The draft is 3 days away, and all the workouts for the Sixers are likely done. It’s time to take a hard look at the situation, the options and, ultimately, the pick.
What We Already Know
Before the season ended everyone knew the Sixers’ weaknesses and player needs.
Three point shooting needed to be addressed in the form of a proven distance shooter – at the very least. Stefanski got that done before we all thought was possible by trading Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono. We now have one of the best catch-and-shoot three-point shooters in NBA history. That alone should get us out of the basement in terms of three-point shooting. With that said, I am not delusional to think three-point shooting is now a strength. Kapono alone can only take so many shots. In order for that to happen 4 other players who are expected to play moderate-to-heavy minutes need to get better:
- Andre Iguodala
- Thaddeus Young
- Louis Williams
- Willie Green
Stefanski said some guys (I really don’t think Iguodala is part “some guys”) will again work with Mark Price this summer on their shooting. That should provide a little improvement to start the season just like it did last year when we saw Thad flat out on fire. But that hot shooting tapered off. Why? Because the shooting coach wasn’t there everyday to help maintain all the proper mechanics, continue to train the right muscle memory necessary to shoot the ball well consistently and provide corrective training when guys hit slumps. That’s why it’s vitally important that Eddie Jordan bring a shooting coach on staff full-time. He had one in Washington, and it’s even more important to have one here. Furthermore it’s an investment in the development of a specific skill, not only necessary to win basketball games but to support the offensive system he will implement.
Point guard and shooting guard are player needs. I think we all agreed we need a point guard as well as a true shooting guard with three-point range and consistency. The priority again, I think we all agree, is point guard. Our thoughts were confirmed in the off-season when Stefanski and crew said they will draft a guard, either a point guard or shooting guard whichever position had the more talented player available. Their draft workouts also confirmed that idea as well. To date the Sixers have personally worked out:
- Ty Lawson
- Eric Maynor
- Darren Collison
- Jeff Teague
- Grevies Vasquez (pulled out of draft)
- Word is they also attempted to see Brandon Jennings who has been sliding in mocks, but he refused
- Marcus Thornton
- Jodie Meeks
- Terence Williams
- Wayne Ellington
- Dionte Christmas
- Jermaine Tyler
- Stefon Jackson
- Jack McClinton
- Toney Douglas
- Lester Hudson
- B.J. Mullens – C
- Ryan Ayers – SG/SF
And those aren’t the only players they saw. They had a representative at the huge weekend workout in New Jersey. So they got a look at some other guys like A.J. Price, Paul Harris, Chase Budinger, Nick Calathes, Patrick Beverly, Danny Green, Jeremy Pargo and Josh Shipp to name a few.
I found this interesting tidbit/unquoted rumor about the Sixers’ current stance on whether they are taking a shooting guard or point guard:
The Sixers canceled a workout with G/F Chase Budinger, indicating they’re no longer searching for shooters. – SportingNews.com
That may be the case, but it also could be a product of seeing Budinger at the New Jersey workout in which this was one evaluation of him:
“Chase Budinger was awful in my opinion. He just doesn’t play. All he wants to do is shoot jumpers. That’s not basketball. He didn’t want to be there. Didn’t want to compete. He couldn’t put it on the floor. You should have seen his face when he was switched onto Paul Harris. He definitely didn’t want anything to do with him. “
Furthermore Budinger is essentially a more athletic Kapono (same size, same game).
Sixers’ Big Board
If I was ranking players on the Sixers’ draft board either projected to be there at 17 or has an outside chance to fall to 17 here would be my list (I am not wasting my time with guys who absolutely won’t be there like Curry, Rubio, Holiday, Harden and Evans):
- Ty Lawson – My guy, period. More below.
- Jonny Flynn – Tons of talent but not there yet in terms of polish. With improvement on his jump shot, I think he could be a Jameer Nelson clone or similar to Tony Parker. Combo scorer/creator at the point. What I like most about him is his leadership, personality and competitiveness. One thing that is an unknown is his defense. Playing at Syracuse doesn’t prepare you all that well defensively for the NBA since they play zone 90% of the time or more.
- Eric Maynor – It’s important that small school players dominate to make up for the lack of competition concern, and Maynor did. He also has the feather in his cap of leading his small school team to a big win over a big dog in Duke on the big stage with big shots. He is a leader, heady, crafty and a solid player with defensive potential and good size (once he puts some weight on and gets stronger).
