Over the past month, the Philadelphia 76ers have worked out a host of NBA draft prospects that could come in and help them out immediately next season.
The Sixers, who have five picks in this year’s draft, will need to hit a home run on their only first-round selection later this week.
Last year, Philadelphia hit on both of their first-round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.
While Smith did not play a lot this season, Shamet came in right away and proved that he was ready for the primetime lights of the NBA.
He gave the Sixers another shooter that they desperately needed off the bench (shooting 42.2-percent from three-point range) and became a valuable trade asset in the Tobias Harris’ blockbuster deal.
Therefore, with Shamet in Los Angeles and backup point guard T.J. McConnell a pending free agent. One could make the case that the Sixers should use their first-round pick on a backup combo guard.
Luckily for Philadelphia, this draft class is loaded with backup combo guards, who can not only defend but also score at a high level.
One of those combo guards, who fits this mold and could be there either at No. 24 or early in the second round is former Arizona State standout Luguentz Dort.
The Sixers worked out Dort earlier this month at their practice facility in Camden, N.J., and have scouted him for some time.
“We’ve actually seen Lu for a while now. We saw a bunch of his prep games last year,” said Sixers Senior Director of Scouting Vince Rozman.
“First, you notice that he’s got a great physical profile. He’s athletic, big, and strong, and got a great motor,” he added.
If you had a chance to watch an Arizona State game this past season or came across Dort’s highlights on YouTube. His athleticism is what immediately stands out.
The 6-foot-4 guard is an explosive athlete, who can jump out of the gym with a 38 inch vertical and uses his strength to his advantage when driving to the rim.
In his lone season at ASU, Dort averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 31.5 minutes per game. He also shot 40.5-percent from the field and 30.7-percent from three-point range on 5.2 attempts per game.
While the lack of consistent jump shot might be a cause of concern for some at the next level. Dort told reporters in attendance that he is putting the work in to make sure that his jump shot is consistent.
However, when his shots are not falling, Dort does a great job of playing off the ball or creating for others. In addition to his offensive skills, the Montreal, Quebec native is also a tenacious on-ball defender.
Using his 6-foot-9 wingspan and quick hands, Dort swiped 52 steals, which was good for fourth in the Pac-12 and had a steal percentage of 2.7 (eighth in the Pac-12).
He also had a defensive rebounding percentage of 10 and a total rebounding percentage of 7.3. In a strange coincidence, Dort’s defensive rebounding percentage and steal percentage is not far off from Zhaire Smith.
As a freshman at Texas Tech, Smith produced a defensive rebounding percentage of 11.1 and a steal percentage of 2.3.
Could you imagine a Dort-Smith backcourt next season for the Sixers? It might not be pretty offensively. But defensively, it is tantalizing to think about.
Nevertheless, it shall be interesting to see what the Sixers do on Thursday night. No one knows exactly how the draft board will shake out after the New York Knicks make their pick at No. 3 overall.
However, what we do know is that the Sixers will come away with a draft prospect who is ready to contribute off the bench next season.