Sixers need someone who can play now

ASSOCIATED PRESS Kansas' Ben McLemore might be worth trading up for.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Kansas' Ben McLemore might be worth trading up for.
Posted: June 27, 2013

THEY SHOULD take a player who can play basketball. A player who can play basketball now.

Size should not matter.

Position should not matter.

The 76ers are so badly configured right now that committing themselves to any single position, to any parameter at all, really, is a luxury they cannot afford.

They're not one piece away from challenging Miami, Indiana and Chicago in the East. They're missing most of the puzzle.

So, on several levels, it will not matter which player the Sixers select in the NBA draft tomorrow.

Mainly, it won't matter because of how severely the team was gutted by the gamble that brought them Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, who combined to play 33 games for the Sixers . . . all of them by Richardson.

Collins' Folly, the trade that should live in infamy, was intended to give the Sixers a quick-fix shot at a title before Doug Collins quit coaching. It cost them four first-round picks: Nik Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Andre Iguodala and a future first-round pick.

The trade left them with holes at center, shooting guard and small forward to complement point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Thaddeus Young. Those are holes that cannot be filled tomorrow . . . Mainly, because the draft pool is so shallow, especially when it comes to post players who can make a difference, now or later.

Who's sexy?

Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, coming off a major knee injury in February? Well, Sixers fans won't have to worry about him, since a team picking before No. 11 will make that mistake.

How about Alex Len, the 19-year-old Ukrainian center out of Maryland with a bad ankle? Let's see: The last semi-invisible young Euro-center the Sixers picked impressed them so much that they traded him for Bynum's injured patella.

Should they be lured by Gonzaga's 1-year wonder, Kelly Olynyk, a 7-footer whose wingspan is about 2 inches shorter than his listed height? Only if they want Tyler Hansbrough, without the crazy lemur eyes.

Pitt center Steven Adams is a better prospect, with a man's body and a passable shot. Besides, he's from New Zealand. Guys from New Zealand are tough. Right? Want to find out?

Speaking of tough, what if Cody Zeller falls to No. 11? Well, run the tape of his last four college games, all high-stakes affairs for Indiana, in which he made no more than four field goals. That might cure any longing for Zeller.

His teammate, Victor Oladipo, is what the Sixers really need - a superb athlete who can play a couple of positions, can score in various ways, can defend on the perimeter and whose ceiling is unlimited. However, since they traded Andre Iguodala away, maybe the Sixers don't really like that type of player.

The perfect fit in this draft would be perhaps the only better athlete than Olapido, and that is Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore. But there is no way McLemore makes it to No. 11; in fact, he probably won't last past No. 5.

So, given the options, the best thing the Sixers can do is trade up to a position that affords them the chance to snag Olapido or McLemore.

But what team would be willing to trade?

What players among the Sixers have trade value outside of Holiday and Young?

Evan Turner?

Arnett Moultrie?

Spencer Hawes, at $6.5 million?

Finally, it will not matter whom the Sixers pick because the organization apparently is paralyzed.

Collins has not been replaced.

He and Sixers loyalist Tony DiLeo remade the team last summer, not only with the ill-fated trade but also with ill-conceived additions Dorell Wright, Nick Young and Kwame Brown.

Sam Hinkie replaced DiLeo as general manager, but Hinkie has yet to replace Collins. So, the organization will make this decision independent of whoever gets to coach the kid.

So much for this being a team decision - or any other decision in the Hinkie-era future.

And, while Hinkie certainly did not have final say as an assistant in Houston, the Rockets' draft performance has been anything but remarkable during his tenure. The most memorable pick is probably Royce White, but for the wrong reasons: They took White with the 16th pick last year but his anxiety issues precluded him from playing.

Houston drafted Nicolas Batum 25th overall in 2008, but traded him for unremarkable return.

So, do not expect Hinkie to do the obvious.

At 6-3, Holiday is an All-Star point guard who can play shooting guard. So, why not draft a guard to complement him?

Why not draft 6-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams? He played for an elite team at Syracuse, was its best player, and showed a knack for making big plays.

Or, why not Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? He averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds at Georgia last season, is 6-6, and has range.

If either of these guards fall to the Sixers, each would be a better bet than the qualified gamble that typifies the big men in 2013.

The last qualified gamble the Sixers made on a big man crippled the franchise for the foreseeable future.


On Twitter: @inkstainedretch


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