Many Philadelphia sports fans and fellow Sixer Sense writers are excited about the 76ers signing of Khalif Wyatt. I’m not.
In three years at Temple, Wyatt proved to be a capable volume scorer, but those skills will not translate well to the NBA. Last season he averaged a respectable 20.5 points, 4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds a game as he took over primary scoring duties for the Owls. When you dig deeper though, some troubling trends emerged. His shooting percentages dropped significantly from 47.9% as a sophomore to 41.7% as a junior. His three point shooting dropped a similar 37.9% to 31.6%. While those shooting trends are discouraging, Wyatt has bigger problems on the next level.
Wyatt has an old man’s game predicated on getting to the rim, drawing fouls and shooting three pointers (He averaged over 7 three point attempts and free throw attempts per game). The three pointers are a problem because he was only an average college shooter, and the longer NBA 3 will only make that shot harder for him. Free throws are going to be even harder to come by because Wyatt does not have NBA athleticism. He is slow, out of shape, and even calls himself fat!
His game exists below the rim, and NBA bigs are licking their lips in anticipation of the block party that will occur every time Wyatt drives the lane. His draft highlight reel is filled with off-balance shots and contested layups that won’t work over longer NBA defenders. If your highlights are filled with poor shot selection, you’ve got an issue.
His game is very reminiscent of another Sixer, who pays an old man game with average shooting and below average athleticism, but comparing anyone to Evan Turner is not a complement. Khalif Wyatt’s offense isn’t even his biggest problem. Defensively, he was a mess in college, and his poor athleticism will only make that worse in the NBA. He is too slow to guard guards and not big enough to be matched up with small forwards.
Yes, the 76ers need a shooting guard who can score, but it’s not Khalif Wyatt. Instead, look out for the under the radar pick-up of James Anderson. At 6’6″ he has better size and is a better shooter than Wyatt. He was drafted by the Spurs, so coach Brett Brown worked with him there, and he was traded to the Houston Rockets and Sam Hinkie last year. This regime knows his game. Even Lakers escapee Darius Morris is a better fit than Wyatt. But for training camp and maybe as the 12th man off the bench, the Sixers picked up a local product with a built in fan base, and that is pretty good value if only for the publicity.