PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You could make the argument that this is the most intriguing Philadelphia sports draft in recent memory, simply because we have zero idea of what the heck Sam Hinkie is going to do at No. 3.

Last year, the Sixers also owned the third overall selection, but there was a consensus “big three.” In 2010, Evan Turner was the obvious second overall pick (gross, I know).

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The once conspicuous draft debate for Sixers fans, D’Angelo Russell vs. Emmanuel Mudiay, suddenly has become layered with the added elements of Kristaps Porzingis’ upside, Jahlil Okafor’s potential to slip to three, and the unpredictability of Phil Jackson’s Knicks at No. 4.

CBSPhilly.com’s Andrew Porter and Ray Boyd give their respective thoughts on the projected top five picks of Thursday night’s NBA Draft in relation to the Sixers.

Karl-Anthony Towns

 

Porter: KAT is the best player in this draft. He’s 6-11, 250 pounds, athletic, high-character, and for the cherry-on-top—he can shoot the three-ball. In an open gym, the dude hit 71 of 100 three-pointers.

Here’s ESPN’s Chad Ford on Towns: “What if Dwight Howard could shoot, dribble and move the way James Harden does?”

(He kind of reminds me of Joel Embiid—please come back soon, Joel—in that regard.)

Gut feeling: Towns is the no-brainer No. 1 pick. No chance the for Sixers.

 

Boyd: Karl-Anthony Towns is the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft and for good reason. He is the future of what NBA big men will ideally be. He has a solid array of post moves, but can also step away from the basket and hit jumpers out to the 3-point line.

He is also a strong rim protector which is vital in today’s NBA as teams are sacrificing size on the defensive end to create more offensive opportunities.

Gut feeling: Towns fits with Philly, because he is the best player in the draft and fits with everyone. No chance he is on the board at 3.

 

Jahlil Okafor 

 

Boyd: Jahlil Okafor is ready to make an impact on the offensive end for an NBA team today. His post abilities are that good, probably the best of any young big I’ve seen in quite some time (astonishing that he’s only 19).

The issue with Okafor is that he does not have a reliable jump shot. That would not have been an issue 10-15 years ago, but the evolution of the game calls for bigs that can threaten to hit a jumper.

That coupled with his inability to rim protect is why he will not be the No. 1 overall pick.

Gut feeling: He is not a fit for Philly if both Embiid and Noel are on the team (that is of course if Embiid is ever healthy), so if Philly fans don’t want to see more wheeling and dealing, they have to hope he goes No. 2.

 

Porter: Okafor, at 6-11, 275 pounds, is less nimble than Towns and is expected, but not certain, to go second to the Lakers. Offensively, Okafor is as advanced as it gets for a 19-year-old big man. Incredible offensive player with soft hands and mind-boggling footwork. His weakness is on the defensive end.

I don’t think Embiid’s health comes into play here at all for the Sixers. If Sam Hinkie likes Okafor and he’s available at No. 3, he’ll take him. Okafor would certainly be a nice compliment to Noel, but assuming Embiid is going to play (please?) eventually, I’d shy away from the Duke big-man.

Gut feeling: To be honest, it would just be hard to get excited about another big.

 

D’Angelo Russell

 

Porter: Russell is the highest upside-downside player in this draft class, meaning he has the greatest chance of becoming a star and the greatest chance of becoming a flat-out bust.

Russell is as smooth as it gets, has a high basketball IQ, can shoot the ball, and has excellent vision. However, his explosiveness worries me, which is the reason for his bust potential. Could he become James Harden? Sure, I guess. But could he be Evan Turner 2.0? Yes, he can. That scares me.

Gut feeling: If Hinkie takes Russell at No. 3, I will trust his analysis over mine and get excited with the pick. Just don’t say I didn’t worn you if Emmanuel Mudiay comes back to haunt us.

 

Boyd: Russell is the best “fit” for the Sixers in this draft. The Sixers need point guard help. The Sixers need perimeter shooting. The Sixers need a playmaker.

Russell checks off all of those boxes.

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He is the most creative passer in the draft and his presence would accelerate the growth of players like Noel and Embiid because it would give them a consistent distributor and floor spacer.

Gut feeling: The Sixers are looking for stars and Russell has great star potential. The comparisons to Stephen Curry are not too lofty and I can’t help but feel like he’ll bring a nice level of swag to Philly. This should be Hinkie’s top target.

For the sake of what I want to see, Russell goes third overall.

 

Emmanuel Mudiay

 

Boyd: I can’t compliment Mudiay enough for his toughness as a point guard. He has great size and can use it effectively to finish at the rim. He is also a strong floor general and has great court vision.

The reason I have him below Russell in my rankings is because he simply is not a good jump shooter. It isn’t that that is a prerequisite for a point guard to be successful, but with the formula the Sixers are using (amassing talented big men), Mudiay is a bad fit. He needs a clean lane to operate.

He is the perfect fit for a team that spaces the floor and has one traditional big on the floor the majority of the time.

Gut feeling: I personally shy away from guards that cannot hit jumpers or foul shots consistently. Now is the time for the Sixers to start giving Brett Brown an actual team of pieces that complement each other.

 

Porter: What do we know about NBA star players? What is the one constant for the majority of them, specifically the guards? Elite athleticism. None are hindered by their explosiveness, leaping ability, or speed and if they are, they have to make up for it in other areas.

Mudiay is my guy. 6-5, 190-pounds, regarded by most as the number one athlete in this class. His only weakness is his jump shot, which is improving. ESPN’s Jay Bilas said of Mudiay, “He can be a good shooter. His shot is not broken, and has already improved since high school.”

After playing a year of pro ball in China, he’s as mentally and physically prepared as anyone in this draft class. He has a high basketball IQ, an incredible character, experience playing with former pro’s, elite/NBA athleticism, and the motivation to be great.

Gut feeling: Mudiay will be a star and I hope it’s right here in Philly.

 

Kristaps Porzingis

 

Porter: “With the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select…Kristaps Porzingis.”

Let that sink in. How would you feel?

I’ve done a complete 180 on the 7-1, 230-pound projected stretch four. He’s much, much more than the prototypical European “bust” I originally (and lazily) described him as. Kristaps has an insane work ethic. He is a student of the game. He has a high basketball IQ, speaks fluent English, and comes from a hoops family. Not to mention his uncanny, fluid, and shocking talent on the court.

“I don’t like being labeled soft,” Porzingis told Yahoo Sports (worth the read). “I’m very hungry. I love the game. I’ve got to prove to coaches and GMs that I’m not soft just because I’m from Europe. They need to see that I’m not just some skinny white guy, that I’m going to be there fighting. They’ll need to see that I’m a worker who’s going to play hard, and play tough.”

Gut feeling: Do you trust a skinny, long white international guy to work hard enough to be great? Does an NBA GM have the guts to draft a player who would immediately determine the fate of that GM’s legacy?

Most don’t. Hinkie does.

 

Boyd: Kristaps Porzingis has burst onto the scene over the last few weeks. We’ve all seen some highlights and a few workout clips.

The signs of brilliance are there. We’re looking at a seven-footer with range out to the three-point line who can knock down almost any shot on the floor.

My concern with Porzingis is strength. He might be fine on offense, but at some point he will have to guard Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps Joel Embiid. Does he possess the strength to guard NBA bigs in the post? To get to the rim?

He could be Andrea Bargnani or he could be Dirk Nowitzki…high risk, high reward.

Gut feeling: He’s a project in my eyes, but could be a very fun project to undertake. Hinkie has seen the most of Porzingis so there is no telling what he’ll do, but I think he is more likely to be taken at either five or six.

 

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