The Philadelphia 76ers have a lot riding on the upcoming NBA Draft lottery, and there are a couple of different ways that it could play out for the organization.

The best-case scenario for the Sixers is that they walk away from the lottery in New York with the first AND fourth overall picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, set to take place on June 22 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

The top overall pick would be their own (they have a 11.9% chance of landing the top pick based off of their finish last season), while the fourth overall pick would swing to the Sixers from the Lakers, stemming from the deadline day deal that sent Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015. The Sixers have a 53.1% chance of getting the Lakers’ selection – which is top three protected - based on lottery odds.

The pick swap with the Sacramento Kings is also in play, as the Sixers are allowed to swap picks with the Kings should the Kings get a better spot in the lottery, stemming from the 2015 trade in which the Sixers ate Carl Landry’s cap space.  The Kings have a 2.8% chance of landing the top pick, a 3.3% chance at the second selection spot, and a 3.9% chance of getting the third overall pick (via Tankathon).

The worst-case scenario for the Sixers would be walking away from the lottery with just the sixth overall pick. There’s a 2.98% chance of this happening. In this scenario, the Lakers would keep their own pick (meaning that it landed in the top three), and the Kings’ selection would fall to either 8, 9, 10, effectively rendering the swap useless.

The sixth pick is the lowest possible that the Sixers can get as a standalone pick. The Sixers could also select seventh, but in this scenario, they would also get the Lakers pick, as the Sixers can only fall all the way to seventh if three teams positioned outside of the lottery's top three selection spots jump into the top three, which would in turn, cast the Lakers out.

Though the Sixers would still have the opportunity to add a solid prospect to their already extremely promising core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric from the sixth selection spot, this situation could potentially cost the Sixers one of the draft’s highest-tier talents, or the opportunity to add multiple high-end prospects from the highly-hyped draft class.

The silver lining of this scenario would be the fact that if the Lakers pick doesn’t convey this year, it becomes unprotected in next year’s draft, and – barring a rapid offseason improvement in their current core, or the addition of some top-tier free agents – the Lakers are likely to land low in the lottery again next year.

Really, the Sixers can’t lose in the lottery, it’s just a matter of to what degree they are able to win. Regardless of how the ping-pong balls bounce, the Sixers will be adding at least one – maybe more – prospect(s) to team with their promising young core.


The lottery will go down on Tuesday, May 16 at 8:00 PM E.T. It will be aired on ESPN.


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