The Sixers were determined last year to take Matisse Thybulle and traded with the Celtics to make it happen. Rumors leaked out about their plan to target Thybulle prior to the draft, and now it appears something similar may be happening before president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s first draft at the helm.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, there’s "speculation" that Arkansas wing Isaiah Joe has a promise from the Sixers at either No. 21 or No. 34. The team also has picks No. 36, 49 and 58. The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported last week that “the expectation was that the Sixers intended to select” Joe.
He averaged 16.9 points and made 34.2 percent of his 10.6 three-point attempts per game as a sophomore at Arkansas, but his jumper is much prettier than the numbers. One reason for his three-point mark dropping from 41.4 percent in his freshman season is that Joe suffered a knee injury in January and played through it for five games. He made 13 of 47 shots from long distance during that stretch before having arthroscopic surgery and returning in late February.
The 21-year-old has deep range and is not at all bashful about letting it fly. As a floor spacer, highly willing shooter and spot-up threat in transition, it’s easy to see why the Sixers would be intrigued. The team was 22nd in three-point attempts last season, and more shooting around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is rarely a poor idea.
Joe is also rangy and has flashed defensive promise, averaging 1.5 steals at Arkansas. He does have a thin frame at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds and likely needs to add strength to handle bigger NBA wings.
Stanford guard Tyrell Terry and TCU wing Desmond Bane are two notable prospects who have indicated that the Sixers expressed strong interest in them. UNC’s Cole Anthony, a top high school recruit who had a disappointing single season in college, seems like he might be another name worth monitoring if he falls in the first round.
If all the speculation is valid and other teams know the Sixers’ plans with Joe, that’s obviously not ideal. Like with Thybulle, though, perhaps this is a case where the Sixers are convinced Joe is worth taking and won’t be deterred from that assessment. We’ll get more clarity Wednesday night.