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July 28, 2014, 8:37 pm

Impact big men should be 76ers’ focus

This should be a good draft for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers should be able to come away with a player when they pick at No. 15 in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

The Sixers have looked at a number of NBA prospects over the last four weeks. And most of them have been big men. That appears to be the team’s greatest need. Some of the top frontcourt players who have come in to work out have been 6-foot-9 Terrence Jones (Kentucky), 6-foot-10 Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State), 6-foot-11 John Henson (North Carolina), 7-foot Tyler Zeller (North Carolina), 6-foot-9 Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure) and 6-foot-10 Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State).

Jones and Moultrie are major players. Henson and Zeller are solid players as well. Nicholson and O’Quinn have a lot of ability, too. Most of these players should be available when the Sixers make their first round pick. Nicholson is viewed as a late, first-round pick. O’Quinn is expected to be selected in the second round.

With two picks in the second round at No. 45 and 54, O’Quinn wouldn’t be a bad pick for the Sixers. The Spartans’ big man was the MEAC Player of the Year. He averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. O’Quinn gained national attention for his play in the NCAA tournament. He was a huge reason why Norfolk State upset Missouri in the first round. He’s a strong inside player who can score and rebound. O’Quinn is also a good defender. His stock has been rising over the last few weeks. If the Sixers take him, they will more than likely have to use the first of their two picks in the second round. He probably won’t be there at No. 54.

The Sixers are coming off a season where they finished with a 35-31 record landing in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in six games in the first round, then battled the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing in seven games.

If they could add two players from this draft, they should be in good shape. The key is to get two players who can get into the rotation. A year ago, the Sixers drafted 7-foot center Nikola Vucevic from USC in the first round (16th pick). They also picked 6-foot-9 power forward Lavoy Allen from Temple in the second round (50th pick). Vucevic averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a game his rookie year. Allen tallied 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game his first season. Of course, Allen really stepped up in the playoffs and particularly against the Boston Celtics where he did a good job of guarding Kevin Garnett. Allen’s numbers went up in the postseason averaging 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.

The Sixers are in a similar position this year where they could get a couple players who could make a difference.

 

Contact staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .