Players slipping in draft could benefit Sixers

Players slipping in draft could benefit Sixers
June 22, 2011, 9:43 pm
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Posted: 5:45 p.m.

By Ryan Feldman
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

NEWARK, N.J. -- When the Sixers drafted Jrue Holiday in 2009, he wasnt expected to be around when they were on the clock with the No. 17 pick. He was even projected to go as high as No. 4 that year. But he, like many others always do in the NBA draft, slipped out of the lottery and into the Sixers lap.

The same thing can happen this year. There are more draft lottery candidates than actual draft lottery picks, so there will be players that slip farther than expected. The Sixers have the same strategy as they did in 2009: Hope that a highly rated player falls to them and take the best player available.

Who will that player be? It depends heavily on what the teams holding the first 15 picks in this years draft decide to do. Trades can also throw things out of whack.

A total of 15 players were invited to the NBA drafts green room, which represents the 15 players the league believes are likely to be drafted with the first 15 picks. If the NBA is 100 percent correct in that projection, then the Sixers, who hold the No. 16 pick, would be the first team to draft a player not invited to the green room.

But that rarely happens. Its highly unlikely that all 15 green room invitees will be gone with the first 15 picks. Instead, one or two or more of those players could be on the board for the Sixers when they are deciding who to select.

Three green room invitees who are candidates to slide out of the lottery and could be available for the Sixers are Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks, Kansas power forward Markieff Morris (who also happens to be a Philly native) and Texas power forward Tristan Thompson.

The Sixers clearly would like a big man, but if a higher rated wing player is available they may take that player. Burks, a silky smooth 6-foot-6 shooting guard with a solid mid-range game, could be an option.

I dont know the chances of slipping, Burks said. If it happens, it happens. If I go top 10, its great. If I slide, I slide. Im still going to be excited to be in the NBA.

Burks, who will be most likely a top-10 pick, could immediately step in next to Jrue Holiday in the Sixers backcourt.

It would just be great to be drafted by anybody, Burks said. I didnt have any communication with the Sixers at all. I didnt even work out. I didnt talk to them or anything about that.

I watched them when they played the Heat. Theyre young. They got Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young. I feel like they got some athletic wings on their roster, so I would fit into that.

Morris isnt likely to be drafted in the top 10, so theres a great chance hes available for the Sixers. But that doesnt mean hell be the top guy on their draft board.

They definitely really liked me, Morris said. If they pick me, it would be a great feeling. I think I would fit in. There are a couple teams I would like to play for and Philly is definitely one of them.

The 6-foot-9 power forward is a strong post player, rebounder and defender. On top of adding some toughness down low, it would make a lot of sense for the Sixers to draft someone who grew up in their backyard.

Thats my hometown, Morris said. How could they not like me? Theyre looking for a power forward. I love their coach Doug Collins. And I think he likes me, too.

Thompson could be drafted in the top 10 but could easily slip out of the lottery as well. It doesnt seem like theres any one or two teams especially keying in on Thompson.

Theres always a chance to slip, Thompson said. Everybody has a chance to slip. Id rather slip and be in a better situation where I can succeed than go higher and be in a bad situation.

The 6-foot-8 lefty power forward is very athletic and can immediately impact an NBA game at the defensive end. He may not be as polished offensively right now as Morris and some other big men, but he has the potential to become an excellent NBA player.

I feel I fit well with Doug Collins offense, and he focuses on defense, which I like, Thompson said. I think Id fit in well with the Sixers. Theyre a young team on the rise.

There are a lot of options for the Sixers in Thursdays NBA draft. Will they go with a big man, as most have expected throughout the draft process? Or will they surprise everyone and take a wing player? Its very much up in the air at this point, especially with the possibility of players sliding out of the lottery.

All we know at this point is that the Sixers will draft the player they feel is the best player available when theyre on the clock.

Ryan Feldman covers college basketball and the NBA Draft for his website, TheHoopsReport.com. He can be reached at rfeldman@thehoopsreport.com.

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