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The Absence of a True Center Continues to Plague the Sixers

With the 2011 NBA Draft just a few hours away, many teams are scrambling to figure out all their options. The Sixers have been linked to a few rumors in the past couple of weeks. Andre Iguodala-for-Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala-for-Chris Kaman, Andre Iguodala-for-Jonny Flynn, Andre Iguodala-for-Lamar Odom are just a few that come to mind at this very moment. What the Sixers absolutely need, however, is a true center. They haven’t had one in years and because of that, the Sixers haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 2001, when they lost the series 4-1 against Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers. Who could forget?

Dennis Deitch of The Delco Times had this to say about the Sixers’ situation (this article was written DURING the 2010-2011 season):

“If it weren’t for Elton Brand, who has been terrific this [past] season, the Sixers would be losing by 20 points every night. But a power forward only can offer so much in terms of support on the blocks.

Spencer Hawes is laughably soft. The Sixers’ starting center has 30 rebounds this season. That’s one less than Minnesota’s Kevin Love had in 41 minutes against the Knicks Friday, [November 12, 2010]."

While a trade for Monta Ellis is enticing, it still leaves the Sixers with a small roster (average of 6’4" if you count the loss of Iguodala). Chris Kaman is like a small, irrelevant cousin of Dirk Nowitzki, in a sense. And no, it’s not because they’re both of German descent. Kaman is a 7-foot scorer who has a career average of 8.3 rebounds per game; he also has some nagging injuries and only played in 32 games this past season. Not the type of productivity-or reliability, for that matter-you want to trade your best defender for.

Without a big man down low, the half court offense is a tough one to successfully execute. If the Sixers trade Iguodala for Chris Kaman, they would put themselves in a bigger hole since Iggy is their quarterback in transition. The Sixers would, essentially, be a half court team with no big, reliable center under the basket and a bunch of small guards and undersized forwards. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Should the Sixers trade Iguodala? Yes and no. There are obvious reasons why and why not, but the tiebreaker in this case is going to be the salary owed to Iggy. If he didn’t cost so much, I’d be all for keeping him. In fact, I still think the Sixers should keep him, unless they get great value for him in return. I don’t necessarily think Lamar Odom is great value since he is 31. However, he’s an experienced player and, more importantly, he’s a champion.

Of course, the Sixers could attempt to solve these problems tonight by drafting a true center like Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas, USC’s Nikola Vucevic, or Fresno State big man Greg Smith. The Sixers have a young core of solid scorers, contrary to popular belief; ESPN’s Chad Ford seems to disagree.

For my next point, I’ll call on one of my favorite quotes of all time and it comes from Lorenzo in A Bronx Tale:

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”

It would be a shame to waste the talents of guys like Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Thad Young, Lou Williams, and Evan Turner due to the absence of a center to get the team over the hump.

Calling Dwight Howard!

Check our Sixers 2011 NBA Draft Preview and our NBA Draft storystream.