The 76ers finally have a top prospect visiting their practice facility Thursday with just a week remaining until draft night. Malik Monk arrived in Philly on Tuesday according to his Instagram. (Side not: Monk’s a fan of the band the 1975, and they are freaking awesome). Monk has been lost in the shuffle certainly because he’s considered a reach at three. But Philadelphia clearly has interest in the six-three two guard as it should. Monk’s a natural scorer, and he’d help spacing big time as early as this year.
The most popular rumor deals with Sacramento trading the fifth and 10th picks to Philadelphia for the third. If Sacramento offers that deal, Bryan Colangelo better have the league office on speed dial. This time of year, however, there’s always rumors. Some of them end up being relatively true, but usually they are just smoke. Another popular rumor is one of the top-three teams assured Josh Jackson he’d be selected in that position. Jackson cancelled a workout with Boston, and scheduled a second with the Lakers, prompting many to assume the Lakers were the team that promised Jackson. The Lakers won’t reveal who they’re picking even a day before the draft. There’s no reason for them to do that, and plus Los Angeles will bring Lonzo Ball in for a second workout. It’s been reported that Ball didn’t necessarily impress the Lakers brass in his first workout, but Ball isn’t the type of player to impress in individual workouts, and the Lakers know that. Ball’s the second best player in this draft, and if for some reason Los Angeles passes on him, the 76ers better not deal three for five and 10. Ball better be a 76er in that scenario.
This weekend Fox is supposed to visit Philadelphia. The interest, I’m sure, is real, but it’s hard to see Fox making sense in Philadelphia. The 76ers don’t appear desperate to draft a point guard for the sake of drafting one. Some teams consider Fox the third best prospect, I’m sure. Sacramento does. Maybe Philly’s bringing in Fox not just because they have interest, but also to show other teams picking after Philadelphia the team has interest. The best scenario for Philly, outside of Markelle Fultz magically becoming a Sixer or the Lakers bypassing Ball, has to be Sacramento trading five and 10 for three, which I’ll breakdown now.
Five and 10 give Philadelphia endless possibilities in a real impressive draft. According to Draft Express, the fifth would be Jayson Tatum and the 10th Frank Ntilikina. If the trade happens, Ntilikina would be an absolute dream at 10. As for the fifth pick, Jonathan Isaac would be the guy I’d hope Philadelphia draft. In this scenario Philly adds two of the most versatile players on offense and defense. Ntilikina might not be a solid shooter right away, but he’s a great fit next to Simmons defensively. He’s also not expected to contribute right away, which is 100 percent OK with the 76ers. The NBA Finals, again, demonstrated the importance of versatility. Colangelo focused on adding wing depth last draft, adding Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Luwawu-Cabarrot made positive contributions in his first season, while Korkmaz appears to be a player who will make a splash in the NBA as soon as he arrives from Europe.
Let’s say the 76ers keep the third pick with Fultz and Ball presumably gone. What happens now? Jackson appeared to be the guy immediately following the lottery. He’s still could very well be the guy. There hasn’t been much chatter about him in Philadelphia outside of a source saying he was assured a top-three selection. Ian Begley, from ESPN, reported how some in Philly’s front office remaining super interested in Dennis Smith Jr. There’s no such thing as reaching for a player at three as far as I’m concerned. Obviously if you have the opportunity to move down and still get the guy you want, do it. But this notion that Philly picking Smith at three would be some kind of mistake seems trivial. This won’t help anyone, but at this point no name would shock me as Woj reveals Philadelphia’s pick eight minutes before Adam Silver does.
The NBA’s playoffs were a drag. The draft and subsequent offseason, however, will not be. There’s potential for batshit crazy things to happen next week in Brooklyn. What’s LaVar’s reaction if the Lakers bypass on the homegrown superstar? Could Paul George or Jimmy Butler be dealt on draft night? What about Kevin Love? The likelihood of something truly shocking happening appears low, but the NBA has never been short on drama.
Photo from Getty Images (Andy Lyons)