(Note: I worked on this really really early before the Fultz trade. I worked hard to write my opinion on the initial #3 pick we had. So enjoy it and all its grammatical errors.)
ORIGINALLY TITLED: “To BPA or Not BPA”
…that is the question
One of Sam Hinkie’s final gifts to our franchise was a trade with the Kings that landed us the highly coveted prospect Nik Stauskas and future Sixers’ legend Carl Landry. Landry would become a shining star on one of the worst teams in NBA history, while Stuaskas every now and then dunked on people.
Also, packaged in that deal was a 2019 first round pick and the rights to pick swap with the Kings in the future.
Sooo last month, for the draft lottery, I headed over to my friends apartment, who happens to be a Kings fan. As the picks were revealed, the #8 spot was shown to be…not the Kings….we lost our minds. Little did I know how much of a headache this would cause. What was once a decision to pick a shooter at 5, now became a decision to BPA, or not BPA …
BPA is a word that most Sixers fans should recognize from the Process era. It’s forever tied to probably one of the worst decisions in franchise history. Yeah, Jah…
For those that don’t, BPA is simply “Best Player Available.” It’s when you draft…the best player available. Typically, lottery teams lean towards BPA, while playoff contenders lean towards “need.”
If you read my season recap, I told you to not worry about the Sixers. Why? Because we’ve got the main pieces to compete. For once, this draft isn’t really a big deal kinda…basically, it won’t make or break this team like the previous drafts (cmon guys, we got Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid). But we need guards…we need shooters. Despite being a lottery squad, we have a “need.”
With us at 3, that takes Lonzo and Markelle off the board…and leaves us staring at Josh Jackson…the BPA. And my god…of course, he just has to be one of the most intriguing, complex, fascinating players in this draft. I’ll get to that later.
See, at pick 5, Monk woulda been ours easily. No questions. Maybe even DSJ. But here we are, blessed with pick #3….AGAIN.
This is one of the disadvantages of being on top of the draft. Yes, you have the most choices out of every team, but now you’re more pressured to take BPA and lean towards “safe picks.” You’re not likely to draft an unknown like Giannis Antetokounmpo up top or take a shot at Devin Booker (or a Kristaps 😦 ). You don’t want to take risks up top, especially GMs on a rebuilding team. One bad pick and you’re gone. You’re more scrutinized up top because people will say, “Why did you pass on _____?” Can’t be worse than the guy that passed on Stephen Curry twice.
So gems can fall out of the top 5, while you’re stuck with an Okafor situation. In this draft, some gems are forced out of the top 5 like a Dennis Smith Jr. or a Jonathan Isaac or Harry Giles, ready to get picked up by some lucky team that just happens to be there.
There’s also other scenarios that may pop up on draft day. Lakers might pass on Lonzo (very slim chance). Kings could package their picks to move up if Fox or Smith decide to go all out on their workouts (again, very slim chance).
But for now, let me answer the question…to BPA or not BPA?
Josh Jackson was the #1 prospect coming out of high school (I’m sure Lonzo and Markelle were right up there with him) and his talent translated to the tougher college game where he played at Kansas University. Jackson is a player with exceptional athleticism and multiple skills. He can pass, he can drive, he can post up, he can guard every position (what they’ve told me), he can block shots, and he kills it in transition! …..but he can’t shoot. He’s really raw as a player and shows so much potential…….but he cannot shoot for shit. His potential to add to create a defensive core of Covington-Embiid-Jackson sounds devastating for opposing teams…..but he can’t shoot.
It’s not that you can’t be a great team with non-shooters and that you cannot be successful as a wing without a jumpshot. It’s just that it makes things harder for our two leaders, Jojo and Ben…at least offensively. Ben Simmons needs to take advantage of mismatches and Jojo needs to use his size/mobility to move around bigs, as soon as they get doubled, it’s a wrap….and if they pass it to a non-shooter…that’s 0 points.
I’m a guy that believes in defense wayyy more than offense… but the offense gotta be kinda decent.
For our offense, we’re a passing team, we move the ball and move. Ersan got so many points simply because he can shoot. We just need guys that can shoot and break defenses. JJ can break defenses apart with his off-ball movement, but without a consistent jumpshot, it’s trouble. It’ll kinda be like Jerami Grant, except JJ is way more skilled offensively and can at least pound it inside for a bucket. I’m confident that JJ will find his own niche on offense during his NBA career.
For defense, while it’s nice to have a solid defender in our backcourt, especially with all the talented backcourts in the NBA, you can get away with poor defense up top as long as you have solid defenders on the wings and inside. We did pretty ok with TJ and Nik, as long as RoCo and Embiid were still anchoring the defense. But if JJ can confidently guard NBA 2’s, which I think he can, our defense may reach elite level.
