Thursday is the day “The Process” transitions into real expectations.
It’s harder to get lower into the depths of losing and despair than the last three years for Sixers fans. But when they announce they’ve selected Ben Simmons No. 1 overall at approximately 7:35 Thursday night, the team will be, finally, shifting it’s focus. It’s time to win.
It’s reason for Sixers fans to celebrate, and all across the city Thursday night fans will be watching and looking to the future.
Here are five reasons why the 2016 NBA draft will be can’t-miss for Philly sports fans.
1. Ben Simmons
Simmons is nearly the prototypical player that GMs are looking for in today’s NBA. Everyone wants a big, long, athletic point-forward like Draymond Green or LeBron James. And though his jump shot needs work and there is no guarantee he’ll thrive in the NBA, Simmons is one of the most impressive prospects in recent memory.
Philly will add Simmons to a roster filled with potential and assets, with big men, draft picks and cash to sign free agents. Just watch him drive the lane, find ways to score and dish the ball with no-look passes. The next era of success in the Wells Fargo Center won’t be far off.
2. Trade watch
A pair of blockbuster trades have already seen Derrick Rose traded to the Knicks and Jeff Teague traded to the Pacers. The Sixers have been involved in trade talks with the Celtics (looking to get the third pick to take Kris Dunn) and many expect the squad to part ways with either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor before draft night is through.
Things could get a bit crazy with draft night trades as a large number of teams are looking to redefine their identities this offseason.
RELATED LINK: Prospects talk Sixers on media day
3. The party
The Sixers are pulling out all the stops Thursday night in Center City. In the shadow of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Allen Iverson, Julius Erving and a cast of thousands will celebrate the night with music, free food and photo ops. There will also be an amateurslam dunk contest, judged by Sixers legends.
Bobby Jones, Clarence Weatherspoon, Eric Snow and World B. Free will also be guests at the event, held at Eakins Oval. The 4,000 attending Sixers fans will receive free T-shirts, courtesy of DraftKings.
4. The outfits
The NBA draft has become a fashion show for young men wearing tailored suits. Whether there’s a bright pinstripe three-piece, a jacket with a logo sewn inside or an unusualfabric or pattern, the draft is the first opportunity for most prospects on hand to be introduced to NBA fans and make a statement about their personality and taste.
5. The next step
About one week after the draft, the offseason begins for potential free agents on July 1. And while Philly might not be a major player for the cream of the crop — guys like Dirk Nowitski, Dwight Howard or Kevin Durant — they have a lot of money to spend and could be a valuable destination for a young free agent.