Well, sports fans, here we are again. Hopefully this is the last time we’ll sit on the edges of our seats awaiting the outcome of the NBA Draft Lottery. A lot has happened with our Seventy Sixers in the time I’ve been away. Sam Hinkie was unceremoniously removed by Joshua Harris and replaced by The Usurper Bryan Colangelo. If you’ve read any of my work in the past, you know that I am an unabashed, devout follower of the Hinkie doctrine. I completely Trusted the Process.
So where do I stand, now? You’d have to wrest the Sixers away from me and my cold, gnarled, dead fingers. I’m not going anywhere. Well, so long as the Sixers don’t trade for Rudy Gay, sign DeMar DeRozan to a max deal, and draft Dragan Bender number one overall. If those things happen, I guess I’ll toss leeches into the flames and go back to being a Utah Jazz fan like when I was a little kid.
I have been repeating this ad nauseam since he started coming back from his last surgery: the team is very limited in what they can accomplish until they know what they have in Joel Embiid. Embiid is wading in uncharted waters. He is trying to overcome something that I can’t remember happening before. A player that misses his first two seasons due to injury has never been able to achieve star status, right? I have all of the faith in the world that this young man will buck the trend, but I do believe I’m in the minority there.
This likely hamstrings what the Sixers will be able to do as far as making trades for talented veterans on reasonable contracts. Many fans would be borderline riotous if the Sixers traded away a young player like Jahlil Okafor for anything less than a proven star, as limited as he is. If you know me at all, you know that this doesn’t include me. At any given moment, I am prepared to pull the trigger on the Laker pick, Okafor, and Covington to Indiana for Paul George. Literally at any moment. Start off on the good foot and bring PG13 to Philly, Bryan. I’ll even start referring to you as BC and we’ll be best friends until the end of days.
Thanks for indulging in my little fantasy world for a moment, but back to the task at hand. The NBA Draft Lottery is this Tuesday evening. The Sixers have the best odds at the number one overall pick. They have reasonable odds at also picking up the Lakers’ pick, should two teams jump them into the top three.
So, if everything begins as planned, the Sixers will end up with the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In that situation, who ya got? The options are realistically one of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, two gigantic small forwards with completely different skill sets. Do you take Ben Simmons and hope that he is a taller, thinner LeBron James? Do you take Brandon Ingram and hope that he is the next Kevin Durant? This is difficult for me, because I really like both players quite a bit. In an ideal world, the Sixers would end up with the first and fourth overall picks and end up with two potential All-Star level players.
Do we live in an ideal world? Time will tell. My gut continually tells me not to get my hopes up about this, but to quote High Fidelity, “My guts have shit for brains.” Let’s break down the odds that the Sixers end up with each pick, and which player they should select in each spot.
#1 Overall – 25.0% (+1.9% from the Sacramento pick swap)
The Philadelphia 76ers select Brandon Ingram
After endless deliberation and hours upon hours consulting with a panel of judges (fine, it was just me), the Philadelphia 76ers will select Brandon Ingram with the first pick in the draft. Ingram’s two-way potential is extremely high, and his combination of size and jump-shooting ability give him a much higher floor than Simmons. The Durant comparison is obviously the best-case scenario, but even if he strives for that and ends up being Paul George, I’d be over the moon (obviously). Don’t steal my joy, I have waited through The Process to get to this point and I still have every bit of my relentless optimism.
#2 Overall – 21.5%
The Philadelphia 76ers select Ben Simmons
In this scenario, let’s pretend that some team that is neither the Lakers nor the Celtics has won the lottery and taken Brandon Ingram first. I am not emotionally prepared to live in a world where one of those teams gets to pick number one. So, for the sake of argument, what would the Sixers be getting if they were to pick Ben Simmons at number two? He’s a six-foot-ten monster of a small forward prospect with excellent passing vision and skill to go with outstanding rebounding instincts. Simmons has an above-average handle and can get to the rim when he wants. We all know his major flaw.
Ben Simmons has no jump shot. Actually, are we sure that’s true? He just looked totally unwilling to shoot from anywhere outside of the paint during his lone season at LSU. In his defense, his teammates were largely unimpressive and Johnny Jones is a disaster. That being said, the concerns over his jumper are legitimate. His free throw percentage was not great, but his form isn’t broken and with enough work and some confidence, he could make his jump shot respectable. With his skill set, that’s all it has to be. If he can make wing defenders stay out on him, his natural ability can do the rest.
I’m a believer in both Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. I think both guys are legitimately capable of developing into stars. Speaking of things that I’m not prepared for, let’s examine the best option if the Sixers end up at number three.
#3 Overall – 17.8%
The Philadelphia 76ers select Death by Cyanide Capsules
Honestly, I can’t think of a better option than this. The worst case scenario is the Sixers plummeting on lottery night, getting the third or fourth pick and only the third or fourth pick. That would be an unmitigated disaster. Also, this scenario in my head has the Lakers picking first and the Celtics right behind them because the NBA is a crooked gang of scumbags. The league office would probably be burned to the ground by morning. Let’s just move on.
#4 Overall – 31.9% (Beyond the protection on the Lakers’ pick)
The Philadelphia 76ers select Jamal Murray
Before you start shouting “Kris Dunn!” in my face, calm down. Kris Dunn is a fine player. He just already is the player that he’s going to be forever. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what Jamal Murray can be. Murray spent much of his freshman season at Kentucky playing off the ball, which doesn’t really fit his skill set, as he has a slick handle, excels at running the pick-and-roll, and can shoot an opponent right out of the gym. Also, he’s a lefty and he’s Canadian, so his game is fun to watch and his accent is adorable.
He isn’t a great defender and he’s not a top-end athlete. I feel like there was another college point guard that was said about and it caused him to fall a few spots in the draft. That guy turned out to be the best player in the NBA. Relax, I’m not saying Jamal Murray is the next Stephen Curry, but what if he is? He’s a big point guard at six-foot-five, he’s got great feel and vision passing the ball, and can bomb it from deep. I’m all-in on this kid if the Laker pick conveys this season.
#5 Overall – 12.3% (Beyond the protection on the Lakers’ pick)
The Philadelphia 76ers select Kris Dunn
See? You got all shouty and angry with me over nothing. I think Kris Dunn is a fine point guard prospect. I think he’ll be a very good player in the league and probably make an All-Star team or two at some point. When I see him play, I think of an upgraded version of Jeff Teague. If his jumper becomes more reliable and he can cut back on turnovers with higher level teammates, he can be even better. Providence asked him to do a whole hell of a lot during his time there, and he never backed down from the challenge. That team never had any business going anywhere, but he dragged them, kicking and screaming, along for the ride.
Dunn is a strong defender, he’s got good size, athleticism, and he can get into the lane at will. I worry that he won’t be as effective if he doesn’t constantly have the ball in his hands, and I really hope that he won’t force the issue as often as he has in the past. Kris Dunn has an extremely high floor, I just don’t think his ceiling has the height of Jamal Murray’s.
There you have it. If the Sixers finally get some luck on lottery night, get one of the first two picks as well as the fourth or fifth pick, they can come away with at least one potential star and one potential All-Star. Please bestow some luck upon us, Lottery Gods, we have been so patient and so faithful. We have not wavered during these trying times, and deserve to be repaid for our loyalty. Bring us the pick of the Los Angeles Lakers and some absolute stud players. We’re begging you to show mercy on your beleaguered subject, Brett Brown, he deserves this most of all.