By now, pretty much everyone and their brother has had a chance to make fun of the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster as being a cast of losers. They have basically no real NBA talent, they are a disgrace to competition in the NBA, and they are making a mockery of the NBA as a whole thanks to their tanking ways.
Well, I won’t argue that today, but seriously though, look at the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics to see what they’re doing and try and find someone coming out as vehemently against those teams as the basketball community has come out against Philadelphia. It is ridiculous the double standard, but alas, I digress.
The true purpose of today’s discussion is to look into the likelihood of this roster being somewhat awesome next year. Now, let’s preface this by saying that nothing I am about to say is 100% going to happen. However, everything I mention will be a possibility. And when you are a fan of a team that is tanking, the hope is what truly matters.
First, let’s delve into the possibility of our rookies.
The 76ers had two first round draft picks in the 2014 NBA draft, with which they drafted Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. As fate would have it, neither of these players will suit up for the Sixers this year (Embiid may play some games towards the end of the year, but it is far more likely that they redshirt him this year to allow ample time for recovery from his injuries).
Add in Hinkie’s Rosebud, the second round draft picks that he stockpiles like he lived through the Great Depression and never was allowed to have a second round pick, and the Sixers also brought in Jordan McRae and Vasilije Micic who are playing overseas for the current season. K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant are both second round picks who are contributing to this team.
Now, Dario Saric signed a deal overseas that he would have to buy out of in order to leave early and join the Sixers next year. However, follow me down this rabbit hole for a moment and let’s assume that Saric is sick and tired of his minutes, his role, and his teammates overseas and he wants to come and join our plucky band of comrades in Philly next year. Saric collects all of his international coinage and buys out of his contract, and so Hinkie agrees to buy him lunch and dinner everyday until he repays him.
This young Sixers roster will have two top 10 picks (Saric was drafted 12th, but we traded the 10th pick to move back and get more assets and Saric, so I’m counting that as the 10th pick since it is what it cost us to acquire Dario) starting up for us next year prior to adding any players in this year’s draft.
This year’s draft is a little worrisome for some fans, as it is loaded with big man talent but not much guard talent. Emmanuel Mudiay is a dominant guard playing over in China, D’Angelo Russell is a serious talent, and Mario Hezonja could play small forward or shooting guard, however, these are not guaranteed picks to say the least. Okafor, Towns, Porzingis, Cauley-Stein, and Harrell are just some of the big men leading this draft class.
BUT WE ALREADY HAVE EMBIID, NOEL, AND SARIC!!
This I know, but consider this. The 76ers will most likely have 2 picks in this draft, and as the rankings currently stand, they would be the 3 and the 15. Therefore, what if the Sixers grabbed Karl-Anthony Towns with the 3rd overall pick and then took a wing shooter like Caris LeVert from Michigan at 15?
The Sixers front court would consist of Embiid, Noel, Saric, and Towns with a rebounding specialist in Furkan Aldemir. The Sixers would then have MCW and Wroten at point guard, slashing guards who excel at getting to the rim and finding passing lanes. Finally, the 76ers would have LeVert, Covington, McDaniels, and Grant on the wing.
Oh, also, don’t forget that Jordan McRae is lighting it up out in Australia. He could come over and play the 2 guard spot for us at some point.
Now, I know what most people are thinking is that McDaniels is a restricted free agent this year. Don’t worry, we have plenty of cap space to resign him, and I really think he likes playing as a Sixer and getting the playing time that he does with our team.
But, there is a chance that he signs elsewhere.
Also, MCW and Wroten lead the league in turnovers. Brett Brown may go insane trying to get time for all four big men. And we still would have limited outside shooters.
Ok, one problem at a time. Consider the idea that MCW or Wroten gets traded, maybe to maneuver our position in the draft. Then, with all of our cap room, Hinkie goes after a proven point guard, let’s dream big and grab Goran Dragic. Dragic has a player option after this year, and if the Suns miss the playoffs, he may want to leave Phoenix due to the massive number of point guards they have there. Seriously, they have Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Ennis.
In comes Hinkie, with what should be a swimming pool of money, and handing Dragic the starting spot and the playing time to allow Dragic to become a bona fide star in this league.
On to the second problem, getting playing time for all of our big men. Well, the major flaw with our two stars, Noel and Embiid, is that they are injury prone. Meanwhile, Saric isn’t used to playing 30 minutes for 82 games himself while Towns would be a rookie. Allowing for our front court to rotate and play limited minutes might be the best thing we could do for them. It would keep them fresh, healthy, and allow for them to learn and grow throughout the season without added pressure.
Finally, free agency could also provide some help with the dearth of three point shooters on this team. Guys like Danny Green and Gerald Green are free agents. We could offer them a good amount of money to come in an be our Kyle Korver.
Now, I know that I have laid out a lot of hypothetical situations. Is it likely that Saric and McRae come over to join the Sixers next year? Probably not. Is it likely that the 76ers pry guys like Dragic or the Greens away from their respective teams? I am too emotionally invested to say no but…
The point of this article is to point out that the Sixers’ rebuild is going exactly as planned.
Hinkie’s goal was to accumulate the most amount of talent that he could. Then, when that talent started to reveal itself, he would deal with the problem of carving out the roster space for them to succeed. Don’t worry about there being a lot of big men in this draft. Don’t worry that we have a bunch of players playing overseas.
Most of all, don’t worry about free agents leaving the Sixers or not wanting to join, a lot of money tends to be pretty convincing, and we have the most money in the league. We are going to be able to get Kirilenko’s contract and Richardson’s contract off of our books at the end of the season too. We can toss insane money at anyone we want.
This roster has so much more talent than what shows on the court, and currently, what’s on the court isn’t even the worst product the NBA has to offer.