The Sixers came into the 2011 NBA Draft with a plan and they executed it to perfection. It was to get the top guy on their draft board for where they were picking. And for whatever reason, Nikola Vucevic was that guy. Doug Collins, Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski thought rebounding was such a weakness (it is) that they'd pass up a higher-level prospect like Chris Singleton in favor of Vucevic at the 16th pick.
I certainly don't agree with their player evaluating crew on this one because Vucevic, from what I've seen and read and heard, won't become anything more than a decent rotation player on a good team. Like Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, and any number of mediocre guys on this roster, he should not be contributing major minutes if the team is intent on competing for a championship. That the front office was even considering trading up to pick him is an egregious miscalculation and it's lucky they didn't find a deal in time to move up, because he'd have been available as low as the end of the first round.
We've become accustomed to draft night disappointment and this night, in my opinion, was especially disheartening.
Perhaps we came into the draft with high expectations. The Andre Iguodala rumors were running rampant all the way up until draft time but still nothing solid materialized for the oft-maligned wingman. The enticement of the #2 pick had my blood boiling over and I was salivating over Twitter waiting for one of the "in the know" journalists to tell me what I wanted to hear. But it didn't happen.
And while teams were moving and shaking to get the guy they wanted or shed some salary or pick up a few later picks, the Sixers stood pat. Just like at the trade deadline, they stood there, both feet in concrete, content to let things happen around them without stirring the pot at all themselves. I'm sure they did their due diligence and checked on a few possible trade scenarios but it's that unwillingness to take a risk, to steer away from their previous certainties that haunted them tonight just as it has in the past.
They loved Vucevic. Great. I don't, but whatever, I can see how he can be useful to a basketball team. The point is, the market for him was not screaming for a mid-first round pick. If they want him to be their guy, trade down to 23 or so, and pick up another second rounder or a future pick. Simple moves, sure, but ones that come back to help you in the future so you don't just have those two picks when you can take your head out of the sand before you collapse back in.
Just like last year with Hassan Whiteside, there was lottery talent dropping into the second round and the Sixers didn't make any attempt to butt in there. Josh Selby may not turn out to be anything, but he'd certainly be worth the cash considerations it would have taken to get him. Instead, they sat on the pick, watched as Keith Benson, Travis Leslie, and Selby go just before they selected one of the lowest-upside selections in the entire draft: Lavoy Allen.
Another guy that could have been had later (read: undrafted), but instead the Sixers didn't correctly gauge his value and missed a chance to pick up a high-upside flyer in the 2nd round like Jereme Richmond or Greg Smith. Sure these guys are still available as Undrafted, but they'll be competing with 29 other teams calling around for camp invites and it's unlikely they'll get any of their top choices to come.
Is this draft the worst thing of all time? No, and anyone telling you it is will be speaking in hyperbole out of their own frustrations so let them rant. But it is another instance (drop in the bucket, really) where the Sixers fail to make the smart moves to squeeze every ounce of potential out of a situation and continue to settle for mediocrity. Vucevic may start at center this season, if there is one. But that won't negate the fact that there were better players here for the taking and the Sixers passed them up because they are married to making the wrong decisions.
You want a draft grade? I give the Sixers a C-. I'm glad they got big men because it is certainly a need but they simply picked the wrong guys. Their decision-making is inspiring in its lack of inspiration. I know Doug Collins has a bigger basketball mind than I and Stefanski and Thorn are probably smarter people than we are as well, but that doesn't mean they made the right call. And their track record certainly doesn't force us to give them the benefit of the doubt. When they've earned it, we can trust them to make the smart moves, but until then, we're a blog and a community, so we're going to talk about how much we do or don't like something. Simply saying "they're smarter than you, shut up" isn't stirring good conversation. If you don't want to talk about something (positives and negatives), don't come here in the first place.
For my sky-is-falling mourners, take solace in the fact that there probably won't be a season next year, because this team is going to be severely confused once camp rolls around. As of now, I'd guess both Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young are returning. It seems impossible, but that's just how this front office rolls. I guess nobody wants to win championships anymore. This Vucevic move screams "one piece away" and it's so far from the truth, it hurts. Even on the perennially optimistic draft night, it hurts.