So the Philadelphia 76ers shocked nobody when they selected Evan Turner with the second overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The pick gives Philly a go-to scoring option, something the team has lacked since Allen Iverson.
So what’s next for the 76ers? Is the squad from the city of brotherly love finally playoff bound, or are they destined for a repeat appearance in the lottery?
The 76ers already traded Samuel Dalembert this offseason, hinting Elton Brand might play center next season and letting Thaddeus Young start at power forward.
With Dalembert’s departure, some thought Philly would draft a big man with the number two pick, possibly Derrick Favors.
Clearly that didn’t happen, and now 76ers fans don’t have much of a front court to cheer for. Don’t be surprised if Philly winds up in a three-way trade that sends Iguodala out of town, and brings in Michael Beasley from Miami (who desperately want to get rid of his contract).
Can Philly make a run back to the playoffs next season? Well, they play in the East, so that’s always helpful.
The Atlantic Division will look very different from years past, with Chris Bosh almost certainly leaving Toronto and Ray Allen likely leaving Boston.
In addition, if New York doesn’t succeed as expected in free agency, the Knicks still won’t be competitive, and New Jersey probably won’t improve enough to make a serious playoff run next season.
So that leaves Philly, probably the most stable team in the division. If the Sixers get great production out of Turner, and their front court holds up they might be able to sneak into the postseason.
This scenario is more likely than the previous one that puts the Sixers in the playoffs.
New Jersey will probably look to add a scorer, possibly Rudy Gay, or maybe a one-year rental of Ray Allen before making a push for a marquis free agent next year.
The Knicks can’t possibly strike out during free agency, and between their returning young studs, draft picks, and new acquisitions, should at least be competitive next season.
Boston and Toronto may lose big pieces in Allen and Bosh, respectively. Doc Rivers may or may not return to the Celtics sideline, and even if he does there will be speculation around him all season. Toronto will be the new New Jersey without Bosh.
Finally, Evan Turner will be good, maybe great, but most likely not right away. Philly still needs more front court depth. The Sixers have a good, young back court in Jrue Holiday and Turner, but not good enough to make the playoffs.
Assuming the Sixers hold on to Iguodala and don’t trade him, Philly still needs front court depth. Here are a few free agents that should be on Philadelphia’s radar, in no particular order:
1. Channing Frye
Frye really came on strong this season, establishing himself as a power forward who can run and knock down the three-ball. Could be a good running partner with Iggy, Turner, and Holiday.
2. Udonis Haslem
If the Sixers want to sure up their rebounding, Haslem could be a great fit. Haslem is an enforcer down low who would, at the very least, provide more depth at power forward.
3. Drew Gooden
Gooden has put up modest numbers in his career, but has always been able to block shots. He could be a good bench player for Philly’s rotation, and with playing time, might even average 10 and 10.
Now that Philly (hopefully) has it’s franchise player, it’s time to build around him. But before the Sixers can do that, they need to get through his rookie season.
Turner will likely have plenty of chances to shine in 2010-11. I’m not quite sold on him coming into the league and averaging 20, 5, and 5 right away, but do see him as that kind of player down the road.