John Smallwood | Attack draft as if your job were riding on it, Billy

Posted: June 28, 2007

DON'T LET THE calm demeanor fool you.

In Billy King's decade with the Philadelphia 76ers, I've only seen him publicly lose his composure once - and most of us know the circumstances that set off that home season-ending meltdown.

But make no mistake: The stakes will be as high as they get tonight when the Sixers take part in the NBA draft.

Despite King repeatedly saying the draft is not a make-or-break situation for his tenure as president/general manager, it, for all intents and purposes, is.

What the Sixers do in the draft may be just Phase 1 of the process to rebuild this team back to respectability, but it's going to go a long way in determining whether King will be around to direct any of the next phases.

With King having an expiring contract in his hand, how he performs tonight will either be the first step to another chance or the first nail in his Sixers coffin.

What's King going to do?

It's impossible to say right now. He certainly has a master plan, but there are dozens of contingencies that could alter things - some that might not happen until just before the Sixers officially go on the clock.

Trades that happened, trades that are proposed, trades that fall through, all could affect what King will be thinking in the Sixers' war room as the night's activities unfold.

There is any number of directions the Sixers could wind up going, but there is only one edict that King & Co. have to answer - "GET IT RIGHT."

Whomever they draft, however they go about getting him, at the end of the day, he has to work out.

Too much of the future of this franchise is at stake.

Failure in this draft is not an option - at least, not if King wants to keep his office in the Wachovia Center longer than the end of the upcoming season.

What I think is the least likely scenario to happen is the situation the Sixers are currently in.

I don't see them using the 12th, 21st and 30th picks in this draft.

They'll make some kind of move with some combination of those picks.

If I were King, I'd take the aggressive approach and move up. I'd even include valuable point guard Andre Miller in a package that got me in the top three or four.

I actually believe King when he says the Sixers would be comfortable if they had to stay at the 12th pick.

I don't want to be comfortable. I want to be happy, and happy, to me, means moving into the top seven of this draft.

Considering everything that's at stake in this draft, the Sixers need to be in a position where they can actively decide who they get instead of settling for who falls to them.

If the Sixers stay at 12, a player like Florida State forward Al Thornton, Georgia Tech forward Thaddeus Young, or Colorado State forward/center Jason Smith will be on the board for them. Those are nice players and would definitely fill a need for the Sixers.

But if King & Co. want to generate some excitement from the fans who show up at the Wachovia Center for the team's draft party, then they need to be able to announce that they made a trade that moved them into the top seven.

Obviously, the Sixers will have no shot at getting Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Unless somebody wants to get run out of the Pacific Northwest, those two will be gone after the Portland Trail Blazers select first and the Seattle SuperSonics pick second.

The Sixers need to be in a position to get one of the five big men who won't be on the board if they stay at 12 - Florida forward Al Horford, Georgetown forward Jeff Green, Chinese center/forward Yi Jianlian, Florida forward Joakim Noah and Washington center Spencer Hawes.

The Sixers need to get frontcourt help with their top pick. They need a player who will not only give them a boast with his own ability but also help them reap more from the financial commitment they've made to center Samuel Dalembert.

Certainly, there are some among that group of big men I like better than others, but I'd be satisfied with getting any one of the five.

Billy King will go into this draft feeling comfortable. If the Sixers come out of it happy, King will be in position to stay comfortable for several more years down the road.

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Send e-mail to smallwj@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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