2012 NBA Draft: 7 Players Philadelphia 76ers Should Target in the NBA Draft

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

2012 NBA Draft: 7 Players Philadelphia 76ers Should Target in the NBA Draft

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    Now that the NBA draft order is officially set it's time to look ahead to June 28, the next significant day on the calendar for the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers hold three selections in this year's draft: picks No. 15, No. 45 and No. 54 (acquired from Memphis).

    After defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs and pushing the Celtics to the brink in round two, the Sixers must assess where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

    With uncertainty surrounding the futures of players like Elton Brand, Lou Williams and Spencer Hawes, the Sixers will need to evaluate their future in hopes of remaining a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference.

    Here are seven players the 76ers should target in this year's NBA draft.

Jared Sullinger

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    When I think of the 76ers' greatest area of need, I immediately think about their lack of size and physicality in the frontcourt.

    With Elton Brand looking like he could be a casualty of the amnesty clause, the Sixers could use some help at power forward.

    If the Sixers decide they want to draft Brand's successor, there is no better player to select than Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.

    Sullinger has great size at 6'9'' and 265 pounds, and the folks at NBAdraft.net have compared his game to that of Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer. With his consistent mid-range game, Sullinger could provide a nice complement to Sixers frontcourt staples Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen.

    Sullinger has tremendous upside and the type of polished offensive game that could make an immediate impact for this 76er basketball team.

Tony Wroten

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    Although he only played one season at the University of Washington, Tony Wroten could fill a void if Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks depart this offseason. 

    Wroten is an instinctive scorer who sees the floor well, and at 6'5'', could have value as a long-term backup to Evan Turner.

    Wroten could actually be a very nice complement to Turner, as the two boast contrasting styles of play. Turner's game is based upon aggression around the rim and crashing the boards, whereas Wroten flashes a more finesse style of play.

    With the skills that Wroten possesses, he could very well turn into a valuable combo-guard for a team like the Sixers.

John Jenkins

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    If the Sixers are looking for a reliable three-point shooter, they should look no further than Vanderbilt's John Jenkins.

    Jenkins shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc in all three of his seasons at Vanderbilt and never shot lower than 46 percent from the field.

    In addition to his value as a sniper from beyond, Jenkins could provide some reliable free-throw shooting for the Sixers.

    Throughout the playoffs, the Sixers struggled to make their free throws on a consistent basis, and it appears that some of their best shooters from the charity stripe could be on their way out this offseason.

    A marksman may not be this team's biggest need, but Jenkins would be a lock to contribute from day one.

Terrence Jones

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    Kentucky's Terrence Jones may not be the most complete player in this year's draft, but he's a scrappy player who can get it done on both ends of the floor.

    If we know one thing about Doug Collins' bunch, it's that they pride themselves on effective defense above all else. Jones is a player who would have no trouble getting acclimated with a system that stresses defense that in turn produces offense on the fast-break.

    Standing 6'9'', Jones would appear to be a bulkier version of Thaddeus Young, but the Sixers are in desperate need of some muscle down low. Even if Jones is similar to Young, the two could form a formidable one-two punch in the frontcourt when Doug Collins decides to go with smaller lineups.

William Buford

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    A teammate of Jared Sullinger's at Ohio State, William Buford is an NBA-ready shooting guard with experience, having played out all four years of his college career in Columbus.

    Buford is similar to John Jenkins in that he's a mature player who knows how to play situational basketball, and he knows when it's appropriate to take his shots.

    Buford is consistent from the free-throw line (83.2 percent in 2011-2012) and shot just under 36 percent from the three-point range in his senior season.

    Buford is considered a second-round prospect and could prove to have some value for the Sixers if they address their frontcourt in the first round.

Meyers Leonard

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    If the 76ers let Spencer Hawes walk this offseason, they will be extremely thin at center. Although they selected USC center Nikola Vucevic with pick No. 16 in the first round of the 2011 draft, they can't rely solely on him to get the job done next season.

    Leonard is similar to Hawes in that he's a big man with surprisingly solid offensive capabilities. Although Leonard may not fit the bill for the type of center the 76ers would like to add, they may need to address the position before it becomes a serious concern.

    Leonard's not as physical of a prospect as North Carolina's John Henson, but the consensus is that Henson will be gone by the time the 76ers are on the clock.

    Leonard may prove to be a bit of a project, but he could end up paying dividends down the line.

Maalik Wayns

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    A second-round prospect, Wayns is a local product who could pack a scoring punch off of the bench for the Sixers.

    We saw the Sixers have success drafting local talent this past season after they selected Lavoy Allen out of Temple in the second round of the 2011 draft.

    Wayns is an extremely quick and versatile scorer who can attack the basket and knock down outside shots. Although he may be a bit of a defensive liability, Wayns is a true scorer and has the potential to be the second coming of a player like Louis Williams if he's given ample opportunities.

    If Wayns is looking to model his game after one of his peers, he should look to Sacramento Kings' guard Isaiah Thomas, who was selected with the final pick in the 2011 NBA draft. In his rookie season with the Kings, Thomas averaged 11.5 points per game in 25.5 minutes of work per night while shooting an impressive 38 percent from beyond the arc.