With the 2020 NBA Draft looming, the Philadelphia 76ers have to address a serious concern with their depth at the guard position.
The Philadelphia 76ers have plenty of needs to address this offseason. Some needs are more pressing than others, to say the least. This past season showed that the current makeup of the roster simply will not cut it going forward. One of the direst concerns is at the backup ball handler spot.
One might say that the Philadelphia 76ers have one of the most promising point guards/ point forwards in the NBA in Ben Simmons. Throughout his short career, Simmons has proven to be one of the most prolific passers at his position, dishing an above-average eight assists per game. Because he is only 24 years, it is safe to say that the Sixers have their ball handler spot locked up.
With that in mind, a side issue arises as to whether or not one can classify Simmons as a “point guard” or a “point forward”, but that’s another issue for another day. Not to mention, Simmons is not a shooter, which caused clutter for a starting lineup that included Joel Embiid and Al Horford, respectively. Now, I am not claiming that Simmons and Embiid can’t coexist. On the contrary, I see them working out in the end. However, that does not mean that the Sixers can get away with a committee of Raul Neto and Shake Milton running backup point guard.
Based on how this past season went, I cannot imagine the Philadelphia 76ers bringing back Neto. While he did have a few solid games here and there, the production simply did not come frequently enough. While Neto most definitely deserves an NBA roster spot, the role he had in Philadelphia was not one that he will likely have another chance at performing in.
As such, general manager Elton Brand will need to get creative to solve this problem. Milton was serviceable some nights and disastrous in others. His game fits more in the combo-guard archetype. Because Milton is young and has the shooting capacity to hang in the NBA, can run some point but should I would not expect him to handle all of the backup duties.
Another player who was solid at running the point when Simmons was out was Josh Richardson. However, since Richardson is not inherently a guard, and does his best work on the wing, he should stay there. One thing that great teams do is they ask their players to maximize their strengths, and scheme away from their players’ weaknesses. As such, the Philadelphia 76ers need to address the backup point guard role in the NBA Draft.
The Philadelphia 76ers have plenty of options
Now that that issue has been established, who should the Sixers draft? Well, lucky for Brand, this year’s NBA Draft class has a wide variety of guards to choose from. Barring a massive trade, the Sixers don’t have a shot at drafting LaMelo Ball or Killian Haynes. With that said, the late first-round crop looks solid for point guards.
Now, I do not expect the Philadelphia 76ers to trade up unless they fall in love with someone who is projected to go in the late lottery. RJ Hampton comes to mind, there. But, that does not mean their hopes are lost.
If anything, the early 20s look very promising. For instance, guys like Tyrell Terry, Cole Anthony, Theo Maledon, and Nico Mannion are all likely to go within that range. Since they are picking 21st, the Philadelphia 76ers should invest their resources there. As long as the Sixers snag one of those guys in the NBA Draft, things could be looking up for the franchise.
The Sixers have a ton of other issues, such as lack of depth in the frontcourt, but that would likely be fixed in free agency. For now, it might be best for the Sixers to address the backup point guard spot with their first-round pick.