What if Josh Jackson is the #2 Pick?

Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) signals in the second half against the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) signals in the second half against the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Most people think that Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball will be the first two players picked in the 2017 NBA Draft. With the Sixers sitting at three, what would they do if the Lakers opt to draft Josh Jackson instead? 

In 2015, it was believed by many that Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor would be the first two picks taken in the NBA Draft. When the lottery results showed the Sixers won the third pick, people rejoiced and were certain that D’Angelo Russell would be their pick at three. Then, as people picked apart his tape, many believed that Russell could be the best player in the draft. Then, sure enough, on draft night, the Lakers broke the hearts of many (mine included) and took Russell with their second overall pick. The 2017 NBA Draft’s D’Angelo Russell could be Josh Jackson.

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

Philadelphia 76ers

Markelle Fultz of Washington should be a lock to go first. In my opinion, he is by far the best talent in this class. Many people believe that Lonzo Ball is the next best player in this draft, however, I am not so sure. I believe that the second best player in this 2017 class is Josh Jackson.

Almost every mock draft has Lonzo Ball going to the Lakers as it is rumored they are very high on him. However, what if they fall in love with Jackson during pre-draft workouts and end up selecting him at #2? This would be where things get very interesting.

If Lonzo drops to three, should the Sixers draft him? Like mentioned above, many people are very high on him and think he will become a superstar in the NBA.  I have my doubts. In his lone season at UCLA, Lonzo was terrific. He is a great passer and has elite vision. Even with his whack jump shot, he shot the ball at a very high rate from three. However, he showed no real ability to create any offense for himself against a set defense. He has a lot of trouble creating separation to get his shot off and rarely showed any sort of midrange game. He also was not great at all in pick and roll situations, which concerns me. I am not so sure that he can become the primary initiator that many think he will become. However, that is less of a problem when you pair him alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Even though it is rumored that Lonzo’s dream destination is in LA, the best scenario for him basketball-wise may be in Philadelphia. He would be paired alongside Ben Simmons, who is rumored to be spending a lot of time at the point guard position. Lonzo will be able to play off the ball, which will be to his benefit as he will get a lot of great looks for catch and shoot threes. He would also be a great secondary ball handler which would help Simmons tremendously. Pair that with how good he is in transition and you can see that he would fit pretty well in Philly.

However, is he the best player available? I am one of those people that believe the Sixers should draft for upside over fit. Elite talent is what wins in the NBA and I believe drafting the player that has the best chance to be a star would be wise. Due to my concerns with Lonzo’s offensive creativity, I am not so sure of that star potential. This opens a lot of possibilities with other prospects.

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Dennis Smith is someone who is very intriguing. Smith is a very explosive athlete who can score at all three levels. He is also a very underrated passer and playmaker and is someone who I think would be very capable playing off the ball next to Simmons. Though he barely played any defense in his freshman season, he has the physical tools to be an average defender. With that level of athleticism and skill, Smith could very well become a top 5 guard in the NBA.

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De’Aaron Fox is another player in this class that has star potential. He may be my favorite player in the draft as he was incredible this year for Kentucky. However, he may not be a good fit at all with the current roster of the Sixers due to his poor shooting numbers. However, Colangelo may want to gamble on him due to his upside.

Another player from this class that I love  is Jonathan Isaac. The freshman from Florida State is big, long and super athletic. He can move his feet extremely well on the perimeter and has potential to guard positions 3-5. That type of athlete combined with Simmons, Embiid and Covington would create a suffocating defense. He also showed the ability to stretch the floor as he shot a decent percentage from three. He also has shown some ability to create offense for himself and could have potential as a solid third option offensively for the Sixers.

Then there is Malik Monk. A dynamic scorer that is also super athletic. He is an elite scorer that looks like he was made to play along Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Though he is slightly undersized at 6’3″, he gets great elevation on his shot and has a quick release. He seems like a perfect fit, however he may be a reach at three considering he is not as much an elite all around prospect like some of the others mentioned above. When it comes to Monk, the “fit vs best player” debate pops up for that reason.

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All in all, there are a lot of routes that the Sixers can go if Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson are the first two players selected. The Sixers are in a unique situation as there is a lot of elite talent to pick from and also a lot of elite talent that compliments their current core. Fultz and Ball may end up being the first two selected anyway, however, I believe that Jackson is the second best player in this draft and L.A. may figure that out soon as well.  Whatever path they end up taking, the Sixers will most likely be adding another solid piece to their growing core come June.