2020 NBA draft: 8 elite college shooters Sixers could target

2020 NBA draft: 8 elite college shooters Sixers could target

It’s not a secret: The Sixers need shooting. But will they be able to find it in the draft? With the remainder of the NBA regular season still in flux due to COVID-19, the draft order has not been finalized. Right now, the Sixers would pick 22nd, thanks to the Markelle Fultz trade that landed them Oklahoma City’s first-round pick this year. But that pick is top-20 protected, so Elton Brand and company may have to sweat it out if more regular-season games are played. An ill-timed Oklahoma City losing streak could cost the Sixers that pick. The Sixers traded away their own 2020 first-round pick in the Tobias Harris deal.

The Sixers also currently have four second-round picks (Nos. 34, 36, 49 and 60). They’ll have a couple chances to get a shooter early in the second round if they don’t see one worth taking in the first round or if the OKC pick doesn’t convey. 

To determine the best shooters in this draft, I searched for players who shot at least 40 percent from the college three-point line and 70 percent from the free throw line. I also looked for players who attempted at least four threes per game.  

After studying video of the draft-eligible players who met the above criteria, I divided them into players who could be first-round targets and second-round targets for the Sixers. 

First-round targets

Aaron Nesmith — 6-6 wing, Vanderbilt (sophomore)
By the numbers this season at Vanderbilt, Nesmith is the best shooter in the draft. He shot 52.2 percent from three-point range on 8.2 attempts per game as a sophomore, an incredible combination of accuracy and volume. But those numbers come with an asterisk. Nesmith’s season was cut short after 14 games due to a foot injury. Almost all those gaudy numbers were put up before SEC play began.

When you watch his clips, though, Nesmith looks the part of an NBA sharpshooter. He has great size and moves without the ball like a young Buddy Hield or JJ Redick. At worst, he’s probably a Joe Harris-type shooter who can play in the rotation for a winning team.

Devin Vassell — 6-7 wing, Florida State (sophomore)
Vassell shot over 41 percent from three-point range in both seasons at Florida State, a good sign that his shooting touch is for real. He attempted 5.5 threes per game this season, so the volume was there as well. He’s a smooth offensive player who can dribble into jumpers or catch and shoot. I’ve seen him described as a “3-and-D” guy, but I think he could be a pure two-guard if a team wanted to use him that way. He has a solid mid-range game and shot 53 percent from the floor as a sophomore. He’s also a good on-ball defender and off-ball defender who forced a lot of deflections for the Seminoles. Vassell reminds me of Robert Covington with more ability to create off the dribble. 

Tyrell Terry — 6-2 guard, Stanford (freshman)
Terry played well enough in his freshman season in Palo Alto to justify him declaring for the draft. A scoring point guard, Terry posted impressive shooting numbers across the board, shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range on 4.9 attempts per game and 89.1 percent from the free throw line.

The most impressive part of Terry’s game is that he can shoot in any type of situation. He can pull up off the dribble, he can catch and shoot coming off curls and screens or pull up from 30 feet. That shooting ability could make him a big-time riser on draft night. However, his lack of size could lead to Terry being available to the Sixers as a potential Landry Shamet replacement.

Saddiq Bey — 6-8 wing, Villanova (sophomore)
After shooting 37.4 percent from three-point range on 3.6 attempts per game as a freshman, Bey improved those numbers a ton as a sophomore, shooting 45.1 percent on 5.6 attempts per game. Those numbers can’t be overlooked. Bey was one of the best long-range shooters in the country this season, regardless of position. He also shot 77 percent from the free throw line. At 6-foot-8, Bey has great size to play the small forward spot in the NBA or even be a small-ball power forward with his outside shooting ability.

Second-round targets

Desmond Bane — 6-6 wing, TCU (senior)
Bane was a consistent shooter throughout his years at TCU, shooting 42.5 percent or better from three-point range as a sophomore, junior and senior. He shot 44.2 percent on 6.5 attempts as a senior, so the volume was there as well.

