For 76ers, NBA draft is a crapshoot

Posted: June 25, 2009

Here is the simple truth about tonight's NBA draft at New York's Madison Square Garden: It's unpredictable.

After forward Blake Griffin goes to the Los Angeles Clippers as the top pick, nothing is certain. Some guys - like UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday - have been slotted anywhere from fourth to 20th.

Sure, 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski has said the team will likely select a guard with its 17th pick, but Stefanski has also kept open the door for other scenarios such as taking Ohio State big man B.J. Mullens if he falls, trading up if the demands drop, trading down if something promising is offered in return.

Right now, the safe bet is the Sixers will stick at No. 17, select a perimeter player - North Carolina's Ty Lawson, Virginia Commonwealth's Eric Maynor, or perhaps UNC's Wayne Ellington - and head into free agency looking to re-sign point guard Andre Miller and plug whatever other holes exist on the roster.

But don't be shocked if that changes.

"If a trade screws it up, things could change," Stefanski said on Tuesday.

An NBA source has confirmed that Stefanski has shopped power forward Elton Brand, last off-season's blockbuster acquisition. That same source indicated Brand is unlikely to be traded because he has four years and $65 million left on his deal and has health concerns because his last two seasons ended in injury.

On Tuesday, Stefanski said he has inquired about moving up in the draft, but that the price has been too steep, with most teams wanting "an integral piece from our team."

Stefanski named his young guys - Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, and Jason Smith - as players other teams wanted in exchange.

"We're exploring moving up and moving back," Stefanski said, adding that "unless the demands get less, we won't be doing that."

Stefanski had said at the end of the season that nobody on the roster is untradeable, but it seems unlikely Stefanski will trade a core piece from last season's team to improve the Sixers' position in a draft most NBA experts are calling weak.

Also, the Sixers need a guard, and this is a guard-heavy draft, meaning it's likely one of the guards the Sixers want is still on the board at 17.

It's even possible that a guard such as Brandon Jennings, once predicted as a lottery pick, a player who wouldn't work out for teams in the Sixers' range because he believed he would be long gone by the 17th pick, could still be on the board.

What then? Do the Sixers select someone they haven't interviewed, haven't had the chance to sit down with?

"We would rather have more of a comfort level, but we would still take the guy with the most talent," Stefanski said. "We've done our homework on all these guys. Sure, if a guy came in for a workout, that's an added comfort level, but that won't stop us from taking who we think is the most talented player left on the board."

Tonight's draft will be Stefanski's second as general manager of the Sixers: Last season, the Sixers selected Speights, who became one of the most efficient rookies in the league.

Stefanski was crucial in the draft process while with the New Jersey Nets, but the ultimate decision was made by Nets president and general manager Rod Thorn. Tonight's draft will be only the second time the "ultimate decision" will rest with Stefanski.

One source who worked closely with Stefanski in New Jersey said Stefanski has "never been one to overvalue one workout," implying that Stefanski is more than willing to draft a player he hasn't brought in for a workout, adding that "without a doubt" Stefanski's philosophy is to take the best available talent, regardless of the position needed.

This source said that in New Jersey, Stefanski served more as an intermediary to Thorn, gathering everyone's viewpoints, summarizing them, and taking them to Thorn.

Stefanski called himself Thorn's "righthand man."

Tonight, Stefanski will be the decision-maker in a draft with about as much stability as a seesaw.

A Decade of 76ers Draft Picks

Here's how draft day has gone for the 76ers over the last 10 years.

1st round: Marreese Speights (Florida, 16th overall).

1st round: Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech, 12th), Daequan Cook (Ohio State, 21st, traded to the Miami Heat for Jason Smith, 20th overall), Petteri Koponen (Finland, 30th). Sixers traded Koponen to Portland for the 42d pick, Derrick Byars (Vanderbilt), and cash considerations. Koponen plays for Virtus Bologna in the Italian Lega Serie A.

2d round: Kyrylo Fesenko (Ukraine, 38th). Sixers traded Fesenko to Utah for Providence's Herbert Hill. Fesenko spent most of his rookie season in the D-League and appeared in 21 games for Utah last season.

1st round: Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland, 13th). Traded to Chicago for Rodney Carney, 16th overall, plus a 2d-round pick and cash considerations. Also acquired Bobby Jones (37th) from Minnesota for 2d-round pick in 2007 and cash considerations. Acquired Edin Bavcic (56th) from Toronto for cash considerations. The Bosnian native plays for Köln 99ers of Basketball Bundesliga in Germany.

2d round: Lou Williams (South Gwinnett H.S., Ga., 45th).

1st round: Andre Iguodala (Arizona, 9th);

2d round: Paccelis Morlende (France, 52d). Traded Morlende and cash considerations to Seattle for Willie Green (Detroit-Mercy, 41st). Also acquired Kyle Korver (Creighton, 51st) from Nets for cash considerations.

1st round: Jiri Welsch of Slovenia (16th overall); traded to Golden State for future protected first-round pick and regained 2005 first-round pick. Acquired John Salmons (Miami, 26th), Mark Bryant and draft rights to Randy Holcomb (San Diego St.) from San Antonio for Speedy Claxton.

2d round: Sam Clancy Jr. (USC, 32d). Traded 2d-round pick and 2006 2d-round pick to Atlanta for draft rights to Efthimios Rentzias (23d, 1996).

1st round: Sam Dalembert (Seton Hall, 26th).

2d round: Damone Brown (Syracuse, 37th), Alvin Jones (Georgia Tech, 57th).

1st round: Speedy Claxton (Hofstra, 20th); 2d round: Mark Karcher (Temple, 49th).

2d round: Todd MacCulloch (Washington, 47th). Acquired draft rights to Jumaine Jones (27th) from Atlanta for future first-round pick.

Catch Kate Fagan as she blogs live about the NBA draft tonight at

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or

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