Andrew Wiggins seems to favor Philadelphia, and at the moment it seems the 76ers are equally smitten with him.
In the weeks leading to the NBA draft, it’s been reported that the 76ers are willing to trade up from their No. 3 overall pick to ensure that Wiggins is available when Adam Silver puts Philly on the clock.
While most believe Kansas’ Joel Embiid will be selected first overall, there’s truly no clear-cut favorite for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will select first. One well-known fact is that the top five picks will include Embiid, Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Noah Vonleh and Dante Exum.
Undoubtedly the biggest question mark poised to be a top-five pick is Exum, the 6’6″ Australian native is on the 76ers radar as well – and for good reason. 18-year-old Exum is one of the taller and athletic players at his position. He’s great at getting to the rim, dishing the ball and leading an offense. Everything the 76ers don’t need, but might be able to capitalize on.
Comparing the two side by side, Exum is a better shooter than Wiggins. Wiggins would have to be the favorite when discussing streaking to the basket, rebounding, defense and overall athleticism. With contrasting skills but similar physical attributes it’s difficult to tell who has the better upside long-term.
Perhaps it’s a bit smarter to figure out which player would be better to pair with reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
Without a doubt, it’s Dante Exum.
Although it’s considered an NBA front office standard, there’s rarely equal trade value acquired when teams swap players. There have been rumors of the 76ers trading away Carter-Williams in the event that Exum is drafted, which are nothing but preposterous. Special teams are created from special ideas. Pairing Exum and Carter-Williams is definitely a special idea worth considering.
The same happened with the Phoenix Suns. Head coach Jeff Hornacek decided to start both point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, resulting in huge success for the club out west last year. In fact, the 76ers pairing of MCW and Exum would be similar in lackluster shooting and above average penetration and defense.
With similar league entry to both the upcoming Exum and second year stud MCW, Jason Kidd entered the league with the Dallas Mavericks shooting 35.8 percent from the field and a career low 27.2 percent from 3. After one season-high of shooting 46.1 percent from 3 and 42.6 percent from the field (much later down the line), Kidd ended his career with a respectable 37.2 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3–statistics that are definitely obtainable for both MCW and Exum.
As Carter-Williams has been most compared to Jason Kidd and Exum to Anfernee Hardaway, it should bring nothing but smiles to general manager Sam Hinkie and head coach Brett Brown. Can you imagine having both Kidd and Hardaway in your backcourt with nothing but time to let both grow? Those two running the fast break together is a nightmarish thought for any opposing team.
The problem with Exum is that many haven’t seen him play. His shooting capability and range is relatively unkown, and that could make Carter-Williams the early favorite to be pushed to the small-guard.
In the event that Exum is drafted to Philadelphia, regardless of which player is pushed to the small-guard position, either one will receive ample opportunity to show-and-prove. They’d probably play both positions interchangeably due to lack of sufficient backup.
Tony Wroten is still in uniform and is “serviceable” to say the least. And although guard Jason Richardson opted into the final year of his contract (big shocker), he’ll earn a little more than $6 million to ride the pine while nagging injuries push him towards retirement.
If either Carter-Williams or Exum can become adequate shooters, the Philadelphia 76ers offense will be very tough to stop. Add a small forward to the mix with great range from deep, or continue to develop the agile power-forward Thaddeus Young and they’re even better.
When Philadelphia is on the board draft night, they really can’t go wrong with either Wiggins or Exum. The opportunity to draft high isn’t always a guarantee for teams, and it’s imperative a club makes the right pick. In the case of the Philadelphia 76ers it might be worth picking potential over certainty.