The craziest thing with JJ is that he’s soooo raw. I don’t wanna miss the chance at developing JJ because we’re amazing at player development (see my season recap post). I’m confident that our team is the best team to develop JJ.
Imagine passing on him. And for a shooter?? I feel that there’s a shooter in every draft. So why get Monk?
It doesn’t help that Malik Monk is also a very intriguing prospect. He’s not even close to BPA, and definitely not the best guard in the draft, BUT by placing him on the Sixers, he may end up producing more than others.
He’s not just a shooter. His athleticism and skill allows him to create his own shot. He has a stepback jumper, he has a pull up jumper. He’s athletic enough to throw down dunks. There’s also a ball-handling aspect of his game that we didn’t see at Kentucky.
But at the end of the day, you value Monk because of his shooting and off-ball ability, which will improve our offensive immensely.
Just like last year, it’s always great to watch the NBA Playoffs/Finals to get a sense on what kind of player contributes to a championship caliber team.
Last year, I used Kevin Durant and LeBron James to compare Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. This year, to compare Malik Monk and Josh Jackson, I used Kyrie Irving and Andre Iguodala (specifically game 5 Iguodala). Kyrie represented Monk, while game 5 Andre was JJ.
While Monk doesn’t come close to Kyrie when it comes to offensive skillset, they both can shoot. Kyrie was very integral towards the Cavs success in games 3 and 4. It was simply a barrage of points by Uncle Drew. His shooting was mostly isolation-based. With Monk, it’ll mostly be off-ball, but the points can be the same. I can see Monk doing another UNC/47 pt performance in the NBA, especially when he’s hot. The thing is game 1 and game 2. Kyrie was non-existent. The points were kinda there, but very empty. That’s the problem with Kyrie; he doesn’t produce on other ends such as defense and rebounding, so when he can’t score, he’s really just taking up space. This can be a Monk issue, especially with his small size and his streakiness. Can Monk contribute when his shot isn’t falling? At least with Monk, he can play a true PG if he needs to. Although, it’s tough to tell since he didn’t really play that role at Kentucky (Fox was main ball handler).
Game 5 Iguodala was fun to watch. It reminded me of his Finals MVP series a couple years back. As the Cavs worried about the Warriors main scorers, Iguodala played his role and scored an easy 20 points, with plenty of dunks and a couple clutch shots. It wasn’t just game 5; in game 3, he had the game winning strip on LeBron James to steal game 3 and take an important 3-0 lead against the Cavs. JJ can be Iguodala. A defensive pest that can contribute on offense when needed. With JJ’s defensive speed and off-ball IQ, this can be a reality. He won’t be a scorer, but he’ll contribute every now and then off of Simmons or Embiid. Plus, if he can’t score, then JJ will contribute in grabbing key rebounds and playing defense, something that Monk cannot do.
This has truly been a nightmare, a really awesome nightmare. I swear, my pick has changed every hour between JJ and Monk.
WITH THE #3 PICK IN THE NBA DRAFT, I SELECT…
Again, Monk is not just a shooter. He can run the offense as a PG, he can drive inside, run transitions, and create his own shot which includes a high-release pull up jumpshot that will be money in the NBA.
His offense is the perfect match for our offense, who needs a player that can hit the 3 and also create his own shot when needed. Monk makes everything easier for Ben and Jojo.
The issue is defensive. While a player can be athletic, it’s more IQ than anything. Malik’s not known to be a good defender, but honestly, we can get away with an average defender on the perimeter. We can hopefully find a lockdown defender to put alongside him (Avery Bradley?) at some time in the future.
BUT IF LONZO BALL DOES NOT GO #2 THEN…
With the #3 pick, the Philadelphia 76ers select
The most hated prospect in NBA history is still one of the best prospects of this draft.
Which makes the idea of Ball dropping pretty absurd. But recently there’s been reports of the Lakers not being pleased with his workouts so far, and it’s not because of his dad, who was not allowed to be near Lonzo. Is it a smokescreen?? Maybe?? But IF the Ball drops, we must take him.
You can go a long way with basketball IQ. While athleticism diminishes, veterans in the league continue to be valuable on competitive teams today because of IQ. Lonzo’s bball IQ is one of his best attributes.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE (6/17/17)
The Boston Celtics are considering trading the #1 pick (Fultz) for #3 and the Lakers pick we got from trading MCW.
What the fuck
Insane. This changes everything. I’ve literally been working on this post for weeks now and suddenly these events pop in my face.