- Jeff Teague – Another guy with tons of talent, one who I really liked early in the college basketball season. His three-point % was great, and he is explosive going to the basket. Two things worry me though: One he isn’t a pure point guard and,two, his intangibles. The combo guard issue and Lou Williams comparison are worth noting but not as much as the current knock on this guy. Word is he is not at all vocal on the floor and not at all a leader. Here was the observation from his workout in New Jersey: “Jeff Teague didn’t say a word the entire workout. He was happy to just stand around. He didn’t talk to his big men, instructing them, telling them where to go. He looked a bit disinterested. If that’s the leadership your point guard is showing, then I don’t know. On the other hand he’s obviously a phenomenal athlete. He blew by Vasquez at will. He didn’t shoot that well, though.” I don’t know if you can be a great point guard and not be a leader. I heard rumblings like this while he was at Wake Forest as well. He would disappear in games. A lot of talent and potential but not sure his mentality will allow him to reach his ceiling. I actually think he is better than Maynor, but I am not a believer in that you can change a guy’s personality.
- Brandon Jennings – Loads of talent but with high bust potential which is why he is lower on my board than the experts. He has all the physical ability you want, and word is he is by far the quickest player in the draft with the ball. Especially in the half court in one-on-one situations. No one has been able to keep him in front. I’ve also read that he has shot the ball better than expected in workouts as well. I’ve only seen him play once, and it wasn’t in a real game. It was his high school McDonald’s All-American game, but I loved his mentality going into the game as a point guard. He said wanted to set the game record for assist (13). He didn’t but finished with with 12 points and 9 dimes. He is a point guard regardless of what some have said about him being like an Allen Iverson scoring type. He has very good vision, and when talent is around him, he thrives passing the ball. But I fear his confidence could bubble over to cockiness (if it hasn’t already) before his game reaches a high enough level to support it (make it tolerable) enough. I don’t want to deal with that.
- Wayne Ellington – Pure shooter. If we had to draft a shooting guard, this is the guy. Nice size at a legit 6-5 and is better than people think athletically which will help him defensively. He can make catch-and-shoot threes in the NBA right away, but he also excels on the move coming off screens, and when he is forced off the line he is better right now than Kapono in that 1-2 dribble mid-range jumper situation. I really just like his game and shooting skill. He, without question, has a firm place in the NBA.
- Terence Williams – Lottery pick talent. Great size for a SG with very good play-making and ball-handling skills. He is guy you could start at two that could be a great all-around defender with lock-down potential when using all his physical tools and defensive pedigree having played in Louisville. What I was surprised to see was that he shot 38.5% from three which is a good sign he can improve more as a shooter. I didn’t think he shot it nearly that well. He is a triple-double type guy that can get you 15-10-10 with 2 steals a game.
- Darren Collison – I am not a big fan, but I believe he is solid and I really like his defensive intensity and ability to keep his man out of the paint. I’ve seen him a few times on TV but had the opportunity to see him live going head-to-head with Eric Maynor in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Maynor made a much bigger impression on me than did Collison and Jrue Holiday for that matter. I don’t think Collison has much play-making ability at the point. He will bring the ball up, initiate the offense and look for spot-up situations offensively. He is an efficient scorer, a good three-point shooter (consistently good the last three seasons on at least 3 attempts per game) and a good defender which fits what the Sixers need at the point.
- Danny Green – Think he might be the most underrated player in the draft. He isn’t an explosive athlete and played with 3 elite college basketball players so his production was limited and he was overshadowed. That’s good and bad. Bad because you don’t know how good he would be with a higher volume of possessions. But great because you know he is a team guy who plays his role well. He does everything you need to win games. He is more of a SF in terms of ball-handling skills but is ideal SG size at 6-6 and a half, 210 pounds and a 6-10 wingspan. This is the shooter/defender we need. A guy that you can play who doesn’t hurt you on either side of the ball. 41.8% from three and excels in catch and shoot situations. Flat out glue guy on a winning team.
- Toney Douglas – Not a pure point and more of a combo guard because he isn’t a distributor at all evidenced by his very low assist/40. But has shown some point guard ability and has good ball skills. At 6-2 and a 6-6 wingspan if he could man that position with his scoring, shooting and great defense he might be a steal late first round or second round. Douglas is fantastic defensively.
- Gerald Henderson – Big time athlete and defender whose offensive game is still underdeveloped. He is just an average shooter and is best driving to the rim. We have enough of these guys which is why he is so far down the list.
- Jerel McNeal- This is my Mario Chalmers of the 2009 draft. Except McNeal is a better overall offensive player. He is more of a combo guard as well at 6-3 with a 6-7 wingspan but handled the point a lot this season with Dominic James going down with an injury. Great defender and tough competitor; I like him a lot. Ideal replacement for Royal Ivey, and he shot 39.8% from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He doubled his attempts and dramatically increased in accuracy in his senior year – good sign.
