Slowly but surely, the NBA draft is getting closer. We have a date, anyway.
The draft is set for Nov. 18, and we also have some reported details about how the pre-draft process will work. Beginning Monday, the plan is for prospects to drive to the nearest NBA team market and be taken through shooting drills, strength and agility testing and medical testing by league officials, per multiple reports.
As we shift to this next stage, we’ll take a look at who a few recent mock drafts have the Sixers taking in the first round with the 21st pick. As a reminder, the Sixers also have four second-round picks — 34, 36, 49 and 58.
Obviously, the composition of the Sixers’ front office — still the same as it was the day the season ended — continues to hover over any topic related to the team’s decision-making.
Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky)
O’Connor: “Maxey’s stock is all over the place. Some execs consider him a top-10 pick. Others say he’s a late first-round pick. The Sixers want to contend now, but taking a risk in the draft might be their best bet to take an immediate leap. Maxey has flashed tough shot-making skills, which is what Philadelphia needs. He is raw and the results are inconsistent, but maybe things will start to click.”
It would probably be hard to argue with this pick if Maxey falls to No. 21. He’s still developing and his jumper is questionable (29.2 percent from three-point range), which are two qualities that could be worrisome on the surface, but he’s a combo guard who can create his own shot and plays outstanding on-ball defense. Maxey has a charismatic personality and seems to simply love playing basketball and learning how to get better. Perhaps the Sixers would target a more experienced player(s) early in the second round if they drafted Maxey. He's represented by Klutch Sports Group and played with Ben Simmons, LeBron James and others in open runs during the NBA's hiatus.
Tyrell Terry (Stanford)
Wasserman: “The 76ers might already be thinking about Terry, who'd give them another ball-handler and shooter. Teams have questioned how much his listed 6'1", 160-pound frame will hold him back, but sources say his latest measurements show he's grown and added weight. Regardless, his skill level and efficiency at Stanford were strong enough to bet on at No. 21.”
Terry looks to be a strong potential first-round fit for the Sixers after posting 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his one year at Stanford, shooting 40.8 percent from three-point territory. His shooting is the biggest draw, but the fact that he can make plays off closeouts and move the ball effectively within the offense is attractive too. If he’s gained both height and weight, as Wasserman reports, that might allay concerns about his stature and the possibility of opponents picking on him defensively.
Zeke Nnaji (Arizona)
Ham: “Nnaji might drop a little further down the board than here, but his skill set is slightly unique. He has a nice jumper that most folks believe will eventually translate to the NBA 3-point line. He also can rebound and his 7-foot-1 wingspan and high-end athleticism make him a prospect worth keeping an eye on.”
Nnaji was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. He’d be a curious first-round pick for the Sixers, in our view, as it appears unlikely he’d be either the best player available or the best fit at No. 21. Josh Green and Nico Mannion are two other Arizona freshmen the Sixers might consider in the draft.
Grant Riller (College of Charleston)
Boone: “The Sixers need someone who can create their own shot and run the offense, and Grant Riller -- a four-year player at Charleston -- can fill both those needs. He's a ridiculously skilled creator who can pull-up and score but also gets to the rim easily and has good finishing ability. His vision isn't advanced, but his offensive firepower and capability of making basic reads would lift Philadelphia's thin backcourt.”
Boone sums up the case for Riller well. He didn’t face elite competition often at the College of Charleston and doesn’t have great size for the NBA (6-foot-3, 190 pounds). Still, one can easily envision the Sixers hoping the 23-year-old Riller could help right away as a backup ball handler and scorer off the bench.
RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers)
Johnson: “… Hampton may be a roll of the dice, but he has the size and skill set needed to play either on or off the ball. That would be helpful, but the question is how ready is he to contribute immediately.”
The 19-year-old Hampton went to New Zealand instead of college and averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 17 games for the Breakers. Among the questions with Hampton are his defensive fundamentals and awareness, his jump shot, and whether he can efficiently run an NBA offense. Hampton was a top high school prospect and his potential remains intriguing.