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The Sixers Need To Draft The Kid From Kentucky

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demarcus cousins1 The Sixers Need To Draft The Kid From KentuckyThis has been a good week for the 76ers.  On Tuesday, they moved up in the lottery and got the second pick in a very strong NBA draft.  Soon, maybe by the time you read this, they will name former Sixer Doug Collins as their new head coach.  Wouldn’t it be nice to give their new leader the best player in the draft as a welcome home present?

Well, I agree.  And since the best player in the draft, a stud who played only one season at Kentucky, will be available with the second pick, this is a no-brainer.

But Jolly, aren’t the Wizards likely to take John Wall with the first pick?  He won’t be available at number two, will he?  Rest easy, folks.  John Wall is a stud.  He did play only one season at Kentucky.  However, he is not the best player in the draft.  There are some risks associated with the best player in this draft, Wall’s freshman teammate with the Bluegrass Caliparis.  He goes by the name of DeMarcus Cousins.

That’s right, DeMarcus Cousins, man-child.  Six foot eleven, two hundred and ninety pounds.  Better than John Wall, better than Evan Turner.  Derrick Favors?  Good, but not nearly as much physical potential.  More upside, and a better pick, than all of them.  This physical freak has not even started to reach his absurd potential.  Cousins’ stats at Kentucky were impressive, but I am thinking of the future.  So why am I among the only people that think this way?

The answer to this is that people are afraid to project, afraid to fail, and fall in love with the obvious.  Yes, there are negatives to Cousins, and that is why there is some risk involved here.  But if you watched college basketball last season, and don’t feel the way I do, I’m not sure what you were watching. 

So why do nearly all of the national mock draft experts and talking heads favor Wall or Turner, and in some cases others, as well? 

In my opinion, it depends on what you are looking for.  Who is the most exciting player in the draft?  John Wall.  But is he a great shooter?  No.  Is he a great passer?  In my opinion, no.  Is he a great athlete?  Yes.  Is he Derrick Rose?  No!  Is he going to be a wonderful player for many years?  Probably.  Who is the most polished player in this draft?  Evan Turner.  He played three years at Ohio State, and is a really good player.  He can shoot, defend, and handle the ball.  He can play the one, two, or three on the floor.  And the Sixers need shoot……

Wait!  Who cares?  When you are the Sixers, positional needs are IRRELEVANT.  So are specific needs, such as shooting, or rebounding, or anything else.  These are condiments.  The Sixers need a main course, i.e. the best player available, and build around him, Jrue Holiday, and, well, him and Jrue Holiday.  They can find shooters or whatever else they need in other ways.  The Sixers are not filling in the missing pieces here, they are building a team, and this ALWAYS is best served by drafting the best players, figuring out what they can do (as long as they do not completely duplicate what the team already has), and then finding the best condiments that basketball’s salad bar can provide.

Do you build a team around Evan Turner?  Maybe.  Around John Wall?  Maybe.  Around DeMarcus Cousins.  Yes, yes, yes. 

In the NBA, great big men are more important than great small men.  They just are.  The two exceptions to this are Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and neither Wall nor Turner fit this mold, which obviously is rarefied air. 

This kid is nineteen years old, and hasn’t started to get it yet.  He hasn’t grown into his body, and that is normal for a center.  They are almost always later bloomers than guards or forwards, as playing with one’s back to the basket effectively simply takes time.  Dwight Howard was drafted first in 2004, and I love him.  However, his next offensive move will be his first.  His range is the length of his arm.  He is a wonderful player, great on defense, and an animal on the boards, but with basically zero offensive repertoire, save for a baby hook.

DeMarcus Cousins, RIGHT NOW, has better offensive moves than Dwight Howard.  He is huge, strong, has an enormous wingspan, and has soft hands.  He is also lazy on defense at times, immature, could be a touch leaner, and needs better focus on offense, in my opinion.  But the raw skills are there. 

So why, Jolly, if this kid is so good, are Wall and Turner thought of by nearly everyone to be better picks than your guy?  Well, there is the rub.  He is a risk.  There are potential off-court issues.  While his upside is ridiculous, there is downside as well.  With Wall or Turner, there is much less downside, I will give you that.  They are more developed as players, and seem to be good kids.

Folks, I am a risk taker, period.  I go for upside, and for potential, as long as the reward, in my opinion, justifies a risk.  Can the Sixers afford that risk?  I get this, and maybe the answer is no, that they have made too many mistakes, and the safe pick here is the right one, as well.  But to me, the answer is yes.

You wanna be safe?  Buy a tank.  You wanna try to win a championship?  Start with the best players with the most potential, let your new, disciplinarian coach bring out the best in them, and at least you are going in the right direction.  Now, there are many other elements to a championship team, but you have to start somewhere.  And that is simply with a franchise center, someone who, if he reaches his potential, will be FAR AND AWAY the best player in the draft.

There is nothing wrong with John Wall, or Evan Turner.  But neither has the upside of DeMarcus Cousins.  If the background checks pan out, and Cousins is worthy, then the basketball side of the equation says GET HIM to me. 

He is raw.  He is young.  He is immature.  He is also, in my opinion, the best player with the highest upside in the draft.  And he will be available with the second pick.  Why?  As I have stated, in my opinion, people are, generally, in my opinion, more afraid of failing than daring to be great.

Forget John Wall.  He basically duplicates Jrue Holliday, though he is a fantastic talent.  Evan Turner?  He will probably be the Sixers pick and have a good career in Philadelphia.  DeMarcus Cousins?  He is the best player in this draft, with the most potential.  If the team that drafts him can harvest the greatness and sift out the negatives, they will have a superstar for years to come.

With the second pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select…

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