For the second straight June, Joel Embiid’s right foot injury could impact which direction the 76ers will go on Thursday night with the third overall pick. Prior to Embiid’s “setback” or lack of healing, it seemed likely that Hinkie was going to draft whichever top backcourt prospect — Russell or Mudiay — was still on the board when the Sixers went on the clock. Now, with Embiid on the shelf for who knows how long and a 7-foot Latvian skyrocketing up Draft boards, all bets are off as the Sixers appear to be the wildcard in the early Lottery portion of the 2015 Draft.
Thus, when I gathered the “expert” opinions from around the world wide web, I was very surprised to discover only two schools of thought on what Hinkie will do on Thursday night.
Chris Mannix of SI.com: DeAngelo Russell
Chad Ford of espn.com: Kristaps Porzingis
Zach Harper of cbssports.com: Kristaps Porzingis
Gary Parrish of cbssports.com: DeAngelo Russell
Derek Bodner of USAToday.com: DeAngelo Russell
Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com: Kristaps Porzingis
nbadraft.net: DeAngelo Russell
nba.com: Kristaps Porzingis
1) It is very interesting to me how Emmanuel Mudiay is no longer being thought of as a remote possibility for the 76ers at NO. 3. For the last few months, Sixers fans and local sports radio hosts debated Mudiay vs. Russell at No. 3, and now Mudiay has beeen replaced by a 7-footer from Latvia with a silky jumper. That is the nature of the NBA Draft process.
2) Each year I am amazed at how as the draft draws closer and closer, one or two prospects rocket up the “expert” mock drafts. Without a doubt 2015’s biggest climber has been Kristaps Porzingis who is now even being talked about as the No. 1 overall pick. Obviously by looking at the above predictions, Porzingis is being tied to the 76ers at No. 3 by a good number of the online mock drafts and I could not find a mock draft predicting that the Latvian prospect will fall past No. 5.
I texted or emailed with several NBA front office types about Porzingis and all of them had glowing reviews of the 19-year old. One Western Conference scout I contacted called Porzingis, “the best long-term prospect in the draft — bar none.” An NBA personnel executive I texted with described Porzingis this way, “He’s the best in the draft. A combo of Dirk, Pau and Bargnani.”
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