Sixers draft targets: Is Dennis Smith the best athlete in the draft?

The Sixers’ impending decision on what to do with the No. 3 overall pick has been subject to more and more scrutiny as the NBA draft approaches on June 22.

Point guard seems to be the obvious target, and the team is gauranteed to at least get one of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox on draft day. However, there is much buzz around the potential for Philly to trade back in a loaded draft to try and stock up on multiple players — putting North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. on their radar.

Though possibly a stretch at No. 3, the team has had interest in Smith all offseason due to his ability to score (a skill the Sixers have lacked recently) and his sheer athleticism.

He averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game and was named ACC Freshman of the Year during his solo-stint with the Wolfpack. Though his team underperformed, he did record two impressive triple-doubles against ACC opponents last season.

Finding the right player to mesh with the Sixers’ style and core is one of the most important parts of the decision that lies ahead, and according to Smith’s head coach at N.C. State Mark Gottfried, Smith and last year’s first overall pick Ben Simmons could be a match made in heaven.

“I think he has a chance to become an elite-level guard in time in the NBA,” Gottfried said. “I personally think with Ben [Simmons] healthy that the two of them together would be quite an amazing combination. I think their skills actually complement each other.”

The issue might not be skill, nor would it be chemistry but instead value. There seems to be little doubt what the pecking order appears to be in the draft landscape, with Smith falling somewhere in the high single-digits among prospect rankings. 

It will be up to Philly’s scouts to determine whether Smith is there man — and whether they are willing to trade back and give away some value to do so.

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