After netting the No. 3 overall pick Tuesday night — their fourth straight top-three pick — the Sixers’ focus now turns to who that selection will be on June 22.
Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo left all options open Wednesday, keeping the door open for either drafting a player at No. 3 or trading the pick.
With the top two picks projected to be Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, the Sixers have to decide to draft for either the best fit or best player available.
One of those prospects is Duke forward Jayson Tatum. Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel spoke Thursday with 97.5 The Fanatic about Tatum and how he would fit with the Sixers.
“One of the things I think in watching Philly, you need shooting,” Capel said. “When you look at the NBA right now, everyone is going to spread the floor, it’s more of an open floor and you need shooting. And there are some guys in this draft — obviously Jayson.
“That’s something he can do. He’s a shot-maker. He can do that.”
Tatum is a projected top-five pick, and he will be in consideration for the Sixers at No. 3. CSNPhilly.com’s Sean Kane has the Sixers considering Tatum but ultimately deciding to draft Kansas forward Josh Jackson. Kentucky guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox (who would be Amy Fadool's pick) are other names to watch.
In his lone season at Duke, Tatum averaged 16.8 points on 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 34.2 percent from three-point range in 29 games. He averaged 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks. He had just three games under 10 points with a career-high of 29. He missed the first eight games of the season because of a foot injury, which Capel said credited for his slow start, as he was finding his legs without much practice time.
“He’s one of the most talented, most gifted offensive guys that I’ve ever seen,” Capel said. “With his footwork, with his shot-making ability, you’re talking about a guy who’s close to 6-9, has a 7-foot wingspan and has a very advanced offensive repertoire. He’s a really competitive guy and you look around the country, and all everyone’s talking about is Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball and in Jayson’s mind, he thinks he’s better than those guys.
"Maybe you try to do a little bit too much right away, but certainly the second part of the season, we felt Jayson was as good as anyone in the country. One of the things that's interesting about him is that you can coach him really hard. He wants to be great. He has the talent where he has a chance to do that."
On Kansas' Josh Jackson
Capel recalled the Blue Devils' matchup with the Jayhawks on Nov. 15, a 77-75 Kansas win. Jackson scored 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting and one three in 18 minutes against Duke.
"I love Josh. I love him as a competitor, as a player," Capel said. "He's incredibly talented, seems like a really good kid. Comes from a good family.
"He's a dog, man — that's the best way to describe him. He's as competitive as a young guy as I've seen in a really long time."
On N.C. State's Dennis Smith
Another prospect Capel is high on is Smith, a freshman point guard from Capel's hometown Fayetteville, North Carolina. Smith averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists in his lone season playing for the Wolfpack.
"I honestly think he's as gifted as any of the guards in this draft," Capel said. "I think the other ones went to programs that were higher profile but he's as talented as any of them. Incredibly explosive and you're talking about a guy that still has that explosion coming off an ACL injury. … I'm a big fan of his and I think whoever drafts him is going to get one of the more talented players in this draft."
On Ben Simmons
It's no secret the Sixers and Brett Brown's plan is to start Simmons out as the team's point guard next season. How that will work out remains to be seen. Simmons missed what would have been his rookie season last year with a Jones fracture. A highly-gifted passer, Simmons was considered to be a point-forward prospect.
But the Sixers do plan on actually playing him at point guard, an idea Capel wasn't so sure can work in the NBA.
"I'm a big believer — this is just me, though I certainly do not have all the answers — it's hard to make a guy a point guard," Capel said. "I think Ben obviously can really pass and he has a great feel for the game. The NBA level is very different than college, certainly from high school. The game is completely different.
"Can it work? Certainly, it can because he's talented. Obviously, Brett would know that better because he sees him every day and he knows his team. I just think he's going to be an outstanding player for the Sixers."
Check out Capel's full interview here, where he discussed Jackson and Smith more in depth, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid.