Tag Archives: Sixers

Thoughts on the NBA Draft

Evan Turner - Is this the man that will return the Sixers to the promised land?

As usual, the NBA draft had its share of surprise picks, trades and drama.  The beginning of the draft started the way many mock drafts had predicted, with John Wall going 1st to the Wizards, followed by Evan Turner to the Sixers, and Derrick Favors to the Nets.  First, I must say that I am glad the Sixers took my advice and drafted Evan Turner (quite possibly the only Ohio State Buckeye I will ever like).  I think he has the potential to be a star in the league and gives them a player to truly build around for the future.  He seems to be a stand up guy and plays well on both ends of the floor.  The Sixers have struck gold with this pick.  Given that his was the Sixers’ only pick in the draft, they made a splash.  I know that it will create some over-crowding at the wing and guard positions, but this pick was the best for the franchise.  Hopefully, Ed Stefanski isn’t done trading and can clear out some of that over-crowding while bringing in some new talent.  As, I stated in a previous post, the gutsy move is to trade Andre Iguodala, who would likely fetch some good pieces (picks or players) in return.

Some other moves that I liked:

Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder were active in this draft.  I liked what I saw from them.  They had a total of 4 picks in the draft, but didn’t keep any of them.  They spun their picks into: Daequan Cook, a young shooting guard who will give them depth in the back court; Cole Aldrich, a good, young big who will add depth to the front court, Morris Peterson (who will provide veteran leadership off the bench) and a future 1st round pick (lottery protected).   The Thunder made these trades both for the future and in order to win now.  They had 4 picks in the draft and already are loaded with young talent.  They did their best to not overload themselves with players that are too young and not ready to contribute.  This team can win now, they already have a talented core and gave the Lakers a run for their money in the playoffs.  With their moves, I think they can push the elite in the Western Conference.

Miami Heat – The Heat made some shrewd moves in this draft.  The first, As John Hollinger of ESPN wrote about their trade of Cook to OKC, “Miami is in the process of buying out James Jones, whose deal is only partially guaranteed next year, and if in addition the Heat can find a taker for Michael Beasley they’ll have enough cap space for three max contracts — allowing them to potentially unite the holy trinity of LeBron, Wade and Bosh on one roster.”  Can you believe that?  How crazy would it be if Miami had Bosh, King James and Flash on the same team?  They would be unstoppable.  In addition, the Heat made 4 picks in the 2nd round and like several of them.  Getting Jarvis Varnado, the all-time NCAA leader in blocked shots, in the middle of the 2nd round is great value.  He will be great off the bench as a defender/rebounder.  The Heat also drafted one of my favorite players from the NCAA tournament, Da’Sean Butler.  He injured his knee against Duke in the national semifinal, but will provide the Heath with good value when he recovers.

Utah Jazz – The Jazz picked Gordon Hayward, the unlikely star of this past NCAA tournament.  I love what Hayward can do.  He can shoot, play D and has a good motor and feel for the game.  I think he fits in with this team perfectly.

Washington Wizards – Obviously, John Wall was a great pick.  He allows them to move Gilbert Arenas to the SG position, which makes both the PG and SG positions better.  I also liked their pick of Trevor Booker from Clemson.  He adds size and toughness in the paint.  Include their trade with the Bulls, where they got Kirk Hinrich (who can act as a mentor to Wall and provides a solid backup in the back court), and I think the Wizards have gone a long way to getting themselves back to respectability.

One move that I did not like was Portland’s firing of GM Kevin Pritchard.  The way they fired him and the fact that they fired him at all is just ridiculous.  Paul Allen, the Blazers’ owner, fired Pritchard just hours before the draft.  Pritchard conducted the draft admirably, making a trade that makes the Blazers a better team.  He was able to acquire Ryan Gomes and the rights to Luke Babbitt from the Timberwolves for Martell Webster.  I like this trade because I am a fan of Gomes.  I like him when he played for the Celtics and I think he is a great addition to the Blazers.  I also like Babbitt, who played college ball at Nevada.  Pritchard also drafted Elliot Williams, who will add depth to the Portland back court.  Pritchard should be able to find work elsewhere as he was responsible for rehabilitating the Blazers’ image and rebuilding the franchise on the court.  He did an excellent job in both departments and to see him go out like this is just pitiful.  Could this be the start of the Pritchard Curse?  It would serve Paul Allen right if it were, but the Blazer fans deserve better.

