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The SportsTalk Shop: NBA Draft Preview – 76ers

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Over the next couple of weeks we’ll take a look at the two NBA teams in the RCN viewing area and how they’ll approach this year’s NBA Draft, which will commence on June 25.

Today, a look at your Philadelphia 76ers.

#1:  “The #3 Pick Wasn’t That Bad”
I know fans of “the tank” were hoping the franchise’s record losses would result in a mammoth takeover by the Sixers in this year’s draft.  (The “#OneSixEleven” movement was trending before the lottery got underway last week).  However, the main objective of the team doing so poorly over the last few years is to secure marquee names.  In my opinion, there are really only three of these available in this year’s draft class (sorry, I’m not buying into the whole Emmanel Mudiay frenzy).  It looks as though D’Angelo Russell will be the most probable player left over after the number-one (Timberwolves) and the number-two (Lakers, as of now) picks are selected.  Adding a second (not likely) or even a third (barely even conceivable) top 11 pick would have shifted the Sixers’ rebuild into overdrive.  However, it is far more important to the philosophy in place that they gather another major name now, and then fill in with several above-average players in future years, either through future picks and/or trades/free agency.  In fact, I think it was more beneficial for Philadelphia to have picked up one of the three best college players in the country, rather than get two picks  beyond the top three or four selections.  Ignoring the pie-in-the-sky options and given the odds and the criteria of the NBA lottery, I think Sixers fans should be very happy with their team’s outcome with a number-three selection.

#2 “The MCW Trade Worked Out After All”
Regardless of whether you prefer Russell or Mudiay, the 76ers should be getting a premiere guard who can play either the ‘one’ and ‘two’ spot on the floor.  While the trade of last year’s Rookie of the Year initially rattled the “#InHinkieWeTrust” fan base, dealing Michael Carter-Williams is now looking like a very smart deal.  The 76ers will get their front-line perimeter player to go along with their bigs (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and eventually Dario Saric) inside.  Eventually, Philadelphia will also get an additional first round pick (a 1-3 protected pick in 2016 and 2017, unprotected in 2018), which can enhance the team’s roster.  They also unloaded a player who will probably never have as much trade value as he had this past season, without really losing out on a few months of MCW’s services in what was a meaningless season anyway.  The team can look to take its first significant step forward in this rebuilding process, as long as they abide by point #3.

#3  “Don’t You DARE Trade THIS Pick”
At a time when the Philadelphia sports fans’ patience is being stretched beyond its reasonable limits, the Sixers fans have tolerated, if not embraced, the “Together We Tank” theory.  Record-setting losing streaks have not jettisoned the fan base.  In fact, I’ve seen a resurgence in 76ers fans’ passion lately, seemingly (and strangely) invigorated by the losing.  After weathering some minor drama following the MCW deal, the fans have continued to support the team despite radical decisions and some insane comments by the 76ers’ front office (don’t even get me started on the multiple reports of Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil’s “Ferraris in the driveway” abomination).

However, if Philadelphia passes up this opportunity to get a major name, whether it be Russell, Mudiay, Jahlil Okafor or even Karl-Anthony Towns, this region will boil over with disgust.  The prospect of another full season of NBA D-League retreads occupying a majority of roster spots without a prominent name to join Noel and Embiid to start the season would destroy all the positive mojo that has been building over the last couple of seasons.  Public opinion (not to mention Head Coach Brett Brown) would rail against this regime if they trade away their highly placed pick this time around.  The 76ers made out well in the numbers game with the lottery, and have put themselves in a situation that would make it nearly impossible to NOT improve for the 2015-16 season.  A “trade down” would, at best, slow down the resurgence, and it could take years (and maybe millions of free agent dollars) to get a starting guard at the caliber available to them.  After several questionable, albeit seemingly positive moves, an incorrect decision leading up to June 25 could be disastrous for both the short-term and long-term goals of the organization.

Who do you think the 76ers should draft with their number three pick…and do you think, if Towns or Okafor become available, Philadelphia should pick up another ‘big’ and then swing a deal for a guard?  Email us your sports opinions anytime at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and tune into our next live “SportsTalk” show, on Thursday, June 4th at 7pm.