John Smallwood: As usual, Sixers missing that wow factor

Posted: June 24, 2011

WELL, I GUESS what happened with the Flyers yesterday pretty much confirms the impending sale of the 76ers.

Ed Snider would not have rained golf-ball-sized hail on the Sixers' draft night by trading captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter if Comcast was going to retain more than a minimal stake in the city's NBA franchise.

Considering the magnitude of the Flyers' moves, it might have helped the Sixers gain a little more traction today had they done something a little more innovative last night.

They tried, but they couldn't.

In the end, the Sixers went big and young by drafting USC junior center Nikola Vucevic with the 16th overall pick.

It's a nice pick.

Vucevic is a 7-footer with a wing span measured at 7 1/2 feet. He averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds and was a first-team All-Pac 10 performer.

Just 20 years old, he should fit in nicely with the Sixers' continued rebuilding process.

"He has a pro-type game right now," Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said of Vucevic. "He also fits a need. I think because of his size and shooting ability, he will compete for time in the rotation.

"He's a stretch-type center because he can shoot the ball. He's your typical European center because he is so fundamentally sound."

Good pick, but not enough to compete with the huge moves the city's other franchises have made in what has been a truly remarkable 18 months in Philadelphia sports.

The Flyers traded the players they said were going to be the cornerstones of their organization for the next decade.

The Eagles moved out of the Donovan McNabb era to the Kevin Kolb era and then to the Michael Vick era.

The Phillies assembled a pitching rotation for the ages with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

They even transitioned from closer Brad Lidge to Ryan Madson.

The Sixers' most significant move was adding head coach Doug Collins.

See the difference?

This is nothing against Vucevic because I like this pick. It's just that the Sixers desperately need a "Wow factor" to elevate their stature, and a 20-year-old center from USC doesn't add up to that.

But that's the hand the Sixers have been dealt.

Last night wasn't like a year ago when the Sixers had the second overall pick and selected 2010 NCAA player of the year Evan Turner out of Ohio State.

Of course, the fact that Turner had a shaky rookie season toned down the level of excitement.

So there was only a limited amount of enthusiasm that the 16th pick was going to generate regardless of who it was.

"We are incredibly thrilled to draft Nikola Vucevic," Collins said. "I liked him from the moment I saw him at the Chicago predraft camp.

"He is a hard-working, skilled big man with a desire to succeed."

Curb my enthusiasm.

Again, if the Sixers are lucky, Vucevic may become one of those players who develops into something way above his current status.

It has happened plenty of times in this league, but we won't find that out for several years down the road.

But that's not all that intriguing today.

There's only one move the Sixers could have made last night that would have generated a buzz. The majority of Sixer fans wanted to see Andre Iguodala traded last night - certainly much more than Flyer fans wanted to see Richards relocated.

After McNabb was traded to Washington, Iguodala became the guy people wanted most to become an ex-Philadelphian.

Whether it was because he followed Allen Iverson, is paid superstar money or simply best represents the mediocrity the franchise has been mired in for close to a decade, Iguodala has worn out his welcome in the city.

The anticipated trading of Iguodala was what last night was truly about for a lot of Sixers fans.

The majority of the discussions leading up to the draft was about what the Sixers could get for Iguodala.

No rumor, no matter how outlandish or feasible, wasn't up for confirmation.

It almost would not have mattered what Iguodala was traded for as long as he had become an ex-Sixer.

It didn't matter that trading Iguodala before a new collective bargaining agreement is reached was probably unrealistic.

It didn't happen, and now the soap opera of "When will the Sixers trade Iguodala?" will continue to run its frustrating course.

On a day when the Flyers completely changed the culture of the franchise by trading two homegrown players who were expected to one day bring the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia, the Sixers adding Nikola Vucevic but not removing Andre Iguodala didn't measure up.

Send email to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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