2012 NBA Draft: Why Rip the Moe Harkless Pick Already?

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Moe Harkless of St. John's Red Storm walks on stage after he was selected number fifteen overall by the Philadelphia 76ers during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

For months, speculation has run rampant about the Philadelphia 76ers' draft plans. The obvious choice was a big man, preferably someone like John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard or Arnett Moultrie.

So when it was time for the 76ers to pick at No. 15 overall, they went a different route, selecting St. John's combo forward Maurice Harkless. Sure, fans were stunned, but there was no reason to be.

For weeks now, Sixers' general manager Rod Thorn has been saying that the team would go with the best talent available, and wouldn't draft a player that happens to fit their needs the most.

We saw what happened when the Sixers selected for need last season. Nikola Vucevic was the pick at No. 16 overall, and the international big failed to make any significant contribution in his rookie season. Yes, he still room to grown, but his upside is limited.

By selecting Harkless, the Sixers have afforded themselves flexibility. Sure, he's similar in stature to Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala, but there's nothing wrong with having an athletic swing man to come off of the bench and provide a spark.

The Sixers opted to go with versatility instead of an individual need, and in the long run it should serve them well.

Contrary to popular belief, Harkless will not come in and simply replace Iguodala from day one. Iguodala is an eight-year NBA veteran, and has proven to be one of the league's best wing defenders. Harkless may have upside, but his game shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Iguodala's for the time being.

As for the void in the frontcourt, the Sixers did an adequate job of addressing their height and length deficiencies.

By flipping pick No. 45 and a future first-round selection to the Miami Heat, the Sixers were able to secure the power forward many wanted them to select at No. 15 all along.

Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie is a more likely candidate to start in his rookie season, especially if Elton Brand is slapped with the dreaded amnesty clause.

So, now that the draft is over and the Sixers' front office is getting crucified, let me ask you this: Had the Sixers selected Moultrie at No. 15 and traded back into the first round to select Harkless, would people really be that angry?