Final Thoughts on the Sixers Draft

Now that we've all had a couple days to digest the events of Thursday night, I'd like to take one last look at what the Sixers did and didn't do, and try to better explain why I'm less than pleased with it. I feel like I haven't done a terrific job getting my disappointment across and there's too much focus on the actual players the Sixers selected rather than the philosophy of the people in the organization that make the decisions.

The Sixers came into the draft with picks #16 and #50 in their pocket, amid rumors of trading up to #2 with a deal centered around polarizing wing Andre Iguodala. They ended up doing nothing but sitting at both of their spots, despite the expected slides of a few unsuspecting prospects. They got a solid role player in Nikola Vucevic and another big body in Lavoy Allen, a haul that isn't apocalyptic considering the lack of "pinch me" talent in the 2011 NBA Draft. No, we can't possibly know what's going to happen with Vucevic and Allen so of course passing judgment here is not the end-all, but since we are in the business of opinions, we're quite at liberty to give them.

Most importantly though, for the 4th straight year, the Sixers did nothing on draft day but make the one or two picks they were slated to make. No moves, no tweaks, no sign of activity to make me think they did anything during the draft except hope the one guy they wanted didn't fall during their Solitaire tournament in the War Room. This philosophical flaw in the minds of our brain trust is keeping the Sixers from maximizing their potential.

The last time the Sixers made a draft day trade, it was in 2007 when they moved up 1 (one!) pick in exchange for a 2nd rounder and cash. That was to take Jason Smith instead of Daequan Cook. The other deal was for Herbert Hill (who never played a second of NBA basketball), when Kyrylo Fesenko got shipped to Utah and the mythical "future draft considerations" came into existence. The year before, the Sixers traded Thabo Sefolosha for Rodney Carney and got Edin Bavcic and Bobby Jones for a second-round pick and cash.

Clearly, their draft day trade resume is not excellent. But that doesn't mean trading during the draft is a bad thing - it just means the Sixers have been historically bad at it, at least in the last decade. While they've gotten surprisingly good value for their picks in the middle of the first round (Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, you probably can't make a case for Marreese Speights anymore), they haven't been able to add up the assets necessary to sweeten a future deal and still compete.

Simply, if they thought Vucevic was their guy - terrific. Collins wants him enough to overlook his criminally poor athleticism and low ceiling - fine. But the rest of the league simply didn't see it that way. Houston blew some steam about taking him but there was really no chance they'd pass up on the other talent that came their way a few picks earlier. The Knicks and Mike D'Antoni would never go for a guy like Vucevic because he doesn't fit their system at all (instead of a hybrid defender like Chris Singleton, they opted for offensive versatility and athleticism in Iman Shumpert). So I don't think Vucevic would have gone until either the Blazers at 21 or the Celtics at 25. There were a number of teams trying to inch up a bit and picking up a future first or an early second would have been prudent in exchange for dropping a couple spots to where Vucevic still would be available. And even if he wasn't, the return outweighs the difference between him and (in their mind) a lesser prospect like Tobias Harris or Kenneth Faried. Picking up draft picks and assets is what OKC does so well and how the Clippers have laid the foundation for a contender. And the Sixers have not done that at all.

The same thing goes for the 50th pick. Lavoy is not an NBA player. He may play a few games here and there, but he's not going to make a career in the NBA. The second round is a beautiful place where teams can take a flyer on high-upside players and, if they don't work out, just let them walk away without any penalty. Taking the lowest-upside player in the draft is not conducive to a high reward. Josh Selby may not become anything, but he's a top 10 talent that fell for other reasons and would have been worth rolling the dice on. The Sixers, in all of their conservativeness, did not deem that worth the trouble.

I cannot wait until fresh blood gets shot into this dead shell of a system because these guys are really on life support when it comes to the high intensity atmosphere of draft day. Over the last 46 trades that have gone through on Draft Night, the Sixers have been involved in exactly none of them. Whether it's a lack of interest or a stubborn unwillingness to deviate from the preconceived "plan", the Sixers have been suffocatingly and depressingly quiet on the best day of the offseason each year.

I'm going to root for these two guys and whichever undrafted free agents the Sixers invite to camp, because they're on the team and I want everybody to succeed (except Lou). It's not going to become a constant battle of TOLDJA SO!!'s during the season because everybody's just making their best educated guess in this whole thing and it's not a show of worth whether someone's right or wrong. Let's all just try to be civil with each other because in the big picture, this doesn't matter all that much. The 7th man in a rotation isn't worth getting excited about.

Sum up. Sixers draft? Disappointing but not riot-inducing. It's just frustrating to continue to put faith in a franchise that doesn't seem to know how to think creatively and on their feet when draft day comes and other teams draft circles around us.

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