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Colangelo Out! Let’s Talk Draft

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Coming off of a 52-win season, a playoff series win, cap room and two first-round draft picks to look forward to AND Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid coming back…this was supposed to be the dream off season for Philadelphia.

Then came Phonegate, Burnergate, Wifegate, or whatever you want to call it that (FINALLY) led to the resignation of GM and President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. Turns out his wife did the dirty work, and in my humble opinion, Colangelo threw her under the proverbial bus. I’ve been married for 24-years, and I’d quit my job rather than have my wife take what she took in the media. A cowardly finish to a shaky tenure. He’s gone. She’s gone. Now the Sixers are in the market for a new leader.

I find it so distasteful that Colangelo would let his wife take the blame on this. Was she just making these facts up? Surely she had to hear the opinions somewhere, right? Reports from Philly Voice state that Jerry Colangelo threatened the Sixers that he’d use his considerable clout in the league to hurt them with agents, and free agents. The Sixers denied the report, but Kyle Neubeck, the reporter, stands by his story. In any case, no matter what the investigation found, where there is smoke, there is inevitably fire. Too much smoke to see through here, he had to go. I say good riddance.

Colangelo was never embraced by Philly fans. Those who stuck with the Sixers through the lean years, stayed with a belief in The Process. Sam Hinkie was the face of the Process, and he was forced out. Presumably, Commisioner Adam Silver set Jerry Colangelo, an NBA blue blood, in place to represent the owner’s interests who felt that Hinkie’s plan was hurting the league. The fans felt Bryan Colangelo was forced on them, as they were told he was the best candidate after somehow interviewing 75 people.

Bryan was supposed to bring credibility, openness with the fans, the media, and everything Hinkie was not. He came off to Sixers fans as smug, condescending and the fact that Markelle Fultz had so many problems in his rookie year while Jayson Tatum excelled, drew more of the fan’s ire. The bottom line is the Colangelo era is over, the Hinkie era is in the distant past, and now a new part of a new process will begin. This will be one of the most desirable job in sports, and if the Sixers handle things well, they should get a great leader and have many to choose from.

Next up is the draft.

The Sixers have six picks. They will not take six players. They will sell a couple of second round picks off, package a few to move up, or draft some European players to stash.

Let’s focus on their top first round pick. They have the 10th pick, acquired from the Lakers when they dealt Michael Carter-Williams. Philadelphia also has their own pick, number 26. Depending on what happens with J.J. Redick, a free agent, drafting a shooter at the 10th spot who can defend would be very appealing. The Sixers got destroyed on the wing by Boston in the playoffs. Robert Covington, an NBA All-Defensive Player this year, did an awful job trying to stay with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum. J.J. Redick is an offensive force, but a defensive liability at times.

The player that makes the most sense is Villanova’s Mikal Bridges. He’s a long defender who can shoot. That is what the Sixers like. Is he an alpha dog that can create his own shot down the stretch of a game to put a lead away? I’m not sure he is. But he’d be a great pick. I just don’t see him getting past the Knicks at the ninth spot.

The other Bridges, Miles has been linked to the Sixers. Miles Bridges, a sophomore from Michigan State, is too much like Covington to draft in my opinion. He’s a better athlete and more powerfully built, but lacks a polished game going to the basket. Covington is an awful finisher, and Bridges is probably better. But Bridges isn’t the defensive player Covington is. I don’t think he’s an upgrade and the Sixers can do better at that spot.

The player I think would add the most value for the Sixers is Duke Freshman Wendell Carter Jr.. Carter is 6-10, and I think he’d be a great backup for Embiid, and can play the 4 behind Saric. Carter Jr. probably won’t slip until 10, but he might. He’s athletic, dynamic, can shoot, and would really strengthen the Sixers  front court. The Sixers saw huge drops in defensive efficiency when Amir Johnson came in for Joel Embiid. Brett Brown was forced to use Ersan Ilyasova at the 5-spot in the playoffs and when Embiid was out with the broken orbital bone. Ersan is a free agent, and there’s no chance Amir Johnson will be back. Carter Jr. would be a great fit, with the Sixers being able to find wing help in free agency.

One more player to keep an eye on is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, from Kentucky. Another long player, Gilgeous-Alexander is 6-6, and is a strong defender. he is not a great shooter, and was sometimes hesitant to shoot. Would that work with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who had shooting hesitations of their own for different reasons? I don’t like the fit. He is long, he can defend – and he is an exceptional athlete.

I would assume more players will emerge as Sixers targets. But these are the most realistic that I can see being available for the picking. The 26th pick might be a nice asset to use to trade up and get in the top 7. Free agency starts in July, and the fun is just beginning!

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About Mike Small

Married for 23 years, and a father of four. Currently a Pharmaceutical Sales Leader, and contributor for TLSportsMedia, covering the Philadelphia 76ers and other relevant NBA topics. Previously worked as a television sports anchor in Eastern North Carolina, radio talk show host in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also served as the producer of "The Dean Smith Show", a weekly television show on The University of North Carolina basketball team, and "The Mack Brown Show", a weekly television show on the UNC football team-while doing all of the player features. Wrote a weekly column and articles for Carolina Blue Newspaper. Was also a contributor to, "A Season of Dreams", a book on the 1993 National Champion North Carolina Basketball Team.

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