OG Anunoby

NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

NBA Draft Combine: Seven prospects who could fit the Sixers

With the NBA draft lottery just eight days away, the draft process is in full swing.

The NBA Draft Combine takes place this Thursday and Friday and while many potential top picks are skipping the two-day event, there will still be a bundle of talent among the 67 attendees. 

If draft positions stay the same, the Sixers would draft fourth overall while also holding four second-round selections. There is about a 50-50 chance the Lakers' pick, which is top-three protected, will convey this draft (Check out our NBA Draft Lottery Simulator for more). With the ability to trade up and down, the Sixers can really play in any part of the draft they want. 

Therefore, beyond watching the presumed top picks in-depth, it's worth taking a peek into the rest of the draft and who can fit the Sixers' needs. There will be plenty of time to talk about Markelle Fultz and De'Aaron Fox, the only presumed top-five talents attending the combine. 

Here are some of the other combine attendees to keep an eye on:

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/215)
There's always potential value to be had with injured players. The Eagles knew that last week when they got a top-15 talent with their mid-second-round pick. Anunoby will need to answer questions about his health after knee surgery ended his sophomore season early. Anunoby won't be able to participate in 5-on-5 competition during the combine, but teams will get their first look at where he is in the recovery process.

Anunoby is currently projected to be chosen in the middle of the first round after being a surefire top-10 pick before his injury. The Sixers would need to trade down (or up) to get him and he is still a project offensively, but there's the very real chance he could be an elite defensive wing almost immediately. He's that talented with the ability to guard nearly anyone. 

Luke Kennard, guard, Duke (6-6/202)
Kennard is another mid-first-round talent and he'd fit a significant need for the Sixers: Shooting. There are doubts about how the other parts of Kennard's game translate to the NBA, but the Duke product is a lethal shooter. The sophomore guard shot 43.8 percent from long range last season while taking over five shots from deep per game. 

What else Kennard can do is the issue. He was a defensive liability at times for the Blue Devils and his ability to create may not be suitable for the next level. Still, elite shooting translates loud and clear and the Sixers could use a spot-up sniper next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to space the floor.

Jonathan Jeanne, center, France (7-2/210)
I know, I know. A center. In the immediate future, Jeanne doesn't fit the Sixers. The potential second-round pick is a raw player currently overseas and he hasn't yet had much of an opportunity to showcase his skills. What intrigues NBA teams is that he's 7-foot-2, has a 7-foot-7 wingspan and can go out to the three-point line. That's a modern center.

There are a few reasons Sixers fans should be intrigued. First, the combine is his first chance to strut his stuff in the U.S. Beyond that, the Sixers probably don't have room on their roster to hold all four of their second-round picks. If they find that they can't trade out of those spots, Jeanne could be a potential stash as he continues to develop in France. And lastly, adding center depth actually makes sense for the Sixers, as the end of 2016-17 made all too clear.

Dwayne Bacon, guard/forward, Florida State (6-5/202)
Jonathan Isaac is the most high-profile wing in this draft from the Seminoles, but Bacon is worth monitoring as well. The sophomore wing was one of the most productive players for an overaching FSU team, taking the offensive load much more often than Isaac, whose game is more projectable. Bacon is the type of player who could contribute offensively early on.

He'll be 22 in August, so he isn't young by draft standards. Still, there's room to grow in his game, especially if he can better utilize his size defensively. For now, he's more of a slasher than the shooter the Sixers may need. 

Nigel Williams-Goss, guard, Gonzaga (6-4/182)
Let's get to some more guards. You may remember Williams-Goss from his time leading the Zags to the cusp of their first national championship, only to be denied by North Carolina. Williams-Goss dove headfirst into the draft, hiring an agent and forgoing his senior year with Gonzaga. 

A traditional point guard with average shooting, the Gonzaga floor general looks like a late second-round pick, if he's drafted at all. However, he could still be an upgrade for the Sixers' bench. His 5-on-5 performance is something to watch beyond his measurables.

Davon Reed, guard, Miami (6-6/208)
For a three-and-D guard at an ACC school, Reed stays surprisingly out of the spotlight. It makes sense that a four-year, older player could slip under the radar and Reed is currently projected to go undrafted. Still, a 6-foot-6 wing who can drain threes and defend well is a good value late in the draft. In other years, Reed would have more of a chance to get picked. Or if he was an international player you could stash.

He's a player who needs to prove himself at the combine. He averaged over 14 points per game to help lead Miami into the NCAA Tournament this spring and could profile as a bench rotation piece for any team. The 2017 draft is packed to the brim with potential, so late second-round picks will have a lot of a value this year.

