Sixers Address Key Area of Need in Latest Mock Draft

Philadelphia 76ers, Walker Kessler

Getty Walker Kessler #13 of the Auburn Tigers blocks shot by Demaree King #1 of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

With the Brooklyn Nets opting to defer one of the first-round picks acquired in the James Harden trade, the Philadelphia 76ers now have a pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Armed with the 23rd selection, Daryl Morey will be looking to continue his impressive streak of adding promising young talent to the pipeline.

Since this move became official, new mock drafts have made some slight changes. In the most recent one by Bleacher Report, they have the Sixers addressing a key area of need with their first-round pick. With no current backup for Joel Embiid, Auburn Center Walker Kessler has been mocked to the Sixers at pick 23.

The Sixers desperately need center depth, and Kessler is the best available at this point. The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year blocked 4.6 shots in just 25.6 minutes per game and should become a solid backup behind Joel Embiid.

Kessler did not play much as a freshman at UNC and transferred to Auburn for his sophomore campaign. It was there he was given a larger role and an opportunity to showcase his talents. In 34 games last season, he averaged 11.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 4.6 BPG. Kessler is also trying to add a three-point shot to his arsenal to adapt to the modern game.

Addressing the Backup Center Vacancy

Heading into this offseason, Daryl Morey mentioned that bolstering the supporting cast around Joel Embiid and James Harden is crucial for the Sixers. While wing depth is among the biggest needs for the roster, finding another suitable backup center is just as important. Grabbing an established prospect out of the draft could be the best way to fill that role at a team-friendly price.

Following the departure of Andre Drummond to Brooklyn, lack of size and rebounding were two glaring weaknesses for the Sixers. Paul Reed provided a lift with his energy off the bench but is still undersized at the center position. At 7-foot-1, 245 pounds, Walker Kessler can add some size behind the MVP runner-up.

Guys like Reed and Charles Bassey are sure to get their shot at being Embiid’s backup, and drafting Kessler can add another young big to that mix. If anything, Doc Rivers will have some optionality with his lineups in the times the All-Star center is on the bench.

Sixers Could Target Chris Boucher in Free Agency

There are other ways the Sixers can address the hole at backup center if they so choose. One insider suggested they take a chance on an intriguing big man they know too well. In a recent offseason breakdown for Spotrac, Keith Smith tossed out Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors as a possible free-agent target for the Sixers.

The center market has several good options. Players like Robin Lopez, Thomas Bryant or Damian Jones would be good fits for 15 minutes a night behind Embiid. Chris Boucher would also be a good option, but he’d likely need the full MLE to get him to leave Toronto.

Boucher burst on the scene for Toronto in 2020 and has since been a mainstay in Nick Nurse’s rotation. This season, the 29-year-old averaged 9.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 0.9 BPG across 80 games.

There are multiple avenues Morey can pursue for this issue, but adding another big to the roster should be near the top of the Sixers offseason to-do list.

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