PHILADELPHIA — One big man after another walked through the 76ers’ practice facility in recent weeks and showed their stuff.
Tonight, one of those guys will come back to stay.
The Sixers, who bowed out of the postseason in the second round, need a power forward or center to clog the middle. They should find one with the 15th pick in the NBA draft.
“I think this is a good time to be (picking from) 10 to 20,” team president Rod Thorn said. “There are some good players there that can turn out to be as good as some of the guys taken a little higher.”
Percy Jones III, Terrence Jones, Andrew Nicholson, Arnett Moultrie, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Marquis Teague, Hollis Thompson, Moe Harkless, Quincy Miller and Mike Scott are just some of the players who worked out in Philadelphia over the past month.
“If you go big, you would like to get an athletic big,” Thorn said. “Our guys aren’t super athletic, our bigs. So if you could get an athletic big who can rebound and help defensively and make a jump shot, that would be a real coup for us.
“I think we are going to have a choice at 15 of two or three guys we like. There are two or three guys that bring excitement to us, but they may not be there. But we are hopeful.”
One big man who won’t be there for certain when the Sixers pick is Anthony Davis. He’s expected to go to the New Orleans Hornets at No. 1.
“If you take Davis out of the mix, there are some guys who are going to be really good players, but there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference,” Thorn said. “There’s a whole bunch of guys after you take him out and a lot of it is in the eye of the beholder.”
The Sixers also have two picks in the second round, Nos. 45 and 54. If they get their targeted guy in Round 1, they could look to add a shooter later.
But an impact shooter likely would have to come through trade or free agency, which starts three days after the draft. The Sixers have tough decisions to make on center Spencer Hawes and guard Lou Williams, who will become free agents. They also have to figure out whether to keep forward Elton Brand.
“Guys are going to ask for a certain range, but until you actually start talking, you don’t really know,” Thorn said. “Everyone wants as much as they can get. Everybody tries to overprice themselves to start with, but the reality jumps up very quickly of what you are worth out there. The scary thing this year is so many teams that have money and are way under the cap, and it only takes one team.”
The Sixers are coming off a successful season in their first year under new ownership. Led by Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala, they started 20-9, posted their first winning record (35-31) since 2004-05, and won a playoff series for the first time since 2003.
Now they want to move onto that next step and become legitimate championship contenders.
That’s the hard part.
“If you look at some of the teams behind us, they are getting better and some of the teams ahead of us are still going to be good,” Thorn said. “I think it is imperative that you always try to get better. If you don’t, teams start passing you.
“We are in that area where there are a lot of teams that there aren’t a heck of a lot of difference in so we have to try and get better because we would like to move up and not be the eighth team in the playoffs.
“We are going to have to get better to do that.”