With the No. 16 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the 76ers selected USC center Nikola Vucevic. This is the guy the Sixers had targeted all along as they feel he will be a strong pro and be able to contribute immediately in the frontcourt. Vucevic averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds a game last season with the Trojans.
Believe it or not, as Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said afterwards, the Sixers actually considered trying to move up a few spots to make sure they'd get their guy. The biggest concern for the Sixers was that the Houston Rockets would ssnag Vucevic with the No. 14 pick. Considering that Houston's center Yao Ming is injured and not under contract for next season, many folks (including the Sixers) were worried that they'd take Vucevic as he's a legitimate 7-footer with solid fundamentals. But because this draft became a little whacky at certain points (Charlotte taking Kemba Walker when most folks had them taking Marcus Morris), Morris was available for the Rockets at No. 14. As soon as Houston selected Marcus Morris, the Sixers front office knew Vucevic would be available. And he was the guy they wanted all along.
"We are incredibly thrilled to draft Nikola Vucevic," Sixers Head Coach Doug Collins said in a statement. "I liked him from the moment I saw him at the Chicago pre-draft camp. He is a hard working, skilled big man with a desire to succeed who gives us more size in the front court, which is a need. He is a player that we are ecstatic to have on our roster and I look forward to coaching him."
Stefanski said he spoke with Vucevic's agent earlier today and that his agent said that Vucevic absolutely wanted to play in Philly. Stefanski said that Vucevic was "in love" with the idea of playing for Collins. And it seems like Collins was motivated to make sure that Vucevic -- who has strong fundamentals, a good shooting touch, and is a solid rebounder -- was added to this roster. Vucevic said he got along very well with Collins and felt that Collins had a good feel for his game and how it could be improved.