The Philadelphia 76ers have the 12th, 21st, 30th, and 38th overall picks in this Thursday's NBA Draft—which means they have to make a trade.
The Sixers don't have the roster space for four rookies, and they have much bigger problems than the 12th pick can solve.
Philadelphia's most glaring need is at power forward. In 2006-07, the Sixers were 25th in the league in total rebounds, 24th in offensive rebounds allowed, and 24th in rebound differential.
The only big power forward in the lottery is Al Horford, a solid defensive player who can hit the boards. His hard-nosed style would help the Sixers immediately, and his athleticism would make him a contributor in a Philadelphia offense that runs only as fast as Andre Iguodala can drag it.
Unfortunately, Horford will likely go at number three, and it won't be easy for Philadelphia to move up that far. The team's other big-man options at the top of the draft include Brandan Wright, Jeff Green, and Yi Jianlian.
Wright needs to add bulk, and Green may be more of a natural small forward. Still, both players would be good fits in the Sixers' scheme...but they could easily get drafted fourth and fifth overall, and I'm not sure Billy King has the dealmaking prowess to secure either of those picks.
Yi, meanwhile, presents a unique skill-set: He's seven feet tall but plays like a small forward. I don't think Yi's game fits very well with the Sixers' style. But if he falls a few spots, the Sixers could grab him as a value pick.
I don't know if I'm reading too much into this, but the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that the Sixers were granted access to Yi by his agent, while the Bucks, who have the sixth pick, were not.
The next tier on the frontcourt pyramid consists of Spencer Hawes, Joakim Noah, Al Thornton, and Julian Wright. Hawes is a center whose low-post moves and passing ability could complement the play of Samuel Dalembert. Noah is a little small for a PF, but brings character, leadership, and—maybe even more importantly—a winning attitude. Thornton is an incredible athlete but lacks the rebounding ability the Sixers need. Wright is small and quick and can play either forward position. He's very athletic and creates mismatches with his varied skill-set—and at only 20 years old, still has some filling out to do.
The Sixers could move up anywhere between six and 10 if they thought it would net them one of those players.
The Sixers' other need is at point guard. Andre Miller was great last year, but he's 31 and may be most valuable as trade bait. If Miller were moved, or even if the team just wanted to back him up with someone other than Kevin Ollie, the Sixers could draft Mike Conley Jr.
Because a trade is inevitable, I won't get too far into who the Sixers might take later in the draft. A short list of potential candidates, however, could include Josh McRoberts, Glen Davis, Marc Gasol, Sean Williams, Tiago Splitter, and Kyrylo Fesenko.
McRoberts is the type of player Billy King is liable to draft 10 spots too early: an over-hyped Duke kid who doesn't have any post moves. The same goes for Sean Williams, a shot blocker with quickness but limited rebounding ability.
As long as the Sixers don't draft another swingman (like Iguodala or Rodney Carney), they should be okay. It will be interesting to see how things shake out. The first few picks will decide how the rest of the draft goes, as there's a large group of players in the second and third tiers.
With a deep draft class on the board and a number of free agents-to-be on the roster, expect Philadelphia to make several trades on or before Thursday night. Hopefully the Sixers and Billy King live up to their solid draft record.