Five potential draft targets at No. 10 for Sixers
For the first time in quite a long while, the Sixers' draft choice in the place they're at in this draft is largely unknown.
There are so many question marks about not only who they will pick at No. 10, but also whether or not they will even keep the pick in the end. It could very well find itself on the way to another team via trade, if the Sixers choose to go that route.
Even though it's the middle of May and it seems early, the 2018 NBA Draft will be upon us before you know it, and the fate of the No. 10 draft selection will be decided one way or another.
Last year, the Sixers held onto the No. 3 pick for quite awhile, where I personally believed the Sixers would either draft Josh Jackson or De'Aaron Fox, but they then traded with the Boston Celtics for the first overall pick where it almost guaranteed a Markelle Fultz selection, which indeed came true.
This article is to give you an idea of just a few of the options that may fall in the Sixers' favor with that particular pick. Some players may go earlier than expected, depending on other team's needs, but some players may just fall into the Sixers' lap right where they want them to.
This is also the first part of a series of potential prospects for the Sixers to consider, with more players coming in the following weeks.
SF Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Age: 21 • Measureables: 6-7, 200 lbs • Wingspan: 7-2 • Stats: 17.7 ppg/5.3 rpg/1.9 apg/62.3% FG/45% 3FG
For me personally, I knew the Sixers most likely lottery outcome would be the 10th overall selection, which ended up falling in their favor. I've had Mikal Bridges as the Sixers' draft choice for quite some time, keeping in mind that most draft experts have had him in that range for a while.
Now, it seems that Bridges is a bit higher on some team's draft boards, with the Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 8) seeming like a likely suitor.
However, putting all mock drafts aside, Bridges is an exceptional candidate to become the new wing threat for the Sixers. He fits everything the Sixers need at that position offensively and defensively with a ton of upside.
ESPN's Jonathan Givony, formerly of DraftExpress offered an explanation of why Bridges would be a good fit for the Sixers at No. 10.
Bridges is an easy player to slot on almost any NBA roster, thanks to his multipositional defensive versatility, 3-point shooting and role-player potential. He isn't as gifted a shot creator as you'd like from a top-10 pick, but on this roster, he won't need to be.
I'm not sure any non-freshman helped himself more this season with NBA people than Bridges -- who averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting a career-best 43.5 percent from 3-point range in 32.1 minutes for a Villanova team that won the national title. More than anything, the 6-7 wing spent the season making "pro shots" more regularly than ever and doing most of the things any franchise would want him to do at the next level. His ability to guard multiple positions makes him somebody who could theoretically contribute to a playoff team, like the 76ers, on opening night.
Bridges likely isn't equipped to create his own scoring opportunities, at least at this point. But he's a great catch-and-shoot prospect -- perhaps the best in this draft.
Not only would Bridges fit well with what the Sixers are attempting to accomplish with building their team to sustain, but rejoining Bridges with Philadelphia coming right off a national title would be an amazing story line.
PG Collin Sexton, Alabama
Age: 19 • Measureables: 6-2, 183 lbs • Wingspan: 6-7 • Stats: 19.2 ppg/3.8 rpg/3.6 apg/49.8% FG/33.6% 3FG
If you're looking for a point guard with a "score-first" mentality, then Collin Sexton might just be your guy.
Known for being relentless and getting the job done in any way necessary, Sexton will likely be at No. 10 when the Sixers are on the clock, and he might be a nice pick up for the Sixers, considering guard depth is something they are in need of.
With Ben Simmons already slated at point for the Sixers, TJ McConnell is currently the backup, with last year's No. 1 pick right behind, still with question marks all over.
Sexton is already known for being one of three players for the Crimson Tide last season in a game vs. Minnesota, nearly coming back to win with just two other teammates. He's also known for willing Alabama into the NCAA Tournament, getting to the second round, falling to eventual national champ Villanova.
ESPN Jonathan Givony on Sexton:
Enter Sexton, with his tremendous aggressiveness driving the lane, taking off-the-dribble jumpers and putting defensive pressure on opposing guards. NBA teams have some concerns about Sexton's decision-making and reckless style of play. Fiercely competitive, Sexton has shown enough flashes in the right areas to be comfortably projected as a starting-caliber point guard, with plenty of upside.
CBS Sports' Gary Parrish:
Sexton -- the one-and-done star who averaged 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 29.9 minutes per game while leading Alabama to the NCAA Tournament. The 6-3 point guard is super-fast, super-quick and forever aggressive -- all of which are great qualities for anybody entering the NBA. He puts pressure on the defense basically every possession.
Parrish has Sexton projected to go to the Cavs at No. 8, and like Bridges, could also fit well with Cleveland with or without LeBron James next season. Sexton is a player that could surprise people by going higher than he's projected to go, but is still an intriguing option for the Sixers in their draft position.
PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
Age: 19 • Measureables: 6-6, 180 lbs • Wingspan: 6-11 • Stats: 14.4 ppg/4.1 rpg/5.1 apg/1.6 spg/51.6% FG/40.4% 3FG
I really like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the Sixers pick at No. 10, especially if they're unable to grab Mikal Bridges. I'm not alone either, I know for a fact my Sports Talk Philly colleague, Jesse Larch is as high (maybe higher) on SGA as I am.
