Perhaps, as some have speculated, the battle for the second pick in the draft has already been decided. Former Ohio State wingman Evan Turner appears to be the presumptive favorite, an opinion I have my reasons for believing. That being said, doing your due diligence and being prepared for all possibilities is essential, and so was this workout of two heavyweight big men.
"You always have to plan for the unexpected. We don't know what is going to happen between now and draft day," new head coach Doug Collins said. "You always have to prepare yourself."
By the time the curtains opened for the media to have access to the workout, the one-on-one portion that featured Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins squaring off against each other had concluded. The remaining time was spent on drills, from catch and shoot jumpers, to pick and pops, to post moves and transition sprints. If one had to judge -- and I don't think this is the setting or the sample size to really change an opinion off of -- Cousins won the matchup yesterday, being the more polished perimeter player and displaying better footwork. This probably shouldn't surprise many, at least not those who followed Cousins high school career where he showed off much more of his perimeter game than he did during his one year at Kentucky. Favors battled bouts of inconsistency with his jumpshot, both in his form and his results, at one point airballing two pick and pop jump shots in a sequence. That's not to say he didn't show offensive potential, but work clearly must be done to reach that point.
Thoughts on the value in the workout, Cousins going #2, Favors' reaction to being out of shape, the trade to bring in Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni for Samuel Dalembert, and its effect on the draft after the jump.
Collins favoring big men?
Rumor coming from the Chad Ford camp has been that Doug Collins prefers Derrick Favors. While Collins was very complementary towards both of the highly talented big men, he stopped short of saying he was targeting a big man.
"I've never really thought about that," Collins said when asked whether he would prefer to build a team around the frontcourt or backcourt. "I've said before, we have a lot of needs, so you're not going to get them all in one fell swoop. But if you can all of a sudden add a piece here and say 'you know what, we're pretty good at that spot now for the next 7, 8 years' [that's a start]".
Collins warned about the time it takes for young bigs to develop.
"The one thing I've always felt about young big guys is the intensity and the energy and the competitiveness of the game is so changed at this level," Collins explained. "I was talking to DeMarcus last night at dinner, and I said 'how many times have you played a high school where you played against a guy who you thought could even do anything against you?' He said none. And I said 'what about in college?' And he said, you know, a few. And I said 'well welcome to this world, you'll see it 82 times'. The one thing about younger guys is just understanding that concept. Because they're so talented sometimes that they become what I call victims of their own talent. The game is very easy for them."
Effect of the trade on the draft
Neither Collins nor Stefanski believe that this trade influences the direction they plan on going on draft night. When asked whether the trade increased the likelihood they'd look for a big man in the draft, Stefanski said he didn't see it that way.
"Not really [it doesn't change our draft strategy], because at the end of the day we'll get together and we'll pow-wow, and figure out who's the best guy, who's the best player, who can we come in and say we can pencil that guy into our lineup maybe for 7, 8, 9 years and we know they're going to be here and be good players", Collins explained.
Reasoning for the trade?
While Stefanski reiterated that the trade was made for basketball reasons, it was also obvious that Dalembert was not happy, and his departure was imminent. The only question was whether the Sixers would get anything for him before he left at the end of the year via free agency.
"People need a change of scenery sometimes," Stefanski explained. "Sam asked to be traded numerous times, his agent calling a lot to be traded, he felt a change of scenery was necessary. We tried to accomodate him, but because of the [trade] kicker, that was the big problem [in the past]."
Collins seems supportive of the change at center. "The one thing that you look at, our big guys now, every one of our big guys are skilled offensively. And they can all shoot. I think that's a great thing to be able to do. So now you've got 4 interchangable big guys," Collins argued. "We feel like [Hawes] fits into what we're trying to do, and he's a young player. He can shoot the ball, and we feel like we can throw the ball in the post and cut off of him, he's a very good passer."
Collins also believes this could change Elton Brand's role. Collins stated in the past he thought of playing Elton at center, and now believes he can return to a more traditional lineup. "I was thinking I might have to play [Elton] strictly as a 5 [center], because I just didn't think he and Sam [Dalembert] played well together, now I feel Elton can play with Hawes, I think he can play with Speights, so it change the dynamics of that."
While Collins seems supportive of the move, the Sixers and Kings were in talks long before he arrived. "We talked with Sacramento numerous times about Sam [last year], but the package for either side [wasn't good enough] and we couldn't come to a conclusion," Stefanski explained.
Is there enough rebounding?
"You have to rebound by committee. As I said before, we're not going to [make one move] and everything's going to go away," Collins said. "Can Elton Brand rebound the ball? Sure. Andre Iguodala's going to go back and rebound the ball, we've got to have our forwards rebounding, we've got to go back and do that as a team."
Collins liked the thought of the Sixers guards leading the fast break. "What I like about our team is we have guys who can rebound the ball who can turn and push the ball, and we can get right into the open court," Collins stated. "We're going to have guys who can run the wings, we're going to have guys who can all handle the ball."
Nocioni's ... tough
Both Collins and Stefanski were very enthused to have added a "tough" player like Andres Nocioni.
"You bring in Nocioni who is a tough, tough kid. The city of Philadelphia is going to like Nocioni because he puts it all on the floor every night," Stefanski explained.
Collins seemed even happier.
"One of the things I've talked about is adding toughness to this team," Collins said. "Nocioni's one of the toughest guys in the league, which I think is going to help us."
Now if he can just regain some of his form from Chicago and actually be productive.
Favors out of shape?
When asked for his reaction to the comments coming from the Minnesota workout that Favors was out of shape, Favors agreed. "I'm not in game shape, but I'm in enough shape that I can push through a workout. So I think [the comments were] just constructive criticism, just something that I need to work on," Favors said.
Cousins believes he can go #2
The media may not be giving Cousins much of a chance to be the Sixers pick next week, but he believes there's still a chance, particularly now. "When I saw the trade, that really opened my eyes [on a chance of going #2]," Cousins said. "It helped out a lot."
Value in the workout?
How much impact should these workouts have on the Sixers decision? Not much, according to Collins. "One workout like this does not change their body of work, what they do in school," Collins explained. "I just don't believe you bring them in for one workout and that necessarily turns your head one way or the other."
That's not to say there's no value. "I think you have to see them in person, I think you have to talk to them, get a feel for who they are as people," Collins added.