The Philadelphia 76ers pulled a couple of surprises in the 2012 NBA Draft. Not only did they stun fans by choosing small forward Maurice Harkless with the 15th pick, but they also dealt a future first rounder in order to get Arnett Moultrie late in the first round. I didn't really expect the 76ers to make a trade for another pick in this draft, so that was more than a little surprising. However, the shock of seeing the team avoid filling the need for a big man with the top pick was the big story of the day. As a fan, I find it difficult to understand what the 76ers were doing.
The 76ers needed size in this draft. Instead, they chose the 6'8" Harkless and added another undersized body to a roster full of them. This team needed a big power forward, but could have stood to add a center or a solid shooter. Harkless doesn't fall into any of those categories. On the surface, he's a one dimensional small forward that can't shoot the three. He was just a 21 percent three point shooter in college. Given that the team still has Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala, this pick makes little sense. Maybe the team is planning to trade one of those two players at some point this offseason, but that still leaves major questions about this pick.
The selection of Moultrie is much better. At 6'11", he is a guy that can take over for Elton Brand as early as this season. I don't feel like the 76ers reached for this pick, and I really liked that they traded up to get him. He was a double-double guy at Mississippi State, and those skills should translate nicely to the NBA. If nothing else, the 76ers addressed a need by taking him.
Overall, it's hard to grade this draft any better than a C-. Sure, I like the Moultrie pick but grabbing Harkless was a major mistake. He might turn out to be a great player one day, but the 76ers should have addressed one of their weak areas with that pick. Instead, they have brought in a player that is best suited for a position that is already overloaded. Unless the team has a major trade up their sleeve, this pick could come back to bite them.
* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong 76ers fan.
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