The July 29 NBA Draft is now close enough that we can simply say it’s next Thursday.
As expected, there’s no consensus for the player the Sixers will take with the 28th pick, but let’s review a few recent mock drafts:
Bones Hyland, VCU
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Hyland won A-10 Player of the Year as a sophomore, averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals. Hyland is thin for the NBA, measuring in at 6-foot-2 without shoes and 169 pounds at the combine, but his length (6-9.25 wingspan) is useful defensively and he’s confident about getting to his spots. And as a shooter, he believes that just about any location on the floor is a viable spot to fire; his range is deep. Hyland’s 2.1/3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t good for a guard. It looks like scoring will be his principal professional skill. The Sixers certainly wouldn’t mind adding perimeter offense off the bench, and Hyland might be on the table at No. 28.
Trey Murphy III, Virginia
Ham: “Murphy is a work-in-progress on the defensive end, but he’s long, athletic and knocked down 43.3 percent from 3-point range this season. He’s climbing up draft boards and he might make it higher than this before it’s all said and done. Philly needs to surround Embiid with shooters and Murphy’s ability to play both the two and the three is intriguing. If they can get him to improve on the defensive end, they could have a late first-round steal.”
Not the first time we’ve seen Murphy in one of our roundups. Like with Cam Johnson, a prospect with some similarities to Murphy when the Suns took him 11th in the 2019 draft, it wouldn’t be a shock if the 21-year-old went much higher than initially projected. There’s not a ton of guesswork required with Murphy — he’s a tall wing with a pretty shot who knows his own game — and there’s still rational hope for defensive improvement with more muscle and more high-level experience.
Sharife Cooper, Auburn
Harper: “Still have the Philadelphia 76ers taking a backup guard here, but with Ayo Dosunmu off the board, Sharife Cooper sneaks in here. Cooper is an electric player with a great feel for the game. He’s just struggled to make shots consistently. He’s been working a lot on refining his jumper into something that works for him. His quickness and ball handling are tremendous. He’d be a nice piece off the bench next to Shake Milton.”
Cooper is a small, skilled pick-and-roll operator. He wasn’t very efficient in 12 college games, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 22.8 percent from three-point territory, but he took 8.6 free throws per game and knocked down 82.5 percent of them. That ability to draw foul shots is one reason Trae Young is a popular comparison.
Jason Preston, Ohio
Goul: “All of the buzz around Philadelphia surrounds the trade status of former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons. With that in mind, the 76ers could consider a point guard at this spot. Preston is a flashy option, who drew some LaMelo Ball comparisons after leading the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament.”
It’s likely not realistic to expect Preston to reach the level of Ball, last season’s Rookie of the Year, but he is indeed a flashy, unconventional passer who enjoys setting up his teammates and rebounds well for his position. He posted 15.7 points, 7.3 boards and 7.3 assists in his junior year at Ohio. Preston’s path to probable NBA draft pick included blogging about the Pistons, a growth spurt and a life-changing post-high school AAU tournament, a story told well by The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III.