More Sports:

June 23, 2021

Sixers mock draft roundup: Can Philly find another late-round gem in 2021?

The agony of defeat is still hanging over the Sixers this week, but that doesn't mean you need to dwell on sadness along with them. Hope springs eternal when it comes to the NBA Draft, and a new wave of mocks might be able to pull you away from the Ben & Jerry's depression pint long enough to believe in your hometown team again.

Despite not picking from a premium spot last season, the Sixers ended up coming away with a gem in Tyrese Maxey, and their work didn't stop there, with Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed each showing flashes during their respective rookie campaigns. Figuring out team needs is a bit tough for Philadelphia right now — at least until they figure out if they're making a major trade or not — and the consequence of that is a set of boards that are all over the map for Philly.

But that's what makes this fun. Post-lottery, here's what the first wave of mocks look like from a Sixers perspective.

The prospect: Miles McBride, G, West Virginia

The drafter: Sam Vecenie, The Athletic

Here's what Vecenie has to say about Mr. McBride:

McBride is one of my favorites in this class. He’s lightning-quick laterally and is elite at the point of attack defensively. His game is all about pressure. He attacks the opposing ballhandler, then attacks when he has the ball on offense. When West Virginia switched to more of a four-out offense in the second half of the year, McBride thrived and looked like a potential high-level backup. He could become a starter if his jumper off the bounce continues to come along.

Adding another small guard to a team that is already trying to bring Tyrese Maxey along may be tough, but McBride definitely has the profile of a guy you'd bet on to keep improving at the next level. The 20-year-old guard was second-team Big 12 and an honorable mention All American last season and made a huge shooting leap between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, knocking down over 41 percent of his makes in 2020-21 after hitting just 30 percent the previous year. That can be a red flag when projecting out to the next level, given the small sample size of a college season, but McBride has good free-throw numbers and other positive traits to fall back on if the shot is questionable.

Given the state of Philadelphia's bench, they could do worse than a player who can defend the point of attack and knock down threes, assuming the jumper holds up in the pros.

The prospect: Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia

The drafter: Ricky O'Donnell, SB Nation

Here's what O'Donnell has to say about Prkacin:

Prkačin is a 6’9 forward with shooting potential (35 percent from deep on 160 attempts) and creativity as a ball handler in the open court. Prkačin doesn’t turn 19 years old until late November, which makes him the youngest player in this draft class. With a solid all-around skill set, good size, and impressive production playing against grown men in the Adriatic League at such a young age, Prkačin is an ideal draft-and-stash candidate at some point in the late first or early second round.
I won't sit here and pretend I had the Adriatic League on a second screen during weeknights this season, but even a cursory look at Prkacin reveals a lot to like. Playing against loaded Team USA youth teams in international competition, Prkacin has shown good feel and the ability to hang in games involving a lot of the top prospects in this year's class. Combine that with overseas production and you're on to something.

Though the Sixers need immediate bench help, getting that from a late-first rookie is anything but a sure bet, and there's a strong case to be made that draft-and-stash could be their best hope to land a gem at No. 28. If they can absorb the risk of waiting on their guy to come over, they might end up getting a player who outperforms his draft slot, something they'll need to happen on a consistent basis in order to keep improving around an expensive core.

The prospect: Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State

The drafter: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report

Christopher is almost certainly the biggest "name" prospect connected to the Sixers in mock drafts so far. A potential lottery candidate heading into the season, Christopher had an uneven year for the Sun Devils and finds himself on the fringe of the first round, a guy evaluators can't seem to come to a consensus on.

There's good reason for that: Christopher played in just 15 games during his lone season at ASU, shot poorly when he was on the floor, and doesn't really look to create for others. He's a black hole whose offense comes primarily inside the arc, which is a tough way to make a living unless you're a big (Christopher is 6'5") or an elite athlete (Christopher isn't). I know, I'm really selling you guys hard on this pick.

That said, Christopher has enough tricks in his bag to potentially be a useful scorer at the next level. While his willingness to take pull-up jumpers currently outstrips his ability there, his ability to create and exploit separation is good for a teenager, and he has the foundation of an effective runner/floater package to score over length at the next level. Christopher also has the tools to be a good defender, with plus traits in the speed and length departments and sharper awareness than he shows on the offensive end of the floor. If you assume you can improve his decision-making and turn him into a consistent shooter — 80 percent from the free-throw line lends hope there — there are worse gambles to take in the back of the first round.

The prospect: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova

The drafter: Kevin O'Connor, The Ringer

Here's what O'Connor has to say on Robinson-Earl:

What will the Sixers do with Ben Simmons? That’s the question on everyone’s mind. We might know by draft night. Regardless of what they choose to do about Simmons, the Sixers would benefit from adding more wing defenders who can fill multiple roles. Robinson-Earl can space the floor or roll to the rim when sharing the floor with Joel Embiid, and he also has potential to fill a small-ball role in lineups without him. Robinson-Earl may not have major potential, but steady role players are critical for teams with championship aspirations.

The Sixers being connected to a 'Nova guy is nothing new, though I think you could argue JRE is among the worst fits for the Sixers of guys who have come from Jay Wright's program in recent years. I'm not sure Robinson-Earl is as versatile as some believe — he may be closer to a true four and didn't shoot particularly well in college, and that would complicate things in Philly. Tobias Harris should be (and did) play all his minutes there last season, and we may finally be reaching a point where Simmons is pushed into more of a forward's role in the future. The developmental reps may not be there for Robinson-Earl depending on how things shake out at the top of the roster. 

That's not to say he's a bad player or prospect, and as O'Connor notes, JRE does enough things well that you can stick him alongside different players and lineups and still expect him to help out. In a world where one (or even both) of Simmons or Harris are moved, I think there's more room for the 'Nova product to step into a role here.

The prospect: Trey Murphy, F, Virginia

The drafter: Gary Parrish, CBS

Here's what Parrish had to say about Murphy:

Trey Murphy had no problem adjusting to the ACC after spending his first two years of college at Rice. He's proven over the span of three seasons to be a consistent high-level shooter, one who could be a floor-spacer for a Philadelphia franchise that still needs more 3-point threats.
Murphy shot the hell out of the ball at the college level, and when a guy shoots 40+ percent from three at his size (listed at 6'9"), a lot of people are going to take notice. Across three years of college ball, Murphy shot over 40 percent from three on 5.5 attempts per game, combined with excellent free-throw numbers that suggest the shot will translate. On the other end, Murphy has the tools to be a good team defender, light on his feet and switchable, which makes him the sort of three-and-D prospect every team is looking to fill their roster with these days.

I'm not sure the Sixers need pure shooters as much as they need shot creation, something everyone found out the hard way as they collapsed in the second round against Atlanta. But Murphy would be a great get for them this deep in the first round, a guy who could contribute right away and still add some extra elements to his game in the years to come.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Subscribe to Kyle's Sixers podcast "The New Slant" on Apple, Google, and Spotify