The 76ers are coming off an inspiring and promising season, finishing 41-41 and losing to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the finish, the beginning of the season was pretty rough.
Under new head coach Doug Collins, they started the season just 3-13 and were looking as if they would finish even worse than their 27-55 record the season before. However, the team soon bought into Collins’ defense-leads-to-transition-points scheme and were able to play winning basketball the latter part of the year.
Now the focus is to add key pieces and make the right personnel moves this offseason to ensure the club keeps progressing. The 2011 draft class isn’t a deep one by any means, but with the 16th-overall pick, the Sixers should be able to draft a player that adds depth to an area of need.
The glaring hole in the team, which Collins said will be addressed this offseason, is the lack of a true big man. Here are some of the power forwards and center the Sixers may draft on June 23.
Some have Donatas Motiejunas as a lottery pick, but the seven-footer out of Lithuania may still be on the board when the Sixers are on the clock.
He is a versatile big man with quick feet who uses his agility well to score the ball. Weighing just over 220 pounds, he is a typical European big who plays a finesse style instead of power. He can knock down shots around the perimeter but also possesses a decent game with his back to the basket. His game can be assessed as a blend of Pau Gasol’s and Dirk Nowitzki’s.
Although he is a solid shot blocker, Motiejunas will need to add muscle in order to defend NBA bigs. He rebounded well for Lithuania, but those same rebounds will undoubtedly be harder to come by in the NBA until he adds more bulk.
He isn’t great at any one facet of his game, and talent scouts say he isn’t as good as Gasol or Nowitzki were when they entered the league. However, Motiejunas has a great upside and if he is the best player available when the Sixers are up, they will be glad to have him. It won’t fix their need for a true big man who can rebound and defend, but it will add immediate depth and scoring to their bigs.
Unless Markieff Morris absolutely blows teams away with his pre-draft workouts, he should be available when the Sixers are up with the 16th pick. He was most known in college for having a twin brother, Marcus, who is projected to be a lottery pick in this draft.
Markieff is a 6’10", 240-pound muscular power forward who is an outstanding rebounder and defends with intensity. Averaging just 24 minutes of play on a loaded Kansas squad, he still averaged eight rebounds and a block a night. He uses his strength and aggressiveness to force tough shots and box out other rebounders.
Markieff displays powerful moves down low and has an uncanny way of finishing around the rim. His offensive game isn’t just limited to low-post moves, though. He shot 42 percent from downtown, and has showed the ability to pick-and-pop if need be.
The only knock on his game is that he doesn’t have too high of a potential ceiling, but he still should be a solid big man in the league for years to come. If the Sixers draft him, it will bring toughness to their soft front line.
Perhaps no player has moved up the draft boards over the past six months quicker than Bismack Biyombo out of Spain. He is 6’9", 243 pounds but has an amazing wingspan of 7’7".
Without question, he is the best defender in this draft. Biyombo is a big-time shot-blocker and shows tremendous overall speed from end to end. He protects the rim at all costs. In just 17 minutes per game, he averaged five rebounds and over two blocks a night. His wingspan, coupled with his extraordinary athleticism, make him a nightmare when driving to the lane.
Not yet fully developed, he still showcases a powerful frame and a strong work ethic. The downfall to Biyombo’s game is that he has almost no offensive ability. His most efficient way to score is through offensive rebounding. He doesn’t have great hands and brings the ball down low in the paint, which makes him susceptible to turnovers.
As a raw talent and with many questions about his game, he is seen as one of the bigger risks in the draft. He could be a bust if his defensive and explosive style doesn’t work in the NBA. At the same time, though, defense and rebounding are the two stats that translate the easiest to the NBA. If the Sixers draft him, he may thrive in Doug Collins’ defensive scheme.
Kenneth Faried is a 6’7", 225-pound power forward graduating from Morehead State. He is an undersized big man, but that never deterred his efforts on the glass or on defense. He passed future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan this season as the all-time leader in rebounds at the college level.
Faried is a player who understands his role perfectly. He loves being the garbage man on the floor. He enjoys throwing his body around in the post and hustling to the ball however he can. He has exceptional explosiveness and long arms to counter his lack of size.
At Morehead State, Faried displayed good instincts and timing when it came to blocking shots. He didn’t stop there, though. He also averaged 2.3 steals per game and led the nation with over 13 rebounds per game. With a high motor, he is a player who will give a full effort each trip down the court.
As mentioned, his weaknesses start with his size, but his work ethic and inferior basketball conference helped him dominate the college ranks for so long. With that being said, I also mentioned in the previous slide that defense and rebounds translate the easiest to the NBA. If the Sixers draft him, he will instantly be a solid rebounder and energy player who gives them five to six extra possessions a game.
Tristan Thompson is entering the draft after just one season at Texas. He is a lefty post player with a 7’5" wingspan and a frame that can effectively carry more weight.
He uses his length, energy and superior athleticism to make plays on both ends of the floor. He runs the floor well, which translates into easy buckets when he beats his man down the court. His exceptional hands allow him to catch the ball and finish in traffic as well.
On offense, Thompson battles for position and seals off his defenders well to give his passers a target. His long arms let him get his hands on a lot of missed shots, and he poses a problem on the defensive end as well. His quick feet allow him to recover quickly when beaten off the dribble or playing help defense.
Almost certainly a lottery pick, Thompson has the most farfetched chance of any player on this list of falling to the Sixers. Even without a polished offensive game, his potential is sky high, which makes him an irresistible prospect for teams picking early. If somehow he does fall to the Sixers, only half of their big-man search is filled, as he can rebound well, but doesn’t necessarily provide toughness.