Early on in the pre-draft evaluation process, it was reported that the Sixers would be selecting D’Angelo Russell with the third overall pick.
The thinking, of course, was that Philadelphia needed a point guard who could shoot a solid percentage from three-point distance, after dealing a reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams in part because he could not.
But most mock drafts now have Kristaps Porzingis slotted to go to the Sixers at three, and it’s worth wondering if Russell’s reported preference to play elsewhere may be partially responsible for the change in perception.
From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
After trading point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the 2014 rookie of the year, to Milwaukee this past season, it would appear that the 76ers need a point guard.
But the buzz around the NBA is that D’Angelo Russell, a 6-5 point guard from Ohio State whom many see as a lesser Stephen Curry-type, doesn’t want to play for the unpredictable 76ers. Russell did work out for the 76ers last week.
Let’s start with the obvious, which is that it doesn’t matter one bit if Russell would indeed prefer to play somewhere else. That will change immediately if Philadelphia decides to select him, and players entering the league at the top of the draft no longer have the power to force their way to a particular landing spot.
If you’re Russell, however, there are reasons to be concerned.
The way Philadelphia bailed on Carter-Williams midway through his second season was alarming from a player perspective, even if the Sixers had more than one legitimate reason for doing so. Add in the fact that the team has brought in injured players the last two years who were forced to sit out (at least) their first full NBA season, along with the way the team has continued its prolonged rebuild by fielding what has essentially amounted to a D-League roster, and it’s easy to understand why, at least at this point, the Sixers are a less-than-desirable destination.