Figuring out what a team is going to do in an upcoming player draft is pretty much a crapshoot, regardless of the sport. Teams don't want to tip their hand to their rivals for fear of the possibility that rival will snatch up the pick that particular team coveted.
For a team that has been in as much flux as the Philadelphia 76ers have been for the past 8 months, it really becomes difficult to discern what they're thinking and what their philosophy is. The 76ers had traded for Andrew Bynum last year but he never set foot on the shiny hardwood of the Wells Fargo Center all year. Doug Collins resigned as coach at season's end. The Sixers did make one big move in May when they hired Sam Hinkie from Houston to be their general manager. Hinkie is basketball's counterpart to Billy Bean, a "sabermatrician" of sorts who leans heavily on statistical analysis to help improve decision-making. He is considered an expert in analytics, day-to-day management of basketball operations, the salary cap and scouting players, both college and professional. He was with the Houston Rockets for eight seasons, the last 4 of them as executive vice president of basketball operations.
I have no doubt that Hinkie has been hard at work analyzing the Sixers' current roster, team needs and what players are available in the upcoming draft. The problem is that the Sixers have a lot of needs. Based on articles from multiple sites, I am offering a preview of some of the players that the Sixers have their eye on as a potential first round draft pick this year. The NBA draft starts on June 27 and the Sixers drew the 11th pick in the lottery. Below, in no particular order, are some of the players that the Sixers have shown interest in the last 1-2 months:
Zeller is a 7-foot, 230 pound power forward/center from Indiana. At the NBA draft combine, his test results were among the best: 2.69 seconds in the modified lane agility drill, 34.5 inches in the standing vertical leap and 3.15 seconds in the three-quarter-court sprint, which was the fastest among power forwards and centers. He is considered to have an excellent basketball IQ and runs the floor very well for someone his size. He is durable, having never missed game during his tenure at IU. He is unselfish and cares about the team, not accumulating individual stats. However, this is also viewed as somewhat of a weakness as Zeller is not considered a "fiery" personality and prefers to be one of the guys instead of "the guy". He would have to work on his defensive game because, in spite of his size, he is not a great shot-blocker and was intimidated by stronger opponents. However, I think that for a team like the Sixers, who pretty much have needs at every position, Zeller could be a great addition. As a rookie, he would be someone who would be willing to learn and pour himself into becoming a good player. Additionally, during the combine he demonstrated that he could shoot the jump shot, which apparently he wasn't given the freedom to do much at Indiana.
Plumlee is a 6'11, 238 pound power forward from Duke, who played 3 of his 4 years there with older brother Miles but is considered to be more talented. He is athletic around the basket, having averaged 10 rebounds per game his senior year. He is a great finisher and developed some post moves but is still considered to be somewhat robotic and stiff. However, he is great at crashing the boards and getting putbacks. He still needs to work on his defensive game—he averaged just over 1 block per game and one steal. However, he has continued to add bulk and strength during his offseasons while at Duke. It will be interesting to see if the Sixers think Plumlee could be a factor for them in the frontcourt.
Nogueira is a 7'0, 230 pound center from Brazil who is considered somewhat raw but has lots of potential. For a large player, he has excellent footwork and is a solid rebounder. During the first day of Adidas' Eurocamp on June 8, 2013, Nogueira was clearly the standout star, scoring 13 points as well as blocking 4 shots and collecting 3 rebounds. He is felt to have a very high ceiling because of his athletic ability and had a solid season playing in the ACB, which is one of the top leagues in Europe. He showed progress in his defensive game as well as his mental maturation the past few years. As he is only 20 years old, he is still a work in progress but on a team like the Sixers, who will likely be building around their young core of Jrue Holliday and Thaddeus Young, Nogueira could be a great piece. Also, Sam Hinkie wants to bring in a young coach who is willing to grow with the team. Hinkie attended the Eurocamp and saw Nogueira's performance. He could be the sleeper pick of the first round.
At 7'0, 238 pounds, Olynyk, who played for the Gonazaga Bulldogs for 3 seasons, has good skills in the post as well as being a very effective half-court player for a big man. He is not the most athletic player and lacks explosiveness but he has spent time developing his game and could be an asset for the Sixers. He is motivated and coachable and has a good work ethic, which has led to his improvement in his skills over the course of his career at Gonzaga. He was a very productive player as a junior, averaging 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists/game and 1.1 blocks/game. During the draft combine in Chicago in May, Olynyk stood out among centers for his ability to hit the jumper during shooting drills. He was named the West Coast Conference player of the year in helping to lead Gonzaga to a 16-0 record in the conference along with the school's 15th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and its' first as a number 1 seed. If the Sixers decide to move on from Andrew Bynum, Olynyk could be a good choice as a big man as the Sixers look to rebuild.
http://nbadraft.net/players/kelly-olynyk http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/_/id/46207/kelly-olynyk http://www.gozags.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=627536&SPID=90846&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=26400&ATCLID=205173776&Q_SEASON=2012