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Grading The Sixers Draft

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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Obviously, knowing how the Sixers or any team performed in last night’s NBA Draft will take at least months, and at most years to decide. But what would sports and the internet be without rush to judgement?! That’s part of the fun, right? Where’s my sarcasm font button?

I’m not sure exactly how to analyze this draft myself, other than to say they addressed a need with Moultrie (rebounding, size), and they picked someone who they believe to have huge upside in Harkless. Going into the draft, with picks #15, #45 and #54, you have to be happy with that. Many mock drafts had the Sixers going with Moultrie at #15, so to get him essentially with the #45 pick (along with a very protected future first) along with a player they truly believe in, is a win. I’m not too sure about either player specifically, because I haven’t seen either play very much. I will say that it does lead me to believe that they Sixers front office (whomever it actually is right now) was not fooled into thinking that the Sixers are “close,” based on last season’s playoffs.

It’s very easy to say, “well they took another wing who can’t shoot!” That’s true. But there is a long off-season ahead of us, and I’m confident that if we know this, then they also know this, and they will address it. As my friends at Liberty Ballers have said, the Sixers do not have enough talent to worry about “fit” with their pick, they must go for who they believe is the most talented player.

Many have said this is an idication the Sixers will trade Andre Iguodala, and I don’t believe that’s necessarily the case. I think it’s an indication they will move someone, whether that person is Iguodala, Turner or Young.

In short, the Sixers appear to be getting younger and building for the future, and I’m happy with that.

With that said, even though free-agency hasn’t even started, and the team is still likely to make several more moves, here’s how the experts graded last night’s Sixers draft, which included picking Maurice (not Mo!) Harkless at #15, and trading with the Miami Heat to select Arnett Moultrie at #27:

Matt Moore of CBS Sports gave the Sixers an A-, and had this to say:

Moe Harkless (15): This was somewhat baffling because the Sixers have guys at his position — Andre Iguodala andThaddeus Young. Harkless is young and will take some time to develop, but he’s got a chance to be a quality starter in the league. He’s long, rebounds well and can also get to the basket and finish. He can be brought along slowly, but the reward could be tremendous. 

Arnett Moultrie (27): The 76ers needed a big man with the potential loss of Lavoy Allen and they were fortunate that Moultrie, who has no shortage of off-court question marks, was still on the board at 27. Moultrie’s major strength is his ability to rebound — and that’s what Philly needs. Moultrie also possesses a decent skill level, but he’ll get on the court due to his ability to get things done on the glass.

Mike Levin of Liberty Ballers, doesn’t love the players, but does like the thinking and direction:

Though I’m not ecstatic about the two players the Sixers are coming away with, I am pretty thrilled about the direction they’re heading. Andre Iguodala will most definitely be traded. Evan Turner may be traded. Thaddeus Young could be traded. Nothing is certain and nothing should be, because this team and these players aren’t good enough to force the Sixers hand. They have to assemble all the highest-upside prospects they can, and maximize their potential.

Drafting low ceiling big men and shooters would have filled needs in the short term, but who cares about the short term? When Adam Aron tweeted “We have a sober view of our needs”, I didn’t exactly buy it. Now, I’m prone to believe a bit more. I’ve never thought they were outright stupid, but we had philosophically opposing beliefs on where this franchise should be going, and today it seems like they’re a bit closer together.

Both Harkless and Moultrie could be terrible. Or they could be franchise cornerstones. Regardless, their selections represent a different line of thinking from the previously-stale ways of the Sixers front office. We’ll have more specific thoughts on everything in the coming days, but for now I urge you to cling to the growing chance that this franchise soon leaves the suffocating confines of mediocrity.

Adi Joseph of USA Today gave the Sixers a B and an A-, respectively:

St. John’s forward Maurice Harkless

Harkless’ declaration for the NBA draft was among the more surprising this season, but he has tremendous upside. He reminds us of Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George, who left Fresno State a year before he was ready and took time but is now a rising star. Harkless should replace Andre Iguodala, if he is traded, and he’s more of a scorer than shooting guard Evan Turner. He’s not a great fit, though, as the 76ers need a center, but he has high upside at No. 15. Grade: B

Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie

Moultrie would have been a great fit for the Miami Heat, but they traded him to the 76ers for a future first-rounder and the 45th pick. Instead, he’ll be an excellent fit for the 76ers. He’s tough and athletic and can shoot, and at 21, he’s ready to contribute now. Perry Jones might be the best player available, but Moultrie was the best fit for the 76ers. Grade: A-

Derek Bodner of SB Nation gave the Sixers a B-, and had quite a bit to say about it (read it all), but some highlights:

Harkless: One the one hand, picking an athletic, versatile wing who struggles shooting from the perimeter was about the last thing the 76ers needed. On the other hand, the willingness to draft what they believe was the best available talent rather than reach for a position of need is generally a draft philosophy that works out well, and a deviation from what their philosophy was last year.

