NBA Draft 2020: Building a big board for the Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Bob Drebin/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Photo by Bob Drebin/ISI Photos/Getty Images /

The Philadelphia 76ers are in a tough spot financially, making their draft capital even more vital than usual. How should Daryl Morey and company use their five picks?

The 2019-20 season did not go as expected for the Philadelphia 76ers. Their accumulation of talent around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was more of a mess than a mesh: the offense was putrid, the defense was good but not great, and the result was a first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

The Sixers need ball handling and shooting around Simmons and Embiid, that much is clear. But how they acquire those skills is less obvious. Tobias Harris and Al Horford are inked to two of the worst contracts in the league, and neither is a particularly good fit for the Sixers’ needs.

Harris will be borderline impossible to move. He’s owed nearly $150 million over the next four years (at an increasing rate); moving him would require an immense package of sweeteners that the Sixers can’t afford to give up.

Horford is easier for another team to stomach — as long as Philly pays up. It owns picks 21, 34, 36, 48 and 59 in the 2020 NBA Draft, so there’s plenty to dangle in a Horford dump, and other teams will be sure to demand a few of those selections.

Other avenues to prosperity exist as well, many of which involve keeping those picks. Should the front office choose one of those paths, it will have an abundance of potential fits in a class loaded with role players.

Who should the Philadelphia 76ers target in this year’s NBA Draft?

1. Tyrell Terry, Guard, Stanford, Big Board Rank: 20

One of the sexiest picks in Philly’s range is Tyrell Terry, who has serious upside but also sizable risk. Terry’s strengths line up directly with what the Sixers need: he’s a knockdown shooter with a quick trigger, and he also can make plays for others with a live dribble and crafty finishing at the rim. That shooting is no joke either; his range is unbound, and he relocates off the ball better than most pros.

The main deterrent will be his physical profile. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 174 pounds currently, which is a major jump from his previous weigh-in of 160 pounds. Even with a serious bulk-up, he’ll always be a target on defense, especially in high-stakes playoff series. Guards of his stature have a limited ceiling without the right support.

But if anyone can hide him, it’s the team with an All-Defense First Team forward in Simmons and a perpetual Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Embiid. And the offense speaks for itself; that kind of shooter opens up so much for Simmons and Embiid just with his presence.

2. Desmond Bane, Wing, TCU, Big Board Rank: 13

Desmond Bane checks all the boxes of a role-playing wing. The 6-foot-6 senior makes all the right reads with the ball in his hands, shoots well in most aspects when off the ball, has the defensive intensity and intellect to match his NBA-ready frame, and does all the little things that impact winning. He is as ready-made as they come to fit into an NBA rotation right now.

But with that certainty comes a lack of upside. If the Sixers were to nab him at 21, they would be getting a known quantity and little more. He’s not the spicy pick, but he’s exactly what a contender needs.

3. Josh Green, Wing, Arizona, Big Board Rank: 18

Josh Green is in the same mold as Bane — just two and a half years younger. The freshman stands at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds with a 6-foot-10.5 wingspan, the ideal build for a modern NBA wing.

His game is also optimal for a role player. He can step in right away as a shooter, slasher and defender at the next level, not just because of his size and skill, but also because of his natural feel for the game. He’s a timely cutter and good enough playmaker to be plugged into a rotation from day one, and his age works in his favor as he continues to grow.

That age somewhat works against him for Philly’s purposes, hence why Bane — a similar player with less upside — can be argued as the better fit for the Sixers. Either addition would be a good shot in the arm.

4. Theo Maledon, Guard, France, Big Board Rank: 30

Theo Maledon is a direct contrast from Terry in terms of style. Maledon projects as a tone-setter on offense who can shoot the rock when asked to. He’s a little taller and longer as well, and therefore less liable to being targeted defensively.

Like many others on this list, Maledon can step into a role soon. The downside of that is a capped ceiling; his athleticism and burst are strongly below average for a guard, meaning he’ll have to work his you-know-what off to make it in the NBA.

On the bright side, work ethic is one of his strengths. He’s made improvements each season, and is also mentored by Tony Parker, a man who had similar strengths and weaknesses during his career. Selecting Maledon would mean one of two things: a commitment to Simmons at the 4, or a bond to Milton at the 2.

5. Malachi Flynn, Guard, San Diego State, Big Board Rank: 28

Malachi Flynn would be argued as a reach at 21, but would be a great get at 34 or 36. The 6-foo-1, 185-pound junior is the guard version of Bane: a smart, accomplished player who knows his role. He also has physical limitations like Terry but competes every second he’s on the court.

Flynn is of a familiar mold: Fred VanVleet, Tyus Jones and Jalen Brunson are a few names that fit his archetype. Undersized guards who work their asses off on defense and know their roles on offense are valuable — especially to contenders.

The Sixers can use Flynn right away as their backup 1, orchestrating the offense while setting the tone on defense. His off-ball acumen also makes him playable next to a bigger playmaker, one the Sixers happen to employ in Simmons.

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