May 04 2014

The Case For Aaron Gordon

Why the “doomsday scenario” might not be so bad.

Aaron Gordon JPEG

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Sixers finished with the second-worst record, and thus have the second-best chance (19.9%) of landing the first pick. This, however, doesn’t guarantee they land in the top two. In fact, the most likely scenario has them with the No. 4 pick (31.9%) and there’s a 12.3% shot they drop to fifth.

But the good news for the Sixers — and one of the less talked about tanking perks — is that they can’t sink any further. The “doomsday scenario” — well, the one that doesn’t involve New Orleans sneaking into the top three (4%) — could still result in the Sixers landing a top win producer.

For example … Aaron Gordon.

Chad Ford’s Big Board has the PF trio of Gordon, Julius Randle, and Noah Vonleh as his 5-6-7. All three have their strengths and weaknesses, but if I’m Sam Hinkie, I’m going with the combo-forward from Arizona. He won’t step in and drop 20 points a game right away (or maybe ever), so in this Yay Points! world we live in, he won’t get the star treatment. But a reliable, versatile “role player” (see: Iguodala, Andre) can be just as valuable as a top scorer. Gordon, whose athleticism is Blake Griffin-esque, could be the perfect supporting player for a future centerpiece in the event the Sixers can’t nab “their guy” with this pick.

Former Suns scout and ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan described his strengths and limitations in a 360 Draft Profile with Kevin Pelton and Chad Ford.

Offensively, he’s a diamond in the rough, but has some very defined skills. He’s an excellent finisher around the rim, and extremely active on the offensive glass. Gordon does a great job of getting out on the break and finishing. Arizona didn’t run a lot of pick-and-rolls for him, a gross under-utilization for a top-shelf athlete with superior hand-eye coordination and footwork. It should be noted that he has an inconsistent release on his jumper, but it’s not totally broken. Plus, he shot at a decent clip from 3-point range (16-for-45), and improved throughout the season.

“Extremely active” on the offensive glass would be an understatement; 11.4 percent of his offensive inside the arc came from putbacks, of which he collected a whopping 54, per hoop-math.com.

Much has also been made of his horrendous work at the free-throw line, where he shot a dismal 42 percent this season. This is a red flag, but his respectable 3-point shooting (36% on 16-45 shooting this season) suggests that he has room to grow from the charity stripe. This isn’t the next Andre Drummond.

While his offense may take some time to develop, he could be an immediate contributor on the defensive. Let Elhassan explain:

… Gordon has impressive lateral ability and can move his feet and stay in front of opponents of any size. Also, if he gets beat he will fight to recover (often successfully). Gordon will use his length to bother, contest and often reject opponents’ shots while acting as an on-ball defender. Also, he has great defensive awareness of the weak side, is able to keep track of both his man and the ball and can close out quickly and effectively without conceding blow-bys.

He’s strong enough to stick bigger fours, and athletic enough to guard multiple positions. Advanced defensive metrics at the college level should be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s really tough to overlook an 89.9 DRtg. That is damn impressive.

On the ball, Gordon’s ability to stay with his man and switch smoothly on pick-and-rolls is uncanny. Check this:

Chad Ford compares Gordon to Andrei Kirilenko, who at his best, was one of the top win producers in the NBA. The 6-9 forward was a shot-blocking steals machine who could stop the ball on the perimeter. Offensively, he never needed the ball, getting by as an average perimeter scorer and a high-effort, Thad-y guy. Kirilenko was never viewed as a “star,” but that’s probably more to do with our definition of the term than his on-court contributions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, falling to five isn’t ideal. But this isn’t a four-player draft; they could do worse than Gordon  — or Dante Exum, Julius Randle, etc. — with their top selection.

They’ll also have another likely lottery pick, several second-rounders, and a healthy Nerlens Noel going into year two of a rebuilding project. The future is bright, even if the ping-pong balls don’t bounce their way..

May 20. Stay hydrated.

  • robbybonfire23

    Aaron Gordon looks like one of the most promising FR out there, and a better all-around prospect than the Wiggins, LaVine, Hood, Gary Harris crowd, so highly touted elsewhere. One area needing improvement is his offense, as he shows just a 2.38 PPX on the year, a score akin to the “C,” or “C-” range. However his D is really good, with his 14.0 floor game right up there among all but the very top forwards. Put me down as liking him now, and even more for his potential. Unlike others in this draft he is not over-rated and appears to have a bright future at the next level.

    • ken

      lol better all around prospect than wiggins, harris, lavine? those 3 all play d at above average and are from good to great on offense while gordon is bad on offense

      • robbybonfire23

        Serious question – how do you, and others you are familiar with and respect, quantify and qualify these players’ defensive performance, game-by-game and overall? I certainly look at the defensive stat side of the ledger, for each game with DR’s, Blocks, and Steals being the best D indicators.

        But what is the method you use, to grade players’ D performance – and I hope you can come up with a better explanation than “length,” and “athleticism,” and all of that pop culture stuff which frequently denotes agility, etc., more than innate basketball playing abiltiy.

