Speights to the Sixers

Florida sophomore Marreese Speights entered this year's NBA draft hoping to be a first round pick, and Philadelphia made his dream come true. The 76ers selected Speights with the 16th choice overall Thursday night, making him the second and final SEC player drafted in the first round. (LSU's Anthony Randolph went two spots earlier to Golden State.)

Philadelphia had long been rumored to have substantial interest in adding Speights to their frontcourt, and it turned out not to have been posturing to disguise their true intentions.

Like Florida's three first rounders last season, Speights appears to have gone to a promising situation. Philadelphia was a playoff team this season and even won two games in their series with Detroit. They have no experience of note at the power forward spot, meaning Speights has a great chance to play quickly if he's in shape. Only center Samuel Dalembert could be described as an established post player, and he's far from a star. Having a point guard like Andre Miller to work with should be a big help to Speights, as the Sixers would love for him to be able to score on the interior. If Speights can get position, Miller has shown he will get his big guy the ball.

Philadelphia liked Speights in part because he's played in Billy Donovan's up-tempo style. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo told Philadelphia media immediately after the pick, "We're a running team and he's one of the best running big men in the draft." General manager Ed Stefanski concurred later, adding Speights was Philadelphia's primary target for their spot before the draft. Stefanski intends to take it slow with Speights at the beginning, saying "He is 20-years old. He needs to be nurtured. We do not expect him to come in to be the star of the team. We feel he will be a piece of this puzzle, and he's a good one."

Speights will make his first appearance in Philadelphia and meet the city's media Friday. Speights, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game this season, is the tenth Gator selected in the first round and the eighth under coach Billy Donovan. After the draft concluded, another of Donovan's former first rounders had a new team as well. Mike Miller was traded from Memphis to Minnesota in an eight person deal. Miller will join Corey Brewer and Chris Richard, the two Gators the Timberwolves drafted last year, in Minneapolis.


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