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June 19, 2024

2024 NBA Draft Q&A: Breaking down three prospects the Sixers could select at No. 16 with Matt Powers

With the help of an expert, evaluating three more players who the Sixers are likely considering drafting at No. 16 next week.

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Tristan da Silva 6.17.24 Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Colorado wing Tristan da Silva, 23, is considered by some to be one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this year's draft class. Could the Sixers select him at No. 16?

With the 2024 NBA Draft kicking off next week and the Sixers owning the No. 16 and No. 41 picks -- with the potential of trades looming -- this week we will be talking with NBA Draft experts about this year's class, one that has been scrutinized heavily. 

Joining us to discuss three prospects who have frequently been projected to land with the Sixers in recent mock drafts is Matt Powers, Editor in Chief of Swish Theory. Be sure to follow along with Matt's social media and writing in advance of next week's draft.

Adam Aaronson: One player often projected to be a candidate for the Sixers at No. 16 is Ja’Kobe Walter. Walter’s scoring efficiency in his lone season at Baylor was not fantastic, but many who have studied him believe there is significant upside there. What do you see in Walter as a prospect, and do you believe he would be a sensible choice for the Sixers?

Matt Powers: Choosing Ja’Kobe Walter in the 2024 NBA draft is a bet on youth and shotmaking, though the other aspects are unconvincing. Walter is commendable simply for playing an important role on a good team - he led Baylor’s No. 7 ranked offense in scoring at only 19 years old. However, if Philly wants a win-now contributor, they would need to reset expectations.

Walter had a rare offensive burden for a freshman: he took over 150 free throws, 150 twos and 150 threes. Only Brandon Miller and Keyonte George had that same attempt volume the season before. The efficiency was mediocre at best, at 54 percent true shooting, disappointing given Walter’s billing as a shooter out of high school (although his AAU stats point to outside shooting struggles as well). 

But it’s the lack of contribution from the rest of his game that is the concern. Walter’s rawness on defense in particular will make the NBA transition difficult. He could often be found searching for his man, a beat behind to allow easy buckets. That would not fly with the Sixers or likely even with the Blue Coats.

If aiming for a young shotmaker with upside, [Pittsburgh guard] Carlton “Bub” Carrington offers a potential alternative. While Walter only shot 25-85 (29 percent) on pull-up attempts, Carrington shot 102-250 (41 percent). Carrington is much more of a distributor, too, with 4.1 assists per game compared to Walter’s 1.4.

AA: Colorado wing Tristan da Silva is considered one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this year’s draft class, but is already 23 years old. Just how impactful do you believe he can be for an NBA team in the immediate-term, and how would you weigh a prospect’s floor vs. their ceiling when picking at No. 16 if you were in charge of a team in the Sixers’ position?

MP: Tristan da Silva was an extremely impactful player for Colorado this season, as the team had a +24 net rating when he was on the court compared to +9 when off. TDS is indeed polished, particularly as a shooter. At 41 percent from downtown on 145 catch and shoot attempts at 6-foot-8.25 without shoes, his floor spacing is bankable. But at 23 years old and still with some notable flaws, there might be better ways to balance readiness and upside.

The fit with the Sixers is strong, as da Silva’s no-load threes would provide a consistent perimeter threat away from Maxey and Embiid. If Morey and team are looking for a specific archetype of tall wing shooter, there are few better in the mold in this class. Da Silva’s strong feel for the game would help him adapt to schemes on the fly. But da Silva’s overall productivity leaves a lot to be desired, especially as one of the oldest in the class.

A paltry 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game at his size is a red flag, and indicative of the defensive limitations that show up on tape. While he tested well athletically at the combine, da Silva’s feet look slow when guarding the perimeter and he lacks the burst to make a difference protecting the rim. On the Sixers, you would help for a neutral defensive impact at best.

If the Sixers wanted to swing a little harder they could look at California’s Jaylon Tyson, capable of much more shooting versatility and a better athlete than TDS. But in a class shallow in wing shooting talent, it may be savviest to pass on the group altogether.

AA: Many hope the Sixers add someone capable of logging minutes at center in this year’s draft, but they likely would not select someone who only plays that position at No. 16. Could Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II be the sort of 4-5 hybrid player that Sixers fans have long wanted the team to obtain?

MP: Now we’re talking. DaRon Holmes II is indeed a bit of a tweener, playing center for Dayton but more likely a power forward in the pros. Holmes exhibited as much versatility as nearly anyone in college basketball this season, securing 8.5 boards, 2.6 assists, 2.1 blocks and 0.9 steals while also scoring 20.4 points per game. He’s a natural connector, smart in passing reads and rotations to keep a defense together, making him a smart addition to a team with proven stars.

Holmes’ expanded three point shot, going 32-83 (39 percent) on the season, increases his viability next to a traditional center like Joel Embiid. He’s also used to conducting offense from the perimeter, good at diagnosing where to run the action without stealing the spotlight himself. He also advanced as a ball-handler, more than doubling his drives per game this season. Betting on Holmes is a bet on him finding a way to provide value somewhere at any given point.

It’s an open question how well Holmes can hang in defending true bigs or how well he can stick with ball-handlers on the perimeter, perhaps unlikely to do either at a high level. But Holmes is sharp, physical and skilled, an extremely productive player at the college level. Even though he played at a mid major, Dayton was +24 in net rating against top 50 teams when Holmes was on the court.

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