        This is EXACTLY my problem with the Wiggins, Hood, and La Vine-types of the world. They are all the trimmings without the tree.

        P.S. – I find it hard to believe that a notoriously-selfish player like Andrew Wiggins expends much effort on D to help the team, when he expends almost zero effort to help the team where it comes to dishing off to teammates – given his conference and NCAA tournament average of a disgraceful 1 1/2 assists per game. “Team first on D, Me-first/team last when it comes to the assist column.” I instinctively find that out of whack.

        • JulianW

          The only person that calls Wiggins selfish is you, Robby. Find me another scout or team executive or really anyone other than you that states that Wiggins is a selfish player. Until you can then Wiggins being selfish is not a notorious fact at all, it’s just your opinion.

          • robbybonfire23

            Julian – While I don’t seek “unpopularity,” I don’t run from having and expressing an opinion of my own, where it differs from the media view of a person, athlete, social or political issue – what have you.

            Your input does raise a valid question, in that what is a dependable yardstick for determining whether an athlete is a team-first oriented player, or a “Me-first,” selfish, bad-angle gunner and exceptionally poor outlier, where it comes to demonstrating cohesiveness with his teammates on the floor?

            I am open to your view on this subject, as to how you qualify players you look at in this regard? For myself, I look at two things. First: players with a low FG percentage who take a lot of shots; and Second: players who get major minutes playing time, to go with paltry assist totals, especially at the guard positions.

            I am tired of bashing Wiggins, to be honest. He did take a lot of shots, and his FG percentage was mediocre, I cannot say it was poor. What bothers me about him is his almost invisible (1 1/2 per game, average) assists ledger, to go with the major minutes he plays. Plus he did an “invisible man” number in his team’s tournament exit game vs. Stanford. Wow, if I am an NBA G.M. that has me scratching my head as to whether I want to take on this head case, however spectacular the level of agility and athleticism. He didn’t step up with the season on the line, he virtually “disappeared.”

            Everything that can be said, pro and con about Wiggins, has been said. Now we just need to see which team lands him in the draft, get him started on his NBA career, and by New Year’s, 2015, we will all start to get an idea as to his production rates and how he blends in with the team concept and with his coach. Will he be productive, will he be coachable and demonstrate a maturity in the NBA he lacked in the NCAA? Stay tuned.

            Many are giving him a pass, for now, where he is deficient, because he is young. I am o.k. with that. But I do need to see growth and maturity in him, on a consistent basis, before I will jump on his bandwagon. God help us if we get him and he can do no better than becoming the next A.I. This prospect scares me, to be honest.

            Plus, I can see Wiggins and MCW NOT sharing the ball with each other, same as Wiggins did his level-best NOT to share the ball with Embiid, because Embiid’s success greatly reduced the publicity Wiggins got. You have a high FG percentage guy in Embiid but Wiggins can’t get the ball to him? What the hell is that? That is NOT a player I want in my organization – talking Wiggins, Embiid coming to Philadelphia would be just fine, and I believe, translate into some NBA titles, over the next decade.

        • ken

          Honestly i dont watch much college basketball bc i dont like how there are only a handful of interesting games to watch during the season and march madness. So I use what the experts and fellow bloggers that watch alot of college basketball say about players offense and defense and from what ive heard and some that ive seen of these players the only thing gordon has going for him is his elite defense and besides that its hoping he can improve to not a good offensive player but a mediocre offensive player first becasue his shot is awful. Now for the 3 players above wiggins was arguably the best defender in college right up there with gordon and while wiggins fg% wasnt great it and it wasnt bad either. It was average which can get better with more reps and his form is good. harris is arguably the best all around guard in this draft he can do it all not great but can do it all shoot 3s, drive, defend, steals, handle, and distribute at an average to above average clip. lastly lavine can shoot above average and defends average thats all i got on him but its still more offensively and defensively combined than gordon has

          • robbybonfire23

            Ken, nice to hear from you.

            I do have to take issue with you on a couple counts. First, Exum and Smart are in this draft. Harris is not on the same page with them, even considering that Smart has a lot of work to do as regards his offensive game. But he is tough as nails and was the best defensive/floor-game guard in the NCAA nation, this year.

            Second, Harris and LaVine are ~awful~ when it comes to shooting and scoring. Harris with a 2.30 PPX (total points divided by FG misses); while LaVine, at just 1.73 PPX, ranks lowest of all the highly-regarded players in this draft.

            Let’s put this into perspective. Delon Wright, in conference play, registered a PPX of 3.12. Juwan Staten finished at 2.68, better than Wiggins at 2.56. Nik Stauskas finished at a sizzling 2.87, but is held up by his being a major floor game liability, looking at the mix of his assists, steals, DR’s, blocks and turnovers. S. Napier finished at 2.47 PPX.

            All the time I see people stating that Harris and LaVine are excellent shooters. It is crazy, this going by totals and not by rates of production. These plugs miss far too many shots to be considered anything besides strictly pedestrian, as shooters and scorers go.

