May 18 2016

5-on-5: Who Do You Choose at No. 1?

On Tuesday evening, the lottery gods smiled upon Philadelphia, bestowing the No. 1 overall pick upon the Sixers. After a night of jubilant celebration, the Hoop76 crew got together to weigh in the lottery aftermath.

1. Soooo… Simmons or Ingram?

Bryan Toporek (@btoporek): Although Brandon Ingram is undeniably the better fit with the current roster, I’m going with Simmons here. The value of having that type of offensive creator at the 4 outweighs the concerns about his nonexistent jumper and his questionable attitude. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Brett Brown has long-lasting ties to the Simmons family, as USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach noted Tuesday, which should help the team vet any qualms about perceived issues with his intangibles. The Sixers can do no real wrong here — Ingram would be awesome, too — but I’m leaning Simmons slightly as of now. This is subject to change about 15,081,372 times between now and draft night, though.

Xylon Dimoff (@xylondimoff): Simmons is the more talented player at this point, and even though I’m sure I’ll change my mind countless times between now and June 23rd, I’m going Ingram. In the same way that Jahlil Okafor may be more individually talented than Kristaps Porzingis, Simmons’ flaws (shooting) provide both a team and league-wide fit issue that make me think twice. Sure, he could one day learn to shoot, but in the same mold as Jah’s defense, I’m not sure I feel like waiting around to see if that dream comes true. I know the mantra has been relentlessly “BPA or die” over the last few years, but that’s a reckless way of building a team when the talent gap between prospects is so small. Give me the guy who should fit seamlessly into not only this team, but also his position.

Eric Goldwein (@ericgoldwein): How about option C: Trade dow– No, yeah, I’m going with Simmons, and I couldn’t be less certain. Those that follow closely say he has the higher upside. I’m not sure how we can draw that conclusion — what exactly is “upside” anyway? — but Simmons seems to have the body and court vision to become a superstar.

That said, Ingram has plenty of tools too, and his shots are worth 1.5x more than Simmons’. And while I don’t think they should worry about fit, there are real costs in relying on future transactions to balance the roster. Selecting Ingram would curb some of the risk associated with having a frontcourt-heavy team.

Marc Nemcik (@marcnemcik): Brandon Ingram. I have been enamored with Ben Simmons as a player for a couple of years, but the talent gap does not outweigh both pre-draft concerns and roster fit. I don’t place too much value on the question marks coming out of LSU, but it seems very clear that Simmons is set on forcing his way to Los Angeles. Simmons could make it very difficult on the Sixers in regards to working out for them. Ingram is a tremendous shooter and has the competitive edge that makes up for marginal talent differences.

2. How bummed are you not to get the Lakers’ pick?

Toporek: I’d be much more bummed if the Sixers didn’t get No. 1. I’m not thrilled that the Lakers get to pick up the sloppy seconds of the Simmons-Ingram debate, seeing as they still owe a top-three-protected first-round pick to the Sixers next summer. A core of Ingram or Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle could jump up the Western Conference standings with the addition of an impact free agent or two. That said, next year’s draft class is supposedly far deeper than this one, so even a pick in the 6-8 range could be better than No. 4 in 2016. And who knows? Maybe the pressure to win now forces the Lakers’ front office into some boneheaded moves that backfire magnificently, leading to No. 4 next year?

Dimoff: I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed to not bring home a little extra to accompany our shiny new no. 1 pick, but this scenario seems by all accounts favorable. People who know way more about teenage basketball players than I claim that next year’s draft already looks to be a real banger, and I’m not exactly shaking in my boots that Los Angeles will take a huge leap by way of a rookie Coach Walton, potentially 20 DeMar DeRozan shots per game, and the Lakers youngins fighting off Byron Scott PTSD.

Goldwein: Not at all. The Sixers suddenly have a lot of young players, and not a lot of minutes to go around. There’s not a consensus can’t-miss prospect that would’ve been left at four or five, and it’s not as if the pick disappears. A top-3 protected 2017 1st or an unprotected 2018 1st is a worthy consolation prize.

Nemcik: I was practically convinced that Los Angeles or Boston would jump Philadelphia to snag the top pick. Finally having the first pick is sufficient enough for me. Knowing that the Lakers will predictably provide the Sixers with a great selection in 2017 or 2018 also helps.

