John Smallwood: Stefanski steps up to plate for Sixers in NBA draft

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Donte Greene of Syracuse may be selected by the Sixers with their 16th overall selection in the 2008 NBA draft. (Getty Images)

WELCOME TO YOUR first NBA draft as president and general manager of the 76ers, Ed Stefanski.

Hope you survive the experience, or at least do better than many of your predecessors.

It's unreasonable to expect Stefanski to find a franchise-altering player at No. 16 in tonight's draft, but hopefully, he will buck the trend of the majority of the Sixers' draft history and hit a double to left instead of whiffing on a third strike.

The Sixers' draft results are full of what-ifs, did-not-becomes, and flat-out misses.

The draft has been the Sixers' Waterloo.

For every Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson (and over the past 25 years, there isn't much more than Barkley and Iverson), there are three Shawn Bradleys, Chris Welps or Sharone Wrights.

The downward spiral started in 1985, the year after Barkley was drafted fifth overall.

At No. 21, the Sixers drafted South Alabama forward Terry Catledge instead of Oregon State forward A.C. Green, a valuable contributor to three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, or Wisconsin-Stevens point guard Terry Porter, who had a long and productive career with Portland.

The Sixers' version of "The Curse of the Bambino" happened in the 1986 draft when they traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Roy Hinson.

The Cavaliers drafted North Carolina center Brad Daugherty, who made five All-Star teams in eight NBA seasons. You think Barkley could have won a title with Daugherty playing next to him?

Oh well, spit happens.

Unfortunately, Sixers management had a lot of saliva.

In 1987, they took Welp, leaving point guard Mark Jackson and the late Reggie Lewis on the board.

In 1988, trading big for little wasn't necessarily bad, but you wonder what would have happened had the Sixers swapped Charles Smith for Mitch Richmond, Dan Majerle or Rod Strickland, instead of Hersey Hawkins.

It doesn't matter who was left on the board in 1989 (Vlade Divac was the best) because anyone would have been better than Kenny Payne at No. 19.

The 1990s began with the Sixers having no first-round pick for the first two seasons.

The 1992 draft had Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Jim Jackson, LaPhonso Ellis, Tom Gugliotta and Walt Williams.

At least Todd Day was also off the board before the Sixers took Clarence Weatherspoon at No. 9.

Scorched Earth Decision, Part II happened in '93.

Orlando had the No. 1 pick and wanted Memphis State point guard Anfernee Hardaway to team with O'Neal.

Golden State had the No. 3 pick and desperately wanted 7-6 center Shawn Bradley out of Brigham Young.

The Sixers, picking second, also wanted Bradley, so they threatened the Magic that they would take Hardaway if Orlando picked Bradley with the intention of trading him to Golden State.

The Sixers got Bradley, the "Mistake from Salt Lake," while Orlando and Golden State made a compromise deal that sent Michigan center Chris Webber to the Warriors for Hardaway and three first-round picks.

North Carolina swingman Jerry Stackhouse wasn't a horrible selection at No. 3 in 1995, but Philadelphia homeboy Rasheed Wallace went at No. 4 and Kevin Garnett was No. 5.

An end to the curse looked as if it had come in 1996 when the Sixers got the No. 1 pick and made a slam dunk in choosing Allen Iverson.

But the next year, they only got the second overall pick when they needed the top pick to get Wake Forest center Tim Duncan, the only franchise-altering player in 1997 draft.

In '98, it was St. Louis guard Larry Hughes at No. 8 instead of Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki.

In 2000, "Iverson-light" arrived in Hofstra guard Craig "Speedy" Claxton, and in 2002, Czech guard Jiri Welsch, who was shipped immediately to Golden State.

Larry Brown traded away the pick that would have had the Sixers in the 2003 LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes.

An earlier trade kept them out of the first round in 2005.

Still, things haven't been all bad recently.

Samuel Dalembert at No. 26 in 2001, Andre Iguodala at No. 9 in 2004 and Thaddeus Young at No. 12 in 2007 are key components in the Sixers' rebuilding.

Stefanski is up at the plate. A double scores two runners. A strikeout ends the inning.

 

Sixers' No. 1s

 

2008: 16, TBA

2007: 12, Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech; 21, *Daequan Cook, Ohio State; 30, *Petteri Koponen, Finland

2006: 13, *Thabo Sefolosha, Switzerland

2005: None

2004: 9, Andre Iguodala, Arizona

2003: None

2002: 16, *Jiri Welsch, Slovenia

2001: 26, Samuel Dalembert, Seton Hall

2000: 20, Speedy Claxton, Hofstra

1999: None

1998: 8, Larry Hughes, Saint Louis

1997: 2, *Keith Van Horn, Utah

1996: 1, Allen Iverson, Georgetown

1995: 3, Jerry Stackhouse, North Carolina

1994: 6, Sharone Wright, Clemson; 20 B.J. Tyler, Texas

1993: 2, Shawn Bradley, Brigham Young

1992: 9, Clarence Weatherspoon, Southern Mississippi

1991: None

1990: None

1989: 19, Kenny Payne, Louisville

1988: 3, Charles Smith, Pittsburgh

1987: 16, Chris Welp, Washington

1986: None

1985: 21, Terry Catledge, South Alabama

1984: 5, Charles Barkley, Auburn; 10, Leon Wood, Cal State-Fullerton; 22 Tom Sewell, Lamar

1983: 17, Leo Rautins, Syracuse

1982: 22, Mark McNamara, California

1981: 22, Franklin Edwards, Cleveland State

1980: 8, Andrew Toney, SW Louisiana; 21, Monti Davis, Tennessee State

1979: 16, Jim Spanarkel, Duke

1978: None

1977: 20, Glenn Mosley, Seton Hall

1976: 12, Terry Furlow, Michigan State

1975: 5, Darryl Dawkins, Evans HS (Orlando)

1974: 2, Marvin Barnes, Providence

1973: 1, Doug Collins, Illinois State; 18, Raymond Lewis, Los Angeles State

1972: 5, Fred Boyd, Oregon State

1971: 12, Dana Lewis, Tulsa

1970: 12, Al Henry, Wisconsin

1969: 13, Bud Ogden, Santa Clara

1968: 14, Shaler Halimon, Utah State

1967: 12, Craig Raymond, Brigham Young

1966: 9, Matt Guokas, St. Joseph's

1965: 4, Billy Cunningham, North Carolina

1964: 4, Lucious Jackson, Pan American

* Player was traded.