With 9 games remaining, Mission WTF (Wall, Turner, Favors) is all but over and the Sixers are locked in to a pick in the 7-10 range. I think it's not only time for forget about WTF, but Cousins and Wes as well. If a ball bounces the Sixers way, awesome, but I'm not counting on it.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the bulk of our conversations this year have surrounded the NBA draft. We've done a user-voted big board, an official LB big board, and numerous player profiles. By now everyone's formed an opinion on who they want the Sixers to draft, so I thought I'd take a different approach and write about the prospects I don't want the Sixers to draft. To save myself from making a case against Arnett Moultrie I narrowed it down to Draft Express's top 15 prospects, excluding the top 5. This is all in relation to a pick in the 7-10 range.
Greg Monroe (DX Rank - 9, ESPN Rank - 9)
More than anyone in the top 15 I think Monroe's NBA success is solely dependent on what team drafts him. His passing ability makes him a perfect fit for the Princeton Offense, but once Eddie Jordan leaves town, the Princeton Offense will soon follow. Thank God. The only way the Sixers can be successful with their current roster is to play defense and get out in transition. They need big men who can block shots, rebound and catch alley-oops from Jrue and Andre. Monroe fills none of those needs. I like Monroe as a player and think he's a top 10 talent, but he doesn't fit what the Sixers are (should be) trying to build.
Patrick Patterson (DX Rank - 10, ESPN Rank - 14)
Patterson is an undersized power forward, who's athleticism would be a nice fit with the Sixers. He's also a decent scorer and has the ability to stretch the floor with an above average jumper. That's where the positives end. He's a below average rebounder. (He couldn't box out to save his life in the Cornell game.) He's not the greatest defender, and I don't see him amounting to anything more than a 7th or 8th man in the NBA. He's not a good enough scorer to cover up his defensive or rebounding flaws, and doesn't have too much upside. Basically, he's not what I'm looking for in a top 10 pick.
Damion James (DX Rank - 15, ESPN Rank - 35)
I was a lot higher on James until the Wake Forest game, where he was absolutely man-handled by Al-Farouq Aminu. However; I still like James as an NBA player. Since he's a bit of a tweener I think the best thing for him to do is put on about 20 pounds and commit to playing power forward in the NBA. His biggest strengths are toughness, rebounding, and hustle. Sound familiar? Yeah, he's a rich man's Reggie Evans in my mind, with more "basketball skills" and less nut-cusping. If Reggie can hang around in the league, there's no reason James can't. There's always room for a high-energy, tough, rebounding forward in my book. But is he a top 10 pick? Absolutely not.
Jan Vesely (DX Rank - 11, ESPN Rank - 11)
This is where things get a little murky. It's hard enough to evaluate prospects, let alone ones you haven't seen play. From what I've read Vesely is an extremely raw prospect. He's 6'11'', 240 pounds, and DX describes him as having "a nice wingspan, a great frame and outstanding athleticism." His biggest strengths appear to be his athleticism and rim-rattling dunks, so that's a plus. But everything else seems to be a huge work in progress. Normally you'd expect players like Vesely to be great shooters, but his percentages of 36% from three and 63% from the line are surprisingly underwhelming.
Here are some other comments that jumped out at me for different reasons:
"His basketball IQ is clearly not off the charts."
"... constantly harassing the ball-handler with his terrific size, length and athleticism, putting in a great effort, and coming up with plenty of blocks and steals in the process."
"His lateral quickness can get exposed at times defending players a half a foot or more shorter than him at the small forward position, but it's not rare at all to see him recover spectacularly and still make a big play from behind."
"Vesely's rebounding numbers continue to look bafflingly poor, something that has been a trend throughout his career in every competition he's played in."
The fact that he's not terrific any one area frightens me. His athleticism would fit right in with the Sixers' strengths, but his lack of defense and rebounding would be a huge problem unless he became an elite offensive player. Although he's only 19 and might have more upside than others in the top 10, I'd rather draft someone with less risk involved. And if I had to take a risk on somebody, I'd rather it be a risk involving defensive potential rather than offensive potential. Sorry Jan.
(On a positive note, Jan has a sick nickname - "The Dunking Ninja" - and a pretty impressive highlight reel.)
Donatas Motiejunas (DX Rank - 12, ESPN Rank - 12)
Based on the most recent scouting reports and highlight reels it looks like Donatas is oozing with offensive potential. Like Jan, he shoots a lot worse than you'd like (29% from three and 71% from the line), but as DX points out, his shooting mechanics and soft touch around the rim lead you to believe that those percentages will only improve, (similar to how we knew Andre Iguodala's jumper would never be great because of his mechanics).
Unlike his common comparison, Andrea Bargnani, Donatas appears to have an all-around offensive game. Besides his lack of strength and inability to establish post position, he has virtually no weaknesses on offense. He can handle the ball, he can shoot, he can create for both himself and his teammates, he can score out of the post, and thrive in transition. What's not to like?
Well, notice how I haven't mentioned defense or rebounding yet. DX describes his defense and rebounding as worrisome at best. The phrases "lack of strength", "extremely poor balance", "gets pushed around", "lack of defensive commitment", "doesn't always play hard", and "poor rebounder" aren't exactly things you want to hear when investing a top 10 pick and millions of dollars into a kid.
Is the offensive potential intriguing? Definetely. If there were a way to guarantee it translating to the NBA I might be inclined to spend a top 10 pick on Dontas. But there's not, and the defense, rebounding and attitude red flags are simply too risky for me.
Again, I'll take a risk on a player with defensive potential over a player with offensive potential any day, but I wouldn't blame anybody for wanting Dontas in the top 10. He could be that go-to guy that we've been looking for.