NBA Draft Preview: Will Gonzaga Produce Sixers 2016 Draft Prospects?


Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the full first round draft board at the conclusion of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft Preview: Will Gonzaga Produce Sixers 2016 Draft Prospects?

With the Philadelphia 76ers seasons offering less excitement in the NBA season than the one day draft, you’ll need to forgive me if I fast forward through the course of the 2015 season.  Just for a moment, let’s presume that the 76ers have made it through a season and we are now considering the 2016 NBA Draft.  For now, we know that the team is searching for offense.   Will they find it this year?  Perhaps.  But scoring is not a one and done deal.  The team will need to replenish and upgrade players whereever and whenever they can.   That’s what winning is all about.  To this, if you factor in who we might target and who might be worth selecting with each of our potentially four first round NBA draft picks, it doesn’t take much to believe that 2016 will be a major draft for the future of the Sixers.

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But with four selections potentially waiting for us, which schools will have more than one prospect? Which school will be worth keeping an eye on? Well, if you follow me on twitter, you may have gotten my thoughts

The Sixers need offense. Gonzaga has two prospects who can shoot and are projected to be first round prospects: Domantos Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer.   I will even toss the third front court name, Przemik Karnowski, as a prospect to watch this year.

Player Watch I:  Power Forward Damontos Sabonis

If genetics plays a major role, then Damontos Sabonis will be an NBA star.  He is the son of 7′ 3″ Lithuania basketball star Arvydas Sabonis, and was born in Portland Oregon.  At 6′ 10″ and 248 pounds, he’s certainly been blessed with a modern NBA player physique.  Considered to be a potential freshman NBA draft prospect in 2015, Sabonis opted to return to Gonzaga for his 2015 sophomore season.  With his return, he will join Wiltjer and Karnowski as one of the most dominant frontcourts in college hoops, as all three players have been identified as NBA talent.

Sabonis is a strong mentally tough young man who has good basketball instincts. The part of his game that most likely encouraged his return for his sophomore college season is his offense: he averaged 9.7 points per game (PPG) and 7.1 rebounds (RPG). In his second season, he’ll likely improve to double digits. Keep in mind that Karl-Anthony Towns, PF out of the University of Kentucky, was drafted number one in the 2015 NBA draft with an average of 10.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Sabonis was already in the stadium in 2015.

One of the true bonus elements of living on the west coast, particularly in the pacific northwest, is the fact that schools like Gonzaga are in my backyard.   Sabonis is everything you want in a basketball player.   But the collegiate game is more finesse, more moves.  In the NBA, it is truly a more physical game.

Sabonis is physicality.  In his games, it’s obvious that he is truly one of the more talented players on the court.  But his game is more physical, and draws the attention of officials – to the point of drawing fouls.  Fouls frustrate the young man, reducing his playing time and his offensive production.   He’s a year older in 2015 and as his body matures so does his mindset, and his maturity.   He was close to the first pick in the NBA draft in 2015.   He’ll be in the running for it in 2016 if he plays his game and stays healthy.

We’ll talk more about Gonzaga and other west coast teams.   For now, jot down the name of Damontos Sabonis.  The Philadelphia 76ers will be looking for offense in the 2016 NBA draft.   They may not need to look any further than to the power forward from Zag.