Decisions, decisions, decisions. Mid-level teams like the 76ers can climb up the NBA food chain by making the correct pick — or trade in our case — during the NBA Draft. And the importance of the annual June crap-shoot has skyrocketed this year. The impending lockout on July 1st will freeze all transactions until the CBA issue is resolved, which is looking rather bleak.
The last time the Sixers held the 16th pick, Mo Speights was the pick … and well … let’s just say the jury is out on him. I did a little research and check out the list of number 16 picks since 2001.
Get close to a trash can if you have a gag reflex.
2010: Luke Babbit
2009: James Johnson
2008: Marreese Speights
2007: Nick Young
2006: Rodney Carney
2005: Joey Graham
2004: Kirk Snyder
2003: Troy Bell
2002: Jiri Welsch
2001: Kirk Haston
Take this how you want to, but several franchises have butchered this slot in the draft, with plenty of other talent still remaining on the board. Please don’t try and convince me that Nick Young is a solid player either. Our friends at Truth About It have made it public knowledge of his passing problem.
Making the correct selection is the final part of the NBA draft night. The scenarios that occur right when David Stern starts the clock up until the 16th pick will all but decide who Rod Thorn drafts. Here are the top five situations the front office will be monitoring in the war room.
1. How far will the international players drop, and will the 76ers pounce?
It is inevitable, they are dropping. Yi Jianlian, Ricky Rubio and Danilo Gallinari are the only three international players to be picked in the top 10 since 2007. This draft may be different with the likes of Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger staying in school. It has completely diluted the international crop and their value. Call me crazy but I think NBA general managers get gun-shy to pick some of these guys due to past history.
There are just so many failures in the last decade from the European crop — Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Yaroslav Korolev, etc. You may think I’m stereotyping but it’s evident that the European leagues are quite different athletically than the NBA.
I think guys like Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas will be available at 16. Both have the height the Sixers are looking for. The real question is will both be able to have the courage to realize there is a large adjustment period in making the jump to the NBA. And there’s the whole thing about coming to an entirely new country. Most of these guys most be coddled. If Thorn nabs either of these two, his job could be at stake in a few seasons once they DON’T pan out.
The one international prospect whose stock has hit the roof is Bismack Biyombo. The 18-year-old prospect from Congo has scouts in a frenzy and comparing him to Serge Ibaka 2.0. I tend to agree with their assessment. Biyombo lead the Spanish ACB (the premier international league) in blocks during just 17 minutes per game. Plus he’s boasts a 7’7″ wingspan, and incredible trait for someone who is just 6’9”. Offensively he’s a mess but so was Ibaka. He is a piece who would elevate the Sixers into the elite defensive category.
2. Will the 76ers ‘reach’ for someone they fell in love with?
Philly.com’s Kate Fagan is proclaiming the organization is infatuated with Justin Harper, the hybrid scoring forward from Richmond. I wrote about him a few weeks ago and was raving about his combination of size and three point shooting, something the Sixers don’t have. Still, most scouting websites predict Harper falling in the late twenties or even the early second round. Can Doug Collins put some pressure on management for a guy who he thinks can contribute next season?
The other reach I’d be grateful for is Jordan Williams from Maryland. He’s a balanced prospect who can play on both ends of the court and his size — 6’9″ 250 — is prototypical. He could blossom into a potential replacement for Elton Brand.
3. What if Jimmer Freddette falls all the way to 16?
I know. Most of you think he won’t pan out into anything special. I know that Doug Collins already has his hands full in getting appropriate minutes for everyone in the crowded backcourt. Two things you have to keep in mind about with Jimmer:
One is that he will sell seats unlike any other draftee, something that the new ownership may take into consideration. The Sixers finished 25th out of 30 in league attendance last year, a completely unacceptable statistic for a young and exciting playoff team.
The second thing is that what if the front office has a few takers for Lou Williams? He was outstanding last season in doses but we know his usage rating is out of control. The Los Angeles Lakers would be a perfect spot for Lou with their point guard troubles, and they might be willing to offer a future first round pick. Jimmer could be lightning off the bench; handling the ball, running the fast break and of course launching game changing three’s. He could be an answer in the clutch too as he has taken his fair share of big shots.
4. How likely is it that Iguodala is moved on draft day?
Two weeks ago I would’ve said 100 percent. But that’s how things tend to work in the NBA. Rumors shoot up and down the internet too early and then potential trading teams get wet feet, IE Golden State and Monta Ellis. The Minnesota deal I proposed awhile back makes the most sense, so obviously because it makes the most sense it won’t happen.
Maybe there is a surprise suitor? The Nuggets have tons of pieces to use in a trade. The Trailblazers are always looking to shake up the roster. I say the likelihood Iguodala is traded before the lockout has fallen to about 50 percent.
5. Could other 76ers be dealt?
Fans would love to see Jason Kapono, Andres Nocioni and Tony Battie off the roster. Some are clamoring that the Speights era be put to rest.
Good luck to Rod Thorn and the rest of the front office. Thursday starts the biggest 76er offseason in over 25 years.
I will be representing Philadunkia at the Draft on Thursday. Follow all of my updates on Twitter (@philadunkia).