By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Uninformed radio personalities are flooding the airwaves with inane dreck, Deadspin is firmly in the throes of clickbait posts about Sam Hinkie’s war against integrity, and NBA Twitter is reacting to every rumor like LeBron was about to make Decision 3.0. It must mean the NBA draft is nearly upon us! With just two days until a new crop of millionaires begins filling out W-2’s for 30 organizations across the country, everyone is going to take a stab at how things will play out Thursday night. Hinkie’s mind might be as convoluted as an Inception labyrinth, but I might as well throw out my prediction as well. And since I’m two days early with it, I’m sure something will happen by Wednesday to render it completely irrelevant.
The Sixers Will Stay Pat at #3
A large contingent seems to think Hinkie will trade down with either the Knicks or Magic. After all, he made deals involving lottery picks each of his first 2 seasons at the helm. The Sixers will move down a spot or two, collect an additional asset, and still get the guy they wanted. Classic Hinkie. However, it’s because everyone is saying it that leads me to believe it probably won’t happen. Everyone was blindsided by the Jrue Holiday trade and no one knew what was going on when the Sixers selected Elfrid Payton. Remember the awkward interview in the stands with Michael Carter-Williams when he had to talk about how he and Payton could play together? No, I don’t think there will be a trade down, both for that reason and because of my next prediction.
The Sixers Will Draft D’Angelo Russell
Following the report by Bleacher Report that Karl-Anthony Towns has received word from the Wolves that he’s going #1, sportsbooks have taken the ‘Who will be drafted first overall?’ prop off the board (I got in with a nice $200 to win $10 bet just before that happened; free $10!). There have also been swirlings that the Lakers were more or less only working out the guards as a smokescreen and Jahlil Okafor has been their guy all along. With Okafor supposedly off the board, the Sixers wouldn’t have the opportunity to play cat and mouse with the Knicks who reportedly crave the former Duke big man. Therefore, I think the Sixers will just take their guy and I think that guy is D’Angelo Russell.
I know more or more mock drafts are having the Sixers take Kristaps Porzingis, but again, it doesn’t seem like Hinkie’s MO to do whatever everyone thinks he’s going to do. As tight-lipped as the organization has been in recent years, it seems suspicious that so many outlets would know how high the team supposedly is on ‘Staps. Russell is a consensus top-3 pick, the Sixers know the necessity of having a strong lead guard in the modern pick-and-roll-centric NBA offense, and they haven’t shied away from taking a point guard high in the past, selecting MCW in the lottery just 2 years ago. For the second time this decade, I believe the Sixers take a former Buckeye in the top 3. Hopefully, things go better this time around.
The Sixers Will Make a First Round Trade
I’ve already mentioned I don’t think the team will move out of the 3 spot. I also don’t think they’ll be able to move back into the lottery with some combination of the Lakers, Heat, and Thunder picks. The Nuggets and Pistons are two teams who are reportedly willing to trade their picks, but they seem to want more established help rather than kicking the can down the road with future selections. I think Hinkie will try, but ultimately the market may not be there.
Instead, I think the Sixers will grab a late first-round selection from someone and my money is on San Antonio at 26. They have a connection in former Spurs assistant Brett Brown, and San Antonio is looking to trim salary with pending free agents Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green needing to be addressed. Not having to deal with the guaranteed salary of a first-round pick would be an easy way to clear a few million in cap space. The Sixers could get that selection for one of their high second-rounders and some sort of minimal future selection.
Those are my nearly-bound-to-be wrong predictions. Enjoy the draft, the beginning of free agency, and all the general chaos that will be the NBA over the next two weeks. I’ll be back after the 4th of July holiday to weigh in on what might be a completely different 76ers team. Until then, everyone.s