By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23. The Philadelphia 76ers, after the Brooklyn Nets decided to defer the pick owed to them from the James Harden trade, hold the 23rd overall pick in the draft. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Sports Talk Philly will be releasing profiles on several of the prospects the team could be interested in at No. 23.
Bryce McGowens is a wing player from Nebraska with a ton of upside who could interest the Sixers in the NBA Draft. He was named in his lone season in college to the Third Team All-Big Ten. His numbers last season for the Cornhuskers: 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.7 steals in 33.3 minutes per game.
McGowens' offensive skills center around his ball handling and ability to finish around the basket. He possesses the ball handling abilities necessary to be able to get to the rim. When he gets to the basket, he is crafty and able to either finish or draw a foul. He is able to contort his frame to get into tight spaces, where he can showcase his fluid finishing ability and explosiveness playing above the rim. He has potential to be a good player getting out in transition. Despite not shooting a high percentage from 3-point range in his lone season at Nebraska (more on that below), he does have good touch from the free-throw line. He got to the line 6.3 times per game, connecting on them at an 83.1% clip.
The 19-year old is a work in progress defensively. He has the body (6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan) to be a solid defender who is able to use his length to get into the passing lanes. However, things have not clicked yet on that end of the floor. The potential for growth is there, but it will take a ton of work for him to reach his ceiling.
McGowens needs to improve his 3-point shooting from where it was at his freshman season at Nebraska when he shot 27.4% on 4.7 attempts per game from beyond the arc. He displayed good touch from the free-throw line, which is a good sign for his ability to potentially improve in this area. However, until he can become at least an average shooter from deep, he is a limited player offensively. He is also not a good playmaker, turning the ball over 2.1 times per game. He needs to get better at keeping his head up and looking to pass the ball instead of feeling the need to try to do everything himself.
Defensively, there is a ton of improvement needing to be made in nearly every aspect. He often gets caught flat-footed, which is bad especially considering he already is not the quickest, most explosive player out on the floor. He needs to work on maintaining his focus and concentration defensively in addition to learning how to use his size and length to his advantage on this end of the floor.
Fit on the Sixers
McGowens is an interesting player to project moving forward. He has to fill in his 6-foot-7 frame and gain more strength, but it seems he is just appearing to scratch the surface of his potential. Playing as one of Nebraska's top scoring options as a freshman caused opposing defenses to hone in on him at times, which hurt him in the short-term but will likely be something that helps his development in the long-term.
The Sixers are in need of wing depth, and McGowens could help in that aspect. However, the Sixers could be looking for more of a complete player who can make an immediate impact. In the case of the team selecting McGowens, they would be sacrificing short-term production for long-term potential. Drafting him at No. 23 would probably be a bit high, but if they elect to trade down to later in the first round he would be a solid pick with major upside.