With the 17th pick of the NHL Entry draft, the Flyers select… Oh wait, this is a Sixers blog. Either way, you have the same chance of seeing Travis Sanheim (who the Flyers did draft) in a Sixers uniform this year as you do of seeing either of their first round selections. So what the heck is Hinkie doing, right? Clearly he has a long-term focus and he's sticking his plan. I'll admit, after the Sixers drafted Dario Saric with their second lottery pick (by way of trade with Orlando), I was resigned to the fact that this is going to be another long season of sixer fandom.
With that being said, I loved the draft results considering the hand Hinkie was dealt. I would have taken Joel Embiid at #3 as well. In the second straight draft, Hinkie got the consensue #1 pick at discount. Embiid has the potential to be a franchise center that all NBA talent evaluators would agree is the most difficult asset to acquire in today's NBA. There certainly are concerns, he's had two injuries in the last 4 months and he's a big man (7'1'', 245lbs) which makes them a little more worrisome. There are a lot of past cases of NBA players who have fractured the navicular bone in their feet. Some have gone onto good, if not legendary careers (see MJ, Tracy McGrady, Big Z) and others have fallen victim to continuous struggles with that same injury (Yao, Brendan Haywood, and others). With today's medicine and the quickness in their identification of the injury, Embiid should have a decent chance of showing no ill effects.
On the court, Embiid is a tantalizing talent. He's only been playing basketball for four years and made tremendous strides over the course of his freshman year at Kansas. Bill Self stated, and I'm paraphrasing, that Jo is the most talented player he's ever coached, and he coached the #1 pick of this year's draft. Embiid is a big man with a developing post game, he really started shooting over his left shoulder with high effectiveness and it's a shot that is virtually impossible to defend. He's already a decent step out shooter and with a year in Brett Brown's shooting school, that should be a part of his game he really improves on between now and 2015-2016 season. This is critical as they'll need him and Noel to have complementing roles on offense. Now to where the two of them are going to be great together, on defense. Both can defend the 4 or the 5, with the length to contest pick and rolls and the ability to cover others mistakes with their help defense. Thinking about those two 7 footers patrolling the defensive end really gets me excited.
With their 10th pick, the Sixers selected Elfrid Payton, a point guard. It was clear that this pick was going to be traded and to be honest, Hinkie fleeced Orlando. If you've heard how it played out, Hinkie is the kind of GM that I love. He knew Orlando wanted Payton so Hinkie took him, prior to having a deal in place with Orlando. Then Hinkie just held them hostage, prying away a future 1st and 2nd round pick for payton and their #12 pick where the Sixers selected Dario Saric. Hinkie would have taken Saric at #10 if he knew couldn't swing a deal. That's a pretty great haul to move down 2 spots.
Now, Saric isn't going to play in the NBA for at least two more years and there's always a chance, as there is with all international prospects, that he may never come over. But this is a guy would would have been chosen in the top 6 if he was going to play this year. Another huge value pick for Hinkie. It will be interesting to see how Saric, a strecth four, fits in with Embiid and Noel. Maybe Hinkie figures he can evaluate those two in the next two years and make a determination later on as to who he should move forward with. Or, Saric could just be another tradeable asset in the next few years.
On the court, Saric is an extremely skilled 6'11 power/point forward. He can handle the ball, shoot from range and has a plethora of post moves. He's a volume rebounder and is very good on the offensive glass. His man defense is somewhat of an unknown but he doesn't lack effort. The biggest concern I have at this point if I'm the Sixers brass is will he come over in 2 years and how will he fit. That said, it's clear the sixers acquired another skilled big man at a value. In today's NBA, you need to have a superior strenght on your team to be able to contend, if these three guys pan out, the Sixers frontcourt won't be rivaled by any.
In the second round, the Sixers again did what none of us thought they would, they drafted 5 players. I thought they would have packaged some picks to move back into the first rd or traded some late picks to move up in the second round but they didn't, I guess they were counting on filling out their 2014 roster in the second round. I mean, you do need to dress 12 guys each year.
And the theme continued in this round too, they drafted players at a huge value. Both McDaniels and Grant are first round talents and were expected by many talent evaluators to be drafted in the first round. I love Cleanthony Early's game and was disappointed they didn't pull the trigger on him but I'm not displeased with these two guys. They will both guard the 3 in the NBA which isn't ideal but they were too good to pass on. Fortunately for Brett Brown, they have different skill sets. K. J McDaniels is a lock-down defender and has terrific length but not much of an outside shot and a suspect ball-handler. Jerami Grant is also long and athletic, he's going to wow us many times this year with his dunking ability. He's suspect on defense when guarding superior oppenents but can help with cleaning up the glass. He will certainly benefit from running the floor with MCW. These are the two guys everyone should be most excited for (aside from Noel) in the upcoming season.
The Sixers also grabbed anther draft and stash prospect in Vasilije Micic, a 6'6'' pg from Serbia. The book on him is that he's a great passer, excellent in the pick and roll and uses his length well on defense. The knocks, he stuggles to guard quicker guards and needs work on his shooting, sound familiar! He also needs to bulk up so a few years overseas should help. Don't expect him in Philly for another two years, maybe he and Saric can book their tickets together.
The Sixers did make a trade with their favorite partner, the Pelicans. The Sixers drafted a speedy pg and flipped him for a Sixers draft choice from last year, Pierre Jackson who played in the D-League and overseas last year. Jackson does have some talent and I expect him to see some decent minutes this year coming off the bench. Jackson is an excellent ball handler with great court vision and he does, wait for it, shoot the ball well from range. He's got a real chance to be a contributor moving forward.
Lastly, the Sixers made a trade with Spurs and acquired Jordan McRae, a 6'5'' shooting guard who was a Senior at Tennessee last year and should immediately make him a veteran presence on the squad. McRae is a great leaper and has a knack for scoring. He was his teams primary option last year and doesn't shy away from taking on defenders. He should see some rotational minutes next year.
There you have it, 7 picks, 2 from round 1 and 5 from round 2, and an additional first and second round pick from Orlando. Like I said, it's a little frustrating that we won't get to see the two "prizes" from this year's class but Hinkie is building a solid foundation for this club moving forward. Adding another top 5 pick next year to pair with 4 other lottery picks from the last two years makes 2017 seem far away but very exciting. I'm willing to be patient for one more season of losing but Hinkie will need to soon think about the now.
What did you think of the draft? Post your comments or tweet me at @mattlauni or @sixerdelphia