By now, it’s well known that the Philadelphia 76ers need a little extra help in order to climb over the hump of mediocrity. A projected sixteenth overall draft pick most likely won’t take Philly to the next level, so let’s focus in on free agency.
Unless you’re a fan of large, unathletic centers, with a double-zero stamped on their chest and back, then continue reading from this paragraph and on. Ed Stefanski said himself that the Sixers need to add a big man to go along with Elton Brand.
If we can’t land a center in the draft, then look no further than 2011’s free agency period. The NBA’s current salary cap is 58.044-million dollars and next year, barring a lockout, the cap may increase by a slight margin. With Jason Kapono, Darius Songaila, Antonio Daniels and Tony Battie coming off the books, the Sixers will be left with just under 54-million in total cap. This leaves Philadelphia with some breathing space, allowing them to pursue a semi-impactful player this offseason.
Here are three players that Rod Thorn and the Sixers’ front office should go after in a couple of months:
1. Nene Hilario
So far this season, Nene Hilario averages 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the Denver Nuggets. He is the definition of an athletic, physical
center, not hesitant to break a defenders wrist on a dunk attempt. His ability to run the floor would fit in perfectly with Philadelphia and their fast-pace, transition offense. Also, the 76ers are in dire straights for a defensive powerhouse in the low post. Nene has averaged a block or more in the last three seasons and during that stretch of time, his field-goal percentage has skyrocketed to just around 60. Throughout the 2010-11 season, it seemed as if teams were not at all afraid of taking the ball to the basket against Philly, because of their poor, low-post defense. Although Samuel Dalembert induced headache after headache, his shot-blocking ability was missed, but his ineptitude on the offensive end wasn’t. Nene could fill in the hole, left by Dalembert, and add a little extra on the offensive end as well.
2. Tyson Chandler
Since his rookie season in 2001, Tyson Chandler has been one of the
better shot blockers in the NBA. Of course, being seven-foot-one helps, but along with his long frame, comes great athleticism for his size. I can see it now; Jrue Holiday tossing rainbow alley oops to Chandler, bringing to Wells Fargo Center down in a sea of roars. Much like Nene, Chandler brings a large amount of enthusiasm and emotion to the table, which is something that the 76ers have lacked over the past few years. Last year, Reggie Evans was quite possibly the most dramatic player on the team and now that title probably belongs to Marreese Speights, but unfortunately, he doesn’t know the directions from the bench to the hardwood. Basically, for all the same reasons as Nene, the Sixers would be greatly improved with Chandler in the middle.
3. Greg Oden
Tear me up for this one if you’d like, but I am what you’d call an optimist. That’s hard to find in the tri-state area, eh? Greg Oden
has obviously failed to live up to the expectations he once basked in at Ohio State. He was selected first overall and one pick before Oklahoma City Thunder’s superstar, Kevin Durant, but injuries have broken his reputation as a reliant big man in the NBA. Well, there is always a chance for new beginnings. Greg Oden’s injury problems have set his price for the 2011, free agent market much lower than he was worth coming out of the draft a few years back, thus making him affordable for Philadelphia. If Oden could manage to stay healthy and regain the form he once had, while dominating in college, then he could be a force for Philly. His mobility, due to his injuries, most likely sinks his overall athletic ability to Spencer Hawes status, but he has a high basketball IQ. His shot-blocking ability and low-post, offensive talent is still there, but hiding under a blanket of unreliability. Everyone has to take a chance every once in a while and the Sixers could use some luck.