Dec 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Nets 121-120 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Ford projects Sixers to take Dante Exum, possibly trade Michael Carter-Williams

It’s amazing how much can change over the course of 24 hours. Not even that long. When I woke up this morning, I was under the impression that there was very little chance that the Sixers didn’t leave the draft with Andrew Wiggins. By 12:30 this afternoon, I not only had a pretty good idea that the Sixers weren’t going to end up with Wiggins, but that they weren’t getting Jabari Parker, or the now-injured Joel Embiid.

By three o’clock, I learned of two semi-conflicting reports. The first was  that the Sixers could step up their efforts to land the number one pick, as first reported by Pro Basketball Draft. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports said that Embiid’s injury opened the door for the Sixers to select Dante Exum and potentially try to land a third pick in the top ten of the first-round. At that time, I wondered how the Sixers would land that pick. So far Woj’s report seems much more accurate, and by 4:30 EST, ESPN’s Chad Ford might have given me the answer to the seeming hole in Woj’s report. .

In his latest mock-draft (Insider Only), ESPN’s NBA draft guru has the Andrew Wiggins dream dying with the Cavaliers selecting the Kansas small-forward with the first pick. Ford then has Jabari Parker going second to Milwaukee. And then, after over a month of hearing the Sixers would end up with one of Wiggins, Parker or Embiid, Ford has the Sixers selecting Dante Exum. And he doesn’t necessarily see Exum pairing up with reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams.

The Embiid injury was bad news for the 76ers. It puts them farther away from landing Wiggins at No. 3. There’s still a chance he could fall to No. 3 — if the Cavs took Parker and the Bucks took Exum. But that scenario is unlikely. The Sixers took a risk and drafted an injured Nerlens Noel last year, so there’s a chance they could draft Embiid this year. However, I don’t think Embiid is a great fit in Philly. The Sixers have been enamored with Exum for months. With Exum a bigger possibility, don’t be surprised if they step up their efforts to trade Michael Carter-Williams for another lottery pick.

That is a tad bit of a bombshell. A tad.

On top of all that, Ford doesn’t lay out a scenario where the Sixers get back into the top ten and take a risk that Embiid can stay healthy enough to realize his potential in the NBA. He has the Magic taking Embiid fourth overall, which seems somewhat high to me, but maybe Ford just isn’t falling into the trap of overreacting that a majority of the NBA community is. 

Because Ford doesn’t mock the Sixers actually completing the MCW trade, they still only have two first-round picks in his draft. At the ten spot, Ford has the Sixers taking another big-man with injury questions, this time a four, in Kentucky’s Julius Randle.

If the Sixers go with a wing early, then I think they go big here if they can. There are also scenarios where Randle could slide now that it’s known he has a foot issue. Landing Randle would be a huge coup for the team if they believe his foot won’t be a long-term issue. He would be the perfect complement to Nerlens Noel on the front line and give them a big man who can run the floor and command a double-team in the paint. A grouping of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle would be a formidable young core going forward.

That scenario appears to be a pipe dream at this point. Nerlens Noel remaining in Philly, appears to be the only lock out of that group. And I’m sure that could change to.

In Hinkie we trust–right now. But if he moves Carter-Williams in favor of Exum, there isn’t any margin for error. The move needs to turn out to be a huge success, as it would likely be the defining moment of the Hinkie/Brown regime.

 [Chad Ford mock-draft 8.1]

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Tags: Dante Exum Michael Carter-Williams Philadelphia 76ers

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