When he's not searching for a head coach, new 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie will spend the next several weeks assessing draft prospects the team could pick in the first round of June's NBA draft.
The Sixers' first opportunity to interview prospects for an extended time and evaluate them is the NBA draft combine in Chicago. The two-day combine, at which the top 63 draft prospects will undergo testing to determine their vertical jump, agility, measurements and strength, begins Thursday at the Harrison Street Gym.
"We've got our eyes on several of them already," Hinkie said Tuesday during his introductory news conference. "I know I do, and I suspect the staff [does, too]. I bet there's some overlap on the staff here in the sort of players they would have some interest in."
Asked to name prospects he's interested in, the former Houston assistant general manager jokingly responded, "I would definitely get in trouble for that."
However, various mock drafts have the Sixers, who will likely pick 11th in the draft, selecting Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller, Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, Gonzaga junior power forward Kelly Olynyk, or Rudy Gobert, a center/power forward from France. All four players are predicted to be nothing more than role players at best.
But it's no secret that a post presence and a backup guard are the Sixers' obvious needs.
Time will tell if the franchise can acquire that in the draft, via a trade or through free agency. Just don't expect the Sixers to select a franchise-changing player in what is widely considered a weak draft.
Assuming they stay in the 11th spot after next week's draft lottery, the Sixers could trade up to get a top-three spot. That could be a serious gamble, according to an NBA scout, who prefers to remain anonymous.
"Some people talk about [Kentucky freshman center] Nerlens Noel being the No. 1 pick," the scout said. "This is a guy who has an ACL tear. That's a pretty serious injury. [Freshman power forward] Anthony Bennett from UNLV, who I like a lot, is coming off shoulder surgery. And [with sophomore center] Alex Len from Maryland, I think it's an ankle surgery."
All three players remain projected top 10 draft picks despite their injuries. That also speaks to the subpar state of this draft class.
"There are no other players that must be moved ahead of them because of [their injuries]," the scout said.
Hinkie plans to interview many of the top prospects, regardless of their expected draft position. He's intent on using the trip to Chicago to collect information.
"I very much want to understand what makes [each prospect] tick [just in case] he will be a trade target in coming years," Hinkie said. "He will be a free-agent target in four years. He might be a maximum target to recruit on July 1 in nine years."