Jul 15 2014

The Sixers’ Bottomless Pit of Second-Round Picks and C-List Prospects

“Leave it to 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie, a former Houston Rockets front-office star, to find the diamonds in the rough.” – Fred Katz for The Washington Post

In his 14 months with the Sixers, GM Sam Hinkie has shown an unprecedented willingness to trade for future picks. As a result of his dealings, Philly ended up with five second-rounders in the 2014 draft: K.J. McDaniels (No. 32), Jerami Grant (No. 39), Pierre Jackson (in a trade for Russ Smith, the 47th overall pick), Vasijile Micic (No. 52, who will reportedly stay overseas in 2014-15) and Jordan McRae (No. 58).

It’s entirely possible that most, if not all of these rookies are out of the league in a few years. According to Roland Beech’s analysis for 82games.com, the average second-round pick isn’t expected to be more than a deep bench player. On Basketball-Reference.com, Justin Kubatko plotted the expected win shares for each draft pick over the first four years of their respective careers; all second-rounders were expected to produce fewer than five win shares over that four-year span1.

But the way that Hinkie acquired all these 2014 picks—and other future assets—might be more indicative of the Sixers’ future than how McDaniels, Grant, Jackson, Micic and McRae turn out2.

Below is a chart summarizing/simplifying all of Philly’s trades since Hinkie took over in May 2013; the second-round picks are bolded and the ex-Sixers are italicized. (See the footnotes below for additional details.)

Traded Received
Jrue Holiday, 42nd pick 2013 (Pierre Jackson)3 Nerlens Noel (6, 2013) Dario Saric (12, 2014) PHL 2017 1st (via ORL) ORL 2015 2nd
Glen Rice (35, 2013) Arsalan Kazemi (54, 2013) Pierre Jackson** (42, 2013) Jordan McRae (58, 2014) Cash
*2014 2nd (P31-55) Furkan Aldemir** Royce White
*2014 2nd (P31-50, 56-60) Tony Wroten
*2014 2nd (P31-40, 46-60)
Byron Mullens LAC 2018 2nd
*2014 2nd (P31-45, 51-60) Eric Maynor WAS 2015 2nd DEN 2016 2nd
Spencer Hawes Jerami Grant (39, 2014) Vasilije Micic (52, 2014) Henry Sims Earl Clark
Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen 2015 2nd (IND, via GSW) Danny Granger

To summarize: Hinkie traded Holiday, Rice (35th, 2013), Hawes, Turner, and Allen. He turned them into Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric, a 2017 1st, Wroten, Sims, Grant, Kazemi, Micic, McRae, Aldemir, FIVE future second-round picks, and cash.

Or put it this way: the Sixers lost an average starting point guard, a second-rounder, three expiring contracts, and pride. They gained a top-tier rookie, a No. 12 overall pick, their own 2017 first-rounder (which was originally traded to Orlando in the four-team Dwight Howard megadeal), and a mystery 12-pack of C-list prospects. Even accounting for the low success rate of second-round picks, that’s a massive expected return on a relatively small investment.

For what it’s worth, analysts gave the Sixers favorable reviews for their 2014 second-round haul, with Hinkie taking fliers on lengthy prospects whose physical gifts could help them carve out productive NBA careers. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford had McDaniels as his 24th-ranked prospect on his Big Board; landing him at 32 could prove to be an absolute heist. NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper highlighted McDaniels, who boasts a 6’11.25″ wingspan despite only being 6’6″, as one of his second-round picks with “the best chance to last” in the NBA, calling him a “human stat sheet.”

Grant (No. 34 on Ford’s Big Board) can’t shoot worth a lick right now—he went 6-of-20 from downtown during his two years at Syracuse—but it’s difficult not to be enamored with a 6’7.75″ prospect who touts a 7’2.75″ wingspan. His freakish length and athleticism may fit nicely in Brett Brown’s up-tempo style of play.

McRae, who stands 6’5.25″ with a 7’0.50″ wingspan, is an equally rangy prospect who could be nightmarish on defense next to Michael Carter-Williams. Micic, like MCW, is a 6’6″ point guard. And Jackson, who injured his Achilles tendon during the first game of Orlando Summer League last week and could miss the entire 2014-15 season, lit up the D-League last year. He averaged 29.1 points per game (second only to Manny Harris) and dropped a D-League-record 58 points against the Texas Legends on Feb. 4.

On paper, these rookies look good. But that’s besides the point. In the second round, even the savviest GMs are blindly throwing darts at a dartboard and hoping one sticks. The good news for the Sixers is that they have more ammo than their competitors. They have three second-rounders in 2015 (excluding their own5) and more are likely on the way. Give anyone enough throws, and eventually they’ll hit the target.

