Five targets for Sixers at No. 10, starting with Mikal Bridges | David Murphy

In any other metropolitan market in the lower 48, characteristics such as these would be the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story:

  • A prototypically long 6-foot-7 frame, sturdily built with room to add on.
  • A wingspan that has been reported to measure in excess of 7 feet, with enough lateral quickness to deploy to the perimeter on defense.
  • A natural-looking jumper that has improved in each of three college seasons, culminating in a junior campaign in which he shot 43.5 percent on an average of six three-pointers per game.
  • A championship pedigree with a level-headed intelligence on the court and a desire to play both ends of the court.

Of course, Mikal Bridges also happens to be from here, regardless of where it is you consider “here” to be. Grew up in Chester County, starred at Great Valley, won a championship at Villanova, and then won another. Ardmore, Malvern, Philadelphia — call it whatever you want. It’d be a hell of a story for the headlines. More important for the Sixers, it’d be a hell of a pick, quite possibly the one player in this year’s draft who can step immediately into a playoff-caliber rotation and contribute on both ends of the court.

There are plenty of sexier players available in this year’s crop, guys who have been arousing the draft nerds since the moment they stepped on campus last fall. Trae Young, inspiring dreams of Steph Curry. Michael Porter Jr., dominating headlines if not opposing players. That’s a good thing for the Sixers, as is the makeup of the rest of the field. The most abundant resource in the upper echelon of this year’s draft is one that they do not need. In fact, a potential run on big men might be the only reason to think they have a shot at landing Bridges.

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There’s a lot that can happen between now and mid-June. The draft combine, the individual workouts, the trade market. There is still a lot of sorting out to do.

Poll

What should the Sixers do with their top pick in the draft?

At the moment, the general consensus says that there are two marquee players: Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, and Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic, a guard. Just behind them are two more big men, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson.

From there, the picture begins to muddle a bit. Texas center Mohamed Bamba and Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. are most commonly mentioned in the five-to-eight range. Again, that is good for the Sixers, because they do not fit on this team.

What happens at No. 10 could very well be dictated by the fates of those polarizing players we mentioned earlier, the two of whom sit with Bridges at the top of potential Sixers targets.

1) Mikal Bridges, Villanova, Wing

At 6-7, 210 pounds with that long wingspan, he is perfectly built to play the three. He might not have the isolation game that Jayson Tatum does, but he has a similar sort of potential to contribute to the Sixers’ rotation as a rookie. According to The Stepien website, he attempted 152 three-pointers from NBA range while at Villanova and connected on an impressive 38 percent.

2) Trae Young, Oklahoma, Guard

You are no doubt familiar with the 6-2, 180-pound dynamo and the 20.2 shots per game he averaged in his one season with the Sooners. Young shot .360 on a mind-boggling 10.3 three-point attempts per game, but he has an excellent handle (8.7 assists per game) and has Curry-like quickness. The pace and space of the NBA game play directly to his skill set. There are plenty of questions about his size, defensive fortitude, and ability to finish in traffic. But he has elite tools with his quickness and handle, and a potentially elite tool with his shot. That’s good value at No. 10.

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3) Michael Porter Jr., Missouri, Wing

At 6-10 with a 7-foot wingspan and an ability to handle the ball, he is in many ways the physical prototype for the modern NBA. A potential matchup nightmare and a onetime potential No. 1 overall pick, he missed most of his only season at Missouri with a back injury. More than any other player, his stock could depend on the due diligence teams perform between now and the draft.

4) Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech, Guard/Wing

A tremendous athlete with serious defensive potential, there are questions about his scoring ability. He did not take a lot of shots in college, but he was an efficient shooter who knocked down 13 of 22 threes over his last 15 games.

5) Miles Bridges, Michigan State, Wing

A well-built athlete with explosive hops, he wasn’t afraid to shoot the three in college, and he connected on 37.5 percent of them, including plenty from NBA range. One concern is his frame. At 6-7 with a reported 6-9 wingspan, he does not have ideal length.

Others: A couple of shooting guards are projected to go in the Nos. 10-15 range, Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Miami’s Lonnie Walker, along with Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. One other intriguing player to consider: Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, a 6-foot-9 forward with wing potential and a 7-foot wingspan.

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