          • ken

            hey robby,

            As far as harris i said arguably the best all around guard not guarentee the best guard. i know that exum and smart are in this draft as well and are good guards but exum isnt going to ge there with our pelicans pick so for the players that may be around at the 10th pick thats who i was comparing to harris as far as the arguably the best all around guard. for smart what he lacks on offense he makes up for on defense which some people may like more than an all around player i personally prefer the all around player especially when we already have a pg that struggles to shoot the ball.

            as far as the ppx stats harris shot 46% overall and 41% from 3 just 2 years ago and 43% overall and 35% from 3 this year so id like to believe he just had a little bit of a down year plus with so many players getting hurt he had to take on a very prominent role in the offense which isnt his game. as far as lavine……ya stumped me lol

          • robbybonfire23

            Yes, Ken, we agree we need shooters, badly, and Smart does not meet the basic requirements, there. I have stated that I would still take him, given a shot at him, because he is a “Marine,” or a “Navy Seal,” you might say, when it comes to his toughness, and his outstanding non-shooting game. Rarely do I like a player who has a glaring weakness as part of his game. Smart is the exception, here.

            As for a comparison of Smart with Harris, it’s not easy because Smart is a PG, and Harris is an SG. But taking a shot at it, using conference and NCAA Tournament play, on my regression-values system, Smart grades at 17.73, while Harris grades at a weak 10.25. This takes into consideration the non-shooting, or floor game, as I call it components of DR’s, Assists, Steals, and Blocks, along with the negative impact of turnovers. All these factors are “weighted,” so that Assists and DR’s are given the most emphasis, on this basis.

            Where it comes to offense – shooting and scoring, it is close, as Smart grades at 2.35 PPX (total points divided by missed FG attempts), while Harris grades at 2.30.

            I use PPX instead of FG percentage, etc., because FG percentage can be misleading, with those players not taking many 3-point shots having a decided advantage over those who do. So that one player can have a lower FG percentage than another player, but actually have more value as a scorer because of having a decent FG percentage from 3-point range and because of his taking the ball more often to the hoop and drawing more fouls and resulting free throws, than an Evan Turner-type who plays a reticent, rather than an aggressive game.

            If we take Smart he would have to play SG. Could he make that conversion? I don’t see why not. The alternative for SG in this draft would be Kyle Anderson, another outstanding option we may have. Both rate “no contest” where it comes to comparison with Gary Harris, at least in my book, for now and until we have evidence to the contrary.

  • robbybonfire23

    Interesting column at http://www.bleacherreport.com: “Seven Players Who Made A Mistake Filing For The 2014 NBA Draft.” I won’t spoil it for you by mentioning any names on the list, but just ONE of my nominees for inclusion on this list actually made it.

  • robbybonfire23

    I can no longer find the list of seven players the article suggests made a mistake in declaring for the draft, so here they are:

    Z. LaVine, J. Grant, G. Robinson, I. Austin, J. Carson, L. Ross, and J. Adams. LaVine calculates as the worst of them, at least with me. Of course they overlooked Rodney Hood, who deserves to be ranked right down there with LaVine, as the other stellar candidate for WNBAR (worst NBA rookie) of next season.

    Just think, the college basketball ranks are now weaker, every year, because so many college players who are not ready, turn pro, which also serves to weaken the NBA. Too bad it’s the things that are genuinely broken that don’t get fixed, or even addressed.

    • JulianW

      College basketball is doing just fine, and the NBA is the same as it always been. These kids that declare too early from college after one year were the same kids that were declaring too early out of high school these past decades. Some kids will think they’re ready no matter how many people tell them they need some extra seasoning. Today’s Zach Lavine was yesterday’s Sebastian Telfair, and the NBA keeps on trucking.

      • robbybonfire23

        The glut of NCAA FR, in particular, opting for the NBA draft, is a far greater population than any group declaring early out of high school. I don’t think my point that both the caliber of NCAA basketball and the overall strength of the NBA have been negatively impacted by these early declarations has even been considered, before now. I have never seen in print any other connection of this type.

        It’s a solid, and I maintain a valid point, worth considering. I hope the NBA Commissioner succeeds in implementing a 20-year old minimum age requirement for his league. So that makes at least TWO of us who see it this way, and puts me in good company.

        By the way the NBA is NOT the same as it has always been. It wasn’t that long ago that you had to wait until your college class graduated, even if you dropped out of school, before you were eligible for the NBA draft. This explains why Wilt Chamberlain, who dropped out of Kansas U., had to play with the Harlem Globetrotters for a year before joining the NBA. Eventually, some enterprising attorney took a “discrimination case” of this type to the courts, and we know the rest of the story. No one who follows the NBA should have to be primed about this.

        • JulianW

          Not that long ago? Didn’t Wilt play in the 60’s, as in over 50 years ago? Moses Malone came to the NBA from high school in 1974, and since then players have been coming from high school to the NBA. What’s more, players have been doing one-and-dones since before they made it a rule to attend college for at least one year (see Anthony, Carmelo). I don’t think the NBA has been diluted since the days of Wilt at all, despite your problem with 3-point shots nowadays (which is just that – YOUR problem).

          Robby, I made a point respectfully here. Try not to be so sensitive if someone disagrees with you.

