For the last 10 days, we've been focusing on the big men available in the 2011 NBA Draft, which is scheduled for June 23. The 76ers, who hold the No. 16 selection, are definitely looking at this point to add a power forward (of which there are plenty) or a center (of which there are fewer), but of course there's always the philosophy of "drafting the best available, regardless of position." It's a philosophy the Sixers have employed in previous drafts. And although it seems unlikely, barring a situation change before the draft, that they'll employ it this time around, it's still worth looking at a few of the potential "smaller" choices, should a highly-ranked player slip to No. 16 and be too good to be true.
The Sixers do have need for a scoring shooting guard, although some of the better ones (Colorado's Alec Burks) will almost certainly be off the board by the time the Sixers draft. Still, I've received a number of emails from folks wanting to talk about the possibility that the Sixers could add a strong piece at this position through the draft, while looking for the crucial big man via trade.
Again, this is a long shot. Word out of the Sixers' camp is that they're looking to add size through this year's draft. As we've done the past two Fridays, we're going to hold another Live Chat this Friday at 1 p.m. It's going to be a standing date through the summer. If you want to read about potential big men who could be available at No. 16, check out our earlier posts from last week. If you want to follow on Twitter, you can do that here: Deep Sixer.
Here are three possibilities, all long shots, of guard options during this year's draft. I call them the "unorthodox" choices because it's so clear the team needs to add bulk to the frontcourt and -- lucky for them -- that's where the most depth resides.
Who is closest to the end of the line?
1. Marshon Brooks, 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Providence, 195 pounds. Best NBA comparison: Jordan Crawford, Josh Howard. Although it's clear this guy can score, he's being projected as a late first-round selection. A number of mock drafts have him available when the Sixers' select at No. 16. He was the nation's second-leading scorer last season at Providence, and he has range from well beyond the three-point line. But he's also a guy that needs the ball in his hands to score. The Sixers already have enough guys on the roster with that description (Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, somewhat Elton Brand). As we've said, the Sixers aren't going to go away from a big man unless a stud drops to No. 16. It's very unlikely that Brooks is that guy.
2. Jimmer Fredette, 6-2 point guard from BYU, 195 pounds. Best NBA comparison (these are according to nbadraft.net): Mark Price, Eddie House. Don't pretend this wouldn't be an interesting selection. There aren't many rookies on the board who could also boost attendance, but a guy like Jimmer could have that power. Although he's technically listed as a point guard, a lot of people feel he can be more of a scoring guard. Problem is, Sixers have that ability already in Lou Williams. If Jimmer isn't projecting as a starting shooting guard in anyone's assessment, the Sixers aren't going to double up on young point guards since they've married themselves to the potential of Jrue Holiday. Here's the crucial piece: where do the Sixers' brass have him ranked in terms of available prospects? If they have him as low double digits (like 11th or 12th) and he's available at No. 16, will it be too hard to pass on that? Couple that possibility with maybe their coveted big men having already been taken, and maybe they snag Jimmer and figure the rest out later.
Earlier this year, we did a blowout piece on Jimmer, who I covered during his senior high school season at Glens Falls in upstate NY. If you want to know more about Jimmer, you can find the story and video here: Jimmer.
3. Alec Burks, 6-6 shooting guard from the University of Colorado. Best NBA comparison: Eddie Jones and, surprisingly, Evan Turner. I'm definitely biased when it comes to Burks, who's about to double the number of former Buffaloes roaming in the NBA. Right now, the only other former CU guy is Chauncey Billups. Not a bad singular representation, but it's not saying much that there's only one. Burks has "intriguing size and athleticism" and can score in a variety of ways, but outside shooting is not his forte. Sound familiar? Regardless, almost every mock draft in existence has Burks going as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. The likelihood of the Sixers even having to consider drafting Burks is somewhere between nil and nothing, but it's still fun to wonder what they might do if Burks drops, a la Jrue Holiday.
Washington State's Klay Thompson and UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt (who's family friends with Holiday and works out with him in the summer) are two additional shooting guard possibilities. But as of right now both are projected to be drafted below the Sixers' No. 16 spot. If the Sixers are going away from a big man, it will only be because the talent and ranking of the player is too overwhelming to pass up.
This Sunday, we'll be continuing our five-part series on the Sixers' blueprint for taking their game to the next level. The next topic will be the European scouting system, which is especially pertinent considering there are approximately five European players who could go in the top 20 of this year's draft, some of them could even been in the Sixers' range.
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