(First of a four-part series)
First of all, Happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you all have enough hot dogs, hamburgers and beers to keep you happy for the next, well, week or so. Now that all of the dust has settled on the NBA Draft Lottery, let’s take a look at what options the Sixers have 34 days from now. I’m sure everyone is disappointed that the ping pong balls didn’t fall the way we had hoped but there is good news, even though the second worst record this year didn’t net them a top two pick, at least the still have a top 3 selection. This is especially good since this draft is supposed to have a clear “top 3” and now Hinkie and company can sit back and take whichever one falls right into their laps. If you are the Sixers brass, this actually couldn’t have worked out better. All of the pressure will be on Cleveland and Milwaukee to stick their necks out and make a decision on which of Wiggins, Parker and Embiid should be their building block of the future. No one is going to blame Hinkie for taking the remaining of the players so if that player doesn’t work out, it’s the ping pong balls fault, not his.
Let’s briefly discuss some of the things we know as of this writing. The reports (or should I say rumors) out there say that Cleveland has Embiid atop their big board. This is especially good news for Sixersnation since we we’re all most scared of Embiid (thanks Bynum for terrifying us when it comes to big men and injuries) and we’ve had our sights set on mostly Wiggins and to a little lesser extent, Parker. If you believe the rumors, Milwaukee is leaning towards Embiid and Parker. Some find it hard to believe they have Embiid in their top 2 when they have Larry Sanders already in house but let’s be serious, Sanders is a nice player but does he prevent you from taking a 7-footer with a smooth offensive game, I don’t think so. If Cleveland does take Embiid, Milwaukee is eyeing Parker, who is by most accounts, the most NBA ready of all of the prospects. Parker certainly has his deficiencies on the defensive end; does he guard the 3 or the 4? He’s probably too slow to cover the 3 but at 6’8” 235lbs, does he have the size and length to cover the 4? These are legitimate questions but it’s easier to cover those up when you have a player scoring 20+ points on a nightly basis. Many compare Parker to Melo but the biggest difference is that for all of his defensive deficiencies, Parker is more competitive, a better team player and more willing to do what it takes to help his team win, i.e.; much more coachable. Either way, I think whichever team takes Parker, would be thrilled to have him be compared to Melo 3 years from now.
Dream scenario, right? Sixers on the clock and Wiggins is still available, Hinkie makes the pick 15 seconds after Milwaukee takes Parker. We’re all jumping around thinking this didn’t just happen, we got the player we’ve wanted for months! Those back to back losses to the Clippers and the Warriors, by a total of 88 points, is all worth it now. I too would be thrilled but let’s look at him from an objective view point. He is an athletic freak who glides around the floor like a gazelle with ballerina lightness to his feet. He has an amazing second hop which allows him to clean up the offensive glass and defend like most guys haven’t seen before. Many question his desire to play the game and to take over in crunch time but I believe that second point was also made about a certain player who has led his team to two straight Finals wins, King James. My point there is that the kid was 18 years old last year, the more confidence he gets, the more willing he will be to put his team on his back when they need him most. Wiggins was no slouch on offense this year, he averaged 17.1pts, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and as the year went on, and he got better. But where he is going to make his biggest impact early in his NBA career is on the defensive end. He is a top flight defender who can guard multiple positions. This will allow his NBA coach to play him in all situations, including late in games. So, with the questions surrounding his offensive game, he’s still going to make an impact on the game and that will allow him to gain valuable minutes while he figures out how to insert himself on offense and time to improve his jumper. If the Sixers draft him, Brett Brown (will be known as BB here on out) should have him shooting thousands of jump shots each day during the summer. If he were to become a consistent outside shooter, he’d be virtually unstoppable since the defender will need to respect his amazing first step which can get him by most defenders. If he’s being guarded by a 2 or a 3, he’ll have the length to get his jumper off virtually uncontested. Really, the sky is the limit for this kid.
So now that we’ve looked at the “big 3”, let’s breakdown how the draft can play out. With all the talk about the 3rd pick, the Sixers have an equally important pick at #10. Hinkie’s draft day deal last year, sending Jrue Holiday to New Orleans, has netted him Noel and this year’s 10, not too shabby. As of this writing, the Sixers have picks 3, 10, 32, 39, 47, 52, and 54. Essentially they own the lottery and they own the second round. I’m going to take a look at the draft in two different categories; The Old School and The Hinkie School. Stay tuned!
(Part 2: The Old School will be posted on May 27, followed by Part 3: The Hinkie School on May 29 and Part 4: The Recap on May 31)