Sixers pack up after busy combine in Chicago

Sixers pack up after busy combine in Chicago
May 23, 2011, 6:00 pm
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Monday, May 23, 2011
Posted: 3:08 p.m.

By Ryan Feldman Contributor

After a busy week in Chicago at the NBA draft combine, the Sixers' brass has moved on to Minnesota for a group workout with more than 20 draft prospects Monday and Tuesday.

Fifty-four of the top draft prospects congregated in Chicago last week and participated in drills, measurements, athletic testing, medical testing, media sessions and team interviews. Sixers president Rod Thorn, general manager Ed Stefanski, assistant GM Tony DiLeo, director of player personnel Courtney Witte and head coach Doug Collins interviewed 18 draft hopefuls six each day from Wednesday to Friday the maximum allowed by the NBA during the combine.

I think any chance you get to evaluate any player outside of their normal element is very helpful, Witte said. Whether they play well or do not play well, its equally important to further evaluate the prospect.

It is no secret that the Sixers are targeting a big man a player that can add size and depth to their frontcourt with the No. 16 pick. While there arent many true centers available, there are several power forwards that would attract the Sixers.

Thats a fair statement, Witte said about targeting a big man. Its supply and demand. There are more 6-foot tall people worldwide than 7-foot tall people worldwide. That means there are less 7-foot basketball players worldwide than there are 6-foot basketball players. Anytime you have a chance in your area to consider a big, you need to do so. Thats what were doing now. Its early in the process. We are evaluating everything.

The Sixers are in the process of putting together their wish list. This comes from weeks, months and years of evaluations, which includes the combine and team workouts. The Sixers plan on beginning their draft workouts at PCOM sometime in the next week or two.

We basically evaluate over the course of a players career, Witte said. Its not just a one-game, two-game situation. Over the course of a season, its always a cumulative process. You take all those pieces of information and we sit down with our scouts and our management team, and we do put together a final ranking of the players.

While they're clearly targeting a post player, the Sixers need to be thorough in case a player slips. A player projected in the top five or 10 could unexpectedly become available.

If UConns Kemba Walker or Kentuckys Brandon Knight somehow dropped, would the Sixers draft him, even though they already have their franchise point guard in Jrue Holiday?

That would be great if that happens, Witte said. Whenever talent drops, you have to consider it. Im not in a position right now to say that we would consider anyone up there. It would be a good scenario to be in. Lets put it that way.

It happened in 2009 when Holiday dropped to the Sixers at 17. The Sixers needed a point guard and Holiday was projected as high as No. 4. Witte said it wasnt that much of a shock for the Sixers, who hadn't brought him in for a workout but had done their homework and knew there was a good chance he would fall.

We had targeted Jrue, Witte said. We felt that we knew the draft. We had looked at the people above us. We felt there were two teams that he needed to get through. We had attempted to move up to make sure we could select him in that draft. Once we were able to find that he was going to go through these other two teams in front us, we felt very confident that he would come down to where we selected. We had targeted him in that draft for weeks before the selection.

Some possible targets for the Sixers in this draft include Texass Tristan Thompson (6-foot-8), Morehead States Kenneth Faried (6-7), Purdues JaJuan Johnson (6-10), Georgias Trey Thompkins (6-9), Marylands Jordan Williams (6-9) and Kansass Marcus (6-8) and Markieff (6-9) Morris.

But other potential targets include a few international players. Witte hinted that there are some intriguing big men worldwide. That would include Lithuanian big men Donatas Motiejunas (7-feet) and Jonas Valanciunas (6-10), or Bismack Biyombo (6-9), an 18-year-old Congo native.

There are some young bigs worldwide that are in this draft that are young and will continue to get stronger and continue to grow, Witte said. Some team is going to take an opportunity to select them, and theyre going to get a good player in the NBA.

Witte also stressed that some of those international players still could decide to withdraw from the NBA draft by June 13. The rules are different for international prospects; college players had to decide by May 8 if they wanted to keep their name in the draft. However, its unlikely that any of the above-mentioned international players would withdraw, considering they are all potential lottery picks.

While the Sixers are certainly targeting a big man, shooting guard is also a position they need to address, and it's possible one could slip to them as well. If a player like BYU's Jimmer Fredette, Colorado's Alec Burks or Washington State's Klay Thompson became available at No. 16, would the Sixers overlook their primary need and draft a shooting guard? With so many attractive big men, it's unlikely, but it's certainly a valid thought.

The Sixers clearly have several options with the No. 16 pick. Motiejunas, Valanciunas, Biyombo, Thompson and Marcus Morris are all expected to be gone before the Sixers are on the clock, but players always slip, and theres a good chance at least one of them could be available. If all of them are gone, there are plenty of other options to consider as well. Either way, when June 23 rolls around, the Sixers will be in a good position to fill a need on their roster.

Ryan Feldman covers college basketball and the NBA Draft for his website, He can be reached at

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