There Better Be More Stuff Coming: Hoping Odd Sixers Draft Strategy is Prelude to Other Crap

There Better Be More Stuff Coming: Hoping Odd Sixers Draft Strategy is Prelude to Other Crap

It's hard not to be a little bit perplexed by the Sixers' 2012 draft
strategy. They entered the draft with two principal needs—a defensive
anchor (or at least someone who can block some shots) and a scoring
guard (or at least someone who can make some shots)—and ended up filling
neither. Instead, they got Moe Harkless, a small forward who can't
shoot, and Arnett Moultrie, a big man who doesn't block shots. What's
more, they moved aggressively to secure their bounty, drafting forward
Harkless at #15 and then trading a future first-rounder
(lottery-protected, thank God) to the Heat to get Moultrie at #27. It's
an odd way to start such a pivotal off-season in the franchise's
development.


So what's the deal? Well, personally, I'm taking the attitude that
this is the first step in what is going to be a very, very busy
off-season for the Sixers. With so many players either becoming free
agents (Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks, Lavoy Allen) or trade
or amnesty candidates (Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, who knows who else),
we could see the biggest roster turnover for the Sixers that we've seen
in the post-Iverson era. Or, they could bring everybody back again and
hope that we were a lot closer to contending last year than we actually
were. Recent history would push me towards predicting the latter, but
Harkless and Moultrie are not the kind of prospects the Sixers would
draft if they were satisfied with their current complement of players.

Rather, the Harkless and Moultrie selections, which create even more
of an overlapping roster than we had going into the draft, would appear
to be an indicator that a major roster shakeup is in order for the
Liberty Ballers. Particularly, it would appear to indicate that the team
is going to seek some relief at the small forward position, where they
currently have a logjam of Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young
and now Harkless. (Turner can play some two and Thad some four, but both
slot far more naturally at the three.) The most obvious trade candidate
is, of course, Iguodala, whose large contract and sporadically strained
relationship with fanbase and management have had him the subject of
trade rumors for the better part of three seasons, though Turner, with
his smaller contract and less-determined ceiling, might be a more
valuable trade chip, depending on what type of return the Sixers seek.

Whoever they trade, the Sixers at least now seem to have a set
strategy in place for how they want to build this team—young and fast.
Check the ESPN draft profiles for both Harkless and Moultrie
and the same adjectives keep popping up: Long, athletic, explosive,
quick. (Both are also labeled as good rebounders, an issue which plagued
the undersized Sixers in the playoffs last year.) As successful and as
frightening as the team has been in the open court in recent years, they
should be even more irrepressible with Harkless and Moultrie flanking
our young playmakers. The team might not have drafted for need, but they
did draft for identity, and that's a consistency in front-office
planning that's been critically absent from the franchise in recent
years. It's something, anyway.

But they gotta do something more. I like the young-and-athletic
strategy, but the Sixers can't open next season with four small
forwards, no real starting two-guard and no real center. The Sixers
should have the trade assets to continue to build the team in the mold
Rod Thorn and company have started to shape it in, but they need to make
tough decisions—letting some free agents walk, parting with some
veterans—to allow the team to grow and improve as such. The front office
should be commended for not going the safe route in the draft, going
with a Tyler Zeller type who could contribute immediately but not have
much of a chance to develop into a core team piece, but being bold only
works if you're willing to go all the way with it, and if the Sixers end
up going safe with the rest of their off-season, this team could be
stuck in the middle for a long time to come.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).