The Sixers will have the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Much has been made about the Sixers’ need for size and versatility in the second unit, causing some to look intently at forward prospects more than guard prospects. That’s all good and well, but on draft night, it’s generally smarter to prioritize talent over fit. If the Sixers come across a guard who’s too good to pass up, then they should take a guard.
The “shooting guard” label can hold many different meanings in today’s NBA. Sometimes it’s essentially another point guard. Sometimes it’s a wing, or even a forward with ball skills. The league has progressed to the point where traditional position labels are antiquated in many respects, but for the Sixers there is one key word: shooting. You can never have too much shooting next to Joel Embiid and James Harden.
It would not be hard for the Sixers to address the need for size and versatility while still drafting a two-guard. There are plenty of bigger guards who can guard up a position and crash the glass. On the flip side, Philadelphia could instead focus on getting another shot-maker in the backcourt rotation.
Sixers Draft: 3 shooting guard prospects to consider with 23rd pick
Jaden Hardy, G-League Ignite
Jaden Hardy’s disastrous season with the G-League Ignite has removed him from the upper-lottery conversation. Now, he’s more of a mid to late first round pick with several downside risk (but obvious upside). The Sixers should probably look for immediate contributors, but there’s never a sure bet in the draft. Hardy has the natural talent of a five-star recruit who has been under the NBA microscope for years. He could justify the gamble if he falls to 23.
The 6-foot-4 Hardy would need to adjust his approach in Philadelphia. He spent much of last season operating as a ball-dominant isolation scorer. His smooth handles and projectable mechanics warrant optimism on that front, but he’s not an elite NBA athlete and his efficiency was abysmal in the G-League. He will not be asked to take all the shots at the next level, especially in Philadelphia. He would need to learn how to play off of Embiid and Harden. That said, there aren’t many better players for Hardy to learn from than Harden.
Hardy would give the Sixers another live-wire scorer off the bench. They don’t really have one right now, at least not with how Shake Milton looked over the second half of last season. Hardy can create his own offense in a jam and unstick a stuck offense. He needs to grow beyond that, but there’s inherent value in a player who is proficient one-on-one.
It would take teams having real concerns about Hardy’s defense and his mentality for him to fall to 23. He was once considered a potential top-five pick. The Sixers maybe don’t have the strongest culture to mold Hardy with, but talent often finds a way. Hardy has talent. He’s worth believing in.