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There Better Be More Stuff Coming: Hoping Odd Sixers Draft Strategy is Prelude to Other Crap

Jun 29, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

It's hard not to be a little bit perplexed by the Sixers' 2012 draft strategy. They entered the draft with two principal needs—a defensive anchor (or at least someone who can block some shots) and a scoring guard (or at least someone who can make some shots)—and ended up filling neither.
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It’s hard not to be a little bit perplexed by the Sixers’ 2012 draft
strategy. They entered the draft with two principal needs—a defensive
anchor (or at least someone who can block some shots) and a scoring
guard (or at least someone who can make some shots)—and ended up filling
neither. Instead, they got Moe Harkless, a small forward who can’t
shoot, and Arnett Moultrie, a big man who doesn’t block shots. What’s
more, they moved aggressively to secure their bounty, drafting forward
Harkless at #15 and then trading a future first-rounder
(lottery-protected, thank God) to the Heat to get Moultrie at #27. It’s
an odd way to start such a pivotal off-season in the franchise’s
development.


So what’s the deal? Well, personally, I’m taking the attitude that
this is the first step in what is going to be a very, very busy
off-season for the Sixers. With so many players either becoming free
agents (Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks, Lavoy Allen) or trade
or amnesty candidates (Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, who knows who else),
we could see the biggest roster turnover for the Sixers that we’ve seen
in the post-Iverson era. Or, they could bring everybody back again and
hope that we were a lot closer to contending last year than we actually
were. Recent history would push me towards predicting the latter, but
Harkless and Moultrie are not the kind of prospects the Sixers would
draft if they were satisfied with their current complement of players.

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Rather, the Harkless and Moultrie selections, which create even more
of an overlapping roster than we had going into the draft, would appear
to be an indicator that a major roster shakeup is in order for the
Liberty Ballers. Particularly, it would appear to indicate that the team
is going to seek some relief at the small forward position, where they
currently have a logjam of Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young
and now Harkless. (Turner can play some two and Thad some four, but both
slot far more naturally at the three.) The most obvious trade candidate
is, of course, Iguodala, whose large contract and sporadically strained
relationship with fanbase and management have had him the subject of
trade rumors for the better part of three seasons, though Turner, with
his smaller contract and less-determined ceiling, might be a more
valuable trade chip, depending on what type of return the Sixers seek.

Whoever they trade, the Sixers at least now seem to have a set
strategy in place for how they want to build this team—young and fast.
Check the ESPN draft profiles for both Harkless and Moultrie
and the same adjectives keep popping up: Long, athletic, explosive,
quick. (Both are also labeled as good rebounders, an issue which plagued
the undersized Sixers in the playoffs last year.) As successful and as
frightening as the team has been in the open court in recent years, they
should be even more irrepressible with Harkless and Moultrie flanking
our young playmakers. The team might not have drafted for need, but they
did draft for identity, and that’s a consistency in front-office
planning that’s been critically absent from the franchise in recent
years. It’s something, anyway.

But they gotta do something more. I like the young-and-athletic
strategy, but the Sixers can’t open next season with four small
forwards, no real starting two-guard and no real center. The Sixers
should have the trade assets to continue to build the team in the mold
Rod Thorn and company have started to shape it in, but they need to make
tough decisions—letting some free agents walk, parting with some
veterans—to allow the team to grow and improve as such. The front office
should be commended for not going the safe route in the draft, going
with a Tyler Zeller type who could contribute immediately but not have
much of a chance to develop into a core team piece, but being bold only
works if you’re willing to go all the way with it, and if the Sixers end
up going safe with the rest of their off-season, this team could be
stuck in the middle for a long time to come.