The Sixers Future Looks Bright
Somewhere, Sam Hinkie is grinning ever so slightly. Lady Luck finally looked favorably upon the Sixers at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday evening in New York City, and suddenly the organization’s immediate outlook looks a whole lot brighter.
The Sixers, represented by beleaguered Head Coach Brett Brown, were awarded the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and thus they will finally get their pick of the litter. The pick represents the team's first top overall selection since 1996 - when it used the first pick in the deep draft to select first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson - and third ever.
The top selection is a fitting reward for a frustrated fan base that has supported the team through three straight seasons of struggle with the promise of brighter days ahead. Their patience may have paid off, as the Sixers face the prospect of adding a top-tier, potentially elite talent to an already young and promising roster. Either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram will serve as an excellent addition for the Sixers as the team climbs back to contention.
The number one overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft may not be the only franchise building block joining the active roster this summer either. As it stands, all indications are that Joel Embiid is ready to make his much-delayed debut as well. Embiid has been upping his on-court activity, and even out his intentions to contribute on-court next season.
If you remember, Embiid was widely considered to be the top prospect in the highly-hyped ’14 Draft before injury issues emerged a week before the draft. In Embiid and either Simmons or Ingram the Sixers are adding two potentially franchise-caliber talents this summer.
Also potentially joining Embiid on the ‘finally ready to play for the Sixers’ list is fellow ’14 lottery pick Dario Saric, who has been seasoning overseas since his selection by the Sixers two years ago. Saric is one of the best-regarded young international prospects in the world, and could add another interesting element to the Sixers squad as a multi-faceted forward.
The team’s ample cap space and financial flexibility needs to be taken into account as well, as the Sixers will have the means to pursue virtually any free agent(s) they want to complement their core, and ample ammo for potential trades. The addition of new top-tier talent will shift talented yet overly-relied upon players like Robert Covington and Jerami Grant to the position of role-player, in turn greatly bolstering the team’s depth.
All of Sam Hinkie’s puzzle pieces seem to be falling into place – albeit with him no longer in the picture – to form a promising picture.
An underrated aspect of Hinkie’s work is the consistent influx of talent down the road as well. Many pundits have proclaimed that “the process” culminated with landing the top pick in the draft at Tuesday’s lottery, but the truth is that the process is far from done. The Sixers still have rights to the Lakers pick – which is again top-three protected in ’17, and then unprotected in ’18 – and the pick swap with the Kings, who will likely land in the lottery again.
So while the Sixers have a solid asset base already assembled, there is still more talent to be had. In a particularly weak Eastern Conference, there is no reason it is not unrealistic to think that the Sixers could contend in the near future, once some of the younger gain some experience. Sam Hinkie was able to fortify the franchise’s foundation without mortgaging the future, and right now that future is looking pretty bright.