Not much for Sixers staff to review at rookie combine

Posted: May 16, 2014

CHICAGO - You couldn't help but feel a little disappointment from 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown yesterday during the workouts at the annual NBA rookie combine. Going in, they knew that Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid would not be attending. Most likely, one of those three will be taken by the Sixers with their first pick in the first round. And it wasn't surprising that those prospects decided not to showcase their talents, with their spots in the June 26 draft pretty cemented.

So the focus naturally went to the players who could be available when the Sixers make their second pick in the first round, right now slotted at No. 10 but to be officially determined Tuesday at the draft lottery.

Another problem arose, though, since most of the players likely to draw interest from the Sixers as their second pick also weren't on the floor, save for Duke sharpshooter Rodney Hood. Marcus Smart, Nik Stauskas, Doug McDermott, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh, to name a few, all sat on the sidelines and watched before heading to a back room to talk to the media.

"I wish we could see them," said Brown, overseeing his first predraft combine as a head coach. "How could you not want to see as many people up close as you can? There is a level of disappointment. I know all their agents have their strategy, and the advice that these young guys receive is presented to them in what others think is their best interest, but I put my coaching hat on and how I need to identify the talent in the draft, you wish you had more opportunities than we're able to right now."

The drills yesterday consisted of shooting and ballhandling drills, as well as defensive close-outs. There was some three-on-three halfcourt play in the 1 hour, 15-minute sessions, but little more during the showcase.

Still, both Hinkie and Brown, seated near midcourt behind a table, intently studied several players who might or might not end up playing in the world's greatest league.

"The more players to evaluate, the better," Hinkie said. "So we like it when more want to compete, but we think it's sort of natural for everybody to make their own decisions, and sometimes they move in herds. The real breadth of picks [two in the first round and five in the second for the Sixers] makes it a little different, but we always try to approach it that we don't know where we might end up in the draft. Often, there's sort of a collar that we won't end up any higher than this and we might not end up as low as that, but in a year like this, when we have as many picks as we have, it's as broad as you can imagine, from 1 to 60.

"I'm a big believer of trying to gather information whenever it's scarce. Often, it's just about the time frame. Even in the past when maybe the team I was with [Houston Rockets] was picking in the 20s, you still paid a lot of attention and looked aggressively hard at, say, the top five picks, knowing you have virtually no shot of getting them on your team in a month, but knowing that those are decisions that you have to revisit in 2 years or 4 years or 6 years down the line, when those top five picks became good players, and maybe you had to trade for or maybe have an opportunity to bid on in free agency. The difference this time around is these are near-term decisions more than just trying to gather more information for longer-term decisions."

The near-term consists of getting in as many watchable workouts as possible before the draft and ultimately coming up with a draft plan. That will be easier to do after Tuesday, for certain.

"We're doing as much homework as we can prior to bringing some of these guys in, like any staff," Brown said. "Sam has done a good job of giving us direction and different projects to study, and we've had some good meetings as a group, as a staff, led by Sam. We're moving along. I feel organized. It's my first time at this time of the year working with Sam. He's excellent. He's what everybody thinks he is.

"It's very different. Anytime you move a little further over to a different seat [from assistant to head coach], everything is different. You try to pay attention to everything that you can. You try not to overanalyze, but you can't help but dig in at a higher level. I haven't been here in Chicago since we [San Antonio] drafted Beno Udrih in the first round in 2004. To revisit Chicago and go through the process of interviews, to watch drills and pay attention to people and be directed by Sam while I'm here, it's a huge responsibility, and I love it. It is very different from my old job."

Combine notes

While most of the better players didn't work out, they did talk to the media. Consensus college player of the year Doug McDermott, of Creighton, Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, Australia's Dante Exum and Michigan's Nik Stauskas were some of the better interviewers . . . Exum, whose father played for Brett Brown in Australia, said he had met with three teams, including the Sixers . . . Virginia 6-6 guard Joe Harris may have been the best shooter of the day . . . Should Florida's Patric Young not make it to the NBA, he could have a career in bodybuilding. There are muscles on muscles for the 6-9, 247-pounder . . . Baylor's 7-1 Isaiah Austin showed a sweet touch from the 15-foot area. Austin has a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations for a detached retina couldn't save his eyesight.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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