Draft comes and goes with Iguodala still a Sixer


Friday, June 24, 2011
Posted: 1 a.m.

By Dei Lynam

Andre Iguodala was the talk of the town all day leading up to the NBA draft. Would he be dealt to the Lakers? Or maybe go to Minnesota?

At days end, however, No. 9 is still with the franchise that drafted him in the summer of 2004.

A draft day trade seemed unlikely. But an Iguodala trade remains a possibility given that Golden State selected Klay Thompson -- a shooting guard who averaged 22 points for Washington State last season -- with the No. 11 pick Thursday night.

That means the Warriors now have prominent perimeter players in Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and Thompson. It would appear someone there has to be on the move. Maybe the Ellis-for-Iguodala trade talk gets revisited, despite the fact that Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said, in an interview with ESPN during the draft, that they intend to keep Ellis.

As general manager Ed Stefanski said when asked about the many trades that came up on this day, It would be nice if the phones had truth meters, indicating the number of conversations that take place between teams that have no chance of ever happening.

On a day when the Philadelphia Flyers rocked the hockey world trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, as well as signing goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the Sixers had little chance of taking center stage in the Philadelphia sports world even if they had traded the A.I. this city loves to dislike.

And so the team adds a 20-year-old big man who is foreign but also has three years of college experience.

Nikola Vucevic, whom the Sixers drafted with the 16th pick in the first round, fits a need and has ability. The tallest player in this years draft, Vucevic is 6-foot-11 and can stretch the center position with his outside shooting ability. As a sophomore at USC, Vucevic was named the Pac-10s most improved player. A year later his scoring average jumped seven points, and he averaged a double-double (17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds).

What is equally appealing is that he struck a positive chord with Doug Collins immediately at the Chicago pre-draft combine. His basketball IQ is high and his work ethic is said to be outstanding. He can play.

This was a brutal draft, Stefanski said. I have never been in a draft where I didnt know who was going in what spots and there were surprises all night long. In the draft room we were shocked where different players went. We were just looking to see if Vucevic could fall to us.

For Vucevic, hearing his name called on draft night is something he has certainly dreamed of.

I always believed I could play professionally, Vucevic said. I started really believing I could make it my sophomore year at USC when I was able to show a lot of improvement and people started talking about it.

Its a small world
This years draft was described as top light, meaning there was little superstar potential but plenty of players that could have good NBA careers.

This draft also had a great deal of international flavor. Four international players were selected in the top seven and, when Bismack Biyombo was taken seventh by Sacramento, which was picking for Charlotte, CSN basketball analyst Marc Jackson could be seen in the green room with the prospect from the Congo. Jackson trains Biyombo and mentors him. When Jackson played his last year of professional ball in Spain, his Spanish agent and good friend introduced the two.

Jacksons friend became Biyombos agent, and this past year he played his first season in the Spanish ACB league with Fuenlabrada. Biyombo went from obscurity to lottery pick after grabbing 11 rebounds and tallying 10 blocks in the Nike Summit Hoops game earlier this year.

E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow her on Twitter @DLynamCSN.

Related: Sixers draft center Vucevic with 16th overall pickSixers pick Temple's Allen in second round

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