The trade rumor we've all been waiting for finally emerged from a reliable source late Wednesday night. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated and NBA Confidential wrote that Andre Iguodala is "in play" for the Timberwolves and quoted a rival GM as saying the possibility of an Iguodala for the number two pick deal "definitely real".
Now, it's easy to get excited over such a rumor, but remember the Ellis, Kaman, Odom rumors were all quoted similarly as "maybe real", "really real", "for realz" or "very real". None happened. The good news: we'll know whether or not the rumor had any truth to it in about 12 hours.
Usually when a trade rumor like this surfaces the team rumored to be moving up in the draft is moving up for one player in particular. In this case, we can assume if the Sixers acquired or inquired about the number two pick, it's because they have their eye on the consensus number two ranked player, Derrick Williams from Arizona. But would he be the right selection? Or should they consider other players if they're lucky enough to move up? Make the jump.
Despite being the number two ranked player by well-respected guys like Draft Express and ESPN Williams comes in at number five on our Liberty Ballers, Sixers-centric Big Board. Coincidentally, of the four writers at Liberty Ballers I was the only one to rank D-Will as high as two. With that said, even I'd consider passing on Mr. Williams for a potentially legitimate big man like Jonas Valanciunas, Enes Kanter or Bismack Biyombo.
Williams is clearly the safest pick of the four. He has the highest floor, and he's the only proven commodity. He averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds on Arizona last season, and put on some dominating performances in the NCAA tournament, including a 32-point outpouring littered with vicious dunks versus Duke in the Sweet 16.
The problems with Williams are: he's not a good defender and he's an average defensive rebounder at best. Also, despite the many offensive tools he possesses, our own Derek Bodner has questioned whether or not it will translate to the NBA:
I'm not sure I see his post game or isolation game fully translating. He's not a tremendous leaper off of 1 foot, and combined with a low release point he might have trouble finishing around the rim when contested by NBA length. Not that he won't be good, he just may not be as good at the next level.
Derek also wrote a not-so-flattering, in-depth scouting report (worth a retro-read) of Williams back in January. Yes, Williams has changed a few people's minds since then, but at the time of the scouting report he was a projected late-lottery talent, not the number two prospect. Derek said he thinks Thaddeus was a better prospect at the time. Mike said "he'd pass", claiming Williams tops out as a sixth man, and I said I'd pass as well. I can't help but wonder where Williams would rank if prospects like Harrison Barnes, Jarred Sullinger, Perry Jones, Terrance Jones, John Henson, etc. remained in the draft.
The point I'm trying to make here: In such a weak draft – Williams as the consensus number two – isn't as "can't miss" of a prospect as a consensus number two or top 5 pick normally is. He's just the safest. Draft Express sees his worst case as a less athletic Antawn Jamison, and Chad Ford said on Bill Simmons podcast that he may end up like Al Harrington. Jamison and Harrington as a floor isn't bad, especially considering the floors of Jonas V, Bismack and Enes Kanter – which Draft Express describes as Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, and Rafael Araujo respectively.
The Lithuanian ranks number two on the Liberty Ballers Big Board. Since Derek is our resident draft expert, especially when it comes to international prospects, I'll take the blurb from his international prospect primer to refresh you on Valanciunas' talents:
He's got very good hands and above average touch inside, and is a very good pick and roll (dive) player because of that, using his length well down low. He's already a plus rebounder, and as he continues to add bulk this should only improve. His length makes him a potential weak side help defender, and his frame looks like it could add weight.
He's still very raw defensively, with an unrefined post game and a little used jumper, although his free throw percentage gives us hope he'll eventually add that to his reportoire. Even defensively, he lacks builk, which holds him back in his post defense, and he's sometimes out of position, not all that uncommon for a 19 year old.
If there are 4 things I want my big men to do in the NBA today, it's: play a pick and pop/roll game, defend the pick and roll, defensive rebound, and provide weak side help defense. Jonas has the potential to do all 4, and they're all a fairly high probability of being realized.
Everything I've read about Jonas leads me to believe that everyone loves him. Seriously, I haven't read a single negative thing about him. Two problems: he has a buyout situation, meaning he may not be able to play in the NBA next season, and he's still fairly raw at 19 years old.
If I (and the other writers of Liberty Ballers) were selecting second for the Sixers, Jonas would be our guy. However; there's a miniscule chance the Sixers draft him if they move up. The Sixers have shown no interest in drafting prospects and allowing them to develop overseas.
My boy, Bismack! I have Bismack ranked number one on my personal big board for two reasons. One, I don't think there's any can't-miss prospects in this draft minus maybe Kyrie Irving – who I don't want the Sixers to draft because they have Jrue Holiday. Two, Bismack fills the Sixers biggest need. Bismack is the worst offensive player in this draft, but he's probably the best all-around defensive player. A player who can impact the game defensively in the number of ways Bismack can doesn't come around very often. And he can come in and defend at a high level right away. He's 18 (supposedly), he's a physical specimen, and he's a passionate, hard-working good-character dude (based on the potentially fluff pieces I've read from ESPN and NBA.com). However; the risk is extremely high. Drafting him number two would send many into a frenzy. I love Bismack; I'd love to see him play for the Sixers, but two is probably a little too high, even for me.
No one really knows anything about Kanter. No, really! No one knows. The dude has played approximately two meaningful games in the past two years. Based on those two games, reportedly drool-worthy workouts, and all the physical tools, Kanter could have the potential to be the best player in this year's draft. However; along with the lack of tape on him, he also may have a few character/work ethic issues. That's the thing, no one really knows. Al Horford and Kevin Love are two names I've seen thrown out as Kanter's ceiling, but as previously mentioned, Draft Express had his floor as Rafael Araujo, and Chad Ford mentioned Darko on Bill Simmons' podcast. Yikes.
Personally, I think Jonas is the best selection if the Sixers trade up, but it's a near-guarantee the Sixers would take the safer Williams if they traded up. I wouldn't be terribly upset with any of the four prospects mentioned. I'd still be hosing myself down after realizing the Sixers finally traded Andre Iguodala, and traded him for someone other than Monta Ellis or Chris Kaman. Iguodala (and presumably 16) for the number two pick (in this year's draft) still isn't equal value, in my opinion, but it's by far the best rumor I've heard, and it's probably the best offer they'll ever receive for Iguodala's services. Whether the pick is Williams, Kanter, Jonas or Bismack, I'd just be thrilled to finally be done with the Iguodala situation, especially having added another young piece to the core of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
Top 4 (personal preference)
Jonas Valanciunas - best pick, best fit, buyout or not.
Derrick Williams - I like the idea of Bismack and Kanter better; they both have more potential in my opinion, but Williams is much safer.
Bismack Biyombo - defense, rebounding, alley-oops from Jrue and Turner. He's 18, he could anchor the D.
Enes Kanter - compared himself to Pau Gasol, with Dirk Nowitzki's shot. Naturally, he claimed he's the best player in the draft. He still may be Rafael Araujo
Top 4 (predictiing who Sixers would take)