The Philadelphia 76ers traded back into the first round, and might have gotten an absolute steal with the 25th pick.
The Philadelphia 76ers traded back into the first round, grabbing the Orlando Magic’s 25th pick. They used it on Anzejs Pasecniks, a Latvian center who played over in Spain this past season. While this may not be inspiring at first glance, it’s a fantastic pick that should pay long-term dividends for the Sixers.
Pasecniks might be the most underrated player in the draft class. We at the Step Back have been high on him throughout the draft process, and it’s because his offensive skill set is inherently quite valuable in today’s NBA. Pasecniks is a 7-foot-2 pick-and-roll finisher, with great hands and mobility that allowed him to shoot 66 percent from the field this season. He’s the class’s best screen-setter and will be valuable in any offense. The possibility of Pasecniks running mutant 4/5 pick-and-roll with Ben Simmons or Dario Saric is positively delightful.
Defensively, Pasecniks doesn’t offer fantastic rim protection, but his length naturally allows him to be a useful shot-blocker, and he has potential as a pick-and-roll defender thanks to his mobility, though results at this point are mixed. He needs to add strength to fully flesh out his defensive abilities, but that should come as he gets on an NBA strength program.
Pasecniks is a great long-term play for Philadelphia. He’ll likely be drafted and stashed overseas with Gran Canaria, his pre-draft team. That will give him a year to refine his strength and defensive game. He’ll then come over, likely when Richaun Holmes’s contract ends, replacing the energetic Bowling Green alum as Joel Embiid’s backup. By then, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons will have a year under their belts, and they both should be ready to make use of Pasecniks’s skills on the offensive end. As a bonus, they should be able to play Anzejs with Embiid for stretches, as Pasecniks’s quickness combined with Embiid’s stretchy game seems to make a good compliment.
The 76ers bucked the curve, drafting for the future with a draft-and-stash guy during a run of NCAA big men. If they’re patient, they could come away with a player who fits what they need in a backup center perfectly.
Check out The Sixer Sense for more Philadelphia 76ers NBA Draft analysis.