If there's anything Sam Hinkie has brought with him from Houston (other than his charm and good looks), it's notion that the draft is an important franchise building tool.
On draft night 2013, the team went from having just one pick in each round to two first round picks and three second rounders. From that point on, Sixers fans have been infatuated with the thought of next June, conjuring up a dream starting five and scouting players from Jabari Parker to Mario Hezonja (who can fly and attack the rim like the best of them in the States but I don't think is the brightest bulb).
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<h4><span class="must-reads-star"><img src="http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3608771/star.png" /></span> Must Reads <span class="must-reads-star"><img src="http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3608771/star.png" /></span></h4>
<div class="must-reads-compact-link-container"><a href="http://www.libertyballers.com/2013/12/26/5244580/liberty-ballers-nba-draft-prospect-watch-ncaa-basketball-mock-draft-one?utm_source=sbnation&utm_medium=mustreads&utm_campaign=blogs">The “In Lieu of Jrue” NBA Prospect Watch: Midseaso<span class="must-reads-compact-byline"></span></a>
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Our own Rich Hoffman has done a tremendous with the "In Lieu of Jrue" series, keeping tabs and offering his own analysis on the stars of tomorrow as they make their way through the college ranks.
And since we're near the halfway point of the collegiate season, what better time to start gathering mock drafts produced by the national media.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com has the Sixers taking forward Jabari Parker of Duke, and power forward Noah Vonleh of Indiana. Using SRS, a statistic from Basketball-Reference measuring win differentials and strength of schedule, Philadelphia ended up with the 1st and 16th overall selections.
For why he thinks the Sixers would choose Parker over Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins, Moore provided some analysis.
I'm one of the few people that think Parker going ahead of Wiggins doesn't mean Wiggins isn't as good as hyped, but that Parker really is this good. He would tie a lot together: Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel (if healthy) and Parker is a heck of a core.
That's a group straight from a video game. Trust me, I've tried it. NBA 2K14 says the Sixers will be winning championships by 2016.
If the Sixers were to draft Parker, using their latter first round selection on a true power forward like Vonleh would be a smart decision. While Parker could play just about any position on the floor you want him to (he's even played some center this year at Duke), his defense is a large question mark. It'd be wise to let Jabari to guard wings and hope he can use his size and strength to limit their effectiveness instead of getting bodied by big men down low.
If Philadelphia was indeed put in a situation between choosing Parker or Wiggins, an educated guess is that they would indeed draft the Duke standout.
For Vonleh, he's got a 7'4" wingspan and his advanced metrics are through the roof. In lieu of Thad, Vonleh and Nerlens Noel would be a nice front court for the future.
NBADraft.net did a complete two round mock based off their top 60 rankings, which would have Philadelphia selecting Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, and Michigan State guard Gary Harris in the first round. They also have Hinkie and company selecting LaQuinton Ross, Mitch McGary, and Jordan Bachynski in the second round.
The Sixers most underrated need heading into the draft is a two guard who can shoot, and not some Jodie Meeks type scrub who is a stand still shooter. They need someone who can be a catch and shoot type player but still willing to put the ball on the floor and attack. Enter Marcus Smart. While he's done a lot of ball handling at Oklahoma State, he certainly doesn't have the same reliance on having the ball in his hands as Carter-Williams did at Syracuse. Drafting him and Harris would be rather repetitive, but being able to snag McGary in the second round would be a solid add. Concerns about his back and his early play could certainly knock him out of the first round, but he would certainly be worth selecting with one of their two early second rounders.
Mock drafts make dreamers out of all of us, and with the Sixers resembling the art of "tanking", the summer cannot get here soon enough.