The Sixers are in the midst of an offseason of transition. Decisions must be made on more than half of their roster. Should they attempt to re-sign Lou Williams or Spencer Hawes? Will they try to trade Andre Iguodala? Will they use the amnesty clause on Elton Brand or bring him back for the final year of his contract, which pays him $18.5 million next season?
With all these decisions to make, the Sixers don’t have anyone in place to make these decisions. More accurately, the person who will be in charge of this franchise’s personnel in the future won’t be making these decisions – at least not yet.
Spurs executive Danny Ferry, reportedly the Sixers’ top choice to succeed president and general manager Rod Thorn, agreed to become the Hawks’ president and general manager earlier this week. That leaves Thorn and head coach Doug Collins to make the decisions that will shape the Sixers’ future, starting with Thursday’s draft.
The player the Sixers select Thursday with the 15th pick will indicate what their plans are for the other pieces of their puzzle. For example, if they select a center, that’s an indication that Hawes won’t be back unless the Sixers can get him for a bargain. Selecting a guard or small forward may be an indication that Iguodala is expendable. The problem of not having those choices made by the future GM and president is obvious.
Regardless of who makes the draft decisions, getting a player at No. 15 who can make an impact is far from a sure thing. I tried to assemble a Top 10 list of No. 15 picks over the past 40 years. I couldn’t do it. There weren’t enough quality picks at No. 15 to fill out the list.
Steve Nash, selected 15th overall by the Suns in 1996, is the obvious standout. Then the talent level falls off. The Celtics selected Al Jefferson out of high school in 1993, the Magic picked Matt Harpring 15th in 1998, and the Jazz chose Dell Curry 15th in 1986. Kawhi Leonard, selected 15th by the Pacers last year and traded to the Spurs, was a pretty good pick, as was Rodney Stuckey by the Pistons in 2007.
As you can tell by the names I’ve already mentioned, it’s not easy to find enough 15th picks worthy of being on a top 10 list.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent available at No. 15. When the Mavericks chose Temple guard Terence Stansbury at No. 15 in 1984, the Jazz scooped up John Stockton with the 16th pick. (By the way, the Sixers, after selecting Charles Barkley at No. 5, could have taken Stockton at No. 10, when the drafted guard Leon Wood. Imagine how the Sixers’ future may have been different had they drafted Barkley and Stockton.)
The Spurs selected Tony Parker with the final pick of the first round in 2001, nine picks after the Blazers picked forward Zach Randolph and two after the Sixers picked center Samuel Dalembert. All of these players were drafted after the Magic picked 6-foot-11 center Steven Hunter with the 15th pick.
The Sixers picked Jrue Holiday 17th in 2009. The Celtics picked Rajon Rondo 21st in 2006 (the Sixers picked Rodney Carney 16th in 2006).
So there’s a decent chance there will be talent available at No. 15. The hard part is identifying it.
This year’s draft is relatively deep. The problem is that this draft only has one no-doubt-about-it star: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. After the Hornets select Davis with the first pick, the draft becomes a crap shoot.
It goes without saying that if you don’t shoot straight in a crap shoot, you end up with … crap. The Sixers can’t afford to end up with crap.
After Davis, most of the mock drafts are all over the place. Many draft observers predict that Charlotte will trade out of the No. 2 position in the draft. The picks get even more wide open after the top five or six players.
Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie. Washington small forward/off-guard Terrence Ross. North Carolina center Tyler Zeller. Duke guard Austin Rivers. Illinois center Meyers Leonard. St. John’s forward Moe Harkless. Baylor forward Perry Jones III. Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger. All of these players could be available to the Sixers at No. 15.
Let’s assume five of the players in the preceding paragraph are available at No. 15. Which one should the Sixers pick? Which player is the best fit for the Sixers’ needs? What are the Sixers’ primary needs? Who will decide which are their primary needs?
Those are a lot of questions for a franchise that can’t afford to make a mistake. I would feel a lot better if their future GM and president were present to make those decisions.