          • robbybonfire23

            You are all over the place, from underclassmen coming out, to your endorsement of the farcical three-point shot which has demolished cohesion and disgracefully reduced the relative value for a team penetrating the defense, to the delight of fans of piggish, selfish, ball-hogging players of the A.I. ilk of yesterday, to the Wiggins’ generation of today. And don’t put that “insensitive” bombast on me, when I have a strong opinion.

            Let’s start with my contention that both the NCAA and the NBA brands of basketball are weaker with all these, especially Freshmen, defections from the college ranks to the pros. You mean to tell me you think Kansas will not be weaker next year without Joel Embiid? Kentucky will not be weaker next year without Julius Randall? Indiana will not be weaker next year without Noah Vonleh? How quaint.

            You mean to tell me that players with glaring rough edges, starting with the LaVine’s and the Hood’s of the world, will not make their respective NBA teams weaker by their unpolished presence? That is a hard case to make, considering that teams feel obliged to give major minutes to high draft choices, but you, apparently, have taken it on. I think you know better and are just being “contrary” looking to pick up a few “debate points.” Let me tell you something, these LaVine – Hood type boys are going to be like mariners in a tempest without a compass, so lost and clueless are they going to be in NBA competition.

            Me? I have no agenda other than trying my best to ferret out reality and the truth, which I grant you can be difficult in the face of massive media and public sentiment with which I take issue. Remember, after Penn, UCLA is my team, and yet I have been all over Zach LaVine for his crass ineptitude, Bruin or not. Objectivity rules in my household, not gushing sentimentality over the way I would like things to be.

            Yes, I will “pull in my horns” (if I am not kicked out of here, first), if LaVine, Hood, Wiggins, and that “shooting guard who cannot shoot,” Gary Harris make a fool of my predictions that they are in for a long-lived struggle to establish themselves at the NBA level. Meanwhile, their respective college teams really could benefit from their presence, next year, had they been prudent and realistic in the face of enticing financial reward, to exercise the discipline and the restraint to advance their career’s sequentially, not in a quantum leap defiance of where they are, in a developmental sense, at this time.

            Enjoy the draft. When Milwaukee tabs Embiid, and we take Wiggins, I may have to crawl into a deep hole.

          • robbybonfire23

            When you use the word “always” you are referring to all-time, not just recently. “Always” includes Wilt Chamberlain’s time, as well as the time of Moses (not Malone, the original), too, if he was a hoops guy. Always does not mean five minutes ago, it refers to all events since the beginning of time….

          • JulianW

            Lol, now you’re being a little ridiculous. Clearly by always I did not mean the entire history of time, but I think you knew that already…

            And I meant the popularity and talent level of the NBA is still at an all-world level. If you think that the talent level of Wilt’s era was better than the talent level we see today, then I don’t know what to tell you. Wilt was a player ahead of his time, but today’s Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder would run circles around those Sixers or Lakers.

          • robbybonfire23

            Holy mackerel, I didn’t compare eras. Don’t go bananas on me, ok? And as for my “knowing what you meant,” no one could be that psychic.

            Now the current talent level of the NBA is a solid topic, ripe for serious discussion. Sure, it’s good, maybe even outstanding. No argument, there. But it could be better. Failed franchises should be folded, not moved. This league, to accommodate the TV ratings manipulators and controllers, is carrying at least six franchises too many. Over-expansion dilutes the product, we know this.

            Plus, if the courts had not ruled in favor of players coming out early, the league would be receiving a steady flow of polished and much more mature young players, joining its ranks, annually.

            So revel in the current overall strength of the NBA, if you like, and to some extent I do too, but with the knowledge that without the strong-arming of the courts – as regards this glut of rough-edges Freshmen coming out; without the union and select politicians stonewalling contraction; and without the TV saturation frenzied-monopolists putting major league franchises in minor league venues all over the sports landscape in this country, the overall quality and competitive balance of this league could be so much better.

        • JulianW

          And for the record here, if Andrew Wiggins has a better pro career than Delon Wright, are you going to admit you were wrong or ignore you ever made those claims?

          • robbybonfire23

            In all honesty, that is a dilemma for me. You know that I do not hedge a bet or my opinion. But I have to say, Delon Wright returning to college for his senior year will greatly/negatively impact his NBA career development, if he even has an NBA career and wants one – something we should question, given his reticence to step up and take his place at the next level, at this time.

            If Delon repeats his numbers next year that he posted this year, I will still be bullish on him, but it pains me to admit that I think he has squandered his chance to become something special in the NBA, given what will be his relatively advanced rookie age, and reduced
            career developmental curve, thanks to his procrastination far beyond the time when he was ready to step up.

            So that your contention that Delon will not become a special player at the NBA level, I now have to, reluctantly, agree with. Timing is everything, you blow it, and your time has passed. Such is the case, here. I cannot tell you how much this saddens me. I think I am his biggest fan in the entire country, such is the special regard that I have for him.

          • robbybonfire23

            We know the positives, athleticism and exceptional defensive ability. Now here are the negatives, as advance at Grantland.com by three men scouting Wiggins, one an NBA G.M., one an assistant NBA G.M., and one an NBA franchise director of scouting….

