Philadelphia 76ers Back In Lottery Land, Bringing Sam Hinkie’s Plan Back In Focus


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After a fast start, that scared everyone hoping for a lottery pick in next year’s draft, the Philadelphia 76ers have now dropped 12 of their last 14 games. First-year general manager Sam Hinkie’s analytics (tanking?)  plan seems to be back on track.

After trading Jrue Holiday to New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a top five protected first round draft pick in 2014 on draft night, not only was it fair to say that the Sixers had made drastic changes, but that more were on there way over the next few seasons. Although the idea of trading an all-star in Holiday for an injured player and a draft pick angered some fans, it was the right move to make at the right time. With Jrue leading the team, the Sixers never would have been more than a first or second round playoff team.

Whether it is by trade or leaving via free-agency  Evan Turner who was not tendered a contract extension at the beginning of the season will likely be on his way. and will be followed by either, or both, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young (Young isn’t a free-agent after this year, unlike the other two). I really hope the Sixers decide to keep Young, as he is the only player that shows me any sort of value for the future as a starter or reserve. The rest of the team(Not Carter-Williams obviously) is probably in limbo, with varying trade values. Those players will play out the season and find employment elsewhere next year, if they aren’t traded earlier.

If the team can stay in the bottom five for the rest of the year, they are guaranteed a great player, from a strong draft class of 2014. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs, which will be hard in a tough Western Conference, then the 76ers will have another top 14 pick in that draft. The top fourteen pick is guaranteed to be in next year’s draft as long as it doesn’t fall in the top five. If it does, the Pelicans keep their pick and the 76ers will get the pick again in 2015.

As it stands, I think the 76ers will finish in the bottom five of the league and the New Orleans Pelicans will not make the playoffs considering Anthony Davis, who is the Pelicans best player, is out with a broken hand.

The 14 teams that don’t make the playoffs enter into a draft lottery for the top three picks. The team with the worst record of those fourteen has the best chance(25%) to win the first pick overall and the team with the best record, has the worst chance(.5) to win the lottery, the other  12 teams chances fall in between those numbers.  They repeat the lottery for picks two and three, and then whatever teams are left after that are assigned their draft spot by their win-lose record.

So if the 76ers can finish fifth worst overall, they are guaranteed a pick no worse then number eight, with a reasonable chance at the number one, two, or three picks. In this draft, there is a possibility of 4-6 star caliber players being available. Andrew Wiggins is lurking out there somewhere, and while he might not be playing as well as Julius Randle or Jabari Parker, he still might have the physical potential to be the best player entering the draft since Lebron James.

Despite a slow start for the Kansas Jayhawks, Andrew Wiggins is showing the potential that made the hashtag #winlessforwiggins popular across the internet.

The Pelicans pick (remember it is a protected-pick) should fall somewhere between the 10th and 14th picks of the draft, giving the 76ers another really solid NBA player. They got Micheal Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick last year, which was a decisively weaker draft compared to this upcoming one. It appears early on that Carter-Williams may be the steal of this past NBA draft,  but it does prove that you can find star potential outside of the top five picks. Barring some luck on the Pelicans part, the Sixers will have a chance to find a player with star potential between the tenth and fourteenth picks, for the second straight season.

Nerlens Noel is the wild card in Hinkie’s plan. He would have easily been the number one draft choice last year if there weren’t concerns about how he would rebound from a torn ACL. If he can comeback healthy, and remain healthy, he has the chance to be one of the best defensive big-men in the league. If he can develop into a better offensive player, which coach Brett Brown says he  is already in the process of doing, then he may even have all-star potential.

Micheal Carter-Williams has exploded onto the NBA scene in the first few months of his NBA career. Rookie of the year? So far you would tend to think so. I love his length and if his jumper from the outside improves at all, he could end up being a better overall point-guard then, let’s say, Jrue Holdiay. That will take a few solid years mixed with continued development from Carter-Williams, and a continued improvement from, and of, the supporting cast.

With Noel and Carter-Williams already here, add in a great draft pick like Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Juluis Randle, and you have building blocks for a great team. But wait there’s more. Remember the Pelicans pick? That could land you Gary Harris or Glen Robinson lll, who could still make an early impact for the Sixers. What they get in a potential Turner or Hawes deal is gravy, as the draft alone could re-build the Sixers roster, sooner rather than later.

Will this work? Maybe, maybe not, nothing’s ever guaranteed in sports. But with these young players, more draft picks on the way, and all the freed up cap space, the future is not looking so bleak. If he continues to do things right, Sam Hinkie can not only put a winner on the court, but a contender. Remember, even with Jrue Holdiay the Sixers failed to make the playoffs last year. Why not blow it up and see what you get? It’s better then being average.