Musings on Baseball, Basketball and the Longest Tennis Match in History

So many sporting events during the last day, and so little time to blog about them.  I’ve decided one post to cover the most interesting non-World Cup sporting events of the last day was the way to go.

Baseball – Good night for one of my teams, not so good for the other.  The Phillies were able to pull off a late game rally to defeat the Indians 7-6. Maybe Jimmy Rollins‘ absence meant more the Phillies than I thought.  His walk-off homer secured the victory.  Coupled with a sterling pitching performance from Jamie Moyer on Tuesday the Phillies are on a modest 2 game win streak.  Maybe the Phillies need to play the AL Central more often.  Hopefully, the Phillies can use this to propel themselves into a good stretch before the All-Star break.  If the Phillies can play well going into the Break, I think they have an excellent shot of catching Atlanta and winning the division.  In the past several years, the Phillies have been excellent after the All-Star Break, posting a .599 winning percentage over the last 5 seasons.  If the Phillies can go into the Break within striking distance, I believe they will heat up after the break and catch the Braves.

On the other side of a walk-off were my 2nd team, the Red Sox.  They were facing Ubaldo Jimenez, who has been historically good this season, so who could have blamed them for losing.  The funny thing is that the Sox actually got to Jimenez, chasing him after 5 2/3 innings in which they scored 6 runs.  To put this in perspective, Jimenez had only given up 13 runs total in his previous 14 games!  In the month of May, Jimenez pitched 6 times and gave up 4 runs in the whole month!  The 5 2/3 inning outing was also the shortest of the season for Jimenez.  John Lackey put in a valiant effort on the mound and at the plate (he had 2 hits) and deserved better.  The Sox rallied from an early 4 run deficit to take a 6-5 lead into the 9th.  Jonathan Papelbon came on, so the game should have been over.  Instead, Papelbon gave up two home runs and the Rockies walked off with the victory.

Tennis – The longest tennis match in the history of the sport is finally over.  I couldn’t go without mentioning that John Isner finally won his match against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon.  The match started on Tuesday.  Tuesday night the match was suspended and play was resumed on Wednesday.  The players played for the entire day Wednesday only to have the match again suspended due to darkness.  Isner was finally able to break Mahut’s serve in the 138th game of the 5th set.  The match is truly an epic, taking more than 11 hours over 3 days to complete.  The match was so compelling that it even got me to stop watching soccer yesterday afternoon.  The Ghana-Germany and Serbia-Australia matches took a backseat to history in the making.  Like Isner said “This will never ever happen again”.  Both men deserved better than for the loser to be knocked out of Wimbledon.  Bravo to both men.

NBA – The lead up to the NBA draft continues with the top of the draft coming more into focus.  John Wall is a lock to go at #1 to the Wizards.  It appears the Sixers are going to take my advice and draft Evan Turner.  The Nets are now leaning toward Derrick Favors.   After that things get fuzzy, as there could be a lot of movement due to trades.  It should be an interesting night.

Note to the Sixers Before the Draft: Please Use Some Sense!

I know that most of my posts have been about soccer.  What is a sports fan to do when it’s World Cup time?  The event comes once every four years.  Lost in all the soccer madness is the fact that the NBA Draft is tomorrow night.  I love the NBA Draft because it represents the time of year when every fan has hope.  Hope that your team will get its next franchise player and return to respectability (I’m talking about you New Jersey Nets).  Hope that your team will draft the missing piece that will propel them to the playoffs and beyond.  Hope that your team might make a blockbuster trade.  I better stop with the hope bit (otherwise I might sound like an Obama campaign commercial).

