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Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft: Mikal Bridges goes at No. 10

Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft: Mikal Bridges goes at No. 10

Now that the dust has settled on the NBA draft lottery and the combine is over, our pundits provide their latest Sixers mock draft. Here is Matt Haughton’s first version.

First round (10th overall): Mikal Bridges, SF/SG, 6-7/210, Villanova
It appears the Sixers could end up with a player named Bridges with their first pick of the draft, whether that is Miles or Mikal. We’ll give the Sixers the Villanova version in this instance, which is far from a consolation prize.

Bridges took his game to another level in his junior season to help secure a second national championship with the Wildcats. He improved his scoring to 17.7 points per game from 9.8 a season ago. Even with the increase in production, he didn’t sacrifice efficiency. Bridges still shot a robust 51.4 percent from the field. 

That had a lot to do with his long-range marksmanship. Bridges connected on a career-best 43.5 percent of his three-pointers in 2017-18. That pushed him to 40.0 percent from deep during his three years at ‘Nova despite the fact that he shot just 29.9 percent on threes as a freshman.

Along with the improved three-point shooting, what has really made Bridges a likely lottery selection is his standout defense. With great technique and a seven-foot wingspan, he has the ability to defend multiple positions at the NBA level.

The lasting image of the Sixers’ perimeter players missing one jumper after another and getting circles run around them by Boston’s wings should be more than enough reason to jump on Bridges at No. 10.

First round (26th overall): Dzanan Musa, SF/SG, 6-9/195, Bosnia and Herzegovina
With precious few roster spots and an eye on free agency, Sixers president Bryan Colangelo already admitted the team could go the draft-and-stash route at No. 26. If they are able to land Musa, who is widely regarded as the second-best international prospect behind possible No. 1 pick Luka Doncic, that would be considered a win for the franchise.

Musa can fit the bill as a quick-trigger scorer with the ability to catch and shoot off screens or rise up off the dribble. In 67 games this past season for Cedevita of Croatia, Musa averaged 12.3 points (47.6 percent shooting from the field, 31.9 percent from three), 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Musa made a big impression for his national team play and in EuroCup action as he received the EuroCup Basketball Rising Star award, an honor that has gone to NBA players Victor Claver, Jonas Valanciunas and Kristaps Porzingis in recent years.

There are some issues with Musa that start with his frame. Despite being 6-9, he is frail and could get pushed around at the next level. He also reportedly has an explosive competitive side that rubs teammates the wrong way at times.

Either way, the Sixers can afford to make a run at a player who just turned 19 earlier this month and some have compared to Manu Ginobili.

Second round (38th overall): Elie Okobo, PG/SG, 6-2/180, France
Of the Sixers’ four second-round picks last season, two ended up being draft-and-stash prospects (Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort) and two were traded (Jawun Evans, Sterling Brown).

Expect that trend to continue in the 2018 draft as the Sixers opt for the combo guard Okobo with their first second-rounder. The two sides already have some familiarity after the Sixers were one of Okobo’s pro workouts last summer before he removed his name from draft consideration.

Whatever advice the 20-year-old received in those pre-draft workouts, he appeared to take to heart. Okobo’s production this past season saw a major boost for France Pro A squad Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez. In 34 games (31 starts), he recorded 12.9 points on 47.6 percent field goal shooting and 39.4 three-point shooting to go along with 4.7 assists and 2.7 boards a game.

Okobo could be a stash candidate you see stateside sooner rather than later if the Sixers select him.

Second round (39th overall): Gary Trent Jr., SG, 6-6/210, Duke
Whether the Sixers decide to use this pick for themselves or ship it to another team, the final destination is bound to be satisfied.

With his strong frame and long-range shooting (40.2 percent on three-pointers), Trent has the makings of an ideal shooting guard from an offensive standpoint. Even while playing a secondary role behind teammates Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen, he managed to put up 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per contest in his lone season at Duke.

If the Sixers think they’re going to lose some of that scoring pop off the bench, Trent would be worth latching on to at this point in the draft.

Second round (56th overall): Raymond Spalding, PF/C, 6-10/210, Louisville
Did you think the Sixers would go an entire draft and not take a big man?

Spalding makes moving up and down the court look easy and throwing down monster dunks even easier. He improved on the boards (8.7 a game last season) and his timing on blocked shots (1.7 a night) in his first full year as a starter.

He definitely could stand to put on some more weight to bang in the post against NBA bodies. However, it’s not something that should overly concern teams.

It’s highly unlikely the Sixers wouldn’t pick up Richaun Holmes' relatively cheap team option for next season, but if not, Spalding is a player in a similar mold that could fill that void. 

