With the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select ... Emmanuel Mudiay, Guard, Guangdong Southern Tigers (China).
D’Angelo Russell going off the board to Los Angeles really throws a wrench into the 76ers plans, since he seems to be the ideal fit. With Russell gone, Philadelphia could do a multitude of things here; including looking to trade down since there will likely be at least a couple suitors eager to try to jump the Knicks in order to snag Jahlil Okafor. If they stay at 3, I think they should take Mudiay. Out of everyone left on the board, Okafor might be the most talented and ready to make an immediate impact (something that seems pretty low on the 76ers priority list considering the last two drafts), but the fit is just not there for him if Philly wants to build the team around Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Mudiay helps where it is needed most: the backcourt.
Mudiay is the type of long and athletic two-way player that Philadelphia has frequently been targeting of late. Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports compared him to a pass-first version of Tyreke Evens, which I think is pretty accurate. He shows great promise on both ends of the floor, especially in transition, which should bode well for the Sixers who ranked 7th in the league in pace of play last season per NBA.com. The biggest concern with Mudiay is his below average outside shooting, and it is a very legitimate one. Philadelphia is already starved for spacing if both Embiid and Noel share the court, and shot only 32% from three-point land last season (2nd worst in the NBA). Chances are, the 76ers offense will be pretty ugly for the next couple seasons while Mudiay is working out the flaws in his shooting mechanics, but it probably won’t be any uglier than it was last season (93.0 points/100, by far the worst in the league). This team is far from win-now mode anyway, and can afford to take a couple years to develop.
The part of Mudiay’s game that will really help the 76ers is his playmaking ability. He is great at getting into the lane and is fantastic in the pick and roll as both a scorer and a passer. Double high pick and roll sets with Mudiay, Embiid and Noel could be deadly down the road if all three are able to develop and stay healthy (fingers crossed). Even though Mudiay is not a prolific perimeter shooter himself, I would expect the team’s overall success from beyond the arc to improve when he’s on the court due to his ability to create open looks in the corner for guys like Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson while teams try to shut off lanes to the basket coming out of the pick and roll (similar to what John Wall has done in Washington).
I admit that I don't know much about Philadelphia’s defensive tactics, but Mudiay can fit into any scheme. He has the length and athleticism to keep up with almost any point guard in the league, and his frame and rebounding ability would help give Philadelphia a lot of flexibility to switch on defense.
If they don’t go with Mudiay, I could also see the 76ers taking Hezonja in order to provide some much needed spacing with Russell out of the mix. For more on Mudiay, check out Evan Wheeler’s great write-up.
*Sam Hinkie was so impressed that he immediately tried to trade Fishbowlin for a first round pick...and then he tried to turn said pick into another first round pick.*