Philadelphia Sixers

Process Disciples Roundtable: To the surprise of many, Zhaire Smith is a Sixers

After fans thought hometown hero Mikal Bridges was staying local after being drafted by the Sixers at No. 10 overall, the franchise made a massive trade on draft night that sent Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and a 2021 first-rounder from the Miami Heat.

Brett Brown was quoted saying Smith reminds him a lot of superstar Kawhi Leonard. That will remain to be seen, but the Sixers made some great selections with their later picks. Landry Shamet out of Witchita State (No. 26 overall), and Shake Melton out of SMU (No. 54 overall) rounded out the 2018 NBA Draft for Philadelphia.

The Disciples of the Process collaborated to discuss the draft results and what this means for the Sixers future.

Writers:

1.  What do you think of the Sixers selecting, then trading away Mikal Bridges for Zhaire Smith?

Allan: The trade came as a surprise to everyone in Philadelphia, but after thinking about this long and hard, while I think Bridges will be an excellent NBA player, I see why the Sixers did the move. If they project Smith to become the same, if not a better NBA player than Bridges, then the trade makes sense. You gain a potential unprotected 1st round pick in 2021, a year where the Sixers could most likely be drafting at the end of the first round due to a long playoff run, or dare I say, championship? We already mentioned who coach Brown compared Smith’s game to in Leonard, but when you look into it more, you can’t deny the numbers are similar when both came into the league.

Now, who knows what type of player Zhaire Smith will become, but he’s a 19-year-old athletic wing who will be able to come in and defend right away. I love the move and pick.

Calpin: It definitely came as a surprise to me and at first I was frustrated and upset. You read all the reports, buy into the hometown story and know that Bridges is a guy that can be plugged and be effective immediately. It all made sense. But then if you listen to Brett Brown’s press conference you understand that on their board it was Mikal Bridges and then right below Zhaire Smith. If they can make a trade that gives them over a million dollars in additional cap space, a 2021 first round pick (where high schoolers could come straight to the NBA again), and their 1B, why not? It is clear they are in “get a star to Philly” mode. This trade helps further facilitate that and because I trust Brown and the direction the team is going I am happy with the move.

Anderson: I was so shocked that this pick and trade happened. It was nice for about 15 minutes knowing Mikal Bridges was sticking with his hometown, but then it all changed so fast. Hey, I guess that’s one of the reasons why the NBA Draft is exciting, right? Now, I’m not saying the trade was a bust. Zhaire Smith has shown off his bunnies and ability to get up and down the court. It was a good pickup for the Sixers, but I feel as though Bridges would have been a better fit.

2. What type of role do you see Zhaire Smith playing next year?

Allan: I see Smith transitioning into more of a two guard in his first year in the NBA. Smith was quoted saying that the Sixers plan on adding to the versatility of his game while using one of his biggest strengths early on: the ability to hound players defensively. Smith will have plenty of opportunities to make his presence known. The guard position next year is going to be one stocked with a lot of young talent in Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. If Fultz doesn’t show improvement, I see Smith potentially taking a lot of time at the two guard position along with blending in as a small forward in smaller lineups. The Sixers struggled guarding wings, especially in the playoffs vs. the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. This will be the defensive presence next year the guard position missed last year.

Calpin: I think it is a tough question to answer right now. A lot will depend on who the Sixers grab in free agency and who comes back from the team last year. If JJ Redick comes back as well as Marco Belinelli and Fultz is healthy in mind and body then I am not sure how much time he will have on the court. But if Fultz is packaged for a deal and Redick and Belinelli both walk then he will be expected to be a key guy off the bench and contribute a solid amount of quality minutes for a championship contending team.

Anderson: I agree with Calpin when he says it depends. Free agency is right around the corner and if the Sixers are looking for an additional star, his minutes will be quite limited. I can see Smith playing the two or three alongside Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. His defense will be key to his success on the court for the Sixers which was the case for him at Texas Tech. I like what skill this young man has flashed coming into the league and I’m excited to see how he contributes with what the Sixers already have.

3. With the No. 26 overall pick, the Sixers selected Landry Shamet. Could this be a backup guard with shooting ability the Sixers are looking for?

Allan: Shamet is a player who could really play a pivotal role off the bench next year. He shot 44% from three last season and showed his quickness and agility on the offensive end of the floor. There are some questions defensively but the role of backup point guard last season was in flux. TJ McConnell was a really gritty bench player who produced very efficiently in short spurts. I think that Shamet could really help with being a shooting option alongside Ben Simmons, or even in a smaller lineup with Fultz or McConnell.

Calpin: Shamet’s role in college was to be able to facilitate the offense while pushing the tempo. It wasn’t something that he was great at, but in Philadelphia, he won’t be asked to do this. Obviously, Simmons (or LeBron James-wink/wink) will be bringing the ball up so all that Shamet will be need to do is knock down open shots and that is something he did behind the arc in college at a 44% rate. I actually think the lengthy guard who can make some plays will be quite effective with the Sixers.

Anderson: Yes. Shamet will provide backcourt help for the Sixers because he’ll take pressure off other guards like Ben Simmons. He’s a smart player and his shooting could get him more minutes. With JJ Reddick possibly departing as well as Marco Belinelli, the Sixers need a younger shooter on the outside to fill in a potential gap in their offense. It will be important for him to be consistent because he’ll help solidify their bench and continue to get better throughout the season.

4. What type of impact can Shake Milton have on the Sixers?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Allan: I was surprised to see a player like Milton fall this far into the draft. He was projected to be a high second-round pick after averaging 18 points in his sophomore season at SMU. He’s a 6’5 wing, so that’s now three players at 6’5 that the Sixers drafted. Coincidence? Probably not as the Sixers are always looking to add shooting depth at both the two and three position. As a catch and shoot player, you saw a guy who shot 42% from three. With a team that passes better than anyone else in the Sixers, this could be a guy to watch make the roster come the 2018-19 season.

Calpin: As similar to my answer for Shamlet, Milton will be expected to knock down some shots and won’t be asked to do too much. Philly is deep at the wing position especially if some of the guys stay on the roster. If someone is having an off night and Milton can come in and light it up, taking the scoring load off Embiid or Simmons then that is all the Sixers can ask for.

Anderson: He showed his skills at SMU last season averaging eighteen points per game with 1.4 steals as well. He will have to be a consistent competitor in the summer league which will prove what his role can be in the lineup. It was a good pick for the Sixers at No. 54 overall, in which some say he was the “steal of the draft.”

5. Do the results of the draft for Philadelphia change your idea of what they should do in free agency this summer?

Allan: I don’t think that this changes much. To be honest, I am more and more in the boat that the Sixers are not going to be signing LeBron James. I think they will be making the pitches, but it won’t be successful, but the hope for other big-named free agents is there.  I think that the Sixers will go into next year with a lot of returning players and that they will be reloading for another playoff run. They have the money to spend, so anything can happen but I don’t think the draft changes anything.

Calpin: It doesn’t change anything for me. It actually confirms to me that they are all in on acquiring a star this offseason. They know that is what they need to compete at the next level. Brett Brown said they are looking to acquire stars this offseason. It is very black and white what they are looking to do. Philadelphia should be happy about the draft and the city should be buzzing for what is coming in this free agent frenzy.

Anderson: Not much at all. Overall, I liked how the Sixers’ draft went this year and it’ll help them draw in star talent in free agency. This summer, I believe they have enough to acquire a superstar like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George. The trade in the draft was shocking with Mikal Bridges and Zhaire Smith, but with the addition of these young players and how the Sixers’ season went this past year, I would say its something for free agents to really consider.

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