The next franchise big man for the Sixers: Could it be Willie Cauley-Stein?
A funny thing happens when your team is eight games out of the playoffs and sinking faster than a cinder block in a pool: You start planning ahead.
You dream of a brighter future. And with March Madness just around the corner and the college kids in the spotlight, what better time to fantasize about the Philadelphia 76ers’ next hopeful franchise savior?
Presently, lottery notwithstanding, the Sixers are slated in the 10th spot for this draft (although it’s quite likely they can inch as high as the third-worst record in the league when all is said and done. Good luck, guys!). But for the basis of this column—and to ensure that I keep to a reasonable word count—let’s assume that the Sixers remain around their current position, meaning that the big names that would intrigue them, such as Nerlens Noel, Victor Olapido, Alex Len and Cody Zeller should be off the board.
The following are the next tier of candidates who could be wearing a Sixers’ cap while giving David Stern an awkward handshake or man-hug on center stage:
Glenn Robinson III, Small Forward, Michigan
This is based on NBADraft.net's latest mockup. According to his profile on the site, his NBA player comparison is Andre Iguodala. Wait. Hold on. Didn’t they just get rid of him? If they wanted an Iguodala type, they should have just kept the real thing!
But the fact of the matter is that they don’t need another tweener swingman, as the intent was for Evan Turner to assume the role—which he has, to varying degrees of success. However, until the ties are cut with ET, there’s no need to go fishing for redundancies.
Also, some of you may recall that, once upon a time, the Sixers dealt for Robinson’s dad, a former No. 1 overall pick affectionately known as “Big Dog.” Unfortunately, his time in town was a big bust.
Isaiah Austin, Power Forward, Baylor
In the Feb. 20 edition of his mock draft, this was the selection of Bleacher Report NBA Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman, and it seems to make more sense than Robinson.
In the preseason, coach Doug Collins spoke openly of how he planned to try Spencer Hawes at the “4” to complement Andrew Bynum and give the Sixers their own version of the twin towers.
Well, we all know by now that Bynum’s knees have not cooperated with that plan. But instead of attempting the Hawes experiment in the future, why not draft a similarly sized, similarly skilled guy who already plays the position? With the 7’1’’ Austin, that’s what you’ll get.
Meanwhile, however, NBADraft.net has Austin dropping all the way down to 26, where the Minnesota Timberwolves would snag him.
James McAdoo, Power Forward/Small Forward, North Carolina
In his most recent mock draft, Wasserman now has the Sixers taking the 6’9’’ McAdoo. Other than his ability to score down low as well as from mid-range, the big positive is that he knows how to draw contact and get to the line.
The potential pitfall? Although NBADraft.net projects his game to be in the style of Antawn Jamison, his game sure sounds a lot like a guy already on the roster: Thaddeus Young.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Center, Kentucky
The Sixers seem to have a glutton of “hybrid” players: Evan Turner can play either guard position as well as small forward; Thaddeus Young plays both forward positions; the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who is a natural fit in one spot? A traditional, back-to-the-basket center perhaps? You know, one who doesn’t have bad knees, big hair, an expiring contract and who may never set foot on the floor?
If so, Willie Cauley-Stein may be your man: efficient shooter, great hands and a blocking machine in the paint.
The down side, though, is that he’ll need some seasoning, is terrible at the foul line and his rebounding numbers aren’t extremely impressive. Which kind of sounds a lot like what comprises the Sixers’ roster already.
Here is what Kentucky head coach John Calipari has to say about his freshman big on the team’s site:
Willie was the most pleasant surprise of our offseason workouts. He had no idea how good he could be until he got to campus. Now that he's had time to put on weight and gain confidence, we're seeing a different player who understands he can play with anyone in the country.
With all that said, these mock drafts change quicker than a Bynum hairstyle. Therefore, stay tuned!