Tre Jones

2020 NBA mock draft roundup 3.0: Sizing up a few possibilities for Sixers

2020 NBA mock draft roundup 3.0: Sizing up a few possibilities for Sixers

The NBA’s draft lottery, combine and early entry withdrawal deadline have all been indefinitely postponed since our last mock draft roundup. We’ve also done a first-round mock draft of our own, giving the Sixers Tyrell Terry from Stanford.

Here’s a look at who analysts have the Sixers taking with the 22nd pick in some recent mock drafts:

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic 

Jahmi’us Ramsey (Texas Tech) 

Vecenie: “I’m a bit less enthused about Ramsey than some seem to be. Does he do enough other stuff outside of scoring on jumpers? And realistically, I have a few questions about his ability to do that at a high level. About 68 percent of his points last season came either out on the break or off jump shots. He’s not particularly adept as a shooter off the dribble, having made those at just a 33.3 effective field goal percentage. On top of that, he only made 64 percent of his foul shots.”

It’s unusual to see a 40-plus percent three-point shooter with a free throw percentage near Ramsey’s range. Foul shooting tends to be an excellent indicator of three-point success in the NBA, so that, along with the off the dribble inefficiency Vecenie highlighted, is concerning. The positives with Ramsey are that he’s a decent athlete, built well and has an obvious pathway toward helping an NBA team if his outside shooting pans out (see draft profile). 

Jeff Goodman, Stadium

Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama) 

Goodman: “The Sixers could use a backup point guard, and Lewis is a guy who can come in and play with a speed similar to Ben Simmons. Lewis has another gear, and is also an above-average perimeter shooter.” 

Lewis’ speed is the thing you notice right away, closely followed by his thin frame, but he has plenty of other attractive qualities. The 6-foot-3, 165-pound guard was strong across the board as a sophomore, averaging 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds. Putting fit aside, it seems there’s a good chance he’d be the best player available if he’s still around at No. 22. 

Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report 

Nico Mannion (Arizona) 

Wasserman: “A projected lottery pick early in the season, Mannion now looks like a possible value pick later in the first round. He lacks burst for blowing by or finishing, having totaled just 15 field goals at the basket in the half court. But there is enough skill tied to his shot-making versatility and passing for Mannion to serve as a useful second-unit guard.”

The lack of explosiveness Wasserman describes is one factor that could dissuade the Sixers with Mannion, since the team could really use a player that can attack the rim with little to no assistance from his teammates. Mannion constantly look to push the ball ahead, runs the pick-and-roll well and can also play off the ball (see draft profile). 

Danny Cunningham, Complex 

RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers) 

Cunningham: “As far as Hampton goes, this is admittedly a pretty far slide for him down the first round. He went and played professionally in the NBL and played less than 20 minutes per game. It feels tough to gauge just how good he is based on that. But it can be said that he has a high upside athletically and that his jumper needs work, which is nothing new for a Sixers guard."

If Hampton is still on the board at No. 22, the Sixers would have an interesting decision to make. He shot just 29.4 percent from three-point range this season and struggled defensively, but it might be tempting to bank on his potential. The team owns four second-round picks (Nos. 34, 36, 49 and 59) and could still target a player or players who fit the “immediate contributor” label later in the draft. 

Tyler Byrum and Chase Hughes, NBC Sports Washington 

Devin Vassell (Florida State) 

Byrum and Hughes: “Vassell made a big leap during his sophomore season for the 'Noles. He's one of the best outside shooters in this class (41 percent last year) and can also get to the rim. He's got a thin, rangy frame and may have to bulk up a bit to be effective finishing at the basket once he reaches the pros.”

We’d be surprised to see Vassell fall this far. In the event he does, the 6-foot-7 wing is a classic 3-and-D prospect who’d likely be worth taking for the Sixers (see draft profile). 

A. Sherrod Blakely, NBC Sports Boston 

Tre Jones (Duke) 

Blakely: “Jones is not going to wow you with his shooting, passing or athleticism. But he’s talented enough in all those areas to help any team. And being available this late in the draft makes him a high-reward, low-risk pick. Jones has tremendous leadership skills which enable him to run a team and — maybe most important at the next level — he has momentum-swinging ability.”

