Philadelphia 76ers NBA Mock Draft 2020: Prospects to Target

Draft History

Philadelphia 76ersThe Philadelphia 76ers have one of the most intriguing draft histories of all NBA teams. While the 76ers have had a bevy of top-five draft picks in recent years, it has not resulted in a championship. In addition, the 76ers have watched a lot of talent leave of their organization. Many of their draft picks in the past decade have become stars or significant role players in the NBA. In conclusion, the 2010s have been a decade of misery and missed opportunities for the 76ers but the organization has the tools to turn it around in the 2020s.

To start, the 76ers drafted Evan Turner with the 2nd overall pick in 2010. In 2011, Nikola Vucevic was the 76ers first-round pick while 2013 saw the 76ers draft Michael Carter Williams. After their struggles in 2013, the Celtics fully embraced “trusting the process” spending four straight seasons at the bottom of the league. They used these miserable seasons to get top-five picks between 2013-2017. Their picks included Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz – all drafted in the top three of their respective draft classes. During this period, they used their later draft picks on Richaun Holmes, Jerami Grant, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Furkan Korkmaz all of whom have become contributing role players in the NBA.

All in all, the 76ers have drafted relatively well. While they fluked with top picks Jahlil Okafor, Michael Carter-Williams, and Markelle Fultz, the 76ers nailed the Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Vucevic picks. All three have become stars in the NBA. When looking at the picks, two All-NBA caliber players (Embiid and Simmons), perennial all-star Nikola Vucevic, and respectable role players Holmes, Grant, Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Korkmaz, you wonder why the 76ers haven’t had success.

The answer is simple, they’ve given up on most of their players too early. Vucevic didn’t last more than a season on the team. In order to compete now with Simmons and Embiid, the 76ers traded Mikal Bridges, Landry Shamet, and Carsen Edwards, all of which have impressed early in their careers. Now, the 76ers have bad contracts and not a lot of young players outside of Embiid and Simmons to lean on for the future. When looking at a potential roster of Simmons, Embiid, Vucevic, Shamet, Bridges, Grant, Holmes, Richardson, and possibly Al Horford, you can’t help but imagine the potential success this unit could have had together. Instead, you can’t help but think that the 76ers wasted a lot of resources in the “process”.

Team Breakdown

Despite their mishaps, the 76ers still have a quality roster that can compete in the Eastern Conference. Their starting five consists of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid while their bench unit, while noticeably weaker, consists of Mike Scott, Kyle O’Quinn, Glen Robinson lll, etc. The biggest problem I see with this roster configuration is the disparity between their starting five and bench. The 76ers ranked 26th in bench points per game which just won’t cut it for a championship team. This is where guys like Landry Shamet (2018 – 1st round), Jerami Grant (2014 – 2nd round), and Richaun Holmes (2015 – 2nd round) haunt this organization.

The Sixers’ starting five is individually very strong but they don’t have chemistry together. Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid are not the lockdown shooters Tobias Harris needs to get the proper spacing. While they play great defense, Embiid is often double-teamed because of the lack of spacing on the perimeter. Al Horford looks lost in the court. He’s forced to play the perimeter but struggles to effectively get to the basket at his age.

One of the main problems is that Embiid and Simmons’ playstyles don’t mesh well together. After four seasons in the NBA, Ben Simmons still does not have a jump shot. Coupled with Joel Embiid’s lack of consistent shooting and both players’ desire to play in the paint, there’s just not enough spacing on this team. The 76ers have got to start acquiring players that will provide this necessary spacing.

De-Facto point guard Ben Simmons and top center Joel Embiid are with this team for the long-term. Therefore, I will be focusing on maximizing this duo potential to thrive together. This means acquiring another player that can carry their own offense. With this team, they have the defense but lack that instant offense scoring punch outside of Tobias Harris and Embiid. Also, acquiring a shooter will be beneficial to Simmons and Embiid, who both struggle with their shot at times – Ben Simmons literally has no shot. This is the direction they have to go in order to bring more versatility to their lineups.

Draft Range

The 76ers have a whooping 5 picks in this draft, albeit 4 are in the second round. Their first-round pick is currently projected at 21. However, this is far from a bad scenario, especially for this cap-strapped team. They’ll only have room for to acquire players via the mid-level exception and through veteran minimum. Having this amount of picks takes the pressure off free-agency – all they have to do is hit on 2 out of 5 picks in order to fill out their bench.

Adding scoring to a 2021 bench unit that will most likely consist of at Mike Scott, Matisse Thybulle, and whoever the 76ers use their mid-level exception on, will elevate their bench to at least above average. The youthful energy will cause problems for many teams in the NBA, just watch the Raptors young bench that took over games due to their energy.

Given this, I’ll focus less on big men since the 76ers have Embiid and Horford locked up till 2023 and can get back-up centers for the veteran minimum. Instead, I’ll focus on perimeter players that can score the ball. For the right target, the 76ers should trade up since they won’t have the roster spots or playing time to let everyone develop.

