With my last two posts, trading down then up, and trading up then down, I've looked at a handful of the numerous trade possibilities that may be there for Hinkie and the SIXERS in about a week. There are plenty of others out there as well; some will turn out to be real possibilities for Hinkie & Co to consider, others are just pipe dreams. There is also free agency and trading that is not related to the draft in play. But this post is mostly in response to "the Model" which basically jumps on the Spurs bandwagon and proclaims that as the superior team building and team strategic model.
I have been a SIXERS fan for a long time, since I was a little boy watching the 66-67 SIXERS win the title, arguing with my brothers all season long about Wilt's drastically reduced production, down to 24 PPG AND 24 RPG, more than 10 points under his career scoring average to that point. Still the SIXERS had their best record ever on the way to the NBA title, so no one was too worried about Wilt's scoring, as long as we kept winning, and finally figured a way out to knock off the Celtics.
The reason those SIXERS finally won it all was simple, the last two seasons they had added more TALENT, Jones and Jackson and Cunningham, and finally, finally, were the better team than the Celtics. Style of play didn't matter much, talent made the difference. Likewise, the Spurs talent this year finally surpassed the Heat - Leonard and Mills and Diaw were much improved contributors, while Wade and Battier and Haslem and more just weren't as good anymore. Neither team had really changed styles from the prior year - talent made the difference, not philosophy. Both teams had and still have both great management and excellent coaching, and those do remain necessary ingredients.
So in looking at the 2014 draft and free agency period, and being thankful that the SIXERS now also appear to be solid in terms of coaching and management, the key is to identify talent. Hinkie did great in year one, getting MCW and Noel. looking at a this years draft, it's time to forget about trades and all the rest and just assume that Hinkie is smart enough to sift through the various offers and make moves to benefit the team. Now the question is simple - who do you have on your board? Who will you take at 3, or 5, or 7, or 10, wherever we end up? Who will you take if we end up with a pick in the teens? In the 20s. With our picks all over the second round. Who has specific skills that will translate to the NBA?
Joel Embiid didn't quite manage 11 and 9 in his only college season, and went down with a back injury before the season ended, missing the tournament. Not exactly Wilt even in a down year. A franchise center like Hakeem or Shaq - I've got some swampland in Florida for you if you really believe that. Wiggins and Parker - pretty nice freshman seasons on high profile, high pressure teams in great conferences - yep, I can believe that those guys will be stars in the NBA down the road, either of them. Smart, Gordon, NBA bodies for sure, good aggressiveness in their approach, add some shooting as they develop, have a chance to be really good too. Vonleh, nice freshman year, good size and skills, team didn't do much, but might have something. Exum, just no way to know, kind of like Lavine, great on tape, but who did he play against. Too bad UCLA didn't give him minutes. Both are shots in the dark.
But now look at a couple guys with absolutely no question about it NBA skills.
Randle - elite rebounder
McDermott - elite shooter
Stauskus - elite shooter
These guys will be around for 10 years at least and all would be fantastic picks at 10.
Later in the 1st round - guys that just jumped off your screen watching them play in the tournament -
Payne, Early, Napier, Kane, Warren, Peyton - guys with both skills and competitive fire that passed the eye test easily.
I could go on - regardless, time to forget about mocks, and trades, and rumors, and gamesmanship - leave all that to Hinkie and the front office. Time to identify the players, draw up the board, and be ready when our turn comes, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times on the 26th. Because it is talent, not style, that ultimately wins championships in the NBA.