D'Angelo Russell Could Be Perfect Fit for Sixers at No. 3 Pick | Zagsblog
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Monday / April 22.
  • D’Angelo Russell Could Be Perfect Fit for Sixers at No. 3 Pick

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    Feb 8, 2015; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Bishop Daniels (2) defends against Ohio State Buckeyes guard D'Angelo Russell (0) during second half at Louis Brown Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Ohio State Buckeyes guard D’Angelo Russell could be a perfect fit for the Sixers at the No. 3 pick: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    NEW YORK — The Philadelphia 76ers’ long-term tanking plan hasn’t paid off yet.

    But the Sixers could add another valuable piece to their rebuild project with the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft, and Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell could be the perfect fit for a team that already has two young bigs in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

    Bigs Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of Duke figure to go 1-2 in some order to Minnesota and the Lakers at the top of the draft, unless either franchise trades the pick or pulls a surprise.

    “If I end up there [in Philadelphia] it would be a blessing,” Russell told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer after Tuesday night’s Draft lottery. “I know I would make the best of the situation. So I am ready for it.”

    The Knicks are also interested in the 6-foot-5 Russell — who has proclaimed himself the ‘best player in the draft‘ — and President Phil Jackson met with him last week in Chicago. But Russell could be gone at 4, potentially leaving the Knicks to take the draft’s other top guard in Emmanuel Mudiay.

    “I don’t know what [the Sixers] want or need,” Russell said. “I know they need a wing, a guard, whatnot. I would be blessed to play for any team in the NBA and I am looking forward to it.”

    Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the Buckeyes this season and is a supremely confident player dating to his time playing for legendary high school coach Kevin Boyle at Montverde (FL) Academy.

    Having traded away Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers would seem to be in the need of a young point guard to lead the team into the future.

    “The goal in Russell would be to replace what they just traded away in Michael Carter-Williams,” ESPN’s Tom Penn said on air Wednesday. “He was the Rookie of the Year. You saw how well he performed in the playoffs, how well he’s doing in Milwaukee, and they gave him away for basically nothing, the Lakers pick in a future year and now the Lakers are going to be better.”

    Russell has ties to both Noel and Embiid, having playing with the latter at Montverde.

    “Me knowing those guys, I feel like we got the chemistry,” he said in Chicago. “Me playing with Joel in high school all the time, on the second team in high school, so it’s a blessing to be in the same position I’m in right now.”

    Meantime, Mudiay almost sounded more excited about potentially joining the Sixers’ young core than playing sidekick to Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks.

    “They’re a young team and I’m good friends with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid so it’s definitely something that would be a fun team to watch,” Mudiay said Tuesday night. “They’re  a run-and-gun team. The average age on that team would be like 22, so it’s definitely something to look forward to.

    “But like I said I don’t know where I’m going to end up yet.”

    The Sixers also have five second-round picks in this draft, plus multiple young assets in guys like Noel, Embiid and the rights to Dario Saric.

    “We’ve got [Joel Embiid] coming back,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil told the Inquirer. “We’ve got a really improved Nerlens [Noel]. Next year, we’ve got four first-round picks and Saric. So you’ve got a pretty exciting story here.”

    Noel, who repped the Sixers at the lottery, was asked if he was concerned about being traded in a possible deal.

    “No,” he said. “That’s not on my mind it. I’m focused on helping build this team and being on the right path, bringing in the right coaches and the right young guys to really make a difference for us.”

    And does he have on opinion on who the Sixers should take at 3?

    “I would pick the best player on our board,” Noel said.

    And that player could well turn out to be D’Angelo Russell.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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