While Gilgeous-Alexander's offense is good for a point guard, his defense is the reason teams are going to think so highly of him.
He's long and athletic, shows flashes of becoming a playmaker and grinds defensively, although he still needs to improve his jumper, according to The Ringer.
The Ringer quite humorously compared Gilgeous-Alexander's jumper to Markelle Fultz's jump shot, which we all know first-hand the kind of improvement that's needed there.
His pull-up jumper works, but it’s as aesthetically pleasing as Markelle Fultz’s post-shoulder-injury. Can that translate in the NBA?
The size, length and versatility of Gilgeous-Alexander could be attractive considering the type of lineup flexibility he brings.
The fact that he is 6-6 (with a 7-foot wingspan), instinctual defensively and unselfish makes him easy to slot in alongside virtually any type of player. His offense has made significant strides as the season has moved on, helping him surprisingly emerge as arguably Kentucky's best long-term prospect.
Gilgeous-Alexander was only the seventh-best prospect in Kentucky's 2017 class, according to 247Sports, but he should be the first Wildcat selected in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The one-and-done guard averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds while leading UK to the Sweet 16. At 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, Gilgeous-Alexander could become a great perimeter defender in time, which is obviously a terrific skill in the modern NBA where perimeter players dominate the league.
While the defense Gilgeous-Alexander brings to the table is extremely intriguing and could help out the Sixers on that front, the Sixers really don't need another guard who struggles with their jump shot.
If the Sixers do grab a point guard at No. 10, they are going to need to make sure that player is not only able to shoot, but able to score as well.
SF Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Age: 20 • Measureables: 6-6, 220 lbs • Wingspan: 6-9 • Stats: 17.1 ppg/7.0 rpg/2.7 apg/53.5% FG/36.4% 3FG
No relation to Mikal Bridges, Michigan State small forward Miles Bridges is projected to be a draft pick around where the Sixers are slated to select in the draft.
He's a 3-and-D player that many scouts drool over, but can occasionally struggle with his passing and ball handling, according to The Ringer.
If Bridges works on his handle, he could potentially work shot-creation into his arsenal of what he can do as an NBA player.
He also transitioned to small forward from playing power forward this season after playing the 4 for most of his career.
Bridges is a freakish athlete who struggled at times to make the full-time transition to small forward, but he has potential as a two-way wing who can guard all over the floor and give you enough shooting, ballhandling and passing to get by at one of the most important positions in today's NBA.
Bridges is a better small-ball power forward than he is a full-time wing. But stressing too much about that is probably overthinking it because the 6-6 sophomore is an explosive athlete who can pass and shoot and guard multiple positions. He averaged 17.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game while leading Michigan State to the Big Ten regular-season title. In a mostly position-less NBA, I'm comfortable trusting the former Big Ten star will figure things out.
I still prefer Mikal over Miles at small forward, but Miles is interesting because he projects so well at the 3, even if it isn't something he's used to. It might take him a little longer to get acclimated at the position, but when he does, look out.
SG Lonnie Walker IV, Miami
Age: 19 • Measureables: 6-4, 196 lbs • Wingspan: 6-10 • Stats: 11.5 ppg/2.6 rpg/1.9 apg/50.3% FG/34.6% 3FG
I'm a little partial to Lonnie Walker IV than most people because I work and currently live in Reading, Pa., home of Walker. My work also covered Walker's run to Reading High School's first ever state championship last year.
But Lonnie is one heck of a player, even if he didn't fully showcase his talent last year at Miami.
Walker, an extremely promising freshman, found himself on the bench to start the year, but eventually found himself in the starting lineup when guard Bruce Brown went down with an injury.
His shooting upside is as high as you can possibly go, with pluses on shot creation.
Here are Walker's strengths, according to The Ringer.
- Shows knack for shot creation with hesitations and a smooth shooting release off the dribble, but lacks advanced ball-handling moves.
- Good shooting form and touch, though he needs to quicken his release to avoid getting contested.
- Miami used him off screens and he displayed advanced footwork, though his shooting percentages on the catch were low.
- His length, agility, and lateral quickness allow him to effectively defend both guard spots.
- Skilled chasing shooters through screens and tends to rotate well, though he must work at staying more focused.
Walker didn't have a consistent or efficient freshman season, but his talent, combined with the lack of depth at his position, is keeping his name in the lottery conversation. His youth, strong frame, 6-10½ wingspan and ability to shoot with his feet set or off the dribble make him a candidate to rise during the pre-draft process as teams search for upside and diamonds in the rough.
Walker's freshman season didn't get off to a great start -- evidence being how he only averaged 8.1 points in 20.9 minutes per game through Miami's first 15 contests. But the 6-4 freshman averaged 14 points in Miami's final five regular-season games to remind NBA scouts why they view him as a strong-framed shooting guard with a future. Yes, he only shot 34.6 percent from 3-point range this season. But, remember, Walker shot 40 percent from beyond the arc two summers ago on the Nike EYBL circuit. So his lower percentage at Miami isn't too concerning.
I like Walker's upside and his ability to play both the 2 and the 3. He's a reach at No. 10, but he's a guy you can dream about, especially if he fits the mold for the Sixers.
Josh Liddick is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and Sixers managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.