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Philadelphia 76ers Draft Target Preview: The Guard Positions Part One

After tanking for the past four years, the 76ers acquired several players with possible top level talent. Ben Simmons is a big body that, while not playing a game in the NBA thus far, has the potential to easily be a key piece to the future due to his impressive ability to handle the basketball and make brilliant passes. One of the things that the team is missing is a skilled scorer that can play with point guard/forward Ben Simmons, and that is where the guards and the NBA draft comes into play.

In this edition, I’ll cover arguably the top two guard prospects, Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, in this year’s NBA draft.

Markelle Fultz

  • Washington, PG, Freshman
  • 6’4 and 195 pounds
  • 2016-2017 stats: 35.7 minutes per game, 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, .476 FG%, .413 3P%, .649 FT%

Fultz has all of the tools that any team would want out of a point guard, including the ability to score the basketball from almost anywhere on the court. He is a very gifted shooter, as evidenced by his 41.3 three point percentage in his lone year in college. In addition, Fultz has an innate ability to finish at the rim or make pull-up shots from anywhere on the court. However, scoring isn’t the only thing that Fultz excels at. He is also a good ball handler and distributor, and combined with his scoring ability, this makes him have the ability to be a combo guard in the NBA.

As good of an offensive player that Fultz is, he still does have his weaknesses. He can sometimes try to make the spectacular pass instead of just taking the easy pass, and he has been caught playing with a lackadaisical attitude at some points during the season. Also, Fultz shot only 64.9 percent from the free throw line, something that could be a cause for concern considering how good of a three point shooter that he is. In addition, Fultz played extremely well and he did put up impressive stats, but his team went 9-22 and missed the NCAA tournament, which could be a cause for concern amongst some teams. On the defensive end of the floor, Fultz has all of the physical attributes that he would need to be able to grow into being a good defender, but he just hasn’t put it all together on that end of the court yet.

For the Sixers, Fultz would be the perfect player to go alongside with point guard Ben Simmons. Simmons, at 6’10, has extraordinary abilities to handle the ball, but he can’t shoot the rock at all. Fultz, as a shooter and shot creator, would be able to provide the scoring ability needed alongside Simmons. Also, Fultz has the size (he stands at 6’4) to play as a combo guard alongside Simmons. Overall, it would be the perfect fit for the Sixers to draft Fultz, but it doesn’t seem likely that he falls past the first overall pick held by the Boston Celtics.

Lonzo Ball

  • UCLA, PG, Freshman
  • 6’6 and 190 pounds
  • 2016-2017 stats: 35.1 minutes per game, 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, .551 FG%, .412 3P%, .673 FT%

Ball has a lot of the abilities to make a solid point guard in today’s NBA, and standing at 6’6 and 190 pounds he has the size of the modern day guards in this league. One of the more exciting things about Ball is that he played a big role in transforming UCLA into one of college basketball’s top teams last season. Ball put up the stats of a top pick, and it should definitely be expected for him to go in the top five picks in the draft.

His size and stats were already touched on, but the UCLA standout definitely has other strengths to his game. Ball has incredible court vision and passing ability, and he has the talent to show it off in all facets of the game. Ball also has the ability to shoot from deep, at least for now. He possesses a very unusual shooting motion, but he was able to shoot over 40 percent from three in his one season at UCLA. His unusual shooting motion could end up being a negative, but for now it is not affecting his game in a negative fashion.

Most of Balls’ weaknesses center around either his ability to creating scoring opportunities for himself or his lack of physical ability. Ball excels at creating opportunities for others, but he has often struggled to score the ball himself. In his lone year at UCLA, Ball averaged only 14.6 points per game, something that was not impressive. In addition, Ball just doesn’t have the physical attributes to keep up with many NBA players, and this leads to problems on the defensive end. Ball doesn’t have quick feet, and he lacks the physicality to fight through tough screens (or really to even be aware that the screen is coming at all). The worst case scenario for what could happen to Ball on the defensive end occurred in UCLA’s loss against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

Ball has the tantalizing ability to create shots for others, but his lack of physicality on the defensive end combined with both his unusual shooting motion and his potential to struggle scoring the ball at the NBA level leads to many concerning questions about whether or not Ball will be able to be a top player at this level. Then you add in the fact that whichever team that drafts Ball will have to deal with his father’s antics and it just makes for a concerning situation. Whichever team that drafts Lonzo will have to weigh his ability to create for others against all of the weaknesses that he has. For the Sixers, Ball would fit well with point guard/forward Ben Simmons, but there are just too many weaknesses and concerns about Ball to make him a great pick at three.

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