Second round (60th overall): Trade
Take your pick on this one. There are always teams that jump up with a trade offer at the last minute in an attempt to get a coveted player in those final few slots. 

If the Sixers do keep the pick, look for them to go the stash route with someone like Latvian forward Rodions Kurucs or Serbian guard Vanja Marinkovic.

NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

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USA Today Images/Derick E. Hingle

NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

It didn’t take long for the NBA offseason to begin in earnest.

Just two days after the Raptors clinched the NBA title, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired star center Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Pelicans are getting Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 selection in this year’s draft. 

The move has massive big-picture implications for the league. The Lakers now have a six-time All-Star with career averages of 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks to pair with LeBron James.

New Orleans got a substantial haul in return. Ball and Ingram, two former No. 2 overall picks, are both 21 years old. A Villanova product, Hart couldn’t build on a promising rookie campaign last year but has the makings of someone who can be a valuable NBA role player for many years. The Pelicans will also feel they have a real chance to land a star(s) with the three first-round picks, whether through the draft or through subsequent trades. They already had the No. 1 pick in this year's draft and are expected to select the electric Zion Williamson. 

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Lakers gave up all that for one guaranteed year of Davis — Haynes says Davis will enter free agency after this year. The fact that Toronto’s gamble to trade for one year of Kawhi Leonard before he hit free agency paid off could spark a league-wide trend of banking on short-term "rentals" for stars (see story). 

For the Sixers, the first, obvious takeaway from the trade is that their biggest rival failed to land Davis — the Celtics were reportedly interested in him, but The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports Boston refused to make Jayson Tatum available, which stunted negotiations. 

It’s unclear at the moment how the trade might affect Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris, the Sixers' two big-name free agents. Haynes reported Friday that Butler, as expected, will decline his player option. He also reported the Lakers “have genuine interest” in Butler. The Sixers hold Butler’s Bird Rights and are the only team who can offer him a five-year, $190 million deal.  

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2019 NBA draft profile: Louis King has a ton of upside for the Sixers in the second round

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USA Today Images

2019 NBA draft profile: Louis King has a ton of upside for the Sixers in the second round

Position: Forward

Height: 6-8    

Weight: 195

School: Oregon

King, a forward out of Jersey City, New Jersey, bounced around three different high schools. That didn’t prevent him from being a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American. King chose to attend Oregon over Kansas, among others.

King spent just one season at Eugene but made a strong impact. He helped the Ducks win the Pac-12 Tournament and a pair of NCAA Tournament games before losing to national champion Virginia. King made the conference’s All-Freshman team and was also named to the All-Pac-12 Tournament team after posting 16.5 points and shooting 40 percent from three in four tourney games.

Strengths

You can see why King was considered one of the top 25 recruits in the country coming out of high school. He has tremendous size and length but is also super skilled. He can really shoot the basketball, hitting 38.6 percent of his threes and 78.5 percent of his free throws in his lone season at Oregon. He’s not just a spot-up guy either. He showed the ability to shoot off the dribble and looked pretty natural doing it. He has the size of a power forward but has a perimeter skill set. His length and athleticism project extremely well on the defensive end at the next level. He has a chance to be the switchable defender most teams are looking for in the increasingly positionless NBA.

Weaknesses

You can also see why King will likely land in the second round. He’s under 200 pounds and while his profile defensively projects well at the next level, it’s most definitely a projection. He’s timid and you could see him getting bullied at the next level by bigger, stronger players. He’s definitely a little raw as far his decision making and shot selection. His feel for the game in general could be better. He also suffered a torn meniscus during his senior year in high school that caused him to miss the beginning of last season.

Fit

There are plenty of tools to work with here, but King is likely going to be a redshirt-type player if a decent team drafts him. Offensively, his skill set is special at his size. If he can develop his feel for the game and put on some muscle, he could turn into something special. Should the team that takes a shot at King be the Sixers? At 24, definitely not. At 33 or 34? Perhaps. At 42? It’s a no-brainer. You can add King to your roster and have him stay fresh and develop in Delaware. He’ll be coached into your system while getting to spend time around your NBA team.

“He’s really skilled,” director of scouting Vince Rozman said after the team had King in for a workout last week. “He has great size. He can handle and kind of make plays off the dribble … His shot is obviously very, very attractive and projectable. He’s here for a reason. There’s no doubt.”

King might not be the sexiest pick, but as we’ve seen from this year’s NBA champions, sometimes it’s worth taking a flyer on a projectable player that can develop in the G League. He may not help the Sixers in the present but could develop into a big part of their future.

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