Four years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers had a crucial decision to make as they entered the offseason. They had shown genuine interest in two power forwards, both of whom flashed contrasting styles of play.
Although Smith entered the summer of 2008 as a restricted free-agent, his value to the 76ers could have been astronomical. At 6'9'' and 225 pounds, Smith showed he was capable of running the floor, scoring and passing well in transition, while also rebounding well for a player of his size.
Elton Brand of the Clippers was entering unrestricted free-agency after boasting very similar stats (17.6 points and 8 rebounds per game) in the 2007-2008 season.
Since signing Brand, the Sixers have lacked any sort of punch in the frontcourt. Due to some injury struggles and a naturally aging body, Brand's play has been on the decline for the last few seasons.
Brand hit a new low this season, playing an average of 28.9 minutes per game, and proved to be a non-factor in the Sixers' run to the conference semifinals.
On Thursday, the Sixers will have a chance to redeem themselves for their poor decision in the summer of 2008.
Many mock drafts have suggested that Baylor's Perry Jones III will be available when the Sixers are on the clock at No. 15 overall.
If that is indeed the case, the Sixers cannot afford to pass on an athletic forward the way they did with Smith.
Jones' game may still be a bit raw, but he has all of the tools to become a force at the professional level. A good fit with a young, speedy Sixer team, Jones has the ability to be an impact player for a team in search of some much needed frontcourt help.
Now 33-years-old, Brand and his unsightly contract may be on the way out this summer. Four years after his arrival in Philadelphia, the Sixers may be tempted to use their amnesty clause on Brand and the remaining $18.1 million on his contract (per Rotoworld.com).
With an established young corps led by Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, the Sixers have an opportunity to reshape the future of their franchise with their first round pick in this year's NBA draft.
A 6'11'' forward with a versatile skill set, Jones has a polished jump shot and great length. Although he may need to bulk up at the next level, Jones is the kind of player the Sixers have needed in the frontcourt for the last four years.
He may not be a safe pick, but Jones is a prospect that fans can get excited about.
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