Four for the Sixers to consider

Posted: June 24, 2014

THE GUT REACTION last week when it was learned that Kansas center Joel Embiid had suffered a stress fracture in his right foot was that the 76ers were screwed. No pun intended, as it took two screws in Friday's surgery to start the healing process for the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid, but the injury certainly had to scramble whatever secret plans Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie had for Thursday's draft. The Sixers hold the third and 10th picks in the first round, along with five selections in the second.

Before the injury, the Sixers sat in a pretty good place. They could have stayed at No. 3, watched who was plucked with the first two selections and then chosen who was left from among Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Not many would have complained about that.

Obviously, things aren't all that simple now that a big focus on the draft has turned toward the cracked navicular bone in Embiid's right foot.

Or has it changed all that much? Will either Cleveland or Milwaukee take a chance on Embiid, who also had a stress fracture in his back that cost him his final six collegiate games? Will the Sixers somehow move up to ensure that they land Wiggins, who appears to be their favorite target after a 3-day visit last week? Would Parker be the ultimate consolation prize at No. 3, with his NBA-ready game? What about Dante Exum?

Let's assume the Sixers stay at No. 3 and take a look at Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and Exum and see how they might fit in with the team.

Andrew Wiggins: Landing him would be the ultimate consolation for the recently concluded 63-loss season. While there is still much improvement to be made by the 6-8, super-athletic swingman, most of those can come with just getting bigger and stronger. He already possesses a very good step-back jumper, can run the floor with players in the league right now and could become a premier defender in the league. While the Sixers already played at a dizzying pace under Brett Brown during his first season, it often didn't translate into positive possessions. Wiggins would change all that almost immediately. He is extremely quick off his feet, often corralling his own miss around the basket and getting put-backs. His stride is long, his first step outstanding. Imagining him on a wing with rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams running a break and Nerlens Noel jumping out of the building would have to excite the Sixers' brass, and their fans as well.

His approach to the game is something that has been questioned, but that would seem to be an area that could easily be rectified. In Brown, Wiggins would be getting a coach who approaches each and every day with boundless enthusiasm, which rubs off on his players.

Moving up to get Wiggins is something the Sixers no doubt are trying to do. But the question is this: Is Wiggins worth giving away the third and 10th pick to get? If it takes that much, I say no.

Jabari Parker: While watching tape of Parker playing defense, one name keeps coming to mind in relation to the Sixers: Nerlens Noel. Parker has not shown to be a very good defensive player. He is easily beaten off the dribble and not very good at covering the pick-and-roll. That's where Noel would have to step in as the off-the-ball shot blocker, the role in which he made a name for himself at Kentucky. So perhaps Parker's lack of defense isn't so worrisome for Hinkie and Brown.

The 6-8, 240-pounder with the 7-foot wingspan isn't as athletic as Wiggins, but Parker has a wide arsenal of scoring weapons. He is surely solid enough to bang down low and has more than admirable touch around the basket. His outside shooting is good enough to take him to beyond the college three-point line, though maybe not to NBA distance. He can handle the ball and, while on the move toward the basket, is a monster to try to contain. It's quite possible for him to join this Sixers team and average 15 and close to 10 boards a game right away. With a terrific attitude and work ethic, there's always room for a player like him on a rebuilding team.

Joel Embiid: Forget about the injury for a minute and imagine Embiid roaming the paint for the Sixers for years to come. He is perhaps the perfect fit in the lane for the high-energy offense that Brown is imploring, able to get up and down the floor and possessing an ability to shoot consistently from as far as 18 feet. Though he has played the game for just a few years, he already has the footwork that has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. His defensive instincts allow him to get to unsuspecting shooters and keep him in good rebounding position.

There has been debate as to whether Embiid and Noel could co-exist, but, as Brown has said often, "Get the best players and we'll make it work." Of course, the injury questions are at the forefront. Could the Sixers take a chance on an injured center being part of their future - for the third straight season?

Dante Exum: This is where the contradiction comes into play. While Brown has said that they need players and that whomever they get, he'll make it work, Exum (6-6, 196) just seems too similar to Carter-Williams. Here's a quote from him recently to the Boston Globe: "I am a get-to-the-rim type of player and I guess that's what puts me in a good position to be a point guard and that kind of vocal leader. I have that voice to say to [teammates] what needs to be done. I am the voice on the court for the coach."

That is almost verbatim to what MCW was saying about himself throughout the season. Brown has talked of how the future of the league is three-point shooting and fast-paced offense. Exum and MCW both are suspect shooters at best. And trading MCW to bring in Exum would appear to be a lateral move. The time spent developing MCW this past season by the coaching staff would be thrown away and would have to be done all over again for Exum.

Then again, Hinkie has shown that trading young, talented point guards isn't something he's afraid to do on draft night.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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