- Jack McClinton – Flat out shooter as a combo guard. He shot 45% from three which is ridiculous and ranked as the most efficient scorer in the shooting guard category in DraftExpress’ situational analysis. He is being compared to Eddie House which is a good comparison. At 6-0 the hope is that he can be a legit point guard. He is really good as a scorer in isolation situations which means he was capable of beating his man, creating space and getting shots. If he works he could parlay that ability into more play-making for teammates as well. I like McClinton, but his size and lack of true point guard skills are what’s hurting him. His shooting ability is undeniable though.
- Jodie Meeks – Meeks might be the best scorer on the list especially off the ball. But there are a few reasons Meeks is so low on the list given his shooting ability. He isn’t a point nor is he capable of growing into the position which makes him more of an undersized for SG at 6-4 in shoes and only a 6-4 wingspan. Also word is he isn’t really a strong defender which is important for such a one-dimensional offensive player. Also he is a one hit wonder to a degree. He has 3 years college experience but only became a draftable prospect after having one break-out season after 2 mediocre years. I know the Sixers need more shooting, but I don’t think I would pass on more talented overall players like Williams and Henderson who are lesser shooters for Meeks.
- Marcus Thornton – Really a player like Meeks but with two good years of production rather than one.
Ty Lawson is the Pick
As you can see I remain steadfast on my assertion that Ty Lawson is my highest rated player going into the draft for where the Sixers are drafting. It amazes me that Ty is even projected to be available to us at 17. I think the injury stuff is nonsense and besides that didn’t he prove his toughness? Didn’t he prove to be a winner and leader? I mean please tell me what else you could possibly want from a point guard in terms of ability and production? On the court he runs a team well, can penetrate to score, pass and gets to the line at a high rate at which he makes 80%. He doesn’t take bad shots and scores more efficiently than anyone at the position as well as dramatically improving his range and three-point accuracy to a point where it’s a weapon. He excels in the transition game better any other point I’ve seen. Takes care of the ball better than anyone, his assist to turnover ratio is off the charts and his decision-making is strong. Defensively where he lacks size he makes up for with his ball hawk ability, instincts and quickness. He gets steals without much harmful gambling (8 in an NCAA championship game). So he is impacting the game in every facet. This IS the guy!
I find it ridiculous that Lawson’s size is all people talk about as a negative, but Jonny Flynn’s is either an afterthought and to some a positive who unthinkably start talking Chris Paul when looking at size. They are the exact same size without shoes. The only real difference is wingspan which I understand people care a lot about, but that can also be made up for with instincts and well didn’t make Flynn any more productive a player. Sure Ty can’t reach laterally as far, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still get to the spot equally was well. There is only a 1 inch difference in reach which speaks to the ability to contest shots. Flynn is a better leaper but not by a ton (3.5 inches of max vertical) and overall is the more explosive player. I think their quickness is about equal overall. Ty is stronger though especially upper body.
At the end of the day Ty is the much more polished player and that showed in his production. There are a number of statistical models out there on the draft, and you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t have Ty rated has the top point guard and a top 5 overall prospect in terms of overall production. Here are a few so you can see for yourself:
- DraftExpress situational stats
- DraftExpress just by the numbers
- Wages of Wins
- John Hollingers draft rater (Ty ranks #1 ahead of Blake Griffin by the way)
- Hoops Analyst (2nd ranked point guard and a good look at Ty overall)
Aside from the stats dude proved to be the best player on the best team in college basketball, dominating and leading his team to an NCAA championship. I don’t think he is getting enough credit for what he did and the significance of that achievement. At point you want a leader; can you say any of these point guards lead their teams better? He is a winner, and from all the games I’ve watched he is a leader, floor general and shows great emotion and energy that his teammates feed off of.
If Ty is there at 17, the Sixers have an easy decision, and I really believe they will benefit from a lot of other teams’ mistake in passing on this kid. If that’s not enough, Thad is in favor of Ty:
“My good friend is Tywon, so I would definitely love to play with him,” Young said after spending some quality time with kids at the Sixers’ summer camp at Haverford College Thursday. “I’ve played with him in several camps, and I think he’s a great point guard who has the ability to be special in this league. The good thing about (playing) with him is that we already have that cohesion.” – Thaddeus Young
What the ‘Experts’ Say
Here is a compilation of where mock drafts have the Sixers selecting.
- DraftExpress: Ty Lawson
- RealGM – Ty Lawson
- HoopsWorld – Ty Lawson
- Chad Ford: Eric Maynor – Worth noting, last year Ford had us taking Speights in every single one of his mocks. Never changed his stance. To date he has been exactly the same with Maynor.
