ImageAfter the spellbinding drama of the NBA lottery was over I went back to watching the Phillies. Oh, wait….The 76ers and the Phillies are one and the same, except, with the draft, there is actually something to look forward to with the 76ers.

The wisdom around town, and probably in the 76ers' front office is for them to come away with a power forward who can defend, rebound, and command a double team in the low-post. Their current power forward, Steven Hunter, has not shown to be that guy. He was a starter in the second half of the season, but would only be a serviceable backup on many other teams. He certainly has not played at the level of a number 15 pick in the first round of the 2001 draft. He'll be 26 in October, meaning he's young and there's time for him to improve. But can the 76ers fans wait?

In this draft, Spencer Hawes is the closest thing. He did have a solid year, but it could have been better ( 14.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg). Stymied by a viral infection that caused him to lose weight and affected his play, Hawes showed glimpses of his potential as he got himself back into shape and put on a little weight. The McDonald's All-American shows his skill on the offensive end of the floor with a plethora of post moves, finishing with either hand, or utilizing his 15-18 foot jump shot. At 19, he still has room to grow into his body and get stronger. Being able to defend NBA power forwards and centers will be the priority for Spencer.

But, I think you have to go with the best available athlete at the 12 spot. Be it Al Thornton or Nick Young. Putting the best players on the floor is how you win in the NBA. Both players can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. I give the edge to Al Thornton on the offensive end. Getting to the rim with the greatest of ease around bigger defenders, or scoring from the post, mid range, or beyond the arc. On defense, either will old his own, but Nick Young gets the nod here as Thornton has shown himself to be susceptible to the pump fake, and has yet to learn to close out on the jump shooter under control.

Drafting either of these two would leave very crowded shooting guard/small forward positions. This is where having assets can push a team to the next level if done correctly. They leave themselves very flexible to move in any direction they see fit. If the power forward they so desperately need is not in this draft, they have pieces (players or draft picks) to try and get that player from another team. Portland's front court is about to become a little more crowded. There are also teams without a first round pick, or any picks at all. These are just examples of the possibilities now facing the 76ers.

All in all, the outlook is good for the 76ers. Andre Iguodala has the ability and, judging by his comments of wanting to work with Kobe Bryant during the off-season, he seems to be focused on becoming the leader and all-star he should be. With the wise vet, Andre Miller, running the show, the young "kids" Rodney Carney, Willie Green, Kyle Korver, will have every opportunity of taking their games to another level. Samuel Dalembert has, once again, shown glimpses of his great potential, but never seems to be able to break through to a level that has given anyone any confidence that he can be the dominant center his salary would lead you to believe he is.

General manager Billy King and head coach Maurice Cheeks are sharing the hot seat this year as they are in the last year of their respective contracts. This draft is critical for both. The new approach is to build this team around Andre Iguodala. The old approach, building around Allen Iverson, reached the pinnacle in 2001 with the magical run to the NBA championship series. The seasons since have been futile attempts to recapture that magic with one failed experiment after another (read Glenn Robinson, Keith Van Horn, Chris Webber). For this year's NBA draft, the Sixers' management team is back in the lab whipping up another potion that they hope doesn't blow up in their faces.


0 #1 Chris Peters 2007-07-30 16:16
GMs also need to be patient and leave Damn Good enough alone, i.e trading away Theo Ratliff for Mutombo.

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