By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Editor
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.
Wendell Moore Jr. is perhaps the most underrated player on a stacked Duke Blue Devils team that made the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament last season. The junior had the best season of his collegiate career, averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 33.9 minutes per game. He made the Second Team All-ACC last season. The 6-foot-6, 217-pound Moore would bring a good, much needed skillset to a roster currently bereft of talented wing players.
Moore provides a well-balanced skillset which shows up on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he has the versatility to play either on the wing or as a playmaker running the offense. He takes good care of the basketball, averaging 4.4 assists to just 1.9 turnovers last season. He has good enough ball vision and passing ability to be able to effectively run an offense when necessary.
The 20-year old possesses a ton of potential, and it can be seen in how his game has progressed in each season at Duke. This can best be seen in his scoring ability. He went from averaging 7.4 points per game as a freshman to 13.4 points per game as a junior this past season. While he does not possess elite explosive ability, he developed the physicality and craftiness to still be a good finisher around the rim.
Where his development can be seen the most is in his improved 3-point shooting. He began as a 21.1% shooter from deep before taking huge leaps of around 10% in his 3-point percentage in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He shot 41.3% from beyond the arc on 3.2 attempts per game last season and now possesses the ability to score at all three levels.
Moore's versatility can also be seen on the defensive end of the court. He finished on the ACC All-Defense team last season. His 7-foot wingspan gives him the length to be able to defend across multiple positions. He has good lateral quickness, using his foot speed to be able to keep up with some smaller, quicker guards. When engaged defensively, he has the tools to be a solid on-ball defender. He has good hands, averaging 1.4 steals per game last season, and is a solid rebounder as well for his size. He will often be seen flying in out of nowhere to crash the boards, especially on the offensive glass.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Moore is his overall upside. He has the makings to be a solid role player with a well-rounded skillset. He is not projected to be a dominant player, but he does have the ability to develop into a really high-level complementary piece for whichever team decides to draft him.
Playing at the collegiate level was a big adjustment for Moore. He struggled in his first two seasons at Duke before exploding last season and showing what he is capable of. He might have to go through a similar adjustment period transitioning from college to the NBA.
His jumper is also not proven to be reliable, with just one good shooting season under his belt at Duke. NBA teams will be taking a gamble on him on whether his shooting numbers last season were an outlier or a real sign of progress moving forward. He is an 81.4% shooter from the free-throw line in college, which does point in a positive direction considering success at the free-throw line can often translate to beyond the arc.
There is also still some concern over whether he can stay fully engaged on the defensive end of the floor. He has all the tools necessary to be a good defender, but he needs to work on being more consistently engaged. Proving that he can consistently be a good defensive player will go a long way towards solidifying his role at the NBA level.
Fit on the Sixers:
Improving wing depth should be the Sixers' highest priority this offseason. Selecting Moore at No. 23 would be a good start at fixing the lack of talented wings on the current roster. Moore's well-rounded skillset would be a good fit with Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. He can step in and run point when needed while also having the ability to be able to attack in transition, knock down shots from the perimeter and play solid defense.
He should be able to come in and contribute immediately. While his upside is not as high as some other potential draft prospects, Moore would be a great fall-back option for the Sixers. He is currently projected to be a late first or early second-round pick, meaning he will likely be there once the Sixers are on the clock at pick No. 23.