One thing I like about Bane is he knows how to use the threat of his jumper to set up his drive. He also filled up the stat sheet outside of his scoring, averaging 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a senior. He’s extremely strong at 215 pounds and when guys bounce off him, he can use that space to step back and make shots. He’d be an intriguing second-round pick, but I could see him sneaking into the end of the first round.

Immanuel Quickley — 6-3 wing, Kentucky (sophomore)
Quickley has one of the strangest statistical profiles you’ll ever see. He made just 40.9 percent of his two-point field goals as a sophomore at Kentucky but shot 42.8 percent from three-point range and 92 percent from the free throw line. Those gaps were even more pronounced in SEC play, when Quickley shot 39 percent on twos and 48 percent on threes. 

So, how do you explain those numbers? Well, two things: First, Quickley was clearly not a great finisher in the lane. Secondly, he was wide open on a lot of those three-point attempts. Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans were able to drive into the lane in Kentucky’s offense, collapsing the defense and leading to open shots for Quickley. To his credit, he made a ton of those shots this season. He also set the Kentucky record for free throw percentage, lending more credence to the idea that he could become an elite shooter. The fact that he’s a 6-foot-3 off guard and not much of a playmaker could make him available in the second round.

Payton Pritchard — 6-2 guard, Oregon (senior)
If the Sixers don’t take a point guard in the first round, perhaps Pritchard could be that guy in the second round. He was a consensus First Team All-American as a senior at Oregon, averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 41 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the foul line. His lack of size and NBA athleticism could make Pritchard a second-round pick, but he’d give the Sixers another potential long-range shooter off the bench.

Cassius Winston — 6-1 guard, Michigan State (senior)
Another decorated college point guard, Winston doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an outstanding shooter. He was a career 43 percent three-point shooter and 84 percent free throw shooter at Michigan State. He’s certainly not an elite athlete, but you could do a lot worse than Winston for a player who can run your second unit and make some shots. I could see players like Winston and Pritchard appealing to winning teams at the bottom of the first round, but either or both could slip into the early second round.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Brett Brown previews competitions for spots in Sixers' rotation

Brett Brown previews competitions for spots in Sixers' rotation

Al Horford has played in 13 NBA seasons. He’s now embarking on something close to a 14th.

“It felt like a new season, absolutely,” Horford said Sunday in a video conference call before the Sixers’ second practice at Disney World. “This feels completely new. … Coach is teaching everything, he’s putting us through things and we’re learning everything all over again.”

Horford and Furkan Korkmaz both felt positively about the Sixers’ practice Saturday in Orlando, which Brett Brown described as a competitive, fast-paced affair with 5-on-5 action. 

“As a team, I think we were flying,” Korkmaz said of the team's first practice since March 10. “I was not expecting that practice was going to look like that. … Everybody was trying to do everything, everything had the same desire. After four, five months, I didn’t think we were going to have a good practice, but it was a really, really good practice, so I was impressed.’

Brown sounded confident that the Sixers have returned at a satisfactory fitness base, something he’d prioritized during the NBA’s hiatus. He said Joel Embiid “especially stood out.”

On a strategic front, Brown previewed the jostling for rotation spots he anticipates over the next few weeks, and perhaps during some of the Sixers’ seeding games as well. Health permitting, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris will clearly be in the starting lineup. Otherwise, the composition of the rotation appears to largely be up in the air.

My mindset is I want to look at a set of 10,” he said. “I hope, as we lead up to this, to play 10 people. I think it’s going to shrink to nine at some point — for sure in the playoffs. My bandwidth, my net is wider right now because I really do want to see. I haven’t seen these guys for four months. You get into people like Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks and Mike Scott … and Matisse (Thybulle) and Furkan, and what are we going to do with Al? 

“There needs to be some decisions, and something’s gotta give. You’re not going to play everybody. But initially I hope to play 10 people. It could be you give X player the 10th spot today and you sit somebody — I don’t want to piecemeal minutes — and really give somebody a true opportunity.