            * Can’t go left.

            * Can be your third best, but not your best player.

            * Holes in his offensive game: no dribble, no pass (!), streaky

            shooter, athleticism his only appeal.

            * Great in transition but no ball skills.

            * All right hand, no idea what to do without the ball.

            * Erratic shooter – no plan when attacking the rim.

            * Easy to coach against with his limited game.

            * Tries hard but no second gear.

          • Wesley Share

            Of course, no way to determine the motives behind what those scouts/personnel guys are saying. They’re anonymous and can’t be held to what they’re saying. Maybe they want Wiggins to fall to wherever they’re drafting, or Embiid to go early to open the door for whoever they want, etc.

          • robbybonfire23

            Just so we don’t draft him and find out the hard way that the above is right on the mark. Seems to the the “no dribble” and the “no pass” can be confirmed, right now. “No pass” is consistent with “paltry assist total,” that we know is true.

            Also, the Canadian background is a concern, same as Exum’s Australian background is a concern. For Wiggins to come out of Canada and demonstrate serious flaws in his one year of college basketball in the U.S. is a red flag, to me, until he proves he can overcome the disadvantage of taking the low road to becoming NBA-established. Smart and Anderson, especially, appeal to me much more. They are just about ready to go, in 2014-2015, not long-term “potential” assets.

          • Kevin

            I don’t forsee the 76ers having a chance at taking Andrew Wiggins unless they trade up. That being said, if he is sitting at no.3 the pick should come in within a minute, because you can’t pass up on the combination of talent, athleticism and potential that he possesses. If he fails, you were the unlucky team that drafted a “can’t miss player” and missed, if you pass and he reaches his potential, you were the team that forever altered your history because of a weak front office and a blown opportunity. Imagine how the general fan base would react as well.
            It truly would be awful. Kyle Anderson very well may be a successful player in the NBA, but he can easily be had at the no.10.

          • Kevin

            I have to agree with what Wesley states here. There are already rumors emerging that the Cavs have either no interest in Wiggins or are leaning towards taking him as the no.1. That indicates smoke screens to me, and im sure they are coming from everywhere. There are also scouts who are enamored by him. I’ll lean more on the words of Chad Ford, who has absolutely no reason to sugar coat or hide anything. Here are a few excerpts from his most recent article (Where he mentions that Jabari Parker perhaps had the most impressive workout out of the “3” main guys).

            From Chad Ford on Wiggins latest workout:

            – “He’s in the best shape of the three prospects right now and showed off terrific athleticism, and improved shooting and ballhandling mechanics in the 45-minute workout.”

            – “Hanlen has been working with Wiggins on correcting several weaknesses that have been holding back his game. They have tweaked Wiggins’ jump shot, primarily by working with him on his follow-through, to get a more consistent jumper from both midrange and from behind the 3-point line…….While there’s still more work to do, Wiggins showed off a more consistent jumper from everywhere on the floor in the workout I saw. He was particularly good from each corner, shooting 14-for-16 on 3s he took there.”

            – “Wiggins has also been working on his ballhandling. While Wiggins has a solid handle, he plays very upright which gives him an unusually high dribble that’s easy to pick off……….The training seems to be taking, as Wiggins was playing much less
            upright in the workouts here, improving his quickness and explosiveness on both ends of the court.”

            – “Wiggins looked especially lethal on a new step-back move he’s been working on. He’s so quick and so long, he gets incredible separation from his defender on the move. It will be close to impossible to guard if he can get it down.”

            From Wiggins trainer Hanlen:

            – “He’s gotten by on his athleticism his whole life. Now it’s about really learning what makes players like that special from a skills standpoint and a mentality standpoint. He was hesitant at Kansas and as he improves his skills, I’m starting to see him develop confidence and a killer mentality that will be necessary at the next level. He’s been like a sponge. The improvement over the past few weeks has been incredible.”

            From another NBA Scout:

            – “I think he has the most star potential of anyone in the draft,” one veteran NBA scout told me on Friday, “and I think he goes and helps a team right away. He’ll get on the floor for significant minutes right away because he can defend multiple positions. And when his offense catches up to his defense, I just don’t see any way that this kid can fail.”

          • robbybonfire23

            MCW can’t shoot, Wiggins can’t, or refuses to pass. This bodes ill for this team, for a long time, if these two are paired on a starting five. All this glowing analysis of Wiggins’ game, mostly revolving around his (undeniable) athleticism, ignores the fact that basketball is a team game, and Wiggins does not mesh well with anyone else on a basketball court.

            I find it interesting that many here and around the country think A.I. had a “great” career. Wiggins is cut from the same “one on five” mold, with no concept as to the larger reason he is out there on the floor – to help his team win. A.I. putting the ball on net from downtown all night with a low (41 1/2 % career) FG percentage may be alright for some, but it is not alright with me.

            A.I. is generally given a pass because he played on and for mostly weak teams. This Wiggins guy, if he lands here, will be surrounded with considerable talent and will not have that excuse for bringing his piggish game to the mix. BUT, as with A.I., people will mostly look at his TOTALS, not his rates of production, and conclude he had a “great” career.

