The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 3 pick in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Timberwolves get to pick No. 1 and are expected to take Karl Anthony Towns; followed by the Lakers, who likely snap up Jahlil Okafor.
That puts Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell in play for the Sixers. Russell was set to work out for the Sixers over the weekend.
But he cancelled. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has the details.
D’Angelo Russell canceled this weekend’s scheduled workout with the 76ers after getting “real sick,” according to a source close to the former Ohio State standout. Another source said don’t rule out the franchise securing a workout with Russell in the near future….
However, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie spent Friday at Impact Basketball to watch 7-1 power forward Kristaps Porzingis at the ASM Sports Pro Day. DraftExpress has the Sixers taking Porzingis third overall in the draft.
I see three likely possibilities here.
First, Russell actually is sick. That may have happened. I’m too big a cynic to think it’s the truth, but it certainly is possible.
Second, Russell got a promise from one of the teams with the top two picks. The Lakers have had rumors flying around that they like Russell, although I have heard they will take whichever big man Minnesota passes on. It seems unlikely either of the top teams would make such a promise, they have no reason to even if they wanted Russell.
Third, Russell’s agent is angling to land his client with the Knicks, who have the No. 4 pick. An agent trying to manipulate things to get his client to a major market? That I can see. There are certainly reports that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie likes Porzingas, but when push comes to shove is he going to pass up a promising guy to play the one in a point guard driven league?
Russell can score — 19.3 points a game, shoots 41 percent from three — plus is a gifted passer with phenomenal court vision. He’s also a big guard. His doubters note he is not a dynamic athlete, and that could be an issue at the NBA level where he will face those guys a lot of nights.
Hinkie is the kind of GM who is willing to take a big risk on what he believes in, even if it’s a raw Euro big who doesn’t hang out in the paint and will freak out the fan base (Porzingas is not Andrea Bargnani, but that’s another post). Russell, however, seems the safer pick and one that fits with core pieces they already have in house.
Or, maybe we’re all just reading too much into a kid getting sick.