The Sixers got the third pick, and the … well, that’s it. The draft lottery was a bit of a letdown, and far from the #OneSixEleven .28% long-shot ya’ll were dreaming about. But worry not, people who just spent an hour watching people open envelopes, because your team is slated to get a top prospect in a draft where, supposedly, there are several very good prospects.
There’s still a ways to go before the June 25 NBA Draft, and as we learned last year with Joel Embiid, all it takes is one injury to throw off everything. But as it looks now, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will go to either Minnesota or Los Angeles, picking first and second. For the Sixers, that leaves (in no order), D’Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow, or someone not on the (my) radar.
As for the Lakers (top-5 protected) and Heat (top-10) picks? Well, they’re not going anywhere. The L.A. first will be top-3 protected in 2016, and while you might hear otherwise, they’re still not any good. Even with Okafor/Towns, the return of Julius Randle/Kobe, AND a decent/good free agent signing, I still don’t think they’ll be all that different from the team that went 21-61 in 2014-15, let alone a playoff contender in the big bad Western Conference.
The Heat pick — top-10 protected next year and unprotected after that — has a lower floor but just as high a ceiling. They went 37-45 despite Chris Bosh only playing 44 games, and Josh McRoberts playing just 17. With those two, along with a full season of Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic, and their 10th pick, and Dwyane Wade, that could be a top-tier Eastern Conference team — if everything goes right. Then again, those guys are freakin’ old, and old players miss games. Not ruling out a 50-win season, but a lot would have to go the Heat’s way for that to happen. Given the state of the bottom tier Eastern Conference teams — Pacers, Celtics, Magic, Sixers, Knicks, Pistons, Hornets — Miami may be just as likely to play the lotto again.
Either way, the Sixers will get something from Miami in the future. If next season, the pick could be anywhere from late lotto to 30. If it stays protected, though, it WILL convey to Philly in 2017, and that possibility is worth getting excited about.
All in all, the pingpong results weren’t ideal. Though it’s not as simple as, prospect in hand > pick in the bush. Those picks still belong to the Sixers, and their values are volatile. That could be good, could be bad.
Meanwhile, the Sixers first — the one pick they were getting regardless — landed at its most likely destination; they avoided the real worst case scenario of that dropping to fifth/sixth. That’s not insignificant.
So cheer up, Sixers fans. You didn’t win, but you’ll get to play again next year.