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June 20, 2024

2024 NBA Draft Q&A: Three guards who the Sixers could draft at No. 16 with Ben Pfeifer

Focusing on three players who, if selected by the Sixers at No. 16 next week, could play alongside or backup Tyrese Maxey.

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Isaiah Collier 6.17.24 Robert Edwards/USA TODAY Sports

Many believe that USC guard Isaiah Collier has the highest upside of any draft prospect who could be available to the Sixers 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. 

Here to focus on three guard prospects who could make sense for the Sixers in the first round is Ben Pfeifer, who covers the NBA and NBA Draft for HITP Sports Media and Sportskeeda as well as on his YouTube channel. Be sure to stay plugged into all of Ben's content leading up to next week's draft.

Adam Aaronson: Duke guard Jared McCain is one of this draft class’ most prolific three-point shooters, and given the Sixers’ needs, he has become a player many expect them to have interest in. Do you believe McCain would be a worthy selection at No. 16, and if the Sixers did take him, what would be his next steps in order to become a long-term NBA rotation player?

Ben Pfeifer: McCain’s excellent shooting and complementary guard skills make him an ideal fit next to Tyrese Maxey and a strong possibility for the 76ers in the first round. He’s one of the most dynamic shot-makers in the class, firing from beyond NBA range at an extremely efficient clip, both on and off the ball. McCain’s passing is solid, operating the pick-and-roll at a competent level for NBA ball-handlers.

Size and defense will be the main questions for his long-term NBA hopes, as McCain will suffer from the same ails that all small guards do on the defensive end. This might scare the 76ers off given Maxey’s lack of size, though the offensive fit would be ideal.

McCain’s shooting can be a weapon playing off of Maxey and Joel Embiid while he matures as an on-ball player. He’s made it past the second round of a postseason format and his winning pedigree will be attractive to NBA teams. He’d make a ton of sense for a 76ers roster in transition given his talent and bankable NBA skills.

AA: Marquette guard Tyler Kolek appears to be rising on draft boards during the pre-draft process thanks to a well-rounded offensive skillset. What intrigues you about Kolek, and what parts of his game give you pause?

BP: Kolek’s late rise in the pre-draft process is fascinating, as some mock drafts project him in the top 25 of the draft or even higher. Scouts seem to value his polished offensive skillset; Kolek is one of the draft’s most prolific passers with a seasoned pick-and-roll game poised to translate immediately to the NBA. He improved as a shooter this season, punishing defenders who duck under his ball screens.

It’s fairly rare for NBA teams to draft 23-year-old point guards as high as Kolek is projected. He measured under 6-foot-2 without shoes and his size and athletic deficits are notable on both ends at the college level, as Kolek struggles to create separation without a screen and loses positioning on defense. Though he may contribute in a backup role early in his career, the upside is usually limited with older players like Kolek.

In a draft loaded with smaller guards, the Sixers should look at other options before Kolek if they want to draft another guard. There are too many younger, higher upside swings and better older guards to justify him as high as No. 16.

AA: USC guard Isaiah Collier was once considered a potential top-five pick; now him being available to the Sixers at No. 16 seems very much in play. What caused Collier’s stock to drop this season, and do you see him as a player with star upside? 

BP: [Sixers President of Basketball Operations] Daryl Morey is no stranger to snatching up sliding guards, and Collier is as good a bet as any in this class to follow in the footsteps of Tyrese Maxey. Collier’s stock plummeted this season largely due to poor efficiency, three-point shooting and turnover numbers, though we know those are often overblown for young players, especially high-usage guards on bad college teams.

Collier’s upside matches or surpasses most prospects in a weak 2024 draft class. He’s the best advantage creator in the class, dominating as a driver with elite burst and strength. The playmaking potential is elite, flashing top-tier creativity, vision and manipulation on the ball. His jumper is a question mark, though his solid volume and pull-up mid-range shooting offer some optimism.
Maxey works well as a backcourt partner for Collier given his elite off-ball offense. Aside from spacing and moving to open up Collier, Maxey’s ability to handle and pass will ease Collier into NBA offense and hopefully lessen his offensive burden. Prospects as talented as Collier rarely fall to the 16th pick. He should be a Sixer if that happens on draft night.

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