Sixers should make serious push to trade for Luka Doncic

Real Madrid Luka Doncic during Liga Endesa Finals match (1st game) between Real Madrid and Kirolbet Baskonia at Wizink Center in Madrid, Spain. June 13, 2018. (Photo by COOLMedia/Peter Sabok/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Real Madrid Luka Doncic during Liga Endesa Finals match (1st game) between Real Madrid and Kirolbet Baskonia at Wizink Center in Madrid, Spain. June 13, 2018. (Photo by COOLMedia/Peter Sabok/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers, if presented the opportunity to trade into the top four, need to make a serious push to move up.

The 2018 NBA Draft is set to unleash a whirlwind of surprises next Thursday, with several talented prospects vying for spots at the top and multiple teams looking to trade their picks. To spice things up even further, Kawhi Leonard might already be on the trade block.

Where the Philadelphia 76ers fit into the picture is unknown. If they make a trade for Kawhi, the No. 10 pick is almost certainly gone. If they stay put at 10, they will have their choice of several talented wings — Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, Kevin Knox and Lonnie Walker chief among them.

There is one potential scenario, though, that hasn’t been touched on very often until last night: trading up. We’ve already outlined five prospects worth moving up for, but one in particular stands out as a franchise-altering piece: Luka Doncic.

More from Draft

In my book, Doncic is the top prospect in the 2018 class. He has experienced unprecedented levels of success in Europe, winning Euroleague MVP and leading Real Madrid to the title at 19 years old. Playing in the Spanish ACB League, Doncic is dominating the second-best competition in the world.

Despite his impressive resume, though, there seems to be a real chance that Doncic falls to the fourth spot on draft night. Phoenix will almost certainly take Deandre Ayton, while strong workouts from Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mohamed Bamba have clouded the picture for Sacramento and Atlanta.

On top of that, there have been reports about Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis (and even Dallas) looking to trade back in the draft. That’s at least one or two opportunities for the Sixers to make a real play at Doncic, who again, is the best prospect in the class. Period.

If that kind of opportunity arises, the Sixers would be foolish not to explore their options. Trading for Kawhi might be a priority, but Doncic also gives them a potentially-elite player on the perimeter. He’s also a seamless fit with Brett Brown‘s system and offensive philosophy.

The Sixers’ biggest issue in the postseason, especially against Boston, was their lack of self-creation outside of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell. Doncic gives them another ball handler to share the load with Simmons (and potentially Markelle Fultz).

At 6-foot-8, Doncic is already an elite playmaker. He uses his size to peer over defenders, while his feel in the pick-and-roll is beyond impressive. We’ve had two generational passers in the last two drafts — Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball — but Doncic is arguably more well-rounded than both of them.

Doncic can whip the ball anywhere on the court, whether it be finding a shooter on the weak-side out of the pick-and-roll or riffling the ball into a diving big man. He’d set up countless easy looks in the halfcourt while taking loads of pressure off of Simmons.

MORE DRAFT: Mock Draft 8.0

Given his size, Doncic can easily share the floor with Simmons and Fultz simultaneously, while Brett Brown’s staggered rotations would allow the Sixers to keep at least one, if not two, on the floor together at all times.

The Sixers would have a real shot at three elite playmakers who can all play together, as well as the best center in the league. That’s a tantalizing combination.

While not a high-end athlete, Doncic can use shifty dribble combinations to break down defenders and work his way to the rim, where he often draws contact. His strong frame allows him to finish in traffic, while his step-backs allow him to create space and hit shots on the perimeter.

Defense is the only pressing concern with Doncic, and even that gets overblown in most debates. He will struggle against quicker guards on the perimeter, but boats excellent instincts off the ball. He can force turnovers and play solid team defense, which has value.

A supremely skilled prospect with few holes in his game, it’s difficult to justify Doncic falling as far as he might/will on draft night. But, the draft doesn’t always make sense, and the Sixers could have a real opportunity to strike gold in unexpected fashion.

Next: TSS 2018 NBA Draft Big Board

Brett Brown said they will be aggressive next Thursday. Trading for Doncic would prove his point.