"I don't see us moving up. I think we're content to be about where we are right now," Thorn said. "There are some cases that you couldn't even move up if you wanted to. I'd say in a normal draft 15 is probably about the cutoff of players who you think are going to be good players. This year, I think it goes a little bit deeper than that. We've gone over the stuff ad nauseam with our scouts, with Tony [DiLeo] and Courtney [Witte]. I think we're going to have a choice at 15 of two or three guys we like. There are two or three guys that bring excitement to us but they may not be there. We're hopeful. There are several guys that we like who we think can come in and play for us."
It is a very tricky time for the Sixers. On July 1, teams can begin talking with free agents. The Sixers could lose both Lou Williams, who opted out of the final year of his contract, and Spencer Hawes, who is an unrestricted free agent. At that time, the Sixers also can decide whether to amnesty forward Elton Brand, meaning they can let him go, pay him the $18.2 million left on his contract this season and gain that room under the salary cap. If they do that, what will they do with the money and is there someone out there, a free agent-to-be, who interests them enough to write that big check to Brand?
Then there is the question of trades. Is this the year they deal Andre Iguodala, or someone else?
"You hear a lot of stuff and [free agents] are going to ask for a certain range, but until you actually start talking on [July 1] you don't really know," Thorn said. "Everybody wants as much as they can get so everybody tries to overprice themselves, at least to start with, and then reality jumps up very quickly. The scary thing this year is that there are so many teams that have money, that are way under the cap. The normal tendency is to spend some of that money if you have it. It only takes one team. You never can know exactly what's going to happen in free agency because of that."
Another reason why this draft, and what might happen after it, is so important is that the Sixers want to build on their playoff run that took them to Game 7 of the conference semifinals. And Thorn pointed out that the Chicago Bulls, whom the Sixers defeated in the first round, was "not the same team'' without Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in Game 1.
“You always hope that whoever you draft can play in your rotation," Thorn said. "Sometimes that doesn't happen. If you take a real young kid, let's say, that you think has a real good upside, he might not be able to play that much right away. But I think any time you draft 15, you're hopeful the guy can play in the rotation.
“If you look at some of the teams behind us, they're getting better and some of the teams ahead of us are still going to be good. It's imperative that you always try to get better because if you don't people will start passing you. We're in that area where there are a lot of teams where there's not a lot of difference. We've got to try to get better. We'd like to move up, not be the eighth team in the playoffs, but to move up. And you have to get better to do that. We don't shoot the ball very well. We had a lot of 30 percent shooting nights in the playoffs when we were playing against good defensive teams. We've got to try and get better shooting. I think you always have to try and get better. Some of the younger players really came on at the end of the season and really played well in the playoffs. Will they start from there and keep getting better? You certainly have to hope for that."
"We played well, we did what we had to do at the end when we had nine of 11 on the road and four of the last five road games," Thorn said. "Our players showed some growth and the younger players got better and, hopefully, we can add to it. You like to get an athletic guy, if you go big. Our guys aren't athletic, our bigs. If we could get an athletic big who could rebound and help defensively and make a jump shot, then that would be a real coup for us."
Or they might go another way on Thursday. Or perhaps a trade. We'll find out Thursday.
Rod Thorn said he was impressed with Myers Leonard's workout, and the Illinois product was equally impressed with the organization. "I know a little bit about their roster, I do my homework," said Leonard, who averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season. "Evan Turner kind of came on last year, Jrue Holiday is becoming a really good point guard in the league and Spencer Hawes got hurt last year but came on very well. They are in need of a big, I know that. It was a good experience in Chicago [at the rookie combine]. I liked talking to these guys. I actually have some connections through the state of Illinois." Coach Doug Collins is an Illinois legend, having grown up there and spending his college days at Illinois State.