- CollegeHoops.net – Eric Maynor
- Insidehoops.com: Eric Maynor
- NBC Sports/RotoWorld – Eric Maynor
- The Baseline (SportingNews.com): Jeff Teague
- ProBasketballNews.com 1: Jeff Teague
- ProBasketballNews.com 2: Gerald Henderson
- NBADraft.net: Chase Budinger
- Yahoo Sports – Dejuan Blair
- FanHouse – Jonny Flynn
- SI.com – Austin Daye
Update: Chad Ford now has us taking Ty Lawson (insider for all picks after 5). Also worth noting he did his second round for the first time as well. 2 things I saw of interest to the Sixers:
- Ford now has Dionte Christmas going undrafted. That would be perfect for the Sixers to grab him for the summer league squad and give the hometown kid a run and tryout.
- Wayne Ellington drops all the way to 40th! He actually had Danny Green going ahead of him at 39. If both those players really drop that far in the draft I see absolutely no reason the Sixers don’t buy a 2nd round pick to nab one.
From DraftExpress today:
A few players that could shake things up on draft night…Taj Gibson to Utah at 20? Wayne Ellington to Philadelphia at 17? Tyler Hansbrough to New Jersey at 11? Ty Lawson to Indiana at 13?
Potential Bad News About Drafting Ty
His stock appears to be rising. The concerns about his size, toe injury and perceived one-speed style of play are still there. The difference now is all these statistical evaluations of the draft have him rated as the top point guard and one of the top overall prospects. If you trust or believe in Hollinger’s Draft Rater which attempts to forecast (with a measurable degree of error) a draft pick’s NBA player efficiency rating when he reaches his peak then Ty would be at the top of any team’s board for point guard prospects. And to note this model does take into account size. So the numbers support Ty in the future as a very good NBA point.
What’s new is he has been working out extremely well in addition to the numbers and has been going against all the other top prospects and holding his own no problem. Chad Ford write:
After publishing the Tiers story this morning, I got some interesting feedback from several NBA scouts and executives. A couple of players out of Tier 4 threaten to crash the top-10 party. Who are they?
North Carolina’s Ty Lawson has taken some abuse during the draft workout process, but it sounds as though teams are starting to come around. Lawson was, without question, the most productive point guard in the draft. Teams are skeptical because of his size and his style of play. But he’s been great in several recent workouts according to sources and apparently is in the mix with the Knicks at No. 8 if guys like Curry and Hill are off the board. Lawson also is still on the board at No. 10 to Milwaukee and the Pacers at No. 13 and the Sixers at No. 17 are also giving him a serious look. If Lawson ends up crashing the top 10, that would probably push either Holiday or Flynn out. – Chad Ford
Before now not many boards had Ty in the top 10 or even higher than the Sixers at 17. Ford himself has Ty falling to 23. I would be very surprised if he went that high. But what I take from that report is more teams ahead of the Sixers are finally taking notice which isn’t a good thing for the Sixers if Ty is really the guy they are targeting. If I had to guess where the most likely places he could go ahead of us I’d say Indiana at 13 and Phoenix at 14. He is scheduled to compete against Teague, Holiday and Douglas on Tuesday the 23rd in Indiana in fact.
Moving Around and Acquiring More Picks
It really depends how much variance there is between guys like Lawson, Maynor and Teague. I think it’s a safe bet at least one of them will be there at 17. The question is do they value one significantly more than the others and what is their read on the draft. If they are hearing Ty will be taken before 17 and that’s the guy they really want moving up should be a priority if in their analysis there is a discernible difference in value from the other guys. If not just stay at 17 and pick the guy that’s there.
The other avenue is if the higher rated point guards drop and push down some other guys moving the 17th pick (maybe some cash to sweeten the deal) for a later first rounder and a second makes some sense.
This draft is a good one to look to acquire more picks for a few reasons:
- Teams are looking to save and trading a first round pick to avoid that guaranteed contract is a way to do it.
- Many teams have a lot of picks which makes some expendable.
- This is a role player draft. There are a lot of quality players that I believe will turn out to be really good glue guys with two core skills – shooting ability and defense.
The guy I would want with an additional pick is Danny Green. He can play the two or three and is a good shooter, defender and rebounder. And if you care he ranked 8th overall in Hollinger’s Draft Rater.
I must say I am much more excited about the draft this season than last. We knew the Sixers wanted a big, and the guys there weren’t at all that exciting to me. This year on the other hand there are a handful of players that I would love to watch play in a Sixers uniform. Let’s hope Ed and crew get it right and get this franchise on the right track.
There you have it. The Recliner GM 2009 Sixers Draft Analysis.