Tyler Dorsey, guard, Oregon (6-4/180)
Mr. March for Oregon declared for the draft with the intention to sign with an agent, leaving the Ducks after two seasons and a Final Four run. Dorsey was front and center for that run, hitting big shots in the clutch, particularly to finish off the team's regional games. The 21-year-old guard can certainly shoot.

Yet leaving for the draft was questionable. He's ranked 77th overall by Draft Express and could go undrafted, so the combine is that much more essential. He's not the type of guy who could pass on this opportunity. A shooting guard that can spot up is right up the Sixers' alley, whether drafting in the second round or trying to find players to compete in training camp.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac-12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida State, 6-11/205
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana, 6-8/235
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA, 6-6/190
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac-12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona, 7-0/225
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington, 6-4/195
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17 points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac-12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky, 6-4/185
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas, 6-8/203
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke, 6-8/204
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.

10 NBA draft prospects for the Sixers' wish list

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USA Today Images

10 NBA draft prospects for the Sixers' wish list

It's the holiday season and while you may or may not have gotten what was on your wish list, the Sixers won't be able to look under the tree at their new prospect gifts until June. With that in mind, here's a look at 10 NCAA hoopers that would fit the Sixers moving forward.

(Don't worry, this doesn't include everyone, but there are certainly no true centers to clog up the Sixers' frontcourt further).

Top of the draft (Sixers' own pick)

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Monk burst on the scene as the latest Kentucky freshman headlining a team full of one-and-done prospects. His 47-point game against North Carolina was a sterling example of why Monk is a top prospect: No matter who a veteran UNC team threw at him, he was able to get his shot inside and out of the perimeter and make the big shots when asked of him.

A two-guard like Monk who can create for himself is certainly tantalizing when the Sixers seem relatively devoid of that presence at the moment. Monk may be a little small for a shooting guard, but his offense has the potential to more than make up for it. As I'll mention multiple times in this post, if Monk will be playing alongside a 6-10 point guard like Ben Simmons, a key will be his ability to knock down shots as a spot-up shooter.

Game to watch Monk: No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas, Jan. 28, 6 p.m. on ESPN

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Fultz is a fantastic quandary for the Sixers: Do they want a true point guard when Simmons is presumably the primary ball-handler of the future? While Fultz's fit is harder to define than Monk's, his talent is too enticing to leave him off this list as the Washington freshman is tearing up the college ranks.

In 12 games, Fultz is averaging 22 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He leads the Huskies with 2.9 turnovers per game as well. Admittedly, it's a limited sample size, but the fantastic frosh has also made 46.8 percent of his threes. While Fultz certainly needs some more polish to his game, those numbers are sure to take him far.

The Simmons conundrum, a great problem to have for the Sixers, makes Fultz a questionable fit. He is a great off-the-dribble shooter, which is a skill that doesn't have as much use alongside Simmons. But if you're drafting best player available and the Sixers find themselves at the top of the draft, it's hard to pass on a player this talented.

Game to watch Fultz: Washington at No. 18 Arizona, Jan. 29, 3:30 p.m. on FOX

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
Ball is UCLA's point guard, so some of the same fit questions exist with Ball as with Fultz. However, Ball appears to be a truly elite shooter, something the Sixers sorely need. Like Fultz, he's hit a high percentage of threes (42.9 percent) and has put up strong scoring and assists numbers.

The freshman's size provides even more value as he should be able to guard ones and twos at the next level. If he can develop as a defender and add efficient and quality shooting, he can work alongside Simmons in the Sixers' lineup.

Game to watch Ball: No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 18 Arizona, Jan. 21, 4 p.m. on CBS

Mid-lottery potential (Lakers' pick)

Ivan Rabb, forward, California (6-10/215)
Rabb and Lauri Markkanen, two men down on this list, are both examples of fours who could fit alongside Joel Embiid. After all, even if a pairing like Noel and Embiid works well, Noel is a free agent after the season and will be costly. A first round pick, even with the new CBA, will be a solid asset, particularly if they're a player that can grow alongside Embiid.

Rabb is a four who can grab rebounds and rim run quite well, although the rest of his offensive game can still use some work. He has not made a three in his college career (he's a sophomore), so he won't be able to stretch the floor all that well. While Markkanen is more of a shooter, the four next to Embiid doesn't necessarily need to be an offensive force or a strong shooter. Rabb's ability to clean up on the glass would be greatly appreciated in the Sixers' frontcourt.

