The Sixers are in a tough spot right now. After an encouraging postseason run that saw the young squad take a time-tested Boston team to seven games in the conference semifinals, it’s hard to know whether they are on the brink, or if the run was simply fool’s gold. In a sense, it was a bit of both. Here’s what we learned about this group:
Jrue Holiday came out of his shell in the playoffs. He was aggressive offensively, leading the team in points, assists and steals throughout the run to the conference semifinals.
Evan Turner still can’t shoot the long range J, but he has the handles, finishing and size to be a phenomenal player. He won’t let himself be a bust in this league.
Andre Iguodala is a very good player, and he can contribute in every way on the floor. However, Philadelphia never seemed to fall in love with Iguodala, and they may not get the chance to.
Lavoy Allen went from looking like a hometown pick who wouldn’t make the roster to our most capable defensive big man. Lavoy can shoot the midrange, too.
The end of Elton Brand’s run as a Sixer is imminent … sort of. He’s not worth using the amnesty on, but coming into his contract year, he will be a valuable trade chip at the deadline.
Spencer Hawes was on fire at times in the playoffs, which is all the more reason to let someone else waste their money on him. The Sixers need to make difficult choices, but the choice between Hawes and Lou Williams is an easy one.
So what should the Sixers do on draft day tomorrow? The answer: Take the best big on the board, unless the best player on the board is clearly better. Depending on the day, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford has had the Sixers taking Terrence Jones, Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie, or Terrence Ross. Another interesting name is Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, who is perhaps the best back-to-the-basket player in the draft. However, reports have surfaced that Sullinger has a serious back problem that his camp is trying to downplay.
So, who is the best pick among them?
If the front office is truly comfortable with Sullinger‘s health, he could be a double-double-type player immediately, and a long-term solution at power forward if he can stay on the court.
Perry Jones III presents the most upside, with questions about his motor. If Sullinger’s back is too much of a risk, then take the risk on Jones III’s motivational shortcomings.
Moultrie has been on draft radars for a couple of years now, but still doesn’t seem to be a finished product.
Then there’s Ross. He has been all over draft boards. He may be the best pure shooter in the draft, has size for a two guard, and has an abundance of confidence in his game. But wouldn’t that just clutter the Sixers backcourt? Maybe, but the Sixers played in three-guard sets a lot last year, and players like Turner and Holiday can guard multiple backcourt positions, as can Ross.
If they are seriously looking to trade Iguodala, perhaps they could move up to take a player like Dion Waters, who is a relentless scorer. Or, more ambitiously, if the Sixers found a way to move up into Charlotte’s spot (they are looking to trade the pick) at number two, they could draft Bradley Beal. We’ve all been waiting for star power to return to the Sixers roster, and either one of those players has the chance to develop into a go-to guy. The second trade scenario would require a bit more than Iggy and the 15th pick (Thaddeus?), and obviously, the Sixers would take back some bad contracts in return.
The second round is less interesting, but could yield solid rotation players. If Doron Lamb, Kim English, or Darius Miller slips to 45, then they have to take one of them for their sharp shooting. If not, there are other solid rotation prospects, such as the Georgetown duo of Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims. Sims is not particularly athletic, but is a skilled big man who didn’t take basketball seriously until his senior season, and Thompson was quietly the best three-point shooter in the Big East while at Georgetown. Ultimately, the focus is on bringing in a big man and a shooter. The best-case scenario looks like a combination of Jones III with shooters like Lamb, Miller, or Thompson. If anyone can get the best out of Jones III, it is the almost overly analytical Doug Collins. However it plays out, Thursday night will have bigger effect on the franchise than most fans realize.
UPDATE: Read Jason Besecker’s post-draft commentary.