            Put me down as highly skeptical until Wiggins corrects the major flaws in his game and demonstrates a “team-first” conceptual understanding of why he is on a basketball court.

            If this team is interested in trading up, Embiid is your target, not Wiggins. I think our G.M. is smarter than to take the bait, where Wiggins is concerned. I have reached the point where I don’t want any part of fandom, connected with this team, if I am wrong and Philadelphia drafting Andrew Wiggins comes to pass. The A.I. years were excruciating, enough.

          • Kevin

            Unless Hinkie is blowing smoke, it has been pretty clear that Wiggins is no.1 on the wishlist for the 76ers. This has been stated by about every NBA Insider both during and after the season. If they trade up I would bet the house that the Kansas player that is taken is a Guard and not a Center.

            While I would not be one bit upset if they were to somehow draft Embiid either, It raises an interesting question to be asked of you. Wiggins has areas of his game to work on and become more consistent with; jumpshot, ball handling, passing, etc. The fact that these need improving are among the things that scare you when it comes to selecting him. Does it not also scare you than that Embiid has only been playing for a couple of years and is perhaps the least “NBA Ready” out of the Big 3 in this draft? While he has all the physical tools (Like Wiggins), he has to learn how to put all the tools into place to become a Dominant NBA big. Other big men had these tools as well and failed to ever develop.

            Emeka Okafor:

            – “Okafor is physical specimen. He’s strong, athletic, quick, and a very good leaper. Okafor’s bread and butter is his defense. He’s a big-time shot blocker and a very aggressive rebounder. In the past he’s struggled some on the offensive end, but this year he’s been dominant there, too. He’s developed a nice 10-foot jumper and has been looking
            for his shot more. To top it off, he’s extremely smart and a very hard worker. Most scouts consider him the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. The comparisons to a young Alonzo Mourning don’t seem that far off.”

            Michael Olowokandi:

            – “…unquestionable work ethic…”
            “…developed an outstanding turn around jump shot and a baby hook his senior season…”
            “…big hands, active body, quickness, long arms, and is extremely strong…”

            One of the things that stood out to me about the quotes on Wiggins earlier was where it was stated that he was hesitant at Kansas. That is what I have believed all along and one of my concerns because of the potential lack of a takeover instinct. However, I also feel that he can become more comfortable as he grows as a player and continues to develop his other skills. At that point, I also believe the numbers side of the game will reflect his unselfishness as a player. If you are playing timid, often times you may make just a pass, not necessarily the pass. It would also be interesting to see how often he had the hockey assist.

          • robbybonfire23

            Hinkie is crafty and he could well be “blowing smoke.” Looking forward to the draft day surprises, for us and for others.

            Any comparison of Wiggins’ season with the season Embiid just had are ludicrous. On my stats (which others don’t have to buy into, I acknowledge), Embiid was the most productive scorer, by far, at 4.41 all-purpose points per FG miss (what I call PPX), in the country. (This stat for conference games, exclusively.) Wiggins was way down the list, at 2.56, a C or C- grade.

            Plus, Embiid ranked second, nationally, among big program players, on my “floor game” (non-shooting) stat, second to Kyle Anderson, I might add, with a score of 20.24. This is a “weighted” combining of DR’s, Assists, Blocks, and Steals, along with Turnovers (as a debit). Wiggins? A puny 9.20 in this category, right down there with LaVine, Hood, Nik,S. and Jerami Grant, as the under double-digit score high-profile draftees in this category.

            Comparing Wiggins with Embiid is like comparing Yankee SS Mark Koenig with Babe Ruth, in 1927 – it just doesn’t fly.

          • Kevin

            I am a little confused here Robby because based off of your comments it seems like you think I compared the performance of Wiggins and Embiid over the past season? What I was trying to ask you was whether or not you had any concerns with the fact that Embiid is more of a “raw” prospect than Wiggins. If it bothered you that other big men that were dominant in college and had raving reviews became duds. If it bothered you that other players who burst onto the scene late and rose up draft boards fell flat (The Olowokondi’s, Darko’s, etc.)? Those were the questions I was asking, not comparing the past 2 seasons in any way. I only compared the work both had to do in order to achieve success.

            With that being said, just for future clarification, I do wholeheartedly believe that Andrew Wiggins will have a more successful NBA career than Embiid, and that is in no way an indictment on Embiid. That has more to do with the fact that I think his (A.W.) skills are going to continue to blossom and he will flourish in the NBA with the different style of game and more open court.

            As for Kyle Anderson, he has a ton of positives. He distributes the ball well, can redound, play multiple positions, can shoot….his biggest hindrance will be his lack of athleticism, where much like Evan Turner he will struggle to create space and get his own shot. Also, much like Evan Turner, he needs the ball in his hands to be effective offensively, which would not bode well with MCW. He also struggles to guard 1-on-1, which again, is an issue for a team that was so putrid defensively, although a rim protector like Noel could help that a ton. While he has talent, I just don’t know if he is a wonderful fit for this team as it is currently constructed, especially not at no.3.

