Inside the Sixers: Sixers confident in depth of draft

Posted: June 11, 2012

CHICAGO - The Sixers front office returned from the two days of the Chicago predraft camp brimming with confidence that they will be able to find a good player - perhaps one who contributes immediately - with the 15th pick in the draft and optimistic that they could find players late in the second round when they have the 45th and 54th picks.

This is not because they had incredible success at finding Temple's Lavoy Allen with the 50th pick last summer, but because the draft is just deeper than it has been in recent years.

"It looks good," Boston general manager Danny Ainge said. "You're going to find players in places in the draft where you don't usually find them."

Although they specifically need a shooter and a big, low-post presence who can defend at the rim and go to the offensive glass, the Sixers, according to sources familiar with their draft strategy, are still most likely to pursue the best talent available on the board when it's time to make their selection.

However, if they don't make any trades - which can't be ruled out as there is much interest throughout the league in forward Andre Iguodala - the fact that there are significantly more talented and versatile power forwards than guards in the crop, I fully expect the Sixers to go with a power forward or a center in the first round.

If there is one player projected to go pretty high in the draft who I feel the Sixers would try to move heaven and earth to get their hands on, it's Connecticut project center Andre Drummond. Although he's a few years away, most everyone here was blown away by his mix of athleticism and size (6-foot-10, 270 pounds, and a 7-61/4 wingspan). The fact that he's just 18 years old makes him even more enticing.

Drummond, again, is realistic only if the Sixers decide to package some picks and possibly a veteran.

More realistically at 15 the Sixers should have a chance at Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie (6-91/2, 233), Iowa State's Royce White (6-7, 260), North Carolina's John Henson (6-10, 220), and a few others.

One name Sixers fans don't seem to be big on is Illinois' Myers Leonard, a true center. Leonard, a sophomore, impressed everyone at the Chicago combine with a chiseled 6-11 frame with little to no body fat. He appears to be climbing up most draft boards, and two front office executives said that down the road he would be a better center than North Carolina's Tyler Zeller.

"No question about it," one executive said, speaking under condition of anonymity. "Zeller is better now because he's got more experience, having gone through four seasons at UNC. That makes a difference now. But Leonard is the better athlete and will ultimately be the better professional."

That same executive also thought the Sixers could very well put together a package of players and draft picks with the goal of acquiring a veteran player for the frontcourt, rather than moving up in the draft.

"They made big strides this season and I'm pretty sure that the new ownership doesn't want to see them take a step backward," he said.

Speaking of trades, Iguodala hears his name brought up in trade rumors every offseason, and it appears this will once again be the case.

Last season, Iguodala's name was mentioned in possible trade scenarios with Golden State, with the Warriors reportedly interested in swapping guard Monta Ellis in exchange for Iguodala. But even though Ellis has since been dealt to Milwaukee, whispers out of Golden State are that the Warriors, who have the seventh overall pick, are still interested in acquiring a small forward like Iguodala and would consider packaging the pick.

Toronto, which has the eighth overall pick, is believed to be willing to move the pick if it can acquire a small forward such as Iguodala or Rudy Gay of Memphis.

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.


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