Will the Sixers Turn to an Ohio Stater to fix their problems, or do they Favor a Yellow Jacket? Maybe they will take a risky bet on their Cousins to bring them back into contention...
..but enough with the overused puns. Thursday night is the 2010 NBA Draft, one of huge significance for our 76ers. Coming off of a disappointing 27-55 season the Sixers got some lottery luck (unlike our Flyers from 2007) and moved up in the draft to the #2 overall pick. With this pick they should be able to take a high quality player that they could build around for years to come.
This stroke of luck (and bad play in the previous year) came at just the right time, with a new and highly motivated coach in Doug Collins and the departure of the un-fundamentally sound Samuel Dalembert. The 76ers have a unique opportunity to start fresh, with a new coach and system to groom a young nucleus of players, and even for a person who isn't a fan of the NBA you can't help but have some hope for the Sixers in the coming seasons.
The consensus choice at this pick (after sensational freshman John Wall goes #1) is Evan Turner, the 6'7 shooting guard from Ohio State. Turner has been compared to Scottie Pippen and is probably the most athletic and NBA ready player in this year's underwhelming draft class. The Sixers were the only team that Turner worked out for so it is highly likely that he will be the pick at #2, but with the departure of Samuel Dalembert there are now some questions about who the Sixers will take.
It has been reported that Doug Collins has fallen in love with Derrick Favors from Georgia Tech and that he also likes the immature, hot-headed, but extremely talented DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky. Either player could replace Dalembert at Center and would provide much more offensive skill than Slammin' Sammy could ever provide.
Favors, the highly talented Center from Georgia Tech, averaged 12.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 2.1 BPG, while Cousins, the extremely talented freshman from Kentucky, averaged 15.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. A side note on Cousins, when asked if he had ever been challenged in high school he said no. When he was asked about college, he said no. Let's see what he thinks about the challenge that the NBA will bring, but that said, I do like his confidence.
With backcourt options like Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, and Andre Iguodala and a frontcourt including Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Spencer Hawes, and Andreas Nocioni the Sixers could go any way with the 2nd pick in the draft.
Many analysts who covered the Sixers talked about Andre Iguodala playing out of position in Eddie Jordan's scheme. Picking Evan Turner and playing him at the shooting guard position would allow Iguodala to play his natural position as small forward. With a lineup of Turner, Holiday, Iguodala, Brand/Young, and Speights/Hawes the 76ers could be much improved.
On the other hand, if the Sixers go for a big man in the draft it shows that they have confidence in the development of Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams and they trust them to run the backcourt. The Sixers haven't had a dominant big man since Dikembe Mutombo, but even then he was more of a defensive player and didn't contribute much on offense. Favors or Cousins could contribute offensively and grow into a strong defensive player.
No matter what the Sixers do at #2, or even if they trade down, it will still be a while before they are contenders in the NBA. The fact is, they are a young team with a new coach that needs to learn how to play as a cohesive unit, and that takes time. Maybe they could land one of this year's blockbuster free agents, but as of right now it looks like the Sixers will focus on making the best pick for their team.
Now I don't know much about basketball (I prefer hockey, baseball, and football), but personally, I think the best pick would be Evan Turner. As a Penn Stater I saw him tear up the Big Ten even after suffering a serious back injury. Who knows what they will do though. After Wall there aren't any "sure things" in this draft, but Turner is the closest. Let's just hope that they pick their Kevin Durant and not their Greg Oden.
As a side note, I would like to mention the passing of former Sixer Manute Bol. For many years I only knew of him because trivia questions frequently brought up his extraordinary height of 7'7. I never knew much about the man besides what my dad told me: the fact that he was insanely tall and was a blocking machine, but he was much more than that.
As a native of Sudan, Bol did all he could to try and help his people out of a devastating situation. His humanitarian efforts didn't go unnoticed and he was widely regarded as one of the most genuine people in sports. When watching a highlight clip of his accomplishments they showed a charity event where he even dressed up as a hockey player for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you've ever watched hockey you know how awkward tall people look when they aren't comfortable on skates. Imagine seeing a man over 7 1/2 feet tall on skates. I, for one, commend him for the effort that he gave throughout his life and it's sad that a man who gave so much passed away at such a young age. Hopefully the Sixers will honor Manute Bol and continue his efforts during the season and show the world that the NBA does care. Hopefully current players can stop playing with guns and drugs and instead focus their free time on things that are more important.
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