As absurd and illogical as it may sound, the best-case scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery may be walking away from the anticipated selection of ping pong balls without the first or second overall pick.
You may ask, “why in the hell would any rebuilding team not want the luxury of picking before everyone else, or getting their guy after only one selection?” The rebuttal is completely justifiable, but the initial claim has just as much support, depending on which outcome you prefer on draft night.
Let’s consider the possibility of Philly landing the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the draft after the lottery is over. The majority considers Kentucky’s big man Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s star center Jahlil Okafor as the consensus top two talents in the draft. This is where landing one of the first two picks in the draft could point to another season of complete and utter bottom feeding.
Nerlens Noel has already proven how valuable his presence in Philly can be from this point forward, especially on the defensive end of the court, while Joel Embiid, the franchise’s proposed centerpiece, is expected to make his NBA debut in the Summer League and join Noel in the paint to kick next season off and begin building on the frontcourt of the future. But in a recent sit down with CSN Philly, the Sixers’ CEO Scott O’Neil was asked whether he would be drafting based on need or best talent available, in which he quickly responded, ‘Best player. Best player, best player, best player every time; twice on Sunday.”
If O’Neil and his staff were to be among those who believe Towns and Okafor are unquestionably the top two talents available, then the apparent assumption would be Sam Hinkie hopes to add yet another big man to the two Philly has already stocked, which to me, would be poor use of a top pick with two elite-caliber guards in D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay and a severe need at floor general.
If Philly were to land the third of fourth pick, at least one of these guys would surely still be available and the risk of forcing Hinkie to take one-too-many chances would almost surely be eliminated.