Moe Harkless is first and foremost an athletic standout. While he is a fairly raw player, there’s also some latent basketball ability and feel for the game to work with. He has a quick first step with long strides that once his ball handling ability catches up he should be able to create off the dribble with some regularity. He’s a terror in transition, who rebounds as well as any small forward in the draft, and has great anticipation on defense.

What’s holding him back? The aforementioned ball handling is one area. While not as bad of an overall ball handler as fellow 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, Harkless has virtually nothing in the form of a left hand and he can get turnover prone when asked to do more than one or two power dribbles to the hoop. He’s showing signs of developing a right to left spin move and a crossover dribble, but those are still very much works in progress.

Moultrie: 

Moultrie has some definite athletic talents, and his ability to finish around the hoop off of offense generated by his teammates should work well with Holiday, Turner, and Iguodala if he remains. He’s also a very good offensive rebounder, something the 76ers lacked last year as all their big men tended to float on the perimeter.

That being said, there are a number of areas of need Moultrie doesn’t fill. While he played largely with his back to the basket at Mississippi State, he’s unlikely to translate much of that to the NBA. He was only an average defensive rebounder (21.8% defensive rebounding percentage) on a Mississippi State team that was only an average defensive rebounding team. He lacks the lower body strength to deny deep post position to good post scorers, and he offers virtually nothing in the form of weak side shot blocking despite his length and athletic ability.

Giving up a 16th-20th (note: this to due the first round pick they gave up – Spike) pick for Moultrie was certainly not a horrible move, but I hardly consider it a slam dunk, either.

NBA Draft Net gave the Sixers an A:

We don’t think Philly could have gotten more when you consider their draft position. In a few years, I see Moe Harkless as one of the steals of this year’s draft. Incredibly smooth, long and athletic, Harkless has a power forward’s interior feel with a small forward’s mobility. Though his jumper takes on criticism, the mechanics are there and so is the work ethic. While this was a great upside pick at #15, it doesn’t compare to the value they got at #27. Arnett Moultrie has lottery tools, including 6’11 size, elite athleticism and jumper that’s unappreciated. He also led the SEC in rebounding. I would have liked the selection if they got him at #15. Philly didn’t have a pick in the lottery and landed two studs. Exceptional draft work by a top notch scouting organization.

Royce Young of CBS Sports gave the Sixers a C and a B-, respectively:

Harkless: The Sixers just added another player that can’t shoot and needs to get to the rim to score. He can defend, but isn’t this just Andre Iguodala lite? You have to assume he’s a future replacement for Iguodala who the 76ers have been trying to trade for forever. If so, not a bad pick. If not, curious.

Moultrie: This pick being traded to the 76ers from the Heat, but a bit of an unexpected free fall for Moultrie. Some had him as a late lottery guy and here he is falling nearly out of the first round. The Sixers can use more size and Moultrie is an athletic, explosive player that needs to refine his game.

Yahoo’s Mike Huguenin had the following to say about each player:

Harkless: He will be an NBA small forward but spent a lot of time out of position as a power forward in his one season at St. John’s. He is a good athlete who does a nice job on the boards and on defense. He needs to improve his outside shot.

Moultrie: Moultrie is an athletic big man who can score and rebound. He was a bit lackadaisical as a sophomore at UTEP, but was far more forceful in his one season at Mississippi State. He’s a good free-throw shooter, but his motivation was questioned at times last season. Then again, some of his teammates were dogs. He will be dealt to the Sixers for two draft picks, according to Y! Sports’ Marc J. Spears.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix listed the Sixers as one of the league’s three winners of the draft:

At No. 15 the Sixers took St. John’s forward Maurice Harkless, a raw but extremely gifted small forward. Then the Sixers cut a deal with Miami to acquire Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie, a double-double machine with the Bulldogs who can defend and hit the offensive glass. The decision to draft Harkless likely spells the end for Andre Iguodala, who could be moved for a shooter the Sixers sorely still need.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick also had positive things to say:

Harkless: I love this pick by Philadelphia. Harkless was a front-office favorite in recent weeks, and it’s his combination of scoring ability, rebounding and athleticism that has executives thinking he is going to be “really, really good,” as one such source said. The 76ers might have made it easier to trade veteran small forward Andre Iguodala with Harkless as an option for coach Doug Collins.

Moultrie: Miami has agreed to trade this pick to Philadelphia in exchange for a future first-round pick and the 45th pick. Moultrie, who averaged 16.4 points (on 54.9 percent shooting) and 10.5 rebounds last season, is a great get here for the Sixers, who continue to beef up their frontcourt.

Chad Ford of ESPN had the following to say:

Harkless: Harkless has been rising as we’ve moved closer to the draft. He’s a very good athlete and an excellent slasher, reminiscent of Trevor Ariza. But did they really need another non-shooter in Philly? 

Moultrie: The Heat are trading Moultrie’s draft rights to the 76ers for a future first-round pick and the 45th pick in the draft. Moultrie was a favorite of the Sixers and he fits them well. He’s another great athlete and he can really rebound. He also can spread the floor and even can shoot 3s. He’s not a shot blocker and he can disappear, but he’s great value here

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