When the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Ben Simmons with the first overall pick in last summer’s NBA draft, everybody knew that they were getting an instant playmaker and a potential generational talent. Simmons, who has been compared to LeBron James, showed off his excellent passing skills in the summer league, leading to the idea of him being the team’s primary ball handler.
However, that never came to fruition as Simmons suffered a season-ending foot injury in training camp. Without Simmons or Jerryd Bayless, who the Sixers signed as a free agent and missed most of the season with a wrist injury, the Sixers ran with T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez at point guard.
While McConnell showed that he can run the offense as the starting point guard and Rodriguez playing well in spurts. The Sixers were still missing a dynamic point guard.
Luckily for them, this year’s draft class is loaded with point guards. Before this month’s NBA draft lottery, many mock drafts had either University of Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball being mocked to the Sixers.
Nevertheless, that will most likely not be the case as the Sixers landed the third overall pick in the draft, while the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers received the first and second overall picks. All signs point to Boston drafting Fultz and Los Angeles taking Ball, which leaves the Sixers in a precarious position.
Do they take the best player available on the board, which could be Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Duke’s Jayson Tatum? Or do they opt for drafting for need?
If the Sixers do draft for need, then the point guard for them could be Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. Fox, who is 6-foot-4 with a wingspan of 6-foot-6 and 171 lbs. is an electrifying, playmaking point guard.
This past season as a freshman, Fox averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. He also shot 47.8 percent from the field and 24.6 percent from the three-point range. While the three-point percentage is a sight for eyes, you cannot deny Fox’s playmaking ability when you watch him.
He is fast and lightning quick, which almost reminds you of another former University of Kentucky point guard John Wall. Fox is a blur on the court. Once the ball is inbounded, he is looking to push the pace. Wall is the same type of player in that, if you do not get back in time, he will put pressure on the defense.
Another positive of Fox’s game is that he attacks the basket aggressively and can maneuver through the lane like Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving mesmerizes us with how he can get through the trees in the paint and throw up an acrobatic layup. Fox can do the same thing plus it helps that he is tall. Even though, he could put on some more weight as on the defensive side bigger guards can give him trouble.
But how does Fox matchup with Fultz and Ball on the advanced stats side of things? Good question!
Here are Fox’s advanced stats below:
He also boasts a ORtg (offensive rating) of 113.4 and DRtg (defensive rating) of 96.8.
Ball’s advanced stats:
Ball’s ORtg is 131.3, while his DRtg is 100.7.
Fultz’s advanced stats:
Fultz’s ORtg is 116.3 and DRtg is 110.8.
As you can see, Fultz and Ball have better advanced stats across the board. However, Fox is the better defender by a large margin, in comparison to Ball and Fultz.
If you are a Sixers fan, don’t you want a point guard who plays defense? If that is the case, then Fox should be in contention to be drafted by the Sixers. He is an intense defender, who will get into your personal space and has quick hands
Despite his outstanding DRtg, Fox does have to improve drastically on offense. Even though he can drive to the basket and take defenders off the dribble, Fox lacks a consistent mid-range jumper. His two-point percentage was 52.1 percent, but you have to believe that layups and dunks contributed a lot to it.
In the NBA, Fox cannot only rely on his driving ability to get points because teams will take that away by throwing another defender at him. Also, as I mentioned earlier, he did not shoot well from distance at all. The only upside of that is, he only took two three-pointers per game on average, so maybe with a head coach like Brett Brown he can not only tweak his shooting form but also encourage him to shoot more.
The overarching question, however, which I mentioned earlier is what should the Sixers do with their pick at three? Should they stay there and take the best player available or drop down a couple of spots?
It is a tough question to answer because the Sixers could take the versatile Jackson and plug him instantly at small forward or move him to shooting guard. Not to mention, he can handle the ball as Adio Royster pointed out in his column earlier this week.
If I were the Sixers and loved Fox’s game a lot I would seriously think about taking him with the third overall pick. It may be considered a reach in a lot of people’s eyes, especially with Jackson potentially sitting there on the board. But you need a playmaking point guard that can push the pace.
While it is nice to think about Point Simmons next season, why have him play out of position? When you can have him playing in the low post/perimeter doing damage?
If the Sixers reportedly believe that Ball and Simmons can mesh well at a high level, then why not Fox and Simmons? He is a point guard that should not be dismissed as a potential selection at third overall.