          • robbybonfire23

            Kevin –

            Yes I did misconstrue a comparison between the two on your part. I apologize, not my intention to read things into anyone’s observations that are not intended.

            I am perplexed as regards your labeling Embiid “raw” by comparison with Wiggins, given that Wiggins came out of Canada, and has just one college season’s experience, as has Embiid? Maybe Embiid’s basketball experience before college suggests even lesser credentials than having Canada as a proving ground, I just don’t know, but I really don’t think the path Wiggins is taking to the NBA is worthy of praise because it may be a lesser evil than the route Embiid has taken.

            Yes, big men seem more vulnerable to injury or just plain failure to adapt to the rigors and the pace of NBA play, we agree there, as in “Where have you gone Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley?”

            But Wilt was a big man, Russell was a big man, Moses was a big man, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, way back to George Mikan, Dave Cowens and Nate Thurmond, etc., this is quite a collective legacy. My point is that you pass on a star-studded big man at your peril.

            Yes, already there are concerns re Embiid’s health and physical durability. I do not brush these off. In fact, I think physical problems are all that can prevent Embiid from taking his place among the elite players in the game.

            So that, when it comes to the risk-reward dynamic, I see more risk than potential reward attached to taking Wiggins; and more potential reward than risk attached to taking Embiid. This old horse player subscribes to the theory that “An overlay loser is a winner; and an underlay winner is a loser.”

            Finally, as regards your take on Kyle Anderson, I agree that his biggest problem, were he to come here, would be MCW taking major possession time from him. And I don’t have the answer to that, except to say that I would include MCW in a trade-up package to land Embiid in a heartbeat. MCW plus our #3 pick, and then drafting Embiid would set us up for a decade of serious contention, barring the onset of a horrendous stroke of luck.

            Interesting how Anderson has so many positives, but people have to scan for negatives to attach to him; same as Wiggins has so many negatives, yet so many people are just falling all over him with superlatives related to athleticism, defense, and his upside potential. The fallout on all of this is going to be fascinating.

          • Kevin

            The sole reasoning behind me labeling Embiid as raw in comparison to Wiggins is strictly that Wiggins will be able to come in and contribute in some capacity offensively and be a lock down type of defender immediately, whereas Embiid would be strictly the latter. Embiid’s experience before college has much less to do with his native country and more with the fact that until a few years ago he was strictly a soccer player. Even this year he was slated to start the season as a backup for the Jayhawks before he burst onto the scene. Not that Canada is a proving ground by any means, but he has been playing much longer and been in the spotlight much longer. One of the amazing things about Embiid is his rapid growth rate on the basketball court. It is why his ceiling appears to be limitless.

            I enjoy reading that Wiggins is working hard to correct many of his issues already. I like that at this point he is in the best shape of his life. It shows a strong work ethic, and that combined with his talent and athleticism, is why I deem him to be a great prospect. I view both Embiid and Wiggins as having a very small chance to fail, but the fact that Embiid has less playing experience and a recent back issue, that appears to be fine, makes me think he would have a slightly better chance to do so than Wiggins, putting us on the opposite side of the fence there.

            Wiggins athletic abilities are talked about so often because the NBA is filled with the best athletes in the world. It is important to be able to separate yourself in some way shape or form and having athletic abilities that will place you into the top 1% in the league does this. It makes all of the other skills that much more effective, and hopefully in the future, unstoppable. All superstars have either some type of elite athletic ability or some sort of transcendent skill for their size/position. Some have both.

            The draft is less than a month away and there is still no certainty as to what will happen in the top 3. Last week, the Cavs were taking Wiggins/Embiid, the Bucks were going to take the other, and the 6ers were going to get Parker at no.3. This week I read if the Cavs take anyone other than Wiggins, that Embiid, Parker and Exum are all ahead of Wiggins on the Bucks board, which would leave Wiggins at no.3 for the 6ers. I’m sure it will change 15 more times before the draft…..

          • robbybonfire23

            Kevin –

            You could be right, for reasons that are incomprehensible to me, as regards Wiggins becoming an offensive force immediately, and Embiid, perhaps later.

            The problem I have in going along with this scenario is that Embiid was ~the~ offensive force in all of NCAA basketball in his one season, whereas Wiggins, in great shape or whatever, has a big mountain to climb in this respect, given his mediocre offensive game in college.

            And let’s be honest here, all these young, high draft choice athletes are on their best attitude/best work ethic automatic pilot as they near the day they sign their first, lucrative professional contract and their lives dramatically change, overnight. So that we can assume Wiggins is far from being alone, in this respect.

            Never, in all my dialogue exchanges re sports at various blogs, have I been on a page of my own, so to speak, with a tidal wave of dissenting opinion as regards a player. I assume Embiid’s soccer background is the reason you have doubts about his acclimatizing himself to NBA play. But the fact that he was, by far, the most productive scorer this past season, as regards rate of production, seems to me sufficient reason none of us should be dismissive as to the complete skills and production he might come in and demonstrate, from the start.

            I do think the season he just had should dispel all these reservations people seem to have about him, and I look forward to his answering his critics and the skeptics, right off the bat as he launches his NBA career.

