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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.

Donte DiVincenzo latest Villanova player to declare for NBA draft

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Donte DiVincenzo latest Villanova player to declare for NBA draft

Another Villanova star is moving on ... maybe.

Donte DiVincenzo has declared for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, meaning he can test the draft waters but will maintain his college eligibility should he chose to return to school. 

The redshirt sophomore was voted the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after scoring a career-high 31 points in Villanova' national title win over Michigan. 

“Donte has consistently improved in his time at Villanova through dedication and a commitment to our core values,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “His play this season has created a unique opportunity for him to receive feedback from NBA teams in the draft process. We support Donte fully and our staff will work together with him and his family to help him assess the next step in his basketball career.”

DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. His numbers jumped to 15 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists 54.7 percent shooting during the NCAA Tournament.

He must decide by May 30 if he will enter the draft or return to school.

DiVincenzo is the latest Wildcat to declare for the draft, as the mass exodus of stars continues for Villanova.

Mikael Bridges and Jalen Brunson have declared and hired agents, marking the end of their collegiate careers, while redshirt freshman Omari Spellman will also test the waters.

On the bright side, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall announced they will both return for next season.

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright.