With all the teams that made draft day trades, which included guys like Vince Carter, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jamal Crawford being dealt, not to mention the New York Knicks essentially buying a first-round pick (for $3,000,000 in straight cash), I am somewhat surprised that the Sixers stayed at 17, picking UCLA’s Jrue Holiday at that spot. However, the more that I think about it, what other choice did they have?
Why the Sixers Didn’t Move Up:
Why? The 2009 draft was widely regarded as the worst, talent wise, since the 2000 NBA draft, where the “bust” label is often used with the guys were drafted in the lottery that year ( Stromile Swift at 2, Darius Miles at 3, Marcus Fizer at 4, DeMarr Johnson at 6, Chris Mihm at 7, Joel Pryzbilla at 9, Keyon Dooling at 10, Jermome Moiso at 11). Well, I doubt these new guys will be that bad, but outside of Oklahoma PF Blake Griffin, the talent drop-off from the rest of the lottery picks to a potential second-rounder (DeJuan Blair) was not enough for the Sixers to move up. With the Sixers targeting a point guard, again, there was no reason to trade up. While Ricky Rubio, Johnny Flynn, and Stephen Curry (combo-guard) and Brandon Jennings were being placed in the top-10 consistently in most mock-drafts, guys like UNC’s Ty Lawson, VCU’s Eric Maynor, UCLA’s Jrue Holiday and Derrick Collison ,Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague, and France’s Rodrigue Beaubois, who are more of the true point guard type Sixers’s GM Ed Stefanski was looking for as an eventual replacement for PG Andre Miller, were projected to fall anywhere between the middle of the first-round to the beginning of the second-round. Therefore, in a PG heavy draft, there was no reason to trade up for a guy like Flynn or Jennings, where you could get a player like Holiday staying at 17, which the Sixers ended up doing.
Why the Sixers Didn’t Trade Down:
Even though there were potentially 10 NBA-projected point guards that went in the first round, it seemed like the Sixers picking Holiday at 17 opened the floodgates of sorts in regards to point guards being taken. In fact, after Holiday, Lawson, Teague, Maynor and Collison were picked in order right behind Holiday at picks 18-21. If the Sixers weren’t sold on Holiday, which the obviously were, rumors before the draft were saying the Sixers were content with both Lawson and Teague at 17, whoever fell to them at that point of the draft. Well both of them fell to 17, along with Holiday, who was being considered by the Knicks at 8 and the Bucks at 10, so the Sixers had a tough choice. My guy tells me they were probably considering at one point to trade down, in hope that they could grab a 2009 second-rounder and a later first-round pick (New Orleans at 21 comes to mind) from a team that wanted to trade up to grab Holiday. Obviously, either the Sixers were high enough on Holiday to take him at 17, or they didn’t want to trade down to later in the first-round in fear that they wouldn’t get Lawson or Teague, which was a good assessment, because Lawson and Teague were the next two picks after Holiday, in which the Sixers probably would have missed out on them.
Jrue Holiday: Was He the Right Pick?
The only answer that is valid at this time is “Time will tell.” With the selection of Holiday, who is only 18 years old, one year removed from being the 2008 Gatorade National Boys Player of the Year, it’s pretty clear, at least to me, that the Sixers are trying to lure back PG Andre Miller for at least one more season. That’s not to say that Holiday won’t be a good player, because in the end, I think he will be. Holiday was a top recruit going to UCLA last year, but floundered a bit in Ben Howland’s complex offensive system. After being a PG for all four years of high school, Holiday had to move to SG at UCLA to ensure optimal playing time, therefore not taking minutes away from incumbent starting PG Derrick Collison. Needless to say, Holiday struggled a bit playing out of position, especially on the offensive end, only averaging 8.5 points per game, while starting all 32 games for the Bruins. By leaving UCLA after one season, scouts were unsure that Holiday’s 2009 play would translate into a first-round draft grade. However, his pre-draft workouts were excellent, as teams were drawn in by his athleticism, defensive promise, and size (6’4 205 pounds). After his workouts impressed many, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, it was possible for Holiday to be drafted as high as fourth overall, and his lottery status was “solidified”. When the lottery didn’t happen and he fell to the Sixers at 17, his size, and the potential at his young age was probably too much to pass up. For fans saying that the Holiday pick means the Sixers don’t care about winning now, if the Sixers do in fact resign Andre Miller to a one or two-year contract, that point is invalid, because Miller’s play was one of the main reasons the Sixers made the playoffs and came within a Hedo Turkoglu buzzer-beater of going up 3-1 on the eventual Eastern Conference champs (Orlando Magic). Miller would be a great tutor for Holiday, and if anything, re-signing Miller would make for great competition between to the two. However, if the Sixers are not planning on resigning Miller, they are either looking at putting Lou Williams or Willie Green at PG to start the season, or they’ll throw Holiday into the fire, making him the starting PG at the start of the regular season. If that’s the case, drafting a more NBA ready PG such as Ty Lawson and Eric Maynor probably would been a better choice.