Jones is a dependable, winning player. Though he doesn’t appear to have an incredibly high ceiling, he did make a significant jump as a sophomore. He went from a 26.2 percent three-point shooter as a freshman to hitting 36.1 percent from long range this past season. 

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2020 NBA mock draft roundup 2.0: Nico Mannion and Josh Green could be interesting options for Sixers

2020 NBA mock draft roundup 2.0: Nico Mannion and Josh Green could be interesting options for Sixers

In our second NBA mock draft roundup, we’ll highlight a few mocks that we either didn’t cover in our first edition or which came out within the last couple of weeks. Two Arizona prospects are popular selections for the Sixers.

Tyler Byrum and Chase Hughes, NBC Sports Washington

Josh Green (Arizona)

Jeff Zillgitt, Scott Gleeson and Mark Medina, USA Today 

Josh Green 

Byrum and Hughes: “On a loaded Arizona squad, Green developed other areas of his game. He hasn't shown the talent, or necessarily needed to, that will make him a coveted prize of the draft. Green has NBA athleticism but will need to prove he can score more efficiently if he wants to solidify a spot in the first round.”

USA Today: “Green played alongside other talented freshmen at Arizona and established himself with his 3-point shot and ability to find his spots in half-court sets. Really improved from 3-point range in the final month of the season (13-for-27) and could turn into a solid two-way player.”

Our Amy Fadool also had the Sixers taking Green (see mock draft). The 6-foot-6 shooting guard shot 42.4 percent from the floor in his one season at Arizona, 36.1 percent from three-point range. Though Green is capable of pump faking and attacking the rim off closeouts, how teams evaluate his outside shot will likely be a key factor in this unusual pre-draft process.

It’s worth noting prospects have said in the past that they shoot a high volume of shots at the Sixers’ workouts as the team aims to gain as much data as possible about players’ jumpers through game-speed reps at their practice facility in Camden that can later be analyzed on film. Brett Brown, then serving as interim GM, mentioned the team studied Zhaire Smith’s “trajectories and arcs and variance of misses” from his pre-draft workouts before deciding he was their “1B” in the 2018 draft. Green’s release doesn’t appear to be the quickest or most consistent, and the Sixers won’t have the opportunity to assess it as they typically would.

The 19-year-old is an impressive athlete and defender. He already has a good relationship with fellow Australian Ben Simmons

James Ham, NBC Sports Bay Area 

Nico Mannion (Arizona)

Brad Rowland, Uproxx 

Nico Mannion 

A. Sherrod Blakely, NBC Sports Boston 

Nico Mannion 

Ham: “ ... There may be a team that falls in love with his play making ability in the teens, but if not, Mannion would make a nice addition to a team in desperate need of affordable second team help.”

Rowland: “Because of his weird season at Arizona, Mannion seems to be all the way out of the lottery conversation and it wouldn’t abjectly stun me if he fell to the second round. Philly would be an intriguing fit for him, simply because Mannion wouldn’t have to be a full-time starter. He can spell Ben Simmons, using his creation aptitude and ability to run a team. If he never becomes a high-end shooter, it’s not going to work, but that’s a bet that a team can make.”

Blakely: “Mannion’s ability to play both on and off the ball allows him to fit in well here. … As a lead guard, he has good court vision and has shown himself to be a willing passer while keeping defenses off balance with his change-of-pace style of play.”

Mannion is a creative 6-foot-3 point guard. As the writers above say, he’d clearly be a backup option to Ben Simmons on the Sixers, though one who has shown he can sprint around off-ball screens and shoot off movement.

He sets up his teammates very well and has both range and touch on his floater, but Mannion isn't a player who can regularly break down defenders off the dribble and get to the rim. Mannion lacks length and strength, which also hurts him defensively.

He was an inefficient shooter at Arizona (39.2 percent from the field, 32.7 percent on threes), but his jumper looks better than the percentages suggest. Again, NBA teams won’t have the tools they normally would to judge his shot, although there’s been plenty of attention on Mannion’s game for a while. Chris Ballard profiled him for Sports Illustrated when he was 15 years ago, labeling Mannion a “sorta-maybe basketball prodigy.”

Bryan Kalbrosky, Rookie Wire 

Tre Jones (Duke)

“The 76ers have suffered from a lack of depth in their backcourt behind Ben Simmons. But selecting Duke point guard Tre Jones would be an immediate answer to this problem. Jones, who won ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is arguably the best defensive point guard in this draft class. This will help earn him playing time right away in big moments. Plus, he is able to be a floor general and lead the offense when Simmons is not on the court.”

