Can the Philadelphia 76ers’ lone second-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft carve out a role?
The Philadelphia 76ers‘ 2019 NBA Draft wasn’t the strongest performance for Elton Brand and the front office. There’s some truth to young players not contributing to winning basketball, but the Sixers desperately need cheap talent to fill out the margins. Philadelphia punted several opportunities to add it.
When the Sixers did make a second-round pick, it turned more than a few heads. Marial Shayok was the choice at No. 54, an unheralded prospect ranked 98th on The Athletic’s big board. He was unranked in our top 60 prospects.
To put it simply, the Sixers reached. Shayok was a better bet as an undrafted free agent, but there’s still reason behind Philadelphia’s decision. Brand mentioned in his presser that the Sixers don’t want young players clogging up roster spots. Shayok turns 24 in July.
On age and experience alone, there’s a chance the senior can carve out a role and produce immediately. For Sixers fans, an extended look at Shayok in Summer League could help his case. He’s a high-volume three-point shooter who, at 6-foot-6, has positional size.
After spending his first three seasons in Virginia’s grind-it-out offense, Shayok thrived at Iowa State as a senior. The increase in tempo unlocked his best attributes. He ended the season shooting 38.6 percent on 5.4 three-point attempts per game, all in a career-high 32.9 minutes.
His mechanics are quick and compact and he shoots well on the move, a trait the Sixers value. It’s easy to envision Shayok curling around screens and moving off-ball, perhaps learning from J.J. Redick in practice and in the film room — assuming Redick re-signs, of course.
Shayok is somewhat one-dimensional, which is why his shooting didn’t earn a spot on most draft boards. He’s not a great defender and doesn’t create space off the dribble, doing the majority of his damage off-ball or on straight-line drives.
The Sixers won’t need Shayok to become a high-level shot creator, though, as Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and other stars can shoulder that load. If Shayok becomes even a neutral defender, there’s a chance his shooting is enough for NBA utility.
It’s difficult to imagine a better situation for Shayok on a personal level. He’s an older prospect joining a win-now team. The Sixers also value his archetype and have four players (excluding two-way contracts) on the roster entering free agency. There’s more than enough room for him to make the team next season.
Shayok and the Sixers will kick off Summer League on July 5 with an afternoon game against Milwaukee.