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Monday, January 18, 2021

NBA Draft: Sixers' Picks Anyone's Guess

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Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

The 76ers finally know when and where. Now it’s time for the big question: Who?

Actually, that should be “big questions’’ since the Sixers will have two of the top 10 picks in next month’s NBA draft. When the ping-pong balls stopped bouncing around on Tuesday night in the draft lottery, the Sixers ended up with the third and 10th overall selections and that ain’t bad.

Of course, it’s not as good as the first and 10th overall selections, which is the best the Sixers could have hoped for. Still, this once-proud NBA franchise now has two more tools with which to rebuild.

And that one again brings us to the big questions: Who?

Nobody knows the answer simply because nobody knows what the two teams ahead of the Sixers – Cleveland and Milwaukee – will do on June 26. But, as befitting the Sixers and their too-frequent draft-day debacles, they have the third pick and there are only two players out there who fit what they need and what their fans want – Andrew Wiggins of Kentucky and Jabari Parker of Duke.

Well, if the so-called experts who put out mock drafts know what they’re talking about, expect to see Parker wearing the red, white and blue next season.

A quick look at some mock drafts – all by legitimate organizations like Sports Illustrated, ESPN, The Washington Post, CBSsports.com, Yahoo! Sports, Philly.com and The Sporting News – make it seem like a sure thing that the Sixers will select Parker with the third overall pick. That, of course, is assuming the Sixers don’t make a draft-day trade.

Of the 12 mock drafts consulted (we could have looked at more, but, hey, we have a life) eight had the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting Wiggins with the first overall pick. Three of them had the Cavs taking Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid and one had them taking Parker.

With the No. 2 pick, seven of the mock drafts had the Milwaukee Bucks taking Embiid, three had them taking Parker and two had them selecting Wiggins – by the way, every mock draft we looked at had Wiggins, Parker and Embiid as the first three selections, albeit in different orders.

As for the Sixers at No. 3, eight of the mock drafts had them taking Parker, three had them taking Embiid and one had Wiggins falling to them in the third spot.

The Sixers also have the 10th overall selection and naturally that one is more difficult to predict. Still, there was a pattern – almost all of the mock drafters had them taking a shooter. The most popular pick for the Sixers at No. 10 was 6-foot-7 forward James Young of Kentucky – five of the 12 mock drafts said he would go to Philadelphia. Four mock drafts had the Sixers taking Gary Harris, a 6-4 shooting guard from Michigan State, two had the Sixers selecting Nik Staukas, a 6-6 shooting guard from Michigan, and one had them going big, with 6-11 center Josef Nurkic of Bosnia.

There is one thing all of the Sixers’ potential picks share in common – they’re all young. Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and Young were all freshman last season, Harris and Staukas were sophomores and Nurkic is only 19 years old. So no matter who they choose, they might have to wait a while for them to develop along with last year’s two first-round picks, point guard Michael Carter-Williams and center Nerlens Noel.

But we’ve waited this long for the 76ers to become relevant again, so we can wait a little longer.

Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan32@aol.com.


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