Bigs in 2011 Draft

Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania is one of the top rated centers in this year's NBA draft. (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

After yesterday's Live Chat, it seemed as if a lot of folks wanted to talk about the potential big men available in June's NBA Draft. If you read Thursday's entry, you know that the 76ers have very little wiggle room via free agency, and therefore almost certainly will use the draft and trade market to make improvements for the 2011-12 season. 

The Sixers hold the No. 16 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, scheduled for June 23. The Sixers also have a second-round selection. And while we're not yet at the point where we can narrow down the prospects the Sixers are targeting (the Chicago combine is May 18-22 and the Sixers will begin inviting prospects for workouts toward the end of the month), we can certainly take a look at some of the big men that will be available under the assumption that the team will want to add frontcourt depth. 

Some of these guys are slated to go much higher than the Sixers' No. 16 spot, but a draft-day trade isn't an impossible scenario, so we include even the big men that are projected as top 5 picks. This year's draft isn't particularly mind-blowing, but there are a few intriguing interior players.

Here goes, in no particular order:

1.) Enes Kanter, projected anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8 in various mock drafts, a 6-foot-10 center from Turkey, 18 years old, 250 pounds, 7-1 wingspan, working out at the University of Kentucky, but ineligible because of his pro career in Turkey. Sixers would need to make a draft-day trade (a considerable piece, their No. 16, possibly an in-between guy like Marreese Speights in exchange for the other team's high pick and a considerable high-salary player to match the trade) to get into Kanter's range. The book on Kanter is that he's a legitimate low-post scorer as opposed to some big guys who want to play away from the basket. He isn't overwhelmingly athletic, but his basketball IQ allows him to make the correct interior plays more often than you'd expect.

2.) Jonas Valanciunas, projected anywhere from No. 4 to No. 11, a 6-11 center from Lithuania, 19 years old, and 240 pounds. Similar trade likely needed to move up for Valanciunas, although depending on how the combine and draft shake out, he could drop as some mock drafts already have him at No. 11. Seems like Kanter and Valanciunas have had some matchups coming up through the ranks, with Kanter being the more polished of the two. Very skinny, raw talent -- a guy that is developing and would likely be more of a project. 

3.) Bismack Biyumbo, projected in the No. 5 to No. 8 range as more than one mock draft has him at No. 7, a 6-9 power forward from the Congo, 19 years old. Seems like this guy has burst onto the scene in the last month, specifically impressing scouts at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland. His toughness seems to be his greatest asset: he blocks shots, rebounds, and gets to the free throw line. Undersized, but emotional is how the scouting report reads. Kind of reminds one of Reggie Evans, including poor free throw shooting. Sixers are still too low to snag this guy, so this would be deal territory.

4.) Donatas Montiejunas, projected anywhere from No. 11 to No. 20, a 7 footer from Lithuania, 20 years old, and 215 pounds. The scouting report reads best-case like Toronto's Andrea Bargnani and worst case like Phoenix's Channing Frye, this just doesn't seem to be the interior presence the Sixers need as both those guys prefer hanging out on the perimeter and impressing with their jump shots. 

5.) Marcus Morris (Kansas), 6-9 power forward, Markieff Morris (Kansas), 6-9 power forward, Tristan Thompson (Texas), 6-8 power forward, Tobias Harris (Tennessee), 6-8 power foward, Kenneth Farried (Morehead State), 6-8 power forward, and Trey Thompkins (Georgia), 6-8 power forward. This list of guys basically gobbles up the mock draft area from No. 12 to No. 20. Clearly the list of 6-8 power forwards is long and the Sixers will have an opportunity to draft one of them at the No. 16 spot. The question will be whether or not the Sixers want to make a move to get a dedicated low-post player higher in the draft.

The Sixers also have the 20th pick of the draft's second round (50th overall), with which to snag a project big man. One mock draft in particular (draftexpress) has the Sixers selecting 6-11 center Jeremy Tyler with that pick. Tyler is 19 years old and weighs 240. He's from San Diego, but currently playing his first season of professional basketball overseas. That worked out well for Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, but Tyler has had a rougher time of it. For a more in depth look, you can check out this New York Times piece about Tyler: Overseas.

We'll know more about all of these guys by the end of next week. If you want to follow on Twitter, click here: Deep Sixer.


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