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.
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.
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.
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