Prospects to Target

Aaron Nesmith

SG/SF 6-6 215 Lbs. – Vanderbilt


Aaron Nesmith is the right target. He’s mocked in the 14-18 range but with his shooting ability, it’s likely he goes in the 11-14 range. The 76ers will most certainly have to trade their 21st, 34th, and 49th to make the deal worthwhile. However, I think it’s worth it, again, due to his shooting ability. He’s a sharpshooter from downtown shooting a mesmerizing 52% from on 8.3 three-point attempts per game. His shooting stroke looks flawless, on par with the J.J. Reddick, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver’s of the world. What makes him special and potentially amongst the great three-point shooters is his catch and shoot ability off screens. He’s constantly active off-ball, running through screens and cutting to the corners. Once he’s open, he has an incredibly quick release and elevates to the highest point when shooting the basketball.

I really like Nesmith because of his potential to be a top-five 3-and-d player in the NBA. He projects as a specialist, using his basketball IQ to make plays on the defensive side of the ball while using his off-ball movement to create separation to get his shot off in time. Philadelphia 76er fans will definitely appreciate what Nesmith brings to the table as a key bench contributor early on.

Kira Lewis

PG 6-3 170 Lbs – Alabama


Kira Lewis reminds me a lot of Dennis Schroeder but with a better shot. Lewis is an extremely fast point guard, with a quick first step to get past most defenders. In the NBA, he shouldn’t have issues consistently getting to the basket. His body control complements his speed; he uses his speed to get to the basket and body control to effectively finish at the rim. In addition, he can get vertical and finish with rim-rattling dunks despite his size. Quicker guys like Dennis Schroeder and De’Aaron Fox are so helpful to an offense because their speed forces defenders to play off other wing players. This is what hurt the 76ers the most. Outside of Ben Simmons, the 76ers lacked another quick, dominant point guard. Acquiring Kira Lewis and using him as a secondary ball-handler will provide the spark needed for this second unit.

I also like this pick for the versatility it brings to this roster. At times, Kira Lewis could play with the starters as the de-facto point guard while Ben Simmons plays a more traditional off-ball forward roll. With this lineup, you have two quick explosive playmakers with shooters Richardson and Harris on the perimeter. On top of this, post-menace Joel Embiid will have open one-on-one opportunities to make plays. I love the impact Kira Lewis can make on day one.

Immanuel Quickley

PG 6-3 185 Lbs. – Kentucky


After coming to Kentucky for an additional season, Quickley showed an improved game at all aspects of the floor. Now, he enters the draft as the quintessential do-it-all prospect, one that can create plays for himself and his teammates, shoot at an efficient range, play good defense, crash the boards, and anticipate passing lanes. However, Quickley just doesn’t do anything at an elite level which is why he is an early second-round prospect. Despite his lack of elite traits, I think Quickley could make a name for himself in the league as a Cory Joesph type of do-it-all backup point guard. These guys are valuable because they won’t make mistakes and most importantly won’t make their team worse in any area while on the court. Having a steady presence on the bench will ensure that the 76ers won’t have many scoreless stretches as they did with Raul Neto. Quickley is also insurance if Ben Simmons gets injured, which is something they haven’t had in previous seasons.

Overall, I like Immanuel Quickley. He’s a high-floor second-round prospect that will have a positive contribution to the Sixers and give the team the opportunity to draft a riskier prospect with their other second-round picks. I see Quickly making a name for himself as a quality backup point guard in the NBA.

Payton Pritchard

PG 6-2 180 Lbs. Oregon


Payton Pritchard reminds me a lot of T.J. McConnell, but with better shooting. McConnell was a fan-favorite with the Sixers due to his consistent hustle and calming presence when on the floor. The first-team All-American, Pritchard put up an amazing stat line while shooting 41% from beyond the arc. I like the idea of adding another gritty hustler to this team to complement Mike Scott and Matisse Thybulle on the bench. Their bench unit will undoubtedly outhustle the opposing team any night of the week. However, what makes this pick more intriguing is that Pritchard gives this team another consistent shooter. Pritchard was a clutch shooter who always made that tough three at the end of games.. For the 76ers, I expect Pritchard’s energy to light up this team and make an impact in big games.

Payton lacks the athleticism to be a first-round draft pick but his competitive fire is something that elevates him past the more athletic, but low-motor guys. He’s a natural leader that will help to calm a locker room that lacked leadership at times last season. The 76ers should definitely look to acquire Pritchard as he’s a top-five shooter in this draft.


Overall, The 76ers are in a fantastic spot to fix some of their team’s weaknesses. The team struggled to find consistent offensive playmakers and shooters. With a bevy of five picks, they have the room to trade up for an Aaron Nesmith shooting prospect or keep their picks to take high-floor guys like Immanuel Quickley. In the 76ers position, I would trade up to get Aaron Nesmith. He fits everything the 76ers need short-term, a consistent shooter off their bench. In time, Nesmith can grow into more but for now, his skills will seamlessly transition to this team. In a trade, the 76ers will have to send their first-round pick and at least two second-round picks. With potentially only having one pick left in the second, I would target either Immanuel Quickley or Payton Pritchard. Both can shoot the ball, albeit Pritchard is the better shooter, and show a high motor. Either one of these players could be molded into a steady role-player surrounding the core of Simmons and Embiid.

Miles Jasper is an incoming law student studying employment and labor law. Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. He also likes to analyze college prospects and participate in fantasy sports. In his free time, Miles is an avid runner who also enjoys poker, cooking, and watching movies.

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