By Jack Ryan
Three days to go for Thursday’s NBA draft, and there is buzz that D’Angelo Russell doesn’t want to play in Philly (unsourced, by the way) and that Sixers GM San Hinkie will pass on the Ohio State freshman point guard in favor of Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis at No. 3.
Don’t believe it for a minute.
It’s just too difficult to pass on Russell, who offers similar All-Star upside, less perceived risk and much-needed balance to a lineup without a lead guard.
Hinkie ultimately had to have Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay on his mind when he traded Michael Carter-Williams. But it’s Russell’s versatility as a passer, scorer and shooter that separates him. He even oozes with the confidence and maturity teams typically look for in primary decision makers.
Hinkie is clearly a gambler, so it wouldn’t be completely shocking if he rolled the dice on Porzingis. But with Joel Embiid recently suffering a “setback,” he just can’t afford to miss here.