This pick came way, way out of left field. We knew it was going to be a weird night going in (and continued to be, when the Bobcats took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for themselves), but when the Sixers drafted Moe Harkless out of St. John's, I was stunned. He wasn't mentioned as a potential pick by ANYONE for the Sixers. No mock drafts, no big boards. Nothing. We spoke exactly zero words about him in our Draft Podcast. Left field isn't even far enough.
And maybe it's because I was so surprised -- a rare feat these days -- that I didn't hate the pick as much as some did. He doesn't fill a need. A 6'8, 210 pound forward that can't shoot sounds a lot like the one we already have in Thaddeus Young. Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger, and Tyler Zeller were all on the board. But when David Stern read off his name (I unglued my eyes from Twitter so it was a complete surprise to me), I was so thrilled that it wasn't Arnett Moultrie that I immediately liked the pick. And it's all because of what it says about the Sixers draft philosophy.The 15th pick is typically no place to get a franchise changer. But this draft was so deep with falling high-upside guys that there were a few options should they take the risk. As the draft got closer and closer, it looked like they were going to pull a Sixers and take Moultrie there, just as they did with Nikola Vucevic last year and (to some extent) Evan Turner the year before. But they didn't! And I'm jazzed about it.
Whether or not I love Moe Harkless as a prospect is tangential to the bigger picture. The Sixers definitely have needs with the team assembled as is, but as we've said: needs are irrelevant when you're mediocre. The most important thing for the Sixers to do was draft for talent. And Harkless has a ton of potential and, at 19, will likely not contribute right away. They aren't full-on rebuilding, but that's certainly a step in the right direction.
Later in the first round when Moultrie continued to slip, the Sixers did a very un-Sixers thing -- they traded up to get their man. My issues with Moultrie at 15 were much greater than those at 27. He's got a lot of athleticism to him -- more than anyone in the Sixers frontcourt right now -- and could become a better rebounder and defender with some polishing. I still think he's a backup big, but they clearly loved him. Rod Thorn even drunkenly claimed he was "one of the top 10 players in the Draft". And by trading up to get him, the Sixers feel like they've got two of the 10 best players in the Draft. Pretty rad.
Now compare that with what I said last year:
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.
Worlds apart. Kudos to Doug Collins, Rod Thorn, Courtney Witte, and Tony DiLeo for getting their guys.
Obviously, as I said, I'd absolutely have gone with Perry Jones there, but the Sixers clearly weren't comfortable taking him either because of the knee or the *questionable motor*. We'll see what he becomes in OKC, which I feel is a terrific situation for him. Selling the 2nd round pick isn't worth getting worked up about.
Though I'm not ecstatic about the two players the Sixers are coming away with, I am pretty thrilled about the direction they're heading. Andre Iguodala will most definitely be traded. Evan Turner may be traded. Thaddeus Young could be traded. Nothing is certain and nothing should be, because this team and these players aren't good enough to force the Sixers hand. They have to assemble all the highest-upside prospects they can, and maximize their potential.
Drafting low ceiling big men and shooters would have filled needs in the short term, but who cares about the short term? When Adam Aron tweeted "We have a sober view of our needs", I didn't exactly buy it. Now, I'm prone to believe a bit more. I've never thought they were outright stupid, but we had philosophically opposing beliefs on where this franchise should be going, and today it seems like they're a bit closer together.
Both Harkless and Moultrie could be terrible. Or they could be franchise cornerstones. Regardless, their selections represent a different line of thinking from the previously-stale ways of the Sixers front office. We'll have more specific thoughts on everything in the coming days, but for now I urge you to cling to the growing chance that this franchise soon leaves the suffocating confines of mediocrity.