With the sixth pick in the 2015 SB Nation Team Site NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers (via the Sacramento Kings) select Mario Hezonja from Barcelona (and native of Croatia).
From Liberty Ballers: The Sixers have the luxury of taking risks on talent and taking who, in my opinion, is the best player available and has been for the past few selections. Hezonja has a wealth of talent but was limited to playing a reserve role for much of the season in the Spanish ACB and in Euroleague. He's both a good athlete, standing at 6'8", and a promising off-ball shooter who can space the floor and hit shots off of screens. His talent showed in flashes, and with a rebuilding team offering loads of playing time to any young players who need and/or earn it, Hezonja will get plenty of time to turn flashes into consistent, sustained production. And I like a player who knows he's good and isn't afraid to let you know what he thinks.
Add on that he's played with Dario Saric as part of the Croatian national team, who should join the Sixers in 2016 or 2017, and you have someone who's a perfect fit for this team. We hope to add him this season, along with our player drafted later on at 13.
Taylor: There’s really no bad option for the Sixers. Let’s be honest, their roster is garbage. Embiid appears to be out for another extended period of time, so the majority of the work is still going to be on Nerlens Noel’s broad shoulders. Dario Saric should be coming over this year, so Hezonja and him will battle for the starting three spot, assuming Hezonja comes over immediately. They could also go smaller with Noel in the middle, Saric at the 4 and Henzonja at the 3. While Noel is no offensive threat, he can clean up after all those shooters. Personally, I would have taken Mudiay if I were them, since they have no one to run their offense since inexplicably trading Michael Carter-Williams at last year’s deadline.
Kevin: They might believe that Mudiay would be there in a couple more picks and decided to get Henzonja here instead of a point guard. If they don’t get Mudiay, then they could go another year with Tony Wroten basically doing everything in the backcourt again this year for the 76ers or maybe they trade Wroten too. He was on the block and almost shipped to the Clippers at the deadline last year while the MCW trade was going down.
Henzonja is going to be a solid shooter for the 76ers and if Saric comes over will form a nasty wing spot for the 76ers.
Lucas: The 76ers have been looking for a star to build their team around since hiring radical General Manager Sam Hinkie. They may have found their star in Mario Hezonja. Hezonja is shooting guard with great size at 6’8" and 200 pounds, and seems to possess everything an NBA team would want from their shooting guard; He can shoot off the dribble and on spots up, and can get to the rim and finish with authority, as he possesses top notch athleticism. Confidence is something Hezonja certainly does not lack, he views himself as a star. Overconfidence can be a serious issue, but at least he won’t be intimidated by the fact that the Sixers will likely make him the cornerstone of their franchise. He will need to improve his decision making when it comes to taking shots, improve his defense, and will certainly need to adjust to the NBA game, and american basketball in general. Still, the ceiling for Hezonja is high, and he has a chance to become the best player from this draft.
Dontae: I might be drinking the kool-aid with Mario Hezonja, but I do not care. This dude is going to be a star in the NBA landing on a team like the 76ers. He’s a sure-of-himself (you can call it cocky, but so what?), deadeye shooting, aggressive, looking to dunk on you slasher, with a dash of Manu Ginobili passing, and enough gusto to come off the bench and set a scoring record against one of Europe's best teams.
Wait…why is this guy not going higher? I call it the case of the Russell Westbrook/Tony Allen/J.R. Smith. Sometimes he can be a little herky-jerky with his ballhandling, his defense is isn’t the greatest, but I’ll chalk that up to youth and inexperience, because he has all the tools to make it work. Being on the Sixers will surely help them ease the path of bringing over Dario Saric in a few seasons as well.
He’ll have the green light the moment he hits the floor, which is going to be a good thing and a bad thing. You’ll see the flashes of a star, and the flashes of an unrepentant gunner.
It’s going to be marvelous. Just listen to this quote from Andrew Sharp of Grantland.com:
"Respect? No, I never had respect to anybody on a basketball court," Hezonja said in 2014. "I heard about: ‘If they smell blood, you get eaten.’ I’m not like that. I don’t care. Whether it’s a veteran or a young player standing in front of me I always have the same goal. I want to run over everybody."
You have to love this guy, and so will 76ers fans.