In an ideal world, the Philadelphia 76ers would have liked to finish first in the NBA draft lottery.
What they settled for, however, is rather enticing.
The Sixers had a 19.9 percent chance of landing the top overall pick but wound up third behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers had a miniscule 1.7 percent shot of the top pick and their ping pong ball was the winning one for the third time in the last four years.
But the Sixers came up big with a pair of top 10 picks. In addition to holding the No. 3 overall spot, they also own the No. 10 pick — a result of last year’s draft night trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. That night, the Sixers shipped All-Star point Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a pick, which was top five-protected.
This marks the third time the Sixers have held the third overall pick, with the most recent selection being Jerry Stackhouse in 1995. Recent notable players drafted third overall include Bradley Beal (2012), James Harden (2009), Deron Williams (2005) and Carmelo Anthony (2003). Michael Jordan was the third overall pick in 1984.
The Sixers also have a league-best five picks in the second round — Nos. 32, 39, 47, 52 and 55.
When the NBA Draft takes place on June 26, the Sixers’ rebuilding project will officially go to the next level.
“It was a good night for us,” GM Sam Hinkie told reporters after the draft lottery. “I think (there’s) a lot to be hopeful for. To have two top 10 picks in a draft like this is something a lot of teams would give a lot for.”
Assuming the Sixers don’t trade the No. 3 pick, they’re expected to pick from the likes of Kansas center Joel Embiid, Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, Duke forward Jabari Parker, Kentucky forward Julius Randle and Australia guard Dante Exum.
“I think everyone assumes there’s a board and everything’s set,” Hinkie told reporters. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
Hinkie was at the NBA Combine in Chicago and then traveled to Denver, with another trip scheduled to Los Angeles for more individual workouts.
Between now and the draft, the Sixers will be mulling their options. They could keep all seven picks or work out trades. It’s going to be a fascinating process for a franchise which finished 19-63 last season.
“This is an exciting night for our franchise.” Hinkie said. “We all know the NBA Draft is an important way for us to add players, and the depth of talent available this year is a great start.”
They didn’t come up with the No. 1 pick, but getting two top 10 selections isn’t all bad.