For a long time, it was unclear whether the 76ers would get a selection in the upcoming draft. The 76ers traded their first-round pick to the Nets for James Harden. Brooklyn has the option of deferring the draft pick to the next season of their choosing. As a result, the Sixers shifted their focus back to the draft and took advantage of the No. 23 pick they had.
The 76ers should be happy to have the pick because it’s a good one for them. Philadelphia’s lineup has been lacking athleticism and versatile wings for years. There are several notable wing prospects that could address this issue and meet the needs of the 76ers. While there’s been a lot of buzz about the Sixers’ desire to trade the draft pick, the way the board has wobbled could make them reconsider the decision.
There are several prospects that could positively impact the 76ers. However, they must choose very carefully. Let’s take a look at a few names that Philadelphia should stay away from.
3 players the 76ers must avoid in the 2022 NBA draft
Nikola Jovic – Serbia
While it would be fun to pit Joel Embiid against a veritable MVP opponent, it’s not a practical option for the Sixers. The Serbian big man is 6-foot-10 with impressive ball-handling and playmaking skills. Nikola Jovic creates matchup issues due to his size and plans as a possible perimeter player. He is only 19 years old and has a lot of room to grow.
Jovic is certainly an interesting talent within the 76ers’ draft range, but he’s not checked against their needs. He lacks the athleticism and isn’t the defensive-minded wing they should be looking for. The Sixers already have multiple players who essentially have the ball. Adding Jovic to the mix of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey could create some major problems. Channeling his potential to someone who can do more off the ball is the right move for the Sixers.
Jaden Hardy-Guard G-League Ignite
Jaden Hardy’s pick drop was disappointing. The former No. 2 high schooler fell short of expectations in G-League Ignite this season. Hardy was even considered a lottery pick until recent weeks. There were multiple mock drafts that paired Hardy with the 76ers at No. 23. Leveraging value and upside fits Daryl Morey’s typical strategy, as Tyrese Maxey and Jaden Springer have seen over the past two years. While this has been addressed in the past, the Sixers are better off avoiding Jaden Hardy.
In his only season with G-League Ignite, Hardy averaged 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals. He’s shooting a different percentage than the 6-foot-5 guard, shooting just 37.9 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from 3-point range. Jaden Hardy feels like a very good player, but it will take some time to get there. The Sixers’ current winning formula and ball-handling nature don’t make him a match for the Phillies.
Blake Wesley – Wing Notre Dame
Highly regarded after high school, Blake Wesley has fascinating NBA potential. At 6-foot-5, he has an NBA frame. In his lone season in college, Wesley averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He’s shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from 3-point range. Notre Dame products have tons of potential for shot creation and pull-ups. His instincts are as a scorer, but he also shines in the game.
While he fits the profile of a potential Sixers target, Wesley is still early in the development process. It will be a few years before he contributes to a competitive team again. He also struggled to attack the rim in traffic and didn’t have enough free throw lines. Wesley also often takes bad shots.
Daryl Morey and the Sixers typically prioritize long-term value when evaluating draft prospects. While that’s obviously important, the Sixers must prioritize adding players who can contribute to their championship dreams rather than being late. Their lack of cap space and assets has made the offseason tough. This is a unique draft class with multiple options and their development is more advanced than the typical rookie. A long-winger with three years of college experience would be a better fit for Philly. Look for them to pass these three players and target players like Jalen Williams, Christian Braun or Wendell Moore.