Casey Feeney profiled Jones for us here. The 20-year-old Jones made substantial improvements from Year 1 to Year 2 at Duke and has experience playing with NBA talent in high-pressure games. He comes across as a “high floor” prospect, someone who should be able to run an offense, play tough defense and have a long NBA career. 

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2020 NBA draft profile: Tre Jones is a stellar defender who could fit well on the Sixers

2020 NBA draft profile: Tre Jones is a stellar defender who could fit well on the Sixers

Tre Jones

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 185 pounds 
School: Duke

Looking at the 2020 NBA draft prospects, there might not be a player that has been more closely scrutinized than Tre Jones. Such is life when you’re the point guard at Duke.

A look at Jones’ two years in Durham is a study in contrasts. In his first season, he played Ringo in a Fab Four freshman class that included Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. (Apologies to Joey Baker for not being included in that group.) Oftentimes, Jones would defer to his more prominent teammates to the point of disappearing offensively in games.

Jones was the lone member of that unit to return to school for a sophomore season. The Minnesota native emerged as the team’s leader and most complete player en route to earning ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. Only Shane Battier and Malcolm Brogdon have accomplished that double this century.

But how does Jones’ game translate to the NBA? Let’s examine his strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths 

Excellent defender: Jones earned that Defensive Player of the Year award on merit. The best example of his prowess on defense came in his last college game, a 13-point win over rival North Carolina. In that contest, Jones placed the clamps on likely lottery pick Cole Anthony. The UNC star scored just 9 points on 4 of 14 shooting while adding only three assists in 39 minutes. 

You can count the number of on-ball defenders who were better than Jones in the NCAA last season on one hand. That said, the 6-foot-3 guard will have to continue to develop strength if he’s going to disrupt NBA-caliber point guards on a consistent basis.

Embraces the moment: As mentioned above, the affable Jones willingly played facilitator in his freshman season. But in his second season, Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils counted on Jones to take the team’s big shots. Obviously, one could point to the game-tying buzzer beater in Duke’s other game with North Carolina last season as evidence of that. But there were countless times in 2020 when Jones read the moment and made a play when his team needed it.

Jones will not be a primary offensive option in the NBA, but his defense has the opportunity to keep him on the floor at the end of games. He won’t be afraid to take and make big shots in those instances.

Weaknesses 

Shooting: Tre is actually the second Jones to make his way through Duke in recent years. His brother Tyus, you may recall, starred for the 2015 national champions alongside Jahlil Okafor. Tyus displayed a great deal of offensive weapons in his lone season at Duke. The younger Jones is slightly more limited on the offensive side of the ball, specifically when comparing the two as shooters.

Tre shot over 42 percent from the field as a sophomore, a tick up from his freshman campaign. But where he really improved was as a three-point shooter, going from 26.2 point to 36.1 percent. Jones will need to continue to improve that part of his game, because NBA coaches are going to help off him initially and force him to hit open shots.

To his credit, Jones is a good free throw shooter (over 75 percent from the foul line in both seasons at Duke), and he gets better in that department late in games.

Ball handling:  A willing passer and good decision maker, Jones is the type of player you want to play alongside. But he’s not a point guard that can get anywhere he wants off the dribble. He’ll need screens in order to consistently get into the paint as an NBA player. 

His handle is also a little loose for a player of his size. That didn’t cost him much in college, but it will be a different story next season.

Fit 

Chances are that Jones will likely fall to the bottom part of the draft’s first round, and that might be a blessing in disguise for the 20-year old. He’ll never be the type of player that can change a franchise. But Jones has the potential to be a fit for a good team like the Sixers, initially as an eighth or ninth man. One could see Jones providing capable defense while taking some minutes as a lead ball handler when Ben Simmons needs a rest. He’d also provide the potential for giving the Sixers a ridiculous shutdown lineup of Jones, Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Joel Embiid and any other player you’d like.

In a best-case scenario, the Duke star becomes Kyle Lowry, a tenacious defender that runs his team and does enough offensively to be a factor. But if he doesn’t become a better offensive player, he might be relegated to NBA journeyman. I’d bet Jones ends up as a solid contributor to playoff teams for the better part of the next decade.

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