Ok so it’s Monday and we’ve all had a few days to digest what Sam Hinkie and company have done with their latest attempt to make basketball in Philadelphia relevant again. I was actually driving down the shore during the draft but had my radio turned all the way up for the entire way down, listening intently and trying to learn as much about this years draft as possible. During typical bro talk, the same question often came up, “what do you think about the Sixers?” Well, let’s break it down, shall we?
The Good: The Sixers got a very talented player with tremendous upside who can be an elite big man in the league for years to come. Although Jahlil Okafor was selected third overall, it wasn’t farfetched to argue that he should have gone second or even first. Although he was only a college freshman his arsenal of low post moves resembled a perennial NBA all star. He also proved himself as a winner, being the best player on a Duke team that won the NCAA championship. Additionally, this gives the Sixers some flexibility in regards to their big men. With recent news that Joel Embiid’s foot isn’t healing as expected, they at least now have another potential stud big to pair with Nerlens Noel for however long Embiid is dealing with whatever the hell is wrong with him.
Finally, another positive is that they passed on Latvian mystery man Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis garnered a lot of hype for himself as we got closer and closer to draft night, and maybe for good reason. Although it wasn’t the NBA, he did play, and played well, in a talented league overseas. He has a lot of potential as he’s super tall (maybe even taller than 7 foot) with a deadly outside shot. People have said he could be the next Dirk. So why was passing on Porzingis a good thing? Well, he very well could be a great player in the NBA, but frankly the Sixers weren’t in a position where they needed to take the risk. Even though he could be a scary force, so could Jahlil Okafor, so why wouldn’t you take the guy who you’ve seen first hand dominate consistently in the NCAA and could scout easier over a guy who just really started to gain hype a couple of weeks before the draft. Yeah we saw Porzingis draining three pointers, but it was literally against the air. He’s totally too skinny and still needs to put on a lot of weight, which is much easier said than done. The bottom line is yeah, maybe he is the next Dirk, but maybe he’s the next Darko Milicic or Andrea Bargnani, and quite frankly the 3rd overall pick in a talented pool isn’t where you take that type of risk.
The Bad: The Sixers didn’t get D’Angelo Russell. Lets face it, this is the guy who everyone in Philadelphia really wanted, badly. The Sixers need a guard more than a drunk person needs Wawa at 2 am and that’s really, really badly. Despite this need, they did little to address their backcourt situation with their other picks. With their first of 5 second round picks they drafted a big man from overseas only to trade him to the Knicks. Then with their following two picks they drafted two more big men, one being Richaun Holmes, a complete project from Bowling Green who doesn’t figure to matter anytime soon and the other being a big man from Lithuania who also doesn’t seem to have any real relevance. They then took 6’6 small forward J.P. Tokoto, who actually has some promise, but he still isn’t a guard and is a long shot at best. Why not take a flier on a shooter or any type of guard who can improve the backcourt down the road instead of stockpiling big men in an already way too crowded logjam of centers and power forwards? The Sixers were said to have had interest in putting together some of their second round picks and trying to get back into the first round, but they never did which is disappointing. Listen, nobody expects much from second round picks, but still with an extremely deep pool of young frontcourt prospects, taking a few guards for a spin couldn’t have hurt.
The Bottom Line: It’s too early to really have a strong opinion one way or another on this draft. The Sixers didn’t do anything great or special, but at least they didn’t blow it. I think you have to look at this one as the glass half full because there wasn’t anything they could have done about not getting Russell. Emmanuel Mudiay I believe is going to be a stud but he does carry some risk, and with Embiid’s situation the way it is, Okafor makes total sense. This reminds me of the Eagles offseason, people were freaking out when they traded LeSean McCoy…until they signed DeMarco Murray. There was a complete void at wide receiver after not resigning Maclin… until they drafted Nelson Agholar. Right now, the Sixers plan isn’t as crystal clear as it could have been, but it’s also far from the impending train wreck it could have been either after picking a very good big man. We still have to wait and see with Embiid’s foot, that impacts a lot of things. I also still think if he ends up being healthy the Sixers could trade any one of the three big dudes, with Noel actually being the most likely to go, but who knows at this point. It would have been great to get Russell, but Okafor could be a blessing in disguise, he can really be a special player in this league. Now that they have their newest pieces or as everyone likes to say “assets” it’s time for Sam Hinkie to devise a plan accordingly. The Sixers didn’t really “win” this draft, but they didn’t blow their future either, and nowadays as a Philly fan, not blowing it is a “W” in itself.
Grade (as of now): B+