2021 NBA mock draft roundup: Sharife Cooper, Josh Christopher mocked to Sixers

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Mock draft roundup: Lots of intriguing guard options for Sixers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

We’re now a little over three weeks away from the NBA draft.

As was the case in our first mock draft roundup, guards are popular for the Sixers in recent mocks:

Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report 

Jared Butler, Baylor 

Wasserman: “Teams are still in wait-and-see mode on Butler, who must be cleared after the NBA red-flagged a heart condition that was discovered during his college recruitment. He played three seasons at Baylor without any issues, but no clearance before the draft creates risk that teams may want to avoid.” 

Butler had an award-packed junior season. On Tuesday, he became the first person in the Big 12’s history to win the conference's Athlete of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald’s John Werner. Butler is an adroit ball handler who shot 41.6 percent from three-point range last year and possesses NBA tools both on and off the ball. Though undersized for a combo guard at a shade over 6-foot-2 without shoes and with a 6-foot-4 wingspan, Butler led the Big 12 in steals. He won’t have a Matisse Thybulle-esque defensive impact, but perhaps Butler could force turnovers and jumpstart transition offense as a Sixer. Any fan of the sport is hoping everything works out for him medically. 

Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports 

Josh Christopher, Arizona State 

Ward-Henninger: “Christopher has all the upside you want in a late first-rounder, and he said he had an "amazing" meeting with the 76ers. He has NBA athleticism and creates tremendous space off the dribble with a confident mid-range and 3-point stroke. He improved toward the end of the year at Arizona State, indicating an upward trajectory. Philadelphia can give him time to develop, but a bench unit featuring Christopher and Tyrese Maxey could do wonders for its offense.”

Christopher was the highest-ranked player to commit to Arizona State since James Harden. He was limited to 15 games by injuries and certainly didn’t play like a finished product. The 19-year-old dished out only 21 assists and turned the ball over 26 times. He’s an explosive, talented prospect, though, and it is indeed not hard to imagine him flying down the floor alongside Maxey. Christopher’s scoring high as a freshman was a 28-point performance against Villanova

Zach Harper, The Athletic 

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois 

Harper: “Tough to know which way the Philadelphia 76ers may go, but getting more options in the backcourt seems to be the safest bet. I’d love Dosunmu here for the Sixers. His shot was all over the place in his time at Illinois, but he comes off a very encouraging season hitting nearly 40 percent from deep. Dosunmu can score and he’s a very good defender with a great wingspan. I’m not sure you’d want him as a full-time point guard, but he’ll really work next to Shake Milton off the bench.”

Like Butler, Dosunmu deliberated before returning to school for his junior year and played very well for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, although the Illini’s season ended with a second-round loss to Loyola. Dosunmu averaged 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists this past season. While Milton is undoubtedly a superior shooter, there are some similarities between the two in build and skill set. If Dosunmu pans out as a decent bench scorer and above-average guard defender who chips in across the board, that would obviously be a strong selection with the 28th pick.

Scott Gleeson, USA Today 

Sharife Cooper, Auburn 

Gleeson: “Cooper's numbers speak volumes, averaging 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game with the Tigers. He's a multi-dimensional passer and can create for himself, while making open shots. That's a recipe to boost just about any playoff team. His size will get knocked, but so did Fred VanVleet's stature.” 

Cooper played just 12 college games, missing the end of Auburn’s season with an ankle injury. In a virtual film session with Cooper, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz highlighted Trae Young and Ja Morant as NBA point guards with pick-and-roll playmaking qualities like the 20-year-old. Cooper only shot 39.1 percent from the floor and 22.8 percent from three-point territory, but those numbers likely would’ve been better with a larger sample size and more time to adjust to college basketball. 

Darren Hartwell, NBC Sports Boston

Trey Murphy III, Virginia 

Hartwell: “Philly needs to make shooting a priority this offseason, and drafting Murphy would be a good place to start: The rangy wing was Virginia’s most efficient 3-point shooter last season at 43.3% on 4.8 attempts per game.”

Murphy might be a bit Cam Johnson-esque, a tall, pure shooter who knows his limitations and can help a contender early in his career. He turned in a 50-40-90 year for Virginia after spending two seasons at Rice. The Sixers would welcome shooting and, if they take Murphy, would probably hope he’d have sufficient strength to play power forward minutes for them at some stage.