Up and coming Philadelphia has the 18th pick. Their Usenet GM is Matthew Alexander. The 76ers select:
The 76ers entered the postseason with many questions. What role will
Toni Kukoc play in the team's future? Is Allen Iverson a 76er for the
long haul? What, exactly, is the center situation? All these
questions could play into what the team will do in the draft
The Sixers are a team built around its star, Allen Iverson. Eric Snow is a tall point who plays good defense. This hides Allen's defensive shortcomings that are caused by his diminutive size. Allen Iverson is one of the NBA's greatest superstars. He is a dominant scorer and incredible talent. Aaron McKie has proven to be a capable backup at both backcourt positions. However, there is less depth in the backcourt since the Larry Hughes trade (which yielded Toni Kukoc) and Sixers management may look at an explosive 2-guard or combo guard as their pick.
The frontcourt of the Sixers is a hodge-podge. Theo Ratliff is a superb defensive player whose offense continues to improve. Ratliff has shown the ability to swing between power forward and center, which helped a great deal when Matt Geiger disappointed earlier in the season. Geiger runs hot and cold for the Sixers. He's sometimes a workhorse and sometimes falls asleep. The Sixers might be looking for a change at the center spot. Tyrone Hill is a fine defensive role player at the 4 spot. Todd MacCulloch also was a present surprise at center last year, his rookie campaign. But the most intriguing position for the 76ers is the small forward position.
George Lynch ate up all of the small forward minutes before the Kukoc trade. Lynch is a fine defensive player with a mediocre NBA offensive game. Kukoc is a less than mediocre defender with a dazzling offensive repertoire. Kukoc disappointed in his half-season with the 76ers. He was occasionally incredible for the 76ers during the regular season, but he was not effective very often during the playoffs. Kukoc is a free agent, and his future with the team is unclear.
Essentially the backcourt is the only part of the Sixers team that is set. However, Iverson continues to indulge in childish behavior. He misses practices and was actually late for playoff games. This has created a situation between Iverson and management that could boil over at some point and culminate in a trade. Team Needs:
A fine defensive team, the Sixers need some explosive scoring off the bench. Toni Kukoc was brought in to provide that, but I expect the Sixers to look hard at a scoring guard in this years draft. Brown seems to love Todd MacCulloch as a backup. Geiger may not be a permanent fixture and Brown may look at drafting a big man with upside that would make Geiger tradable.
Larry Brown has shown a desire in the past to pick the highest rated player and then try to work a trade that will acquire a lesser ranked player that Brown likes. This is how the Sixers acquired Nazr Mohammed and Jumaine Jones. For that reason, it is likely that the Sixers will not deviate too wildly from the most well known player available. But with all the question marks surrounding the team, who knows what they'll do?
Possibilities for their pick:
Quentin Richardson: A tough rebounder at just 6-5, Q leaves school after just his freshman year. All big, talented guards will be tempting, and Quentin is no exception.
Small Forwards?: Toni's up there in age, and Brown would love to have a young player to groom as the future 3. Brown seems to be the kind of guy who likes to gamble in the draft, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him pick a wild card such as Cory Hightower (who has worked out for the Sixers).
Big Men?: The Sixers raised some questions by bringing in 7 foot Primoz Brezec for workouts. Iakovos Tsakilidis, Ernest Brown, Soumaila Samake or other big men like Dalibor Bagaric may be possibilities if Geiger is on his way out (the only player that Brown seems to truly adore is Theo Ratliff). Brown will probably roll the dice on Tsakilidis if he's around, despite the big Greek's contract situation in Europe.
Larry Brown seems to love his bench. Todd MacCulloch will be coveted by the Sixers, and I expect him to be re-signed. Aaron McKie will probably be back as well. Back-up guards Kevin Ollie and Ira Bowman will probably sign for the minimum again. The big question is Toni Kukoc. His performance was not what the Sixers had hoped it to be. I still expect him to be re-signed, but a trade is very possible. They'll give him another chance to prove himself.
With the 20th pick in the Usenet Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select........
As for what I think the Sixers should do outside of the draft, everything is determined by Kukoc. If he can establish himself as a part of the team, then the only hole on the team may be a true center. Allen Iverson will one day be a legend, probably a hall of famer. He should continue to get better and better. If Sixers management can continue to add the pieces to complement Iverson (which must have been their thinking in the Kukoc trade), then one day owner Pat Croce's dream of a victory parade may come true.
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