Sixers Mailbag – Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 06:44 PM

 “I saw an article on ESPN about how break the Kyrie/LeBron PNR game is. It was a great read and really showed the value of players that can guard multiple positions. What players in the draft or free agency would be able to guard 1-3, which I figure would be the best option in BB’s switch heavy defense against the LeBron/Kyrie PNR?
— Drew

(Note: Let’s be honest, none of these guys *really* have a chance in a Kyrie/LeBron pick and roll. We’ll just focus on stopping more human 1/3 pick and roll tandems).

I’m going to stick to the draft right now, since we’re in the thick of draft season, and also because I have to really take a little bit more time to think which FA’s will realistically be available.

Josh Jackson and Jonathan Isaac are the two most obvious candidates, and there’s a lot of truth in both of them. Jackson is perhaps a little bit more capable of defending 1’s, but Isaac showed throughout the course of the season he can as well. Isaac is, especially if he fills out, more qualified to defend 4’s. So a lazy way to look at it might be that Jackson is a 1-through-3.5 (some 4’s) and Isaac a 1.5-through-4.

Some people will put De’Aaron Fox into this group as more of a 1-and-2 defender, but I’m not so confident in that translating. He measured just 6’3.25″ at the combine, with a solid, but not great for his size, 6’6″ wingspan. Most concerning, though, is his lack of lower body strength, which could become a real problem in sliding to the 2 defensively.

Markelle Fultz, in theory, could defend the 1 and 2, with his near-6’10” wingspan and bulkier frame equipping him well for that. He has to commit himself to make the most of those tools, though. Ball (6’6″ height, 6’7″ wingspan) might be better suited to defend the wing than on the ball, where it’s more likely you can hide him on the opponent’s weakest offensive player and not have his lateral foot speed exploited as much. Smith and Monk don’t have much versatility — Smith a little bit more potential, but neither really utilizing it much at all.

Tatum has defensive versatility, but it’s more confined to the 3/4.

If the Sixers somehow get another 1st round pick, Frank Ntilikina has a world of defensive potential with his absurd wingspan and defensive energy, even if right now that energy can be used against him as he’s a little too frenetic of a defender. He certainly should be able to switch on the perimeter as he develops, though. Donovan Mitchell has a similarly long wingspan (6’10”) and has been rising up draft boards. OG Anunoby might have the most versatility in the draft. All three of them should go in the 10-through-20 range.

From there, the draft gets big man heavy real quickly. Terrance Ferguson is a likely late first round pick with a lot of question marks, and is a project, but he could develop defensively if given time. Jawun Evans has long arms for his 6’1″ height, a developed frame, and quick hands, and a guy I like a lot if he falls to the Sixers in the 2nd round, or if they move up. Still, his impact isn’t always there defensively and he can get burned by misdirection moves a little too frequently, and his size does still limit his versatility somewhat. His wingspan helps him defend a variety of point guards, but regularly defending the 2 might be a stretch.

The final guy I’ll mention is P.J. Dozier in the second round. 6’11” wingspan and will blow up screens on the perimeter.  He’s a little inconsistent with his effort (and with his catch-and-shoot shot, which is another story), but the potential and versatility are clearly there.

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Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner is a credentialed reporter covering the Philadelphia 76ers independently for He is also a college basketball scout for, and an NBA contributor for The Ringer. Contact Information: / @DerekBodnerNBA

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