Game to watch Rabb: California at No. 2 UCLA, Jan. 5, 9 p.m. on ESPN

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/215)
You can see a bit on Anunoby in this week's risers/fallers, but I'll reiterate he is an elite athlete. He burst onto the scene at last years NCAA Tournament when he played fantastic defense on Kentucky's collection of guards, including Jamal Murray. Anunoby, only 19 years old as a sophomore, already has defensive skills of a player much older and brings an electricity at both ends.

He's one of those players who can truly guard multiple positions, potentially ones through fours. That switching ability would complement the versatile Simmons. Anunoby's numbers have improved in increased minutes and role in his sophomore season, although his three-point shooting has taken a bit of a hit as he shoots more than twice as many threes per game.

Game to watch Anunoby: No. 16 Indiana vs. No. 14 Wisconsin, Jan. 3, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
Hailing from Finland, Markkanen has come state-side for college and is making an impact as a power forward his freshman season. Markkanen, who will be 20 years old by June's draft, is a sharp shooter who can space the floor and provide a much-needed spot-up player with length. 

Both of his parents were basketball players in Finland (his father played college ball at Kansas) and he has inherited quite a skill set. He still needs to get a lot stronger to hang in the post at the NBA level, but the Sixers have Embiid to handle that to an extent. He is the type of four that could fit with both Embiid and Simmons, a tantalizing idea. 

Game to watch Markkanen: No. 18 Arizona at No. 20 Oregon, Feb. 4, Time TBD

Second round or trade potential

Jaron Blossomgame, forward, Clemson (6-7/214)
First off, yes, that is his real name. It may be the best name for a prospect ever. The senior forward actually declared for the draft last spring and worked out with the Sixers, so the team will be plenty familiar with the small forward come next year's draft. He currently projects towards the end of the first round, which means he could slip into the second round, where the Sixers will own at least one selection.

Blossomgame's numbers have actually declined from his junior to his senior season. His three-point shooting (17.1 percent) has fallen from a sterling 44.6 percent mark last year. He has dished out more assists and decreased his turnovers, so there are signs he is maturing as an offensive player. Still, it'll be important to keep an eye on his game as Clemson reaches ACC play. The Tigers will be counting on him.

Game to watch Blossomgame: Clemson at No. 21 Florida State, Feb. 5, 12:30 p.m. on ESPNU

V.J. Beachem, forward, Notre Dame (6-8/200)
Beachem is another upperclassmen on this list, a senior who has seen his role for the Fighting Irish increase every season. Like Anunoby, he really came on in March, helping Notre Dame make a run to the Elite 8 in Philadelphia. His counting stats have increased across the board this season, although his shooting percentages are slightly down, albeit in line with his career numbers.

Beachem fits in with a few players on this list as a solid 3-and-D player. He's likely not a starter at the NBA level, something to expect with second round picks, but he can be a strong part of a rotation. The place where he makes the biggest impact is on the defensive end even though he's been asked to also play a large in Notre Dame's offense. 

Game to watch Beachem: No. 25 Notre Dame vs. Clemson, Jan. 7, 3 p.m. on ESPNU

Justin Jackson, forward, North Carolina (6-8/193)
Jackson, like Blossomgame, declared for the draft but later withdrew this spring. The junior's size makes him an ideal small forward and he's taken a step forward for the Tar Heels, who lost some of their primary options to graduation after last season's run to the title game vs. Villanova.

Jackson has improved his three-point shooting from 29.2 percent to 37.5 percent while taking 2.5 more treys per game. He's improved at the free-throw line as well as his numbers across the board. His passing is a definite plus on this side. He needs to improve at the defensive end if he will stick at the NBA level. 

Game to watch Jackson: No. 8 North Carolina at No. 5 Duke, Feb. 9, 8 p.m. on ESPN

Josh Hart, guard, Villanova (6-6/204)
This isn't just a throw-in for local Philly fans: Hart could be a legitimate NBA player and he should be on the Sixers' radar. I said above that the Sixers' lack a strong 3-and-D option and Hart can provide that ... and more. He's taken his game to the next level this year and is a Player of the Year candidate.

Hart projects as a second round pick, so he isn't necessarily a starter moving forward. But he has shown the ability to create for himself or shoot on spot-ups. His defense on twos and threes makes him a very real bench option in the future.

Game to watch Hart: No. 1 Villanova at No. 9 Creighton, Dec. 31, 1 p.m. on FS1