Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski has made some questionable decisions since taking over for Billy King two years ago. He gave Elton Brand $82 million, Andre Iguodala $80 million and hired Eddie Jordan, who has almost 100 more losses than wins in his coaching career (257-343).
On Tuesday night, the basketball gods popped ping-pong balls into place for Stefanski, securing the second overall pick in next month's NBA Draft. Had the Sixers rode the magic carpet all the way to spot #1 in the lottery, they'd be compelled to select freshman phenom John Wall, regardless of current PG Jrue Holliday's undoubtedly bright future. Wall is simply too good pass on, this year's can't-miss talent who will help Washington's box office as much as their roster next season. With trigger-happy Gilbert Arenas' career in muddy waters, the Wizards will be overjoyed to welcome in a new team leader.
That leaves Stefanski and the Sixers with a few options. They can draft Georgia Tech PF Derrick Favors, Kentucky C DeMarcus Cousins, trade the pick, or select Ohio St. SG Evan Turner.
Favors (6'10'', 246) and Cousins (6'11'', 270) are 18 and 19 years old, respectively, and flat-out beasts. Both would help the Sixers front court immensely, where Brand, Samuel Dalembert and Mareese Speights are frankly not cutting it with the big boys of the Eastern Conference (Orlando, Boston). While a strong case could be made for drafting either big man, my money is on 2010 National Player of the Year Evan Turner.
With outstanding averages of 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists per game, Turner was the best player in the nation last season and flashed his superstar potential on a nightly basis, leading the Buckeyes to a 29-8 record and Sweet 16 berth in a tough Big Ten Conference. Listing all of the awards he took home after his junior year would extend this article by a few pages. Unlike Favors and Cousins, he has three years of college basketball experience and is ready to contribute immediately.
Turner has been compared to silky-smooth shooting guards like Brandon Roy and Joe Johnson. At 6'7'', he's an ideal height for an NBA two-guard and with a little work in the weight room, he'll be able to stand strong defensively with the elite talent the league has to offer.
When you look at the current make-up of the Sixers roster, Turner fits in swimmingly. Based on the opportunities given him last year, Holliday appears to be the point guard for many years to come. Despite being overpaid, Iguodala is a talented scorer who is better suited for the SF position than the SG. Thaddeus Young, though undersized to play the four, can combine with Mareese Speights, Jason Smith and Brand to complete the front court. Several NBA teams have been successful without a true center; outside of Dwight Howard, there aren't a whole lot of dominant ones.
Simply put, Evan Turner is going to be a sensational player. His addition, along with the hopeful signing of Doug Collins as new head coach, will have the Sixers moving in the right direction. If the GM passes on Turner and he goes on to have a terrific rookie season for New Jersey or Minnesota, Stefanski's job will be gone faster than a DeSean Jackson fly route.