Sixers Go Big by Taking Nikola Vucevic at 16 and Lavoy Allen at 50.

With the 16th overall pick the Sixers selected Nikola Vucevic from USC.

Last night was the night when the dreams of young NBA hopefuls came to fruition. The night when the reward for the years of hard work and dedication finally paid off. It was the night when dreams became a reality. Ok, enough with the sappiness. It was the NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers, coming off of a 41-41 regular season and a 1st round playoff exit at the hands of the Heat, entered last night’s draft with two selections, 16th overall and 50th overall.

It was clear entering the evening that the Sixers’ objective was to acquire front court help, namely a PF or C. The Sixers crop of big men is an underwhelming bunch to say the least. Elton Brand proved that he has something left in the tank but he is still on the downside of his career and he does not seem to be a major facet in the long-term success of the franchise. Spencer Hawes is a streaky big man but lacks power and explosiveness down low on both sides of the floor. Marreese Speights has been somewhat of a disappointment so far. He has shown some flashes of brilliance in his young career but they have been too few and far between to have Sixers’ fans excited. Craig Brackins is still a work in progress. Darius Songaila is a free agent and most likely will not be back as is Tony Battie. Perhaps your most productive big man with upside, if you could call him that is Thaddeus Young. He is definitely a hybrid forward and it seems safe to say that he really is not a SF or a PF specifically. He’s just a basketball player.

So when looking at this as the landscape for the Sixers, it is no wonder why they needed to go big in last night’s draft and they certainly did that selecting Nikola Vucevic with the 16th pick and Lavoy Allen with the 50th pick.

Vucevic averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds for USC last season.

Vucevic is listed at just under 7’0″ and tips the scales at 260 pounds. He is a native of Montenegro and played three seasons of college ball at USC. Vucevic is nothing like what the Sixers have on their roster. He is a “big” big man. His combination of height and size should give him no problems adjusting to defending and playing against NBA bigs. He has good low post skills with his back to the basket but can also step away from the hoop and knock down jump shots from the NBA three-point line. Vucevic will be another piece to add to the Sixers’ young core. He is still only 20 years old. He is coming off his best season at USC where he averaged a double double of 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is capable of coming in right away and competing for minutes on this team, if not a starting spot. GM Ed Stefanski was quoted as saying that “he has a pro type game right now”.

Hopefully that is the case because that is exactly what the Sixers need. They need a player who will need little time to adjust to the pro game if they are adamant about competing in the Eastern Conference next season. Doug Collins was quoted as saying that “I liked him from the moment I saw him at the Chicago pre-draft camp. He is a hard-working, skilled big man with a desire to succeed who gives us more size in the front court, which is a need. He is a player that we are ecstatic to have on our roster and I look forward to coaching him.”

With Vucevic in tow, and the team ecstatic to have him, the Sixers entered the second round of the draft with the 50th overall selection. Obviously having drafted a big already the Sixers could have gone anywhere with this selection because there is no real guarantee that the 50th pick will even make the roster. Some speculated that the team would go with a backup point guard to perhaps develop behind Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, or maybe a wing man in case of the departure of Andre Iguodala. However, the Sixers went big again selecting local product Lavoy Allen out of Temple.

Lavoy Allen of Temple was selected by the Sixers with the 50th overall pick.

Allen is 6’9″, 225. He is Temple’s all time leading rebounder and is a solid defender. The knocks against him are on the offensive end of the floor. He averaged just 11.5 points per game last season but chipped in 8.6 rebounds as well. He also needs to develop a more consistent jump shot around the 15-18 foot area. He is being brought in because of his ability to rebound and defend and the word is that this is something that Coach Doug Collins pushed for because he wants a chance to develop Allen’s game.

The road to make the team will not be an easy one for Allen. The Sixers may not have the most stellar group of bigs but Allen certainly has some guys in front of him. He will have to at least surpass Craig Brackins in the minds of the coaching staff if he wants a chance to suit up next season. Other Temple products like Dionte Christmas and Ryan Brooks also had shots with the Sixers and neither panned out. Allen will have the task of trying to reverse that trend.

The final note to take from the draft last night is that Andre Iguodala is still a Sixer, for now. There were rumors surfacing that Iguodala could have been dealt to L.A. for Lamar Odom and Luke Walton/Ron Artest or to Minnesota in a deal for the #2 pick. However, that did not happen. Iguodala is still the face of the franchise for the time being. There is still speculation that he will be dealt at some point during this off-season. Perhaps the Flyers stole the Sixers spotlight by dealing away two stars in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. It will be interesting to see if and when the Sixers will be ready to follow suit and let go of their star player.

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