The much awaited NBA Draft Lottery took place this morning, and the several draft protections and quirks due to previous deals made it must-watch television. For the Sixers, already home to two top three picks in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, a chance for two potential lottery picks beckoned, but the lottery balls did not bounce their way.
However, the Sixers were able to move into the top 3, behind the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first two spots, respectively. This may not necessarily be a bad thing for Philadelphia and Simmons.
Embiid made his debut last season and was a sensation before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 7'2" big man told ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth that he is scheduled to return to the court in another “two to three” weeks, news that should be music to Sixer fans’ ears.
However, with Simmons, Embiid and Philadelphia’s other Rookie of the Year candidate, Dario Saric, all standing 6'8" or taller, the Sixers’ planned to utilise Simmons at the point guard spot, due to his fantastic passing ability.
The consensus first two picks in this year’s much-heralded NBA draft are set to both be point guards in Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. While Fultz and Ball would certainly have been welcome in Philadelphia, they may have represented an overlap of skills with Ben Simmons.
According to NBA draft website Draft Express’ mock draft, the Sixers are slated to take Kansas forward Josh Jackson – and the 6'8" prospect may turn out to be a decent fit alongside the Sixers’ existing young core. A scouting report from Draft Express’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz mentions Jackson’s defensive upside.
“He's a fiery guy who has been a two-way player his entire career, and showed the ability to guard anywhere from 1-4 in college. Jackson takes great pride in his ability to shut down opponents, and does an outstanding job of sitting down in a stance, sliding his feet and locking up players on the perimeter with his lateral quickness, often drawing charges.”
Having a lineup of Simmons/Jackson/Saric/Embiid and shot-blocker Richaun Holmes would give the Sixers a five-out unit that would all be above 6'8", allowing the team to switch on defense at almost every position.
With Simmons and Embiid on the roster, any rookie, whether it is Jackson or another forward such as Duke’s Jayson Tatum will be required to spend most of their time on the court as spot-up shooters, and Jackson’s college three-point percentage of 37.8 percent suggests that he could fit that role.
Draft Express’ scouting report on Jackson also suggests that he “finds ways to be productive within the team concept by getting out in transition, making spot-up jumpers, cutting off the ball, and mixing in timely offensive rebounds and post-ups”, a sign that bodes well for his fit with his Sixer team mates.
Speaking of Simmons - who missed the entire 2016-17 season – his recovery appears to be coming along well.
With the draft order set, teams will begin working out and interviewing prospects in the lead up to the June 22 draft. Should the Sixers draft Josh Jackson, it will be an exciting addition to an already impressive young roster.