It’s mock draft time again, even though it’s just the NBA so there are only about eight million of them floating around in cyberland, as opposed to the eight billion that revolve around the NFL before its annual draft in April.
A quick glance at some of those NBA mock drafts makes it clear that nobody really knows what the 76ers will do with their first-round pick, No. 15 overall, on Thursday night. Those mock drafts really aren’t about the players as much as the positions and where the mockers think the Sixers need the most help, and the consensus is power forward and shooting guard.
One player whose name gets mentioned a little more than any other is Arnette Moultrie, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound power forward from Mississippi State, the same school that produced the Eagles’ most recent first-round draft pick, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
That makes sense, especially if the Sixers do what everybody expects them to do, which is dump power forward Elton Brand and his big-bucks contract. Brand struggled at times in his tenure in Philadelphia, but he was also their only legitimate low-post scorer and he’s always been a decent rebounder. So, if he is shown the door, the Sixers must get somebody comparable and Moultrie fits the bill. And, of course, he would be a lot younger and a lot cheaper.
Moultrie started his career at Texas-El Paso before transferring to Mississippi State and last year, as a junior, he averaged 16.4 points per game, while shooting 54.9 percent from the field, and 10.5 rebounds per game. Those aren’t spectacular numbers, but they’re solid numbers and there’s no question Moultrie would be a good fit if that’s the direction in which the 76ers go.
Disclaimer: I say he would be a good fit because other people have said it. I’ve never seen Moultrie play – Mississippi State didn’t show up on ESPN a lot – so I don’t really don’t know how good he is or what style he plays. But if a mock drafter tells me the kid can play, I’m going with it.
Anyhow, if the 76ers don’t go after Moultrie or any of the other power forwards that have been linked to them – Terrance Ross of Kentucky, John Henson of North Carolina, Moe Harkness of St. John’s – another intriguing prospect would be Austin Rivers, a 6-4 shooting guard from Duke (which is worth bonus points) whose father is Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers (also worth bonus points).
Those two fun facts aside, the real reason it would be an intriguing move is because it would symbolize a major shift in the Sixers’ approach. Just as the drafting of Moultrie would mean the end for Brand, the drafting of Rivers would mean: a) the Sixers are ready to part ways with streaky Lou Williams and get a bigger shooting guard, or, b) they’re ready to part ways with erratic point guard Jrue Holliday and go into the 2012-13 season with either Evan Turner running their offense or one of the veteran point guards on the free agent market (Andre Miller, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd).
Austin Rivers played just one season at Duke, so even though he’s spent his entire life around two pretty good coaches, nobody really knows if he’s NBA-ready. But he would give the Sixers a new look and direction, even more than Moultrie would.
So, all sorts of dominoes will start to fall on Thursday night, and we haven’t even brought up Andre Iguodala’s name yet. We assume the Sixers will use the salary cap relief they’ll get from releasing Brand on some fancy free agent and we wouldn’t be surprised by almost any trade they make, including Iguodala.
But they will do something, because they must. This franchise is at a crossroads right now and it could veer off in any direction. And all the fans can do is sit in the back seat and hope the drivers know where they’re going.
Contact Kevin Noonan at email@example.com.