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How Deep Is the Top of the Draft?

If you missed SixersBeat last night, Derek and I spent some time talking about the draft, and the core group of players who have the highest likelihood of making a big impact on the roster. You can listen to the replay here. After the jump, I want to expand upon the logic a bit and maybe draw a line in the sand.

My prediction is the Sixers will probably finish the season 3-7 from this point on and earn the #7 pick. Here are the rough lottery odds with the #7 pick:

Odds of a top-three pick: 15%
Odds of the #7 pick: 60%
Odds of the #8 pick: 23%
Odds of the #9 pick: 2%
Odds of the #10 pick: less than 1%

Check here for a full table of lottery odds.

Alright, so in my view, you have three tiers of guys available at the spots the Sixers could possibly pick (#1 - #12), let's say. Here goes.

Tier One (Not perfect fits, but who cares)
  1. John Wall - If you get the #1 pick, you take John Wall. Period. I love Jrue, I think he's going to be a great player in this league, but he doesn't prevent you from taking Wall. If Jrue's shooting from distance is for real, I don't even see a problem with a Wall/Holiday back court. If it does become a problem you've either got a great trading chip in Jrue, or an ultra cheap backup PG for the length of his rookie contract.
  2. Evan Turner - To me, drafting Turner means you're probably going to move Iguodala. Until Turner proves he can push his range back to a pro three, Iguodala and Turner on the wings doesn't really work for me. I love the versatility, and having Jrue/Turner/Iguodala on the perimeter would be formidable on the defensive end and on the glass. I just think their offensive games are a bit too similar. These guys all thrive with the ball in their hands, I don't know that you can coexist with three creators and limited spot-up shooters.

Tier Two (Good fit, high ceiling)
  1. Derrick Favors - Defense ahead of offense, right now. Good size, great athleticism. The potential to be a defensive force on the inside and also be the big who is on the receiving end of lobs from Iguodala and Jrue, and run the P&R for years to come. There aren't many teams where Favors wouldn't be a fit. For the Sixers he may be the right guy to play next to Speights and eventually replace what Dalembert gives the team when Sammy's contract expires. Truth be told, I'd be tempted to take Favors over Turner. I wouldn't do it, but I'd be tempted.
  2. Wesley Johnson - Size, shooting stroke, athleticism. He might be a perfect third guy to put on the perimeter with Iguodala and Jrue. If you look at the Sixers' roster, he's probably the best fit. If they were coming off a 50-win season and looking to get themselves over the top, you could make a case that Johnson would be the best pick. Unfortunately, we aren't talking about a complete roster, so he falls to fourth on my list overall.

Tier Three (Too good to pass up)
  1. DeMarcus Cousins - Low-post beast with a number of red flags. If you're picking #5 and he's there, you pretty much have to take him. I wouldn't even consider him above the four guys above, but I'm also not trading down if I get the fifth pick and he's available. There's a chance he's a dominant big in the pros, if he can keep it together.

Tier Four (Potential, problems and pitfalls)
  • There are several guys who fall in this area: Aminu, Aldrich, Ed Davis, Greg Monroe, Hassan Whiteside, Patrick Patterson and Donatas Motiejunas are all guys who could go between 6 and 12. To be honest with you, none of them really excite me. Aminu and Whiteside could both develop into really solid pros, but develop is the key word. They both have a long way to go and Whiteside apparently has some character flags popping up. Motiejunas is the best foreign prospect, but I'm not sure how great of a fit he is. Sounds like he's a slasher and a streaky shooter with some low post moves, but a slight frame. Aldrich, Monroe and Patterson are the older guys, with maybe a lower upside. I like Aldrich's defensive potential, not a fan of Monroe, Patterson seems undersized to me to play the 4 at the next level.

The more I look at this draft class, the more I think there's a plan A (get in the top 5 and get one of those guys, if you have to trade up, you have to get into the top 4) and a plan B (if your pick is outside of the top five, and none of my top five are available when you pick, trade down).

If it's plan B, there are three or four guys I'd take a hard look at later in the first round (after the lottery). Avery Bradley is at the top of that list for me. I've talked about Bradley before, and he kind of fits with the theme of DiLeo's picks in past drafts. High expectations coming into college, underperforms as a rookie, declares anyway, becomes a bargain in the draft. He's got problems, but I absolutely love he defensive intensity. He'd be my primary target with a couple of bigs also worthy of consideration: Ekpe Udoh (boards and shot blocking big with a little bit of offense) and Salomon Alabi (a project, but he's got great size and he's made strides every year after coming to basketball late).

Basically, I think the odds of the guys who fall between #7 and #12 in the draft are, at best, long shots to make a big difference to the franchise. If you can use that pick to move a contract, improve the team in some way and/or pick up a future pick, then I'd do it. I think Bradley is definitely a rotational player right away based on his defense and the other two guys could be legitimate replacements for Sammy down the road. I know it's not the sexy option after the season we've just witnessed, but sexy and prudent are rarely in line.
by Brian on Mar 26 2010
Tags: Basketball | Draft | Sixers |