3. If the Celtics are shopping No. 3, what would you give up for it?

Toporek: I’d seriously consider moving Okafor for No. 3 straight up. If they’d add either Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder with No. 3 for Okafor, I would make that deal in 0.1 seconds. If they wanted Nerlens Noel, I’d insist on either Smart or Crowder + No. 3. And if they wanted Joel Embiid, I’d tell them to dunk their heads into the Charles River like they were crates of tea during the Revolutionary War.

Dimoff: With Bryan (Toporek, never Colangelo) here on all counts. The Jah-for-3 straight-up deal presents a bit of flawed logic in that Colangelo would be giving up a big in Okafor for presumably another in the third pick (Dragan Bender), but Bender’s skillset presents an easier fit with either of BenGram whereas keeping Jah in place requires to further move some parts around.

Goldwein: This all depends on what the Sixers think of the available prospects. If they’re intrigued by any of the guards — Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray? — then I’d consider giving up Noel and change (OKC 1st, etc.). Would Boston be up for that? Doubt it, but I don’t see another team bringing much more to the table. And that’s the beauty of having all the assets.

Nemcik: The Celtics are likely looking at a veteran player in return for their pick. If they are nonetheless interested in one of the Sixers bigs, I’d deal either Noel or Okafor as the centerpiece of a trade. Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray are satisfying results in that scenario. Dragan Bender is excellent, but there isn’t much of a point in pursuing that.

4. Is this a validation of The Process?

Toporek: Yes and no. Obviously, winning the No. 1 pick is a validation of the theory that with enough cracks near the top of the lottery, the odds will eventually be in your favor. So, in that sense, yes, Hinkie’s approach looks far better right now than it would had the Sixers fallen to third or fourth on Tuesday. That said… cashing in on a 26.9 percent chance isn’t undeniable proof that the Process supporters were right all along. The odds were still significantly in favor of the Sixers falling. If anything, the focus shouldn’t be on the upper echelon of possibilities — it’s the fact that no matter what, the Sixers weren’t sinking below No. 4 by virtue of having the worst record. Winning the No. 1 pick is great, but being virtually guaranteed a top-five pick three years running is even better.

Dimoff: No, because if you needed this as validation, then you weren’t paying close enough attention. The Process was about giving yourself the best possible chance to achieve your goal — in this case, the no. 1 pick — and whether tonight brought us the first or fourth pick, the Sixers achieved those chances either way. Long live Sam Hinkie (who is still totally alive, by the way).

Goldwein: NO. Sam Hinkie tried to put the Sixers in position to acquire elite talent by exploiting the NBA’s perverse lottery system and acquiring a ton of ping pong balls. Hitting the jackpot on the third spin says nothing about his strategy. Neither did missing last year’s No. 1 (Karl-Anthony Towns) or Andrew Wiggins the year before.

Nemcik: No. The top pick is one of the accomplishments of The Process, not a validation of an entire philosophy. The goal was always to be in the optimal position for this outcome to occur. Process enthusiasts never needed any validation.

5. Summarize your reaction to lottery night in one GIF.





Goldwein: Bending the rules, but here’s a video:



  • Kevin Herman

    This Sixers take Ingram and Im done with this team. He is less talented then SImmon by a lot. Even what he does best shooting is over-rated. He shot only 68% from the free throw line in college. Guess what stat is the main predictor of 3 point shooting in the pros? You got it free throw shooting. Ingram is not and will never be Kevin Durant.

  • ElJefe23

    I wouldn’t worry about positional fit on this team. There is very real chance that no one who played significant minutes on the 2015-16 Sixers will play significant minutes when this team is able to make a serious playoff push. Which is different way of saying a) the three best players on the 2016-17 Sixers will be Simmons/Embiid/Saric and b) I wouldn’t be surprised if Okafor and Noel were both traded. Every other player on the 2015-16 Sixers would be competing to be an 8th/9th man on a playoff team.

  • ElJefe23

    If you believe the Celtics were sniffing around Jahlil Okafor at the trading deadline, I would expect those talks to be re-visited now. Okafor for #3 + some sweetener would make me happy; the Sixers can take the top guard on the board and the Celtics get a better piece to flip to Sacramento in the summer of ’17 as part of the inevitable Boogie Cousins trade.

    Inevitable because of how badly Sam Hinkie pants’d Vlade, potentially forcing the Kings into choosing to lose Boogie for nothing in the summer of ’18 and conveying their unintentionally tank-a-riffic pick to the Sixers, or attempting a fast re-build in the summer of ’17.

  • Berdj Rassam

    Many feel that with either player as your top pick – you can’t lose. Time will tell.