The 2022 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 23. Since the Nets decided to defer their pick in the James Harden trade, the Sixers will select 23rd overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll look at several prospects that could suit the Sixers and be realistic possibilities at No. 23.
In a team comprised of Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. put together a solid and by far his best season as Duke Blue Devil in 2021-22.
In 39 games, Moore recorded 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game, the latter two being team highs. He was a key part of a Duke team that won an ACC regular season title and eventually reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
Currently projected as a late pick in the first or early second round, Moore will likely be very much in play for the Sixers come draft night. Being a team that clearly needs an overhaul to their wing rotation, Moore’s versatile skillset is something that could prove invaluable to the Sixers.
Moore was a jack-of-all-trades on offense for Duke last season. While Banchero carried the majority of the scoring load, Moore was one of the team’s primary ball handlers. He started to get out of the pick-and-roll, lifted the ball and even served as a leading passer. He showed real flashes of being a capable secondary playmaker to the next level.
When he can’t find open teammates, he has a strong enough grip to attack the drive lanes to get into the paint. He doesn’t exactly have the ability to jump explosively, but he makes up for it by being a shrewd, ambidextrous finisher indoors.
As an off-ball player, in addition to being a skilled and capable cutter, he has greatly improved as a point shooter. He went from shooting 21.1% from deep on less than one attempt per game as a rookie to 41.3% shooting three on 3.2 attempts per game last season, showcasing a smooth, repeatable shot in the process.
Defensively, he has the size and length to be very good at this end of the field, standing just over 6-foot-4 (without shoes), 217 pounds with a wingspan of seven feet at the combine. When engaged, he can defend at the point of attack and could become an effective, multi-position defender.
The majority of questions about Moore revolve around his all-around upside in addition to becoming a top player.
For one thing, most don’t project him as a go-to volume scorer. He doesn’t have a super forward grip, lacks an explosive first step, and is, for the most part, an under-the-edge finisher. For starters, he’ll likely be better off in a complementary role for whoever ends up taking him on.
There have also been questions about his focus on defence, as it tends to rise and fall at times. Although he has all the tools to be an above average defender and has shown flashes off the ball, some think he is still a bit too inconsistent in that regard. Locking in completely for that purpose would go a long way in helping him establish a clear role in a team.
Whether his improvement as a shooter is sustainable or not is another lingering concern. Given his deep early career struggles, it’s reasonable to wonder whether or not his junior production of the year was an outlier despite being three points higher in volume than his previous two seasons and Moore still being a good free throw shooter. As draft expert Mark Schindler noted in a recent Q&A with our own Sean Kennedy, without a respectable shot his other intriguing attributes could suffer.
Fit with Sixers
Fortifying their depth on the wing will likely be a top priority for the Sixers this summer. These past playoffs have revealed just how flawed that end of rotation was and how much they lacked overall versatility. Finding playable, low-maintenance, and most importantly, inexpensive wings to add to the roster will definitely be on Daryl Morey and Co’s mind.
That being said, Moore’s well-balanced game would be a perfect fit next to the big three of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Having a guy who can execute secondary actions, attack in transition, scout from the perimeter and serve as a dynamic defender would be a pretty welcome sight. It’s an infusion of talent that they really need.
On top of that, being one of the oldest players in the draft (he’ll be 21 on opening night), he could hypothetically contribute from the get-go. If other higher potential players aren’t on the board and the Sixers still decide to use their pick, Moore certainly wouldn’t be a bad fallback option.