The Philadelphia 76ers thought they had everything they needed to compete for a championship last season when they traded Ben Simmons for James Harden at the NBA trade deadline. Two future Hall of Famers on the roster should’ve been enough to at least reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in the Joel Embiid era, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
This roster, as currently constructed, clearly isn’t the right combination of talent to accomplish Philly’s ultimate goal of winning a title. The first step in fixing that problem is adding a bench contributor in the 2022 NBA Draft. So, what is the 76ers’ biggest need heading into Thursday night, and what options do they have to address it?
Which picks do the Philadelphia 76ers have in the 2022 NBA Draft?
Just a few weeks ago, the Sixers didn’t have a single pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. They were at the mercy of the Brooklyn Nets, who had the option to keep Philadelphia’s first-round pick they received in the Harden-Ben Simmons trade back in February. If the Nets didn’t want the 23rd overall pick, they could defer it to 2023.
Earlier this month, Brooklyn notified Philly that it would be deferring the first-round pick to next year, giving the Sixers the 23rd overall selection this week. Unfortunately for the 76ers, though, they don’t have another pick in the upcoming NBA draft. That just makes their eventual first-round choice even more important as they attempt to get the most out of whatever is left of Embiid’s prime years.
Wing depth is the Sixers’ biggest need in the 2022 NBA Draft
We know Embiid isn’t going anywhere (this offseason, at least). We also know Harden is almost guaranteed to sign his $47.3 million player option to stick around for at least one more season. With Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris still under contract, the Sixers’ starting lineup is mostly locked in for the start of the 2022-23 season.
Off the bench, Paul Reed should step in as a trusty backup center in Year 3. Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Isaiah Joe should all contribute at the guard position, and the Sixers are hoping Jaden Springer can jump into the rotation after a quiet rookie year.
As for the power forward position, though, Georges Niang is basically the only one left on the roster behind Harris. It’s the most glaring weakness on this Philadelphia team by a wide margin, and the front office must address it in the 2022 NBA Draft.
E.J. Liddell out of Ohio State, Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara, and Tari Eason out of LSU could all be realistic targets for the 76ers at 23. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Philly shopped the pick and some other pieces for an established forward in a win-now move. Whatever their plan ends up being, the Sixers need to leave Thursday night with more wing depth to start rounding out this incomplete roster.