          • Kevin

            I wouldn’t necessarily say Wiggins will become an offensive force immediately, I’m more saying that because of his athletic abilities and how he can run the court that he will be the beneficiary of fast breaks and easy buckets, which are also ways to find yourself at the FT line for more easy buckets and get yourself into a rhythm.

            I will agree that all the players right now are on there best behavior, and if they are not they should be. But for a player that has nothing to lose and is guaranteed a top 3 slot regardless of what he does between now and the draft, it is a little different. It’s not as if he is a fringe first rounder and he hit the gym immediately after the season to work on his game.

            With Embiid, that was an incorrect typing on my behalf earlier. He was actually a volleyball player. With that said, It’s not that I think he is going to come in and be Anthony Bennett, I actually think he will be a very good player, not just an offensive threat immediately. My questions of Embiid towards you were more playing Devil’s Advocate, asking why since he has ?’s as well that you weren’t focusing on them the way you were with Wiggins. As I’ve said before, my least favorite of the 3 players is Parker, and my 1-4 goes Wiggins, Embiid, Exum, and than Parker.

            **Bill Self was on The Fanatic yesterday and raved about Embiid and his growth/skills. He also had good things to say about Wiggins and how he can impact different areas of the game. He mentioned that in regards to Wiggins that his physical skills are still catching up to his athletic abilities, and that his aggressiveness will improve as he gets older. His overall opinion was that both were better than any players he had coached previously and will be multiple time All-Stars on the next level.

          • robbybonfire23

            Different questions surround Embiid and Wiggins. With Embiid we are talking about the health and physical durability of a player with a complete game, from the shooting and ball-handling perspective. The volleyball part is interesting, seems like a sport that would develop instincts and timing and maximize vertical leaping ability.

            With Wiggins, so much to cite as problem areas, so naturally more focus is devoted to this, starting with mechanics, questionable team-first orientation, mediocre shooting log in his one college season, coming out too soon – some would say, given his weak Canada-background pedigree, and so many issues surrounding his overall game at Kansas.

            This over-rated player is bringing more baggage to the mix than Amtrak handles in a week.

            My top four, right now, are…1. Embiid, 2. Kyle Anderson, 3-4 a difficult and virtual toss-up between Exum and Smart, with Exum having the higher ceiling AND the lower potential floor.

          • Wesley Share

            Kyle Anderson is interesting, and I’ve followed him pretty closely since he was at St. Anthony’s. But he’s a liability when the ball isn’t in his hands (and on the Sixers, that would be most of the time), so I don’t like him here.

            If you want to maximize his potential, you’re drafting him to run your first or second unit. He’d be interesting somewhere like Toronto or Sacramento, but there aren’t a ton of ideal landing spots for him. Think he fits best as a four on a team with a couple pieces already in place, preferably with a scoring guard who’s not afraid to share ball-handling duties and with a strong five who can score in the post and defend the low block, to cover up Anderson’s defensive deficiencies. But he’s not an immediate “plug in anywhere” guy, he’s a lot more circumstantial.

          • robbybonfire23

            Kyle Anderson fascinates me, Wesley, for his all-around combination of skills. When I look at the critically important component of defense, that is, D-rebounds, I have a total of 175 for Anderson, over 19.60 complete 40-minute games, in conference and in NCAA play. Two other players in this draft are in that elevated ballpark, Embiid and Julius Randall.

            Some look at D from the standpoint of guarding opposition players, one-on-one, and it’s a valid way to do it, but more difficult to quantify. I have Anderson down as an average shooter/scorer, but as one of the premier rebounders and playmakers in this draft. He may be able to step in and help his new team, right off the bat, and certainly at a higher level than so many of the big names in this draft who are still in the “developmental” stage of their career.

            To me there isn’t much more that Anderson needs to develop, he looks about as ready to go at the next level as he is ever going to be.

          • Alex Rey

            I’ve read some of your posts and you have some interesting views and analysis. But the problem seems to be that you don’t actually watch basketball but rather watch stat sheets. This is evident through many of your posts and when you say such things like people will look at AI’s totals and think he had a great career. NO!! People will remember actually watching AI play and the things he did. That’s why he’s great, not because of any stat. Stats mean very little. For example look at Jrue Holidays college stats, Micheal Beasley, and any others. Just do your research of previous drafts and i’ll be willing to bet anything your #s don’t translate to anything concrete. How about the great Haseem Thabeet who according to your system would have a 4.89ppx? or w/e it is. Seriously you need to actually watch basketball to know what you’re talking about.

  • starks03

    3rd pick is pretty straight forward – Wigging or Parker. either one would be fine for different reasons. Big play is what to do with the 10 pick. Personally I’d love to see them take Dario Saric, who’s size, understanding of the game, skill and tenacity make him a standout at this point in the draft. Guy’s Lamar Odom with more focus and commitment.

    • Wesley Share

      What are you judging his “focus and commitment” based off of? Seems like he’s always wavering with whether to commit to one country or the other.

      • starks03

        By Watching him play. Simple. Not a bad thing if he plays in Europe for a year or so and sharpens the knife further still.