The Philadelphia 76ers are locked, loaded and ready to take aim at the playoffs next season. However, they first must do what they have done right for the past three NBA Drafts– pick for need. While some teams may have a loaded roster with potential they often choose instead to pick the best player available. The 76ers are set in the frontcourt with Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons. What they must do is find a PG or SG and I hope Lonzo Ball is not on that list. Dennis Smith Jr should be the top choice as he has drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook.
Ball is talented but so is the majority of the players available. What draws most teams and scouts to Ball honestly is what’s going on outside of the arena. His father, LaVar is a mouthpiece that has put extra attention on his son. While that could be seen as a good thing, for the 76ers it may be the opposite.
Ball can play the point, there’s no denying that. However, the 76ers do not need any outside influence. While Ball can perform on the court, two things should make the team look the other way when it’s their time to choose. First, the 76ers must think Michael Carter-Williams. The 76ers took Carter-Williams with the 13th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and Ball’s game is almost a mirror image. And second, the team is young and will continue to go through some growing pains on the floor but will the Ball family be able to stay quiet long enough for the team to gel?
The 76ers need a player that can attack the rim, hit from the perimeter, able to set teammates up and be fearless. This is what Smith does almost as best as any other player in the draft. His name may have flown under the radar thanks to high-profile players like Ball, Markelle Fultz, and De’Aaron Fox. The Draft is not about the name in neon lights it should be centered on skills.
Smith can dominate as he showed for a North Carolina State team that finished just 15-17 as he averaged 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and 2 steals per game in a tough ACC. While Smith is not much of a three-point threat (36%) he still can knock them down if open. His best asset is attacking the rim. If you were to pair him with a talented sniper on the wings, a talented frontcourt and a coach that preaches defense, Smith could blossom into something special.
This is where the 76ers have managed to be a few steps ahead of the other lottery teams lately. Their last few picks have been about need over the name and the outcome has the team on the verge of the playoffs in 2017 if they can add the last two remaining pieces. Smith Jr is one and the 76ers would be foolish to pass on a player with such a tremendous upside.
Remember that Westbrook wasn’t seen to be the player he was either coming out of college but look at him now. Smith has a similar build, dynamic ball-handling skills and every other intangible that Westbrook possesses.