The reaction coming from the 76ers’ camp was euphoric.
But a simple question must be asked.
The annual NBA draft lottery was held Tuesday night in New York City and the Sixers came away with the No. 3 overall pick, the result of a 2015 trade with the Sacramento Kings. The Sixers would have received the fifth pick, but that trade allowed them to move up two spots.
But the Los Angeles Lakers earned the No. 2 position, so they’ll keep the protected pick. The Sixers can grab the Lakers’ pick after next season and it’s unprotected.
There’s good news for the Sixers, yet they could have walked away with Nos. 1 and 4. Instead, they left with the No. 3 overall choice, meaning they’ll likely miss out on Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and UCLA guard Lonzo Ball.
Yes, it was a good night. Euphoric? Hardly.
Adding a piece like Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox will help this young team. It may be enough to push for a playoff spot in the less talented Eastern Conference. There will surely be more growing pains.
Don’t plan that parade down Broad Street just yet.
“Tonight was a great night as we continue to build our team into a contender,” Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said. “There really was no way to walk out of here disappointed given the possible outcomes we faced. We’ll now zero in and focus on drafting a quality player at No. 3 who adds to our dynamic young core. We also now have clarity that we’ll have a 2018 unprotected pick from the Lakers.”
For the fourth straight year, the Sixers will select a player in the top three. Whomever the Sixers take next month will join Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and possibly Jahlil Okafor if they opt to retain him.
Embiid played 31 sensational games last season. Competing in 31 out of 82 games isn’t enough.
Simmons played zero games after suffering a foot injury in training camp.
The newest Sixer will be a rookie.
And the Sixers have four second-round picks as a result of prior trades with the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz. It’s rare that you’ll find a player like Isaiah Thomas with the 60th pick. Look for the Sixers to stash a player, or multiple players, overseas like they did with Furkan Korkmaz.
The Sixers will reshape their roster for next season and it will be much improved on paper. They must stay healthy. Repeat. They must stay healthy. Repeat. They must stay healthy.
Coach Brett Brown will begin his fifth season with the most talent ever to work with. It’s not championship level talent just yet. It could be playoff level talent. Who knows?
The Process will continue the next couple of years with the Lakers’ pick next season and the Kings’ pick in 2019. The patient fan base will have to remain patient for at least a couple more years.
The product on the court should be much more thrilling in 2017-18. Beyond that, expectations need to be tapered. There’s still a long, long way to go.