The Colangelo Sixers participated in its first draft and we’re somehow all still alive.
1. Grade the Sixers’ draft:
Eric Goldwein (@ericgoldwein): B. It’s hard to do this without knowing any of the conversations that went on, but they didn’t make a terrible trade, and they ought to get credit for that. That said, passing on a worthwhile trade could be just as costly as making a bad one.
As for the picks, it looks like they had the right philosophy, taking a stash candidate in Furkan 2.0 and an exciting swingman in Luwawu. Odds are against them becoming good NBA rotation players, but both have a real shot to succeed, and that’s all you can ask for late in the first round.
Xylon Dimoff (@xylondimoff): B+. I’m not gonna give loads of credit for drafting Simmons (that’d be like awarding Dave Griffin Executive of the Year for signing LeBron James), but Colangelo held his ground and came away with some steals in Luwawu and Korkmaz in the mid-20s. He was provided plenty an opportunity to execute blockbuster deals given the Sixers’ current assets, but he instead held his ground and came away with three very good players. I still have a nagging feeling however that he may have missed some opportunities with guys like Demetrius Jackson, Deyonta Davis, and Wade Baldwin plummeting out of their projected slots, but I can’t complain with the selections that were made.
Bryan Toporek (@btoporek): They get a decisive A from me. Simmons was a no-brainer, but Luwawu and Korkmaz were the perfect blend between the best-player-available philosophy and filling a glaring need (shooting and wing depth). Korkmaz isn’t planning on coming over next year, according to international reporter David Pick, but with upwards of four other rookies all joining the roster (Simmons, Luwawu, Joel Embiid and perhaps Dario Saric), it wouldn’t have been reasonable to take three guys who all expected to play right away. They mostly capitalized on good fortune — aka other teams making a number of head-scratching picks in the teens and early 20s — but deserve credit for resisting the temptation to package those picks and trade up.
Drew Stone (@DrewSt1ne): I have to give it a weird-ass A, an A that was either unintentional or drastically unintentional. It’s got me thinking about former Teen Mom Farrah Abraham’s avant garde album “My Teenage Dream Ended” (2012). Whether intentional or not, though clearly not, both Abraham and Colangelo managed to somehow weave a near-masterpiece with the non-descript tools they had been given. The first overall pick wasn’t botched. Okafor and (especially) Nerlens weren’t gift wrapped for less than their value. And both Luwawu and Furkan 2.0 were both great fits and exceptional value picks for where the Sixers got them. This will not be the last time I compare Bryan Colangelo with Farrah Abraham.
2. What other moves do the Sixers need to make this offseason? Should the Sixers address the frontcourt logjam ASAP or is it fine as is?
Goldwein: Dealing a big man — Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel, but probably Okafor — should be a priority. How they’ll do that remains a mystery given there doesn’t seem to be a big market for either. Their best play at this point, ironically, might be kicking the can and trading for a 2017 1st.
Dimoff: The Sixers did a stellar job in the draft of filling a glaring need on the wing, and now all that’s left is to redistribute some of the talent in the frontcourt over to the point guard position. Colangelo plain and simply just needs to trade Jahlil Okafor: Jah couldn’t be a worse fit with Ben Simmons, and the minutes to further improve the big man’s value just won’t be here next season. The Sixers would do well to suss as many point-guard-for-Okafor trades as possible — a return like Avery Bradley would obviously be a far cry value-wise for what was the third pick a year ago, but these deals rarely net fair returns when working from such a position of weakness. Keeping the roster together as is would only stunt development for players like Simmons, and we’ve already seen last season how much a poor fit can diminish value with Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Ideally the Sixers will find a deal for Okafor that brings over a healthy 2017 first-rounder, while addressing the point guard issue via free agency. Spending some of that mountain of cap space on a veteran floor general would certainly ease the NBA transition for all of Philly’s new players — two-years, $36 million for Jeremy Lin sound good, anyone?
