Sixers will size up prospects at combine in Chicago

Michigan State's Gary Harris will be one of the players on display at the NBA combine. Sixers coach Brett Brown said the draft class is "deep enough . . . to get excited."
Michigan State's Gary Harris will be one of the players on display at the NBA combine. Sixers coach Brett Brown said the draft class is "deep enough . . . to get excited." (Getty)
Posted: May 16, 2014

CHICAGO - By now, the 76ers have an idea of whom they will select with their first pick in the NBA draft on June 26. It's just a matter of hitting the Ping-Pong jackpot in Tuesday's draft lottery to select the desired player.

So the omission of former Kansas standouts Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid and former Duke star Jabari Parker - the top three prospects - from the NBA draft combine might not be as big as people think.

The Sixers have been focused on this draft since they reached an agreement to hire general manager Sam Hinkie on May 10, 2013.

For now, they're concentrating on the 60 prospects who will undergo testing, measurements, and interviews on Thursday and Friday at the Quest Multisport Complex.

"You feel that it's a deep enough [draft class] to get excited," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I think it is. I think when you look at the mysteries out there with people declaring for the draft, there were always some uncertainties.

"It seems like most of those uncertainties have put their hand up to put themselves in it, which makes it even deeper."

The Sixers have a 19.9 percent chance of winning the draft lottery after finishing with the league's second-worst record at 19-63. They would slide to fifth in the worst-case scenario.

The franchise also will receive the Pelicans' first-round draft pick unless New Orleans finishes in the top five of the lottery. That's highly unlikely considering that the Pelicans finished with the 10th-worst record. New Orleans has a 4 percent chance of moving into the top three and cannot finish in slots four through nine.

The Sixers also will have five second-round picks - Nos. 32, 39, 47, 52, and 54.

Point guard Dante Exum (Australia); guard Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State); shooting guard Gary Harris (Michigan State); and power forwards Julius Randle (Kentucky), Doug McDermott (Creighton), and Aaron Gordon (Arizona) are some of the combine headliners.

Several mock drafts have the Sixers selecting Harris with their second pick of the first round. Gordon is also expected to be available when that selection rolls around.

The Sixers are expected to take Wiggins or Parker with their first pick if either is still available.

Parker was the highest-scoring freshman in Blue Devils history. The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder became the first freshman to lead Duke in scoring and rebounding. The Chicago native was the first freshman selected as team MVP since Johnny Dawkins in 1983.

The all-American may be more prepared for the NBA game than Wiggins, but Wiggins could have a bigger upside.

A 6-8, 200-pounder, Wiggins has a 7-foot wingspan and freakish athleticism. He was the Big 12 freshman of the year and a first-team all-conference selection.

Brown will say only that he wants to take the best player available.

"It's a ready-[aim-fire] thing that ultimately, you know, we will deal with," he said. "We will go with Sam's direction."

But will it be the best player available right now? Or will it be the player who's projected to be the best player in five seasons?

"That's where the good ones make their money," Brown said of selecting a draft pick. "How do you project out? I think that's the hardest thing with any decision-maker: Where are they going to be in five years?

"There are people you look at and say, 'This guy is physically more able to play now. And this guy may not be.' Then you go back to where we started with building something right. We are building something."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

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