Sixers mock draft round-up: Rumors about another 'promise' begin to form

With the 2019-20 NBA season finally in the rearview mirror, it’s time for optimism to put wind in your sails. The 2020 NBA Draft is expected to be a stinker, but that won’t stop anyone from thinking their favorite team could be one of a lucky few to pluck a contributor from this class.

The Sixers, thanks to the good fortune of the Oklahoma City Thunder pick conveying, sit at No. 21 in the first round this year, and they should have their pick of an interesting (if flawed) class of guards and wings. From knockdown shooters to streaky sixth man types, there’s a little something for everyone in this group, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that each mock draft included here has a different candidate to be drafted by Elton Brand and Co.

It seems we’ll continue to wait on changes in the front office, so you might as well get familiar with a few of the names there for the taking.

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic

Desmond Bane, F, TCU

Bane has become a popular name among amateur analysts over the last few months, and it appears that tracks with what the experts are seeing and hearing. Vecenie, who says executives believe Bane has leaped into solid first-round territory, sees a lot to like with the fit here:

In his four years at TCU, Bane made 43.3 percent of his near-600 3-point attempts. He also improved a lot this year as an option with the ball in his hands. The big concern here is that he’s 6-foot-6 with a negative wingspan that hinders him when contesting shooters both on-ball and when closing out. However, he has good strength and knows where to be defensively. He should turn into a solid role-playing floor-spacer at the next level, and I have a late first-round grade on him. 

He’s been a riser throughout the pre-draft process for a lot of the reasons mentioned above. He’s gone into interviews and has been impressive with his understanding of how he’s going to operate at the next level. The name Joe Harris has come up a lot from front offices. [The Athletic]

The TCU product appears to fit the profile of the late-first picks the Sixers have made in recent years — he’s a productive, four-year player at the college level with a discernible NBA skill. He doesn’t really help with their creation issues, but he’s a guy you can slot into a role immediately who has proven capable of growth in areas where he’s behind his peers.

Here’s a more interesting note from the comments below Sam’s article: a reader questioned Vecenie about a rumor suggesting the Sixers have already promised someone at pick No. 21. Vecenie did not exactly shrug it off.

I’ve also definitely heard a name connected with the Sixers as a promise, but I don’t have it locked down to the point to where I’m comfortable reporting it. I’m also not convinced that it’s for No. 21. A bit too much up in the air on that for me to feel comfortable specifying a name. [The Athletic]

As a point of reference, Vecenie was one of the people all over the Matisse Thybulle promise during last year’s draft process. It’s an even more fascinating concept this year with the draft process changes due to COVID-19, though their Thybulle connection came early last year and didn’t necessitate a deeper look beyond his college tape.

Let me say this in big, bold letters before I get Sam in any trouble — he is very clear it has not reached the point where he is comfortable reporting it, and that it could be for another one of their picks in any case. Even more critically, he does not link the promise, which is independent from his write-up of Bane or any specific player. 

Got it? Good. It could be another one of 100 crazy draft rumors that don’t come to fruition each year. Just something to watch, in the opinion of this writer. 

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

Theo Maledon, G, France

This is a wild card, as I don’t believe Maledon has been mocked to the Sixers at any point previously. 

Theo Maledon missed time with an injury while playing professionally in France last season and was mostly underwhelming — although, in fairness, he played better as things progressed. But the talent that made him an interesting prospect at a young age — he was the youngest LNB All-Star in history — still exists. So Philadelphia, which is no longer committed to playing Ben Simmons at point guard, should seriously consider Maledon with the 21st pick, if he’s available, because he would add a skilled lead guard to the roster Doc Rivers is inheriting. [CBS]

I would take issue with a couple of the claims in this write-up. First, I don’t think we should be so sure about the commitment to Simmons at a position one way or another. Though I think his future shouldn’t be wrapped up in guard duties and have written as much extensively in the past, we don’t know how the new coach is going to handle things there. Rivers’ promise of positionless basketball will likely result in Simmons handling a lot of the lead playmaking duties.

An even bigger issue — Rivers did grow young Rajon Rondo into this role in Boston, but generally, he wants to put the ball in the hands of an established veteran playmaker to set up the offense. You would have to convince me he’s willing to live with developing a guy to run the offense before I would sign off on drafting a playmaking guard with the most valuable pick you have in this draft. Those are conversations Rivers and El ton Brand will have to have. 


Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated

Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina

Up next in the guard department is a guy who entered last season with a chance to be a high lottery pick, UNC’s Cole Anthony. Woo believes he fits into a hybrid guard role, one the Sixers need to fill given the uncertainty of the lineup:

The Sixers will have to get creative to substantially tinker with the roster this offseason, but this pick presents a good opportunity to grab a player on the cheap who might become a piece. Guard depth has been an issue for Philly, and Anthony would be a solid on-court fit here as a guard who can play on or off the ball with Ben Simmons. But Anthony’s draft stock has been as difficult to peg as any prospect in the draft over the past year, and his range remains wide with a month to go, beginning in the late teens and ending toward the back of the first round. Teams have myriad concerns surrounding his lone season at North Carolina, and he’ll need to work on shot selection and be willing to acclimate into a smaller role to maximize his chances of success. [Sports Illustrated]

On the one hand, Anthony ranked near the top of a lot of recruiting service rankings heading into his lone collegiate season, trailing only Memphis’ James Wiseman in the ESPN100. At his best, Anthony is capable of sustained scoring runs and difficult shotmaking, providing the sort of self-creation the Sixers desperately need.

However, Anthony has just as many question marks about his decision-making and the role he’ll fill moving forward. He shot just 38 percent from the field in college due to a combination of questionable shot selection and just okay outside shooting. Is he willing and able to succeed without the ball out of his hands? Perhaps Rivers can harness the best of his skill package and filter out the worst, but he may not be on the board for them to find out anyway.

Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report

Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

Terry has been one of the most popular names linked to the Sixers during draft season for good reason. Wasserman is one of the believers:

The Sixers can add another ball-handler and shooter with Terry, whose range, touch and ball skills make it easy to look past his questionable frame. Meanwhile, his camp is making it known that Terry has added both weight and height since the start of the season. [Bleacher Report]

During a recent Zoom call with reporters, Terry said he and his agent had already been in touch with Philadelphia, adding to the speculation they might pull the trigger on the Stanford sharpshooter.

“I’ve had great communication with them, as well as my agent. I think it’s an organization that has a lot of pieces, a lot of talent,” Terry said. “I think it’s going to be interesting to see how they all put it together to make that next jump in the Eastern Conference. I’m very aware of what the organization has and what their values are. I’ve had great communication with them thus far.”

A 19-year-old guard who shot the lights out during his only collegiate season? Most Sixers fans would probably sign off on Terry for that reason alone. His catch-and-shoot numbers (Terry finished in the 99th percentile of all collegiate players last season) are as good as it gets for a kid his age. Terry could have a field day playing off of Embiid in the post or Simmons driving-and-kicking, and if he sprinkles in some pull-up shooting, you’re cooking with gas. 

Unfortunately, Terry is small at just 160 pounds, though he told reporters he has already put on weight to prepare for the next level (and has had more time to do so than prospects in an average year because of the extended pre-draft period). He’s viewed as a strong playmaker/high IQ player, but there are concerns that his frame combined with his iffy handle will hold him back at the next level. Guards who struggle to separate could end up being relegated to spot-up heavy roles, and while that’s valuable for the Sixers, ideally they need guys with three-level scoring skills, and Terry is not a good bet to finish in traffic at the next level.

Jonathan Givony, ESPN

Nico Mannion, G, Arizona

To round out the mocks, we remind you of Givony’s pick from the last time he updated his mock draft, which unfortunately doesn’t appear to have been touched since late August:

After electing to move Ben Simmons to power forward, the Sixers could stand to shore up their depth at point guard. Mannion can play on or off the ball thanks to his perimeter shooting and basketball aptitude, and has some upside to grow into as well at just 19. [ESPN]

Mannion wouldn’t exactly help with their “bully-ball” problem — his wingspan is actually shorter than his listed height of 6-foot-3 — and his efficiency numbers were pretty ghastly for a guy renowned for his touch. Physical limitations are going to hamper him at the next level on both ends of the floor.  

If the Sixers are looking for guard upgrades by any means necessary, he’s got good instincts as a playmaker, the in-between game to compromise defenses, and should be a better shooter at the next level, especially with additional attention being paid to his teammates. But opinions are all over the place on Mannion — he didn’t make the first-round cut for Vecenie, Woo, or Wasserman from the above sampling of mocks — and a best-case scenario for him doesn’t seem as appealing as a lot of the other guys who might be available in this range.

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