Philadelphia 76ers: Why Moe Harkless Would Be Best Draft Pick
For being the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers put together a pretty impressive playoff run. After upsetting the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the young 76ers faced the daunting task of defeating the savvy veteran Boston Celtics squad.
Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the Celtics stood on one end of the court.
Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala and the unproven 76ers stood on the other.
Despite being overmatched at almost every position on paper, Philadelphia gave Boston all it could handle in a competitive seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics ultimately won Game 7 in front of their home crowd at the Garden, but the 76ers caught the NBA's attention as a true up-and-coming team in this league.
Among their key pieces, Philadelphia features an ideal blend of youth and experience.
Athletic young players such as Holiday and power forward Thaddeus Young allow the 76ers to keep pace with high-octane offensive attacks, while veteran big men Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes keep the team grounded and focused in the face of adversity.
At 31 years old, Brand has clearly lost a step and there has been speculation that the 76ers will part ways with their veteran post player.
Whether Brand is playing in Philadelphia or elsewhere, the 76ers will likely go "Young" at the position in 2012. Pun intended.
However, the team's biggest need heading into the 2012 NBA Draft and the upcoming season may be a natural scorer at the small forward position.
Philadelphia is in solid shape at the position with Iguodala and Evan Turner, but both players' biggest strength is not as scorers but rather as versatile lock-down defenders.
With the 15th overall pick in this year's draft, the 76ers should sprint to the podium with their selection of St. John's small forward Moe Harkless.
The phrase "high ceiling" has been used ad nauseam in regards to Harkless after declaring for the draft following just one season. Despite limited collegiate experience, Harkless clearly showed an elite first step and a natural ability to get to the basket.
Many consider Harkless to be a "work in progress," but his wide variety of offensive skills would suggest he may be one of the most NBA-ready forwards in the draft. If Harkless steps into the right situation, he could be the missing piece a team needs to get to the next level.
When a player has success scoring the basketball in college, it's important to look at where his points came from. For example, some players have inflated stats due to the wide open looks resulting from playing alongside more talented players. In the NBA, players are forced to create their own opportunities and make contested jump shots.
Fortunately for Harkless, his most natural talent is creating his own shot.
It seems as if he's able to score from anywhere on the floor from awkward positions, and he'll need that skill to transfer to the professional level if he wants to be an impact player early in his NBA career.
Harkless to the 76ers seems like a perfect marriage.
His biggest deficiency at this point is likely his ability as a one-on-one defender since St. John's used a zone defense for much of last season. Fortunately, for Harkless ending up in Philadelphia, Turner and/or Iguodala are proven one-on-one defenders, the expectations for the rookie as a defender would be reasonable.
There are a handful of rookies who would be adequate role players for the 76ers next season, but Philadelphia could do more with Harkless.
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