Given Brown reiterated that he’s not “worrying too much” about seeding and potential playoff matchups, it wouldn’t be surprising to see playoff rotation minutes be at stake in some form for many of the team’s eight seeding contests. 

‘You’ve got a passport to what you remember’ 

For good reason, questions about whether the NBA’s endeavor to resume the season is wise and can be accomplished safely remain prominent. In the background of all the discussion about fitness and rotations and upcoming scrimmages is the awareness that the objective of playing sports indoors over several months during a pandemic may very well be rather tenuous, regardless of what precautions are taken. 

“We all worry about the virus, in some capacity, sneaking in,” Brown said.

And yet, one can imagine, the ability to enjoy the sport you love, away from all the worries and problems in the world, must provide relief. Brown captured that element well. 

“The freedom of a gymnasium is priceless,” he said. “You take off your mask and you’ve got a basketball in your hands, you’ve got a passport to what you remember and what you feel like brings you to a level of normality that none of us had.” 

The jersey discussion 

His framing of the issue was more diplomatic, but Horford thinks Mike Scott has a valid opinion on the NBA deciding to give players a pre-approved list of social justice messages they can include on the back of their jerseys. 

Horford said he went “back and forth” but will not be using one of the messages. LeBron James told reporters on Saturday he’s made the same choice.

“I kind of understand and share Mike Scott’s sentiment a little bit,” Horford said. “Even though this is a great platform for us to promote things, I think having the ability to kind of say what you want to say and leave it like that ... at the end of the day, everybody makes their own decision — whatever they feel is right, whatever they want to do.”

Scott had criticized the league for not allowing players to have input on the jersey idea.

“I’m all about just doing,” he said Monday, “instead of just saying or posting or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything."

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

2020 NBA restart: What Sixers experienced in quarantine at Disney World

2020 NBA restart: What Sixers experienced in quarantine at Disney World

After the Sixers boarded the plane on Thursday afternoon to head to Orlando, Florida, to enter "the bubble" for the NBA’s restart, Tobias Harris got on the speaker before takeoff.

“Welcome back, y’all. Welcome back!”

The laughs echoed through the rows of empty seats (as mandated by the NBA’s health and safety handbook) on the Sixers' chartered plane.

Upon arrival to the Walt Disney World Campus, the entire traveling party was immediately tested for the coronavirus, both with a saliva test and two nose swabs. (These nose swabs are a much less invasive testing option, in comparison to the deep nasal swabbing that was originally used to test for the virus.) All players and staffers were then given a green wristband to indicate that they were officially in quarantine, which was in effect until Saturday morning, until both coronavirus tests came back negative. A green wristband indicates that a resident cannot leave their room, and security is in place to ensure all residents abide by the league's protocols. 

After testing on Thursday night, the traveling party made its way through socially distanced stations, like the "Health supplies station," to pick up items like Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, before making it to their rooms, where they would reside for at least the next 36 hours.

Meals were provided three times per day and dropped off at each resident's door in compostable containers.

Multiple sources described the meals as "suspect."

An Instagram story from Joel Embiid showed beef ribs, chicken breast, mashed potatoes, pasta, two salads, pretzels, berries, a cheese and nuts plate, and a sandwich as one of the meal options.

Every member of the traveling party was provided with a daily health checklist, which includes taking a “symptom questionnaire” in the MyHealth app, and taking temperature and blood oxygen levels with the provided thermometer and fingertip pulse oximeter.

For the next 36 hours, players found different ways to occupy their time.

For Josh Richardson, quarantine meant watching Netflix, listening to music, and rearranging his room.

For others, like Ben Simmons and Mike Scott, it was spent playing video games (Richardson said on an Instagram Live that he could hear Scott on his gaming headset across the hall).

For rookie Matisse Thybulle, he started perfecting his videography skills in a video he put together documenting Day 1 in the "bubble."  

For Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic provided him entertainment from his balcony.

And for most, they just couldn’t wait to get the “OK” to get out of their room on Saturday morning.

“I've been looking out my window just trying to peep and see the other teams that are here,” Glenn Robinson III told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’m just happy to get out of the room!

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers