International prospect Kristaps Porzingis has been rising up league draft boards, partially on the strength of a recent stateside workout where plenty of scouts and executives were in attendance.
Porzingis has been labeled as a “serious threat” to go in the draft’s top three, despite Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell being seemingly locked into those spots (in some order) for the past several weeks. The Lakers were reportedly considering it, and at least one scout believes Porzingis will be the best player to come out of this draft class.
If L.A. passes (as is somewhat expected), then things get interesting at No. 3 with the Sixers. And the latest report has Philadelphia leaning toward going with Porzingis.
From Chad Ford of ESPN.com:
We’ve been hearing both Mudiay and Russell’s name here for months. But over the past few weeks multiple sources around the league suspect that Sam Hinkie may actually be leaning toward Porzingis. He’s an odd fit given the Sixers abundance of big men (though news that Joel Embiid’s foot hasn’t healed may change the fit analysis). But Hinkie has always drafted based on the best player available strategy. He doesn’t draft for need. So while the team needs Mudiay or Russell more, if he believes Porzingis is the best player on the board, so be it. Or, as one rival GM opined, this Porzingis intel is all a smoke screen to get Orlando (who loves Porzingis) to trade up to three and give Hinkie another coveted asset.
It’s been widely reported that Orlando won’t let Porzingis slip past five, so the Sixers putting this information out there as an enticement for the Magic to come calling with trade offers makes plenty of sense.
It really comes down to Philadelphia’s talent evaluation process. If the team truly believes Porzingis is the best available, it may shun its need at the point guard position to go in this direction. But what’s clear is that with just six days left until the draft, the rumors (and potentially, the misinformation) will increase exponentially until June 25 is upon us.