I’m so used to these smokescreens and rumors that I initially took the news lightly, but I saw that respected journalists like Marc Stein, Zach Lowe, and Woj were reporting it. And all reports say that it’s a done deal??
I will not believe it until I see it. But the idea of Fultz joining us makes me feel so happy !
Geez, what do I remember about Markelle Fultz? Do I still have my notes? Or did my brain delete them entirely?
I do know that he is the “for sure” #1 prospect of this draft (I tried to convince myself otherwise after the stupid Celtics got the #1 pick). I remember that his offensive game is pretty complete. I do remember that he has good size and is athletic. And I do remember me saying that if the Sixers get Fultz, then the league is a wrap.
This is a potential dynasty in the making. A wayy better young core than OKC and GSW. I had doubts of our team being able to compete with this current GSW team, but guess what…this team can be the team that can compete with the Warriors. The Cavs and any other team in the East are not even in the discussion, it’s a wrap with a core of Fultz-Simmons-Embiid. Then you remember our supporting pieces with TJ, RoCo, Dario, TLC, Richaun.
I’m trying to figure out how this helps Boston at all. I mean, gifting your rival and potential competitor for a title the first pick in the draft? Giving the final piece of the puzzle to us? But hey, I don’t mind at all! Do yo thang Boston.
I’ve heard that they wanna get assets to trade for Butler or George?? I’m guessing they were gassed up after reaching the ECF this year and believe they’re a couple pieces away from a title? Funny cuz the East is w- … do yo thang Boston.
But those picks and Nets picks are still valuable, especially for the future. There’s still some great talent coming out like Zion Williamson and that Euro dude Doncic whatever. However, there’s no big coming out that will be able to guard Joel Embiid. There’s no big fast enough to cover Ben Simmons. Even if there is, he’s already 2-3 years behind and Embiid/Simmons have already evolved to God status.
The combo of Ben Simmons and Embiid was already enough to fuel my dreams of the Sixers winning a championship. And here we are now, with the idea of Markelle Fultz joining us. Now I’m thinking dynasty. For real. This Thursday can be the birth of a new era of NBA dominance.
Trust the Process.
UPDATE: Woj confirmed trade is done. Will be finalized Monday. I will post this Monday. Huge day in Sixers history today.
The deal is DONE.
Boston has handed us Markelle Fultz.
Details of the trade have been given out. No players involved! (Wow) We give up the Lakers and Kings picks, but they are protected! (WOW) If the Lakers don’t get picks 2-5, it’s ours. If they do, then the Kings pick is still ours. That’s another story for another day. The fact that we didn’t give up both and actually got them protected instead of straight up is remarkable.
Sam Hinkie threw the alley-oop off the backboard and Bryan Colangelo slammed it in for the win. Or was it a Sam Hinkie alley-oop to himself?
In 2015, I wrote about an “Impossible Timeline”:
TIMELINE 3 (Impossible timeline)
- Summer 2016. Adam Silver feels sorry for us and gives us the #1 pick. We get Ben Simmons. The Lakers fire Byron Scott and start winning. We get their pick and draft Jamal Murray.
- Summer 2017. We still suck but not really because Simmons is ROY. We get Malik Monk.
- Core is Monk – Murray – Simmons – Saric – Nerlens – Okafor.
This was a dark time in the Process era for me. Yeah we had the 20+ game losing streak back then, but there was at least a glimmer of hope. 2015-2016 there were so many question marks, it was very dark, I went insane.
I didn’t even wanna write about a “Timeline 3” … no way we get Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons wasn’t on my radar!! MARKELLE FULTZ WASN”T ON MY RADAR!! WE GOT BOTH OF THEM!!!!!!!!!!
I DIDN’T THINK THIS TIMELINE EXISTED
All I wanted was Malik Monk dudeeeeeeeee…
AND WE GOT MARKELLE FULTZ.
HE’S A GUARD. HE CAN SHOOT. HE CAN DUNK. HE HAS LONG ARMS!
Boston doesn’t believe in Fultz…..
Says he ain’t the one. He ain’t the superstar.
And it’s amazing because Fultz has heard this his entire life. They didn’t believe in him in high school. He got cut from Varsity. He never left the gym since, and now he climbed to the top of a loaded 2017 draft class and landed on our laps.
While Embiid is the Process, Fultz embodies the idea of “Trust the Process” the most.
This season is going to be absolutely fun (if everybody stays healthy, please basketball gods) and I will be in Philadelphia this season too. Might be in Las Vegas next month.
Til then TRUST THE PROCESS. GO SIXERS!