J.P. Tokoto Deserves 76ers Consideration in 2nd Round


The Philadelphia 76ers will have five second-round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. Given what we saw from the 76ers’ second-round last season (K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, a trade for Pierre Jackson and two European prospects), the Sixers seem to use these picks on high-upside athletes. If they use this strategy again in 2015, in an attempt to get another athletic wing who could fit in with the defensive culture the Sixers are creating, one name they should consider heavily is J.P. Tokoto.

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Tokoto, a 6’6″ junior from North Carolina, is currently projected to go to the 76ers with the 37th pick by Draft Express. Tokoto was a role player for the Tar Heels on the wing, averaging 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game this past season. He’s not a great shooter, but his defensive prospects and athleticism make him a potentially fantastic fit for the Sixers.

Tokoto’s biggest draw is his athleticism. He’s 6’6″ with a 6’10” wingspan, and a 40-inch vertical leap. His size and quickness are helpful for his defensive prospects, as he can capably defend positions one through three, and did so with frequency at UNC, taking the opponents’ best player, from Jerian Grant to Justin Anderson. He’s also a ferocious dunker, and that’s really fun to watch:

Tokoto’s biggest strength defensively is playing the passing lanes. He’s got great hands and anticipatory skill off the ball. The UNC forward posted a steal percentage of 2.9, which is pretty solid. Tokoto also is a strong rebounder from a guard position, which is important for Philly, a team that generates a lot of long rebounds by virtue of taking a bunch of three-pointers and not making many of them. He can be inconsistent on the ball, as he doesn’t have great technique and uses his athleticism primarily. He gets beat off the dribble, and his p-n-r coverage technique is bad, but that was a product of the system used at UNC (Tokoto went under most screens because his bigs were incapable of hedging correctly), and playing with a quality defensive big will help there.

Offensively, Tokoto struggles, especially from outside. He only attempted 13 three-pointers last season, hitting three, and doesn’t have much range outside of 10-feet. He’s also very limited as a ball-handler on the perimeter, and is better if he can attack off cuts and and swing the ball. Tokoto is a good transition finisher, and he’s a strong passer, so there’s hope for him to still have effectiveness in the way, say, Corey Brewer affects the Houston Rockets’ offense. But he’s got a long way to go offensively as a whole.

If the Sixers take Tokoto, he’ll probably spend at least part of next year in Delaware, working on his shot and defensive fundamentals. This is a great setup for him, as he’ll get to be a more focal part of the offense in the D-League, and the Delaware staff can work with his shot mechanics and get him more comfortable working on the ball. The Sixers’ defensive principles will also play to Tokoto’s strengths, as they love to force turnovers and will be funneling things towards Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid inside. I could also see Tokoto filling a Brewer-like role in transition off defensive possessions, getting out in transition after missed baskets early and throwing down lobs.

Eventually, Tokoto could fit on this team as a bench stopper who can facilitate the offense for the Sixers’ better weapons, and defend the second-best perimeter scorer for the opponent. He fits a lot of what the Sixers want and will want to do on both ends, and this is a team that can be patient with his development and afford to slot him in the D-League. Tokoto is a great fit for the Philadelphia 76ers in the second-round, and he’ll be someone they should be considering with one of their first two picks.

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