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1. For reference’s sake, Thaddeus Young, the 12th overall pick in 2007, produced 4.5 win shares as a rookie, per Basketball-Reference.com.

2. All transaction data via ProSportsTransactions.com.

3. As you can see, Hinkie quickly forged his reputation as a trade junkie on the night of the 2013 draft. He traded Jrue Holiday for the No. 6 pick (Nerlens Noel) and a top-10-protected 2014 first-round pick; sent Glen Rice Jr. (No. 35) to the Wizards for the rights to Nate Wolters (No. 38) and Arsalan Kazemi (No. 54); moved Wolters to Milwaukee for Ricky Ledo and the Bucks’ 2014 second-rounder (Nemanja Dangubić, who turned into Jordan McRae and cash); then sent Ledo to Dallas for another 2014 second-rounder (Russ Smith, who turned into Pierre Jackson).

4. Hinkie continued that madness on the day of the trade deadline. He sent Spencer Hawes to the Cavaliers for two 2014 second-rounders (Cleveland’s and Memphis’), Earl Clark and Henry Sims;  absorbed Byron Mullens for a 2018 second-rounder from the Clippers; took on Eric Maynor in a three-team trade for two additional second-rounders (a 2015 from New Orleans and a 2016 from Denver); and capped off the day by acquiring a 2015 second-round pick of Golden State’s (from Indiana) for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.

5. Assuming they miss the playoffs, the Sixers’ 2015 and ’16 second round picks belong to Boston (via Miami) as part of the Arnett Moultrie trade.

* Protections were put in place to ensure the Sixers would keep these second-round picks.

** Jackson and Aldemir were second-round picks, but Hinkie acquired them after they were drafted. Hence why they’re not in bold.

  • robbybonfire23

    Seeing rumors daily re Love to Cleveland, for a package including Wiggins. That would put Cleveland in the genius class of organizations.

    And, to think, that would also mean that poor, hapless, clueless Minny will have effectively picked up Wiggins and LaVine in ONE draft. Wow, talk about a crater on the Moon franchise, that’s the one if they actually pull the trigger on this insanity.

    • JulianW

      We do indeed have some assets, but Love likely wouldn’t want to stay in Philadelphia after this year. He’s a free agent after the next year and wants to play for a winner, which the Sixers aren’t yet. If we traded for him we’d give up on our future for a temporary boost that likely wouldn’t win us a championship anyway. We’re not ready to attract major FA’s yet, but give it a year or two and Philly might be a destination team after all.

      I don’t get the hesitation on Cleveland’s part in trading for Love. Cleveland is hoping and praying that Wiggins develops into an all-star, while Love is a top 10 (arguably top 5) player in the NBA right now. Look, I’m as big of a Wiggins fan as anyone. You are dreaming on his athletic potential possibly leading to becoming a great ball player. But come on, Kevin Love is that guy right now! He said he’d sign a longer deal in Cleveland too, come on put together the team so Lebron can deliver on his promise! I’ll take the relatively young and proven top-10 talent over the dream of athleticism any day of the week, it’s an incredibly easy decision in my eyes.

      • robbybonfire23

        I will give Andrew Wiggins all the credit in the world, if he surpasses Kevin Love, NBA career-wise. Meanwhile, at the reality store, he has a long way to go and Cleveland, we agree, should pull the trigger on this deal. This looks like one of those deals wherein you win or break-even, with the possibility of losing not in the equation.

        Also, if we were to acquire Love, with Love, Noel, and possibly an improved model of MCW, this definitely will not be a tanking season.

        • hk99

          It’s hard to see how the Sixers could acquire Love without parting with one or both of MCW and Noel, so the idea of having Love with Noel and MCW is very unlikely to become a reality. If Love leaves after one season, it’s even harder to see how it would be worthwhile to acquire him if they have to give up young players and picks for a one year run at a playoff spot. With LeBron, Kyrie and some other pieces (Varajeo, Miller, Waiters) already in place, it makes sense for Cleveland to deal Wiggins for Love, especially with Love willing to sign an extension there, but it would be foolish for the Sixers to trade their future for one year of Kevin Love.

          • robbybonfire23

            Yes, the ideal time to acquire Love would be when we have Embiid healthy, and he has established a high-level of play.

            If Embiid could start his season, say in March, that would give us a helpful scouting report as to how serious a contender we will be, Fall, 2015. If Embiid is the real deal, then we could go after Love when he is up for a long-term contract.

            Meanwhile Cleveland aces Minny if they dump Wiggins while acquiring Love. LaVine and Wiggins in the same lineup I want to see, just for laughs. They will look “athletic” night after night, while their team is losing six of every 10 games, although I just don’t see LaVine getting major minutes, seventh-man status off the bench being as high a ceiling as he will ever reach, acrobat deluxe, or not.