Toporek: Even if Saric doesn’t come over this year, they still need to somehow break up the Noel-Okafor tandem. Ideally, they’d trade Okafor for the fit-related reasons that Xylon mentioned, but if the market is completely sparse for him and there’s a significantly higher demand for Noel, they may have to go that route and pray Jah can learn to guard a pick-and-roll. Since Boston apparently continues to refuse acknowledging the actual value of its assets, the Suns seem like a logical trade candidate, especially after they drafted Tyler Ulis with the No. 34 pick. Flip Okafor for Brandon Knight and everyone’s happy. Stealing Patrick Beverley from Houston would be pretty lit, too.
Stone: You need to move Okafor. I would say you need to move ONE of the big men, but come on, we all know it’s Okafor. Keeping Jah is Piper Chapman trying to stake out territory in the panty business; you just know it’s not going to end well. That said, I give the Sixers a ton of credit for sticking to their guns and not moving any of their big men for the first half-decent offer that came around tonight. There’s an entire off-season approaching to operate. Let’s see how Bryan navigates that.
3. What’s your irrational much-too-early wins prediction for next season?
Goldwein: 29. This is still not a good NBA team. Rookies tend to inefficient, no matter how talented they are and the Sixers will be giving key minutes to at least three of them, along with several sophomores and third-year players. If they do get to 29, it’ll be because of a breakout season from Noel and/or their investments in free agency.
Dimoff: If the Sixers make some semblance of the moves suggested above, this team could feasibly take a 15-to-20-win leap next season. It not only will be adding loads of raw talent to the roster, but, unlike in previous seasons, will do so while satisfying positions of need. I’ve typically been low on my Sixers win predictions here, but for the first time the team may actually be on its way to trotting out a real-life NBA team.
Toporek: I’ll go with 28, only because I have no idea how they’re going to rectify their frontcourt logjam. They’re about to receive an unprecedented infusion of rookie talent in Simmons, Embiid, Luwawu and perhaps Saric; complement that with a decent free-agent signing or two and they’re right on their way to relevance. Say, perhaps, Chandler Parsons?
Stone: 25. A 250% winning increase has to be some sort of record, right?
4. What’s your feeling on the Colangelos? Did the draft change anything?
Goldwein: Jerry is still a scumbag. But for Bryan, it’s a comforting datapoint. He went the whole night without doing anything crazy, and that’s no small feat given what first-year GMs have done in past years. We’ll have a better grasp on his decision-making after free agency, but there were no visible red flags tonight.
Dimoff: Honestly, who the hell knows what to believe. All day it was impossible to believe any of the stray, and quite frankly absurd rumors that floated across our Twitter timelines. If the alleged monstrosity that was Nerlens-Noel-AND-Robert-Covington-AND-24-AND-26-for-Kris-Dunn deal fell through because of something on Boston’s end, then I feel no better — and probably worse — about Colangelo.
But if we’re focusing solely on what actually happened, this draft should welcome a sigh of relief for all of Bryan’s doubters. Not only did he avoid paying far too much for a prospect he reportedly really, really liked, but he showed patience that ultimately landed him a pair of late first-round steals. I’ll admit I would’ve preferred him trying to to buy his way back into the second round rather than calling it an early night, but overall I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised by Colangelo at the moment.
Toporek: Considering my expectations at the start of the day were basically nil, Bryan Colangelo annihilated even my most optimistic outlook. I figured he was guaranteed to sell Nerlens for 60 cents on the dollar, especially after seeing the reports about how hot the Sixers were for the Celtics’ No. 3 overall pick. Instead, he resisted the temptation to pull the trigger — dodging a prospect who didn’t make all that much sense next to Simmons anyway (Kris Dunn) — and stayed put to land two significant steals in the 20s. This was only the appetizer to the offseason main course, which begins when free agency kicks off July 1, but so far, so good.
Stone: I felt a sense of capability. I sensed that they had scouted several of the projected first-round picks and made well-informed decisions on the clock. Thusly, I gained a moderate amount of respect for the Colangelos, and more appropriately their scouting department, in that regard. Yet I still feel like they weren’t able to complete a number of trades that, if passed, would have been borderline horrifying. I don’t know what should make you more uneasy: that Colangelo was actively involved in the pursuit of awkward fitting veterans like Jeff Teague or Trevor Ariza, or that he couldn’t seem to get the deal done on either. These are still choppy, choppy waters. Let’s just celebrate a pretty damn good draft night for the time being.