‘Tis the season for NBA draft mayhem, and the Philadelphia 76ers are authoring some top-notch bedlam.
Armed with the third overall pick in this year’s draft, the Sixers have been linked from everyone to Josh Jackson, to Jayson Tatum, to Lonzo Ball, to De’Aaron Fox. And now, according to ESPN.com’s Ian Begley, they’re enamored with North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr.:
It’s anyone’s guess where all of the point guards in the 2017 NBA Draft will end up – but some members of the Philadelphia 76ers remain big fans of North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., per league sources. Smith Jr. is projected as a top-10 pick. But he is not seen as a top-3 pick. So if Philadelphia acquired Smith Jr. on Draft Night it would presumably have traded its No. 3 pick to a position lower in the first round to do so. Smith Jr. has worked out for the Lakers and Magic and met with the Knicks but did not work out for them. It is unclear if he will work out for Philadelphia but he’s expected to work out in front of several teams on Thursday in a private workout, sources confirmed. Smith Jr. may also work out for Boston. Per league sources, Smith Jr.’s camp and the Celtics have discussed a potential workout for next week. Smith Jr.’s private workout Thursday was first reported by Basketball Insiders. The NY Daily News reported last month that the Sixers were intrigued by both Smith Jr. and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox.
If the Sixers are really interested in Smith, they needn’t just target a trade-down with the Sacramento Kings, owners of the Nos. 5 and 10 picks. They could fall as low as No. 8, to the New York Knicks, and would presumably still have a chance to get the point guard. They might even be able to get him with Sacramento’s 10th overall selection, depending on what the Dallas Mavericks decide to do at No. 9.
What they won’t do is draft Smith third overall. That would be too big of a reach. Even at his peak value, he hasn’t cracked the top five of draft boards. He’s an explosive playmaker, but his jumper is in question and he’s already suffered an ACL injury. Plus, with the Sixers determined to try out Ben Simmons at point guard, it seems as if they’d be better suited with a more off-ball-friendly weapon.
One week separates us from the NBA’s draft, so we’ll know a lot more seven days from now. But, given what we’ve heard thus far, there’s a strong chance the Sixers’ June 22nd intentions remain in flux right up until they’re on the clock—and maybe even beyond.