Written and contributions by Rob Manoff and Jason Timperley
The November 18th NBA draft is approaching quickly. Daryl Morey and Elton Brand still have some things to work out. Will they trade any of the five upcoming picks they have this draft? If so, which ones? Pick 21, which originally came from the OKC Thunder is where the 76ers are picking in the first round. The other four picks are all second-round picks. If they do decide to keep any of the picks, a player that can really help and will most likely be available late first to the second round is Grant Riller.
The 6 foot 3, senior guard from The College of Charleston is an explosive athlete with a really good first step and has shown the ability to finish strong around the rim in his four years at Charleston while also shooting 36% from three. He is an excellent scorer out of the pick and roll, excellent offensively in the half-court, and very good when the shot clock is less than four seconds. His ability to shoot and create off the dribble is a skill set that the 76ers roster lacks, and one that is critical at times in the NBA.
Riller’s offensive Synergy statistics really jump off the page. Especially in the categories that the 76ers seemingly lack like pick and roll ball handler, shooting off the dribble, and catch and shoot threes.
|Pick and Roll Ball Handler||97|
|Half-court – Jump Shots||77|
|Jump shots < 4 seconds||84|
|Half-court – runner||92|
Riller’s offensive ability and skill set is something that the Sixers are in critical need of, but will his game translate? In the first two years of his college career, Riller struggled as a playmaker accounting for 110 assists to 111 turnovers, however the last two years of his career he drastically improved with 256 assists and 176 turnovers. Playing for a mid-major college, his draft age, inconsistent defense, and struggling with turnovers at the beginning of his collegiate career may be a reason why he is being talked about being drafted later in the draft,
By all accounts Riller displays the scoring ability that is needed at the pro level, His first step is one of the best in the draft, and he displays the athletics and creativity to finish in traffic around the rim. With good size and a good frame, this should be something he can continue to excel at in the NBA, which will really make him an intriguing candidate, especially late in the draft,
Riller, in theory, fills a huge need for the 76ers, especially with a coach like Doc Rivers, who has said time and time again the plan is to run the pick and roll more with Joel, Tobias, and Ben being roll guys. This means the Sixers need a guy to handle the ball. The lack of creation off the dribble on this Sixers team is alarming, and it would be smart of the team to look into drafting a guy that can take that role.
The Sixers have been rumored to have interest in Jrue Holiday, James Harden, and Chris Paul, all three players can handle the ball and create out of the pick and roll. If we believe the rumors, it seems it would mean that the Sixers’ front office is valuing ball-handlers as a need. Even if they do the trade for one of these guys, if the team is able to keep this year’s picks, or at least their second-round picks, I think it would be smart of them to still look into a guy that could eventually replace the veteran guard they trade for, if they are able to.
If the Sixers are able to keep their second-round picks this season, using 34 and 36 to move up back into the late first-round may be beneficial for the team, not only can they grab a guy like Riller or Flynn, with big upside as a ball-handler creator, but it would help them cap-wise, as they won’t have to use part of the TMLE to sign the pick. If I am the team, and I move up< and Riller is available I am 100% giving him a look. I’d lean more towards Malachi Flynn if he is available too, but Riller’s ability to finish at the rim is huge.
His struggle with passing and turnovers early in his career is troubling, however his ability to learn and adapt and significantly improve that portion of his game is a good sign as he enters the draft. His athleticism and first step are NBA caliber, but can his scoring ability translate is the main question. If his scoring translates I think his passing will too, he has shown great ability to drive and dish, as long as he can continue to finish strong at the baskets defenses will have to respect it, and if he can pass off the drive as he did in his final two seasons he should be just fine in the league. There is a big concern at the defensive end though, whilst he appears to have strength, he lacks the size to defend anything other than point guards, and even then he is likely to be below average at that end.
When you are drafting late in the draft you have to be able to project upside and take risks. No matter who they draft in that position the player will struggle to begin. Both Riller and Flynn have a high ceiling and could be potential starters at guard, especially with their ability to score out the pick and roll. The 76ers would be smart to take a risk on either player, given they are available when the team drafts, or even move up back into the first round to draft one of them would be fine. Riller is a baller, and can score with the best of them, could end up being the steal of the draft.