My team, the Sixers, fall into the category of team looking for a franchise player and respectability.  The Sixers have been mediocre, at best, for most of the decade and haven’t posted a winning record since 2004-2005.  In the 9 seasons since the Sixers played in the NBA Finals following the 2000-2001 season, they’ve compiled an overall record of 348-390.  On the face of it, that doesn’t sound that bad.  Over nine seasons they are only 42 games under .500.  But when you stop to think about the fact that they have had just 3 winning seasons and 1 .500 season in that time span things get a little more depressing.  Thanks to playing in the generally weak Eastern Conference, the Sixers have actually made the playoffs in over half the seasons since 2000-2001.

In an effort to address this mediocrity, the Sixers splashed out some major cash to sign Elton Brand following the 2007-2008 season (a season in which the Sixers finished just 2 games under .500).   What the Sixers got in return for their investment was 1 more win the following season.  Not exactly what you pay $82 million over 5 years for.  Brand played in just 29 games his first season in Philadelphia and was a shadow of his former self this past season.  This is clearly not what the Sixers were expecting and the contract has hurt the Sixers’ ability to make moves in the future as Brand is owed $51 million over the next 3 seasons.

In an effort to shed some salary, but I also think make the team better, the Sixers traded Samuel Dalembert to the Kings for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes.  The trade gives the Sixers a good forward to come off the bench in Nocioni and replaces Dalembert with Hawes.  The Sixers give up something on the defensive end with this switch, but Hawes is younger, cheaper and has room the develop.  Besides, Dalambert was unhappy in Philly.  Who really wants an unhappy player on the team anyway?  The problem with this trade is that it gives the Sixers another small forward.  They already have two starting quality small forwards in Andre Ig0udala and Thaddeus Young.  I know that Iguodala plays shooting guard for the Sixers, but his best position is SF.  The Sixers lack a starting quality center and power forward for that matter (unless Brand has a bounce back season).  I like Jrue Holiday at the point.  If the season were to start right now the Sixers starting line-up would probably look like this:

PG – Holiday
SG – Iguodala
SF – Young
PF – Marreese Speights/Brand (Brand gets the nod if healthy)
C – Hawes

They would have Lou Williams, Nocioni, and Jason Smith and assorted other players on the bench.  This line-up isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t good.

I believe the Sixers have a chance to make an impact with this draft.  I know that a lot of people think the Sixers should draft for need, but I think the Sixers need to take the best available player with the #2 pick.  I know this analogy crosses sports, but the Vikings took the best available player on the board when they drafted Adrian Peterson and I think they are happy with that decision.  Unless you are a playoff team already, I think you have to take the best player on the board over drafting for a specific need.  Clearly, if you have the #2 pick you don’t exactly have and amazing team, how can it hurt to pick the best player?  Finally, after nearly 700 words, I get to who I think the Sixers should draft: Evan Turner.

Evan Turner is, after John Wall, the best player in the draft.  He is long, athletic, can play both guard positions and a good defender.  Chad Ford of ESPN says that this pick is a near lock after some of the other prospects (Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins) the Sixers were looking at failed to impress in workouts.  If the Sixers draft Turner, I could see them trying to move a player to make room in a crowded backcourt/small forward rotation.  I think the gutsy move would be to trade Iguodala.  He clearly cannot carry the team.  The Sixers could get back a some decent players and maybe some picks in exchange to Iggy.  I know that it is tough to trade away the guy you started to build a team around, but clearly Iggy is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan.  This would allow the Sixers to start Holiday at PG, Turner at SG, and Young at SF.  They would still have some decent options off the bench and whomever they received in return for Iggy. However, instead of trading somebody, I think the Sixers will slot Turner in a PG and use Holiday as a sparkplug off the bench.  I could also see the Sixers look for another trade (perhaps to unload Brand’s contract if anyone will take it).

If the Sixers don’t draft Turner, a player that will bring immediate help to the team and provide a star for the future, they will regret their decision.  Clearly Brand and even Iguodala are not the future of the franchise and the Sixers have lacked an identity since Allen Iverson was traded.  Evan Turner can provide that identity and make the team better, what’s not to love?