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June 27, 2024

NBA Draft grades roundup: Was Jared McCain over Dalton Knecht the right pick?

How do experts feel about the Sixers' first-round draft choice on Wednesday night?

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McCain 6.27.24 Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

What do the experts think of the Sixers' selection of Duke guard Jared McCain at No. 16 overall on Wednesday night?

The Sixers selected Jared McCain with the No. 16 overall pick, making a bet on his outstanding shooting stroke and what Sixers President Basketball of Operations called a "very steep improvement curve" in his young basketball life.

McCain landing in this slot was one of the most popular projections across the entire draft board for weeks -- if not months -- and, unlike in most instances, the Sixers did exactly what the masses expected them to do.

Now that the round one dust has settled and the second round is hours away from beginning, let's take a look at what a host of experts say about the Sixers' use of their highest draft choice since 2018. 

Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report: B-

One of the stories of round one was the surprising slide of Tennessee wing Dalton Knecht, a dominant and well-rounded scorer who was expected to be picked in the first half of the lottery despite already being 23 years old. Knecht just kept on falling, and suddenly the Sixers had the opportunity to take a player they likely did not expect to be available to them. Instead, they stuck with McCain, who Morey claimed was in the top 10 on the team's big board.

Buckley believes Knecht would have been a safer choice:

"In a vacuum, this is a fun pick for the 76ers. They could use shooting and creation around Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid, and McCain definitely provides the former and could supply some of the latter.

But if Philly wanted a net-shredder, why not go with the plug-and-play Dalton Knecht here instead? This feels like an upside play from a team that should be operating in championship-or-bust mode.

As for the prospect the Sixers actually drafted, McCain is a master shotmaker—all manners of looks, all areas on the court. During his lone season with the Blue Devils, the 6'2" scoring guard converted 52.1 percent of his twos, 41.4 percent of his threes and 88.5 percent of his foul shots.

He doesn't have much size (6'2", 203 lbs) or elite athleticism, though, so creating separation could be a challenge for him. Ditto for finishing at the basket. Teams will go at him defensively as well, and while he competes on that end, he'll be physically outmatched more often than not, especially if he's playing at off-guard.

This isn't a bad pick, but it's hard to love it when Knecht was staring the Sixers right in the face." [Bleacher Report]

Ricky O'Donnell, SB Nation: B+

O'Donnell had McCain 20th overall on his final big board before the draft began, but because of his obvious fit in Philadelphia given his three-point shooting ability, argues that the pick made a lot of sense: 

"McCain lacks ideal NBA size and athleticism for a guard, but he makes up for it with shooting. He has a deep range and fantastic accuracy as a three-point shooter, which should be a good fit around Tyrese Maxey’s drives to the rim and Joel Embiid’s interior creation. I worry that McCain might be a too small to be a long-term backcourt partner for Maxey, but his shooting is so good that this is a perfectly fine selection." [SB Nation]

Danny Chau, The Ringer: B

More of the same: McCain's fit alongside Joel Embiid in particular is too clean and obvious to dislike the pick, but there are reasons for concern. Chau breaks a few of them down:

"A team with the gravity that Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey command will always need release valves on the perimeter. That’s the value that McCain brings. He was one of the best 3-point marksmen in college basketball as a freshman at Duke. He is elite on catch-and-shoot attempts and has great energy transfer in his mechanics pulling up in transition. The Sixers may look to develop his ability to shoot off movement because McCain’s apparent lack of burst will put a strain on the kind of playmaking he was able to accomplish at the NCAA level. With failed deadline acquisition Buddy Hield potentially on the way out, having a legitimate plug-and-play shooter is valuable for the Sixers. It may not necessarily address their needs at the wing, but something tells me that’ll come in a week’s time." [The Ringer]

Kevin Sweeney, Sports Illustrated: A-

Like many of the people who evaluated McCain during the pre-draft process, Sweeney argues that the newest Sixer is a high-floor prospect with a great chance of being a useful NBA contributor, though cautions that he may not have star upside. All in all, that would be more than acceptable for a No. 16 pick:

"McCain’s a ready-made role player with his elite three-point stroke and high-level competitiveness. Duke coach Jon Scheyer raves about how McCain boosted the Blue Devils’ locker room a year ago, and adding him to a Philadelphia team that keeps taking cracks at the top contenders in the East makes plenty of sense. His physical limitations may cap McCain’s ceiling, but he’s a safe bet to boost an NBA rotation from Day 1." [Sports Illustrated]

Adam Finkelstein and Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: B+

Once again, the Knecht question arises:

"If Dalton Knecht weren't on the board, I'd bump this up a grade. But I love what McCain brings as a shooter and scorer and personality. Defensively, he and Tyrese Maxey may not be ideal as two smaller guards who focus on offense. But there's a lot to like, and adding shooting around Joel Embiid makes sense. And his competitive spirit is worth betting on." [CBS Sports]

MORE: Jared McCain brings an elite shooting stroke to Philadelphia

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