Sixers Acquire First Overall Pick From Celtics

The Philadelphia 76ers officially announced Monday afternoon that the team has acquired the first overall selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft. In exchange for the #1 pick, the Sixers will send the #3 overall pick to the Boston Celtics, as well as an additional first round pick.

The guess work for the draft is now done, and the Sixers will have the first choice for the second year in a row. It’s the fourth  time since 1980 that a team will have the first pick in consecutive years (Cleveland in 2013-14, Orlando in 1992-93, Houston in 1983-84).

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” Sixers GM and President of Basketball Operations, Bryan Colangelo said on Monday. “Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”

What did the Sixers give up?

The price for a first overall pick, especially in a deep draft such as this, is expectedly high. But looking closely at what the Sixers gave up, it’s pretty great value from their standpoint.

Boston Sends: 2017 1st overall pick

Philadelphia Sends: 2017 3rd overall pick, 2018 Laker’s First Round Pick*, or the 2019 King’s First Round Pick*

At a glance that looks like a lot, but Bryan Colangelo deserves a lot of credit for the protections that he placed on those future picks. Boston will get the Lakers’ pick if it falls between #2 and #5 next year. If the Lakers win the lottery or fall below the fifth spot, the Sixers will keep the pick and instead send their own 2019 pick or the 2019 Kings pick, whichever is higher.

Not bad, right? It get’s better. If the Sixers or King’s pick is #1 overall in 2019, the Sixers will instead send the lower of the two picks. Essentially, if the Sixers win the lottery with any of their picks in the next two drafts, they will keep that first overall selection.

It’s a very shrewd move by Colangelo, who surely won over a lot of fans today.

How did we get here?

The internet started to buzz early Friday evening when Zach Lowe and Mark Stein reported that Philly and Boston were in advanced discussions for this deal. Details slowly trickled out over the weekend. Markelle Fultz came to Philadelphia for a workout Saturday evening, and Joel Embiid could hardly contain himself on social media.

It seemed inevitable, and the teams officially announced the move on Monday. Moves like this are rare, so it’s a naturally fascinating offseason story line. Following this story over the weekend was the most thrilling time for Sixer fans since January when Joel Embiid destroyed everything in his path. But now that it’s actually happened, it’s worth discussing how Philadelphia acquired the picks needed to make a deal like this.

It all started with Sam Hinkie, Philly’s controversial GM from 2013-2016. He made waves in his tenure by trading for future picks in the hopes of landing a super star. His transparent disinterest in short term success turned off many fans, but seeing the fruits of his labor today offers some validation for a controversial strategy.

Hinkie wasn’t afraid to make moves on draft night. In 2014, he agreed to a deal that sent Elfrid Payton to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric and a 2017 first round pick. That pick originally belonged to the Sixers; they had sent it to Orlando in the infamous Andrew Bynum trade. Not only did the Sixers get a good player in Saric, but they recouped some of the loss from a disastrous trade.

Another big move, and possibly his first to sow doubt among fans, came in 2015. The team traded the reigning rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams, in a three team deal. In that deal, the Sixers received the Laker’s first round pick that originally went to Phoenix in the Steve Nash trade from 2012. Thanks to protections, that pick won’t convey until next year, but it remained a valuable trade chip.

The next move, arguably Hinkie’s best, came in the summer of 2015. In exchange for two Euro-stashes, the Kings sent Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, the right to swap first round picks in 2016 and 2017 and their 2019 first round pick to Philadelphia. It was heavily favorable for the Sixers at the time, and looks even better with each passing day.

There are a lot of moving parts to the trade they made today, but Sam Hinkie’s fingerprints are all over the assets sent to Boston. If he hadn’t traded for Saric, they wouldn’t have had a pick to swap with Sacramento this year. And if they hadn’t swapped with the Kings, they’d have been picking fifth instead of third, requiring more capital to get the first pick. Say what you will about his talent evaluation, but Hinkie routinely won trades and the Sixers wouldn’t be in a position to trade with Boston today without the moves that he made.

What are they getting in return?

With the first overall pick, the Sixers will select Markelle Fultz, largely considered to be the best prospect in this year’s draft. The 19 year old guard played at the University of Washington where he scored 23 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per contest. He’s a player with a complete offensive repertoire. He can shoot, pass, and has the frame to be a good defender down the line.

As a prospect, Fultz isn’t a generational talent like Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, or LeBron James. He’s more likely to reach the Kyrie Irving/John Wall level of impact as a point guard. That’s still very good, and Fultz is a picture perfect fit to compliment Simmons and Joel Embiid, the other cornerstones on the Sixers’ roster. He’s a shooter that can play off ball and shouldn’t diminish Ben Simmons’ role as the initiator of offense. He’s also a second playmaker on the floor who should help the offense run even smoother. In terms of fit and talent, Fultz is the best choice available for the Sixers. The team now has a very talented core in place that will be able to grow together. For Colangelo, this trade was a slam dunk. He has the pieces in place, and his challenge now is to build around them.

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