onto Ben Simmons. Dosunmu is far beyond Simmons as a shooter, but a late first-round pick won't be the organizational priority as long as Simmons is here, so it would be hard to develop him in the current environment.

Vecenie has that exact debate factored into his outlook, noting the Sixers are "likely to move" Simmons this offseason. That would open a clearer path for Dosunmu as a contributor, fewer questions to answer from a roster-building standpoint, and an opportunity to draft a guy who might outperform his draft slot. Ultimately, he's going to be one of the best prospects on the board if he's still there, and he's a worthy candidate. 

Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland, G, VCU

Mocker: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report

Wasserman didn't address Hyland specifically in this update, so let's revisit what he had to say about him in the past:

Scouts expect Hyland to wind up in the first round after his NBA combine scrimmage helped validate his tape and reputation from VCU. One team in the 20s should buy/value his ability to create his own shot, shoot with range and score in bunches. [Bleacher Report]

We've discussed Hyland multiple times over the last few weeks, and his combine scrimmage performances only seemed to drive home what the tape showed as he tore up the A-10. Hyland's combine was important from another perspective: Hyland measured in with a huge wingspan (6'9.25") for a player his size (6'2") that provided a bit of comfort when projecting his ability to defend at the next level. There's a strong case he had the best draft combine of anybody in attendance in Chicago when you combine the strong performance with the positive physical testing.

As for what he brings to the floor as a player, he's a confident shooter from deep range off-the-dribble and off-the-catch, offering a bit more upside than some of the other candidates this deep in the draft. We didn't get to see him play in the NCAA Tournament as a result of COVID issues shutting things down for VCU, but the tape says he is a bucket getter. Hyland's efficiency dropped a bit from deep as he transformed into a high-volume outside shooter in his sophomore season, but his overall scoring efficiency improved and he more than quadrupled his free-throw volume compared to his freshman year, positive signs for an offense-first prospect.

He is not without concerns. Hyland played a ball-dominant style of basketball at VCU and it doesn't appear to be something that will just disappear in a new situation, as it's directly connected to his confidence as a scorer. His negative assist-to-turnover ratio is something that isn't surprising when you watch him play, with Hyland forcing up plenty of tough/bad shots rather than searching for the open man. And there are still tools questions even with the wingspan measurement coming in to help out — he lacks the strength to consistently play through contact, and his defensive instincts neutralize some of the gifts he does have, resulting in a lot of blow-bys. You have to be content with a guy who may only be here to get buckets, especially in the short-term, in order to take Hyland at No. 28. 

Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland, G, VCU

Mocker: Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports

This is, at least to my knowledge, one of the first repeats we've seen in the pre-draft process. Let's kick it over to Ward-Henninger's spin on the situation:

Nah’Shon Hyland is a pure scorer who started rising up draft boards following an excellent combine performance. He’s extremely confident, with tremendous range off the dribble, and has shown the ability to hit clutch shots. His offensive game, particularly his playmaking, needs some fine tuning, but he has the ability to provide bench scoring right away for the 76ers while also possessing potential for the future. [CBS Sports]

The Sixers, as we noted earlier this week, need dudes who can score. Hyland certainly qualifies. 

Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

Mocker: Kevin O'Connor, The Ringer

Here's what O'Connor has to say on Jackson as a prospect:

Strengths: Incredible athlete who explodes off the floor and has the fluidity to cover a lot of ground and defend on the perimeter. Excellent rim-protecting potential if his fundamentals improve since he’s such an eager and instinctual shot blocker. He can swat away shots using either hand. Intuitive offensive rebounder who forces defenses to be aware at all times or he’ll take advantage.

Weaknesses: Lacks the necessary size and strength at this stage of his physical development. He’ll need to add a ton of weight without hindering his mobility. Undisciplined defense. He often falls into foul trouble or out of position entirely when on the ball, biting on pump fakes or attempting to block shots when he should stay down and box out. Defensive fundamentals are also lacking: prone to be attacked off the dribble due to his poor stance. Sometimes he makes up for it with his athleticism, but doing that in the NBA will be a whole different challenge. Back-to-the basket scoring: Even when he seals off defenders inside, he lacks fluidity when turning around and putting the ball up. [The Ringer]

Jackson is a guy I nearly wrote about for our draft needs series earlier this week but scrapped thinking he wouldn't make it into the late 20s. O'Connor is often far removed from consensus with his boards — and I mean that in a good way, he isn't necessarily swayed based on what others think about a player — so that gives us an opportunity to talk about the Kentucky product here.

The rose-tinted view on Jackson is that his mistakes/weaknesses are largely flaws that haunt most young big men, and many of them leave these mistakes in the past. Toolsy big guys who chase too hard after blocked shots are the rule, rather than the exception, and Jackson certainly has a high floor to start from athletically. Combine those tools with the energy he plays with and Jackson is a guy who can be a force on the offensive glass, a lob target in transition in addition to the pick-and-roll, and a great partner for some of the young guards they're trying to bring along, primarily Tyrese Maxey.

On the other hand, a developmental big whose feel has to be worked through is a tough sell for a team that has long had a backup center problem. He's also further away than some of his peers are from becoming a reliable jumpshooter — he took just two threes all season at Kentucky, and while players have been known to emerge from UK with skills they never had a chance to show in-game (glares at Devin Booker), you'd likely be running into the same second-unit spacing issues with Ben Simmons that you did when he played next to Dwight Howard, at least initially.

If he's the best prospect there, I think Jackson is a defensible pick, but it's not the cleanest fit in the world.

Tre Mann, G, Florida

Mocker: Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated

Here's what Woo had to say about Mann:

Daryl Morey has never been particularly attached to his draft picks, and history suggests the Sixers will entertain offers for this pick, making it an interesting spot for a team to grab a player who unexpectedly slips to the back of the first round. Considering the large glut of guards pencilled in all over this part of the draft, it’s inevitable that a few of them will fall. While Mann has a bit of a wide range at this point in time, he’s a first-round type talent with a quality jumper and nice size for his position. The knock on him is that he’s a bit one-dimensional, as he’s more scorer than setup man, doesn’t play a physical style and isn’t known for being a committed defender, fancying himself as a perimeter creator and most comfortable with the ball in his hands. But Mann does have unique ability to create space off the dribble and score, and he remains a good bet to come off the board in the 20-30 range. [SI]

A former McDonald's All-American who disappointed during his freshman season, Mann came on strong as a sophomore, taking a big leap as a shooter that helped open up the floor for everything else he has in the toolkit. Guys with plus handles who can hit from three and kill you with the in-between game (he's got a nice floater package) don't exactly grow on trees. In March, it looked like a stretch to expect him to fall to Philly's draft range, with Mann playing dynamite basketball down the stretch for Florida, including a 30-piece in Florida's matchup with a talented Tennessee team in the SEC tournament.

One reason for (potential) concern beyond what Woo mentioned regarding his all-around game: his size. There were rumors Mann had grown several inches during his time at Florida, creating hope for his versatility at the next level, but those were shot down at the combine when he measured in at 6'3.25" (without shoes). His wingspan is less than an inch larger than that, which will add to the uncertainty about his upside. Can a limited defender and playmaker provide enough value as a scorer to offset that?

Maybe somewhere, though I'm skeptical that's in Philly, where the head coach has already expressed dismay over his team's lack of size on the bench.

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