Philadelphia 76ers could secure Mikal Bridges with the Lakers pick

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated from the playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers could use their draft pick to keep Villanova guard Mikal Bridges in Philly.

For the first time in over half a decade, Philadelphia 76ers fans actually have meaningful basketball to watch in April.

Gone are the days of 10 win seasons, half-empty arenas and $5 StubHub tickets, and in their place Philly fans have been rewarded with one of the best team’s in professional basketball, and an opportunity to get even better once Joel Embiid returns to the court.

Even though the Sixers have finally clawed their way out of the NBA lottery, the team’s fans should still keep an eye on the draft process, as Philly basketball will be well represented.

With at least two (and as many as four) players from Villanova set to take their talents to the NBA, one Wildcat that has enchanted 76ers fans for seemingly years now is 21-year old junior wingman Mikal Bridges.

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But there’s a problem.

After a monster performance in the NCAA tournament to seemingly cap off his incredibly productive career on the Main Line, Bridges has firmly established himself as a late lottery pick, with some mock drafts slotting him as high as 10th overall. Sure he’s a perfect fit for the 76ers roster, as his 6-foot-7 frame, 7-foot wingspan, and 43.5 three-point percentage would give the team yet another athletic shooting guard to pair with Embiid, Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons, but other than trading up for his services, a potentially costly proposition from the mid-20s, how could Philly ensure they are in position to select Bridges?

Well, thanks to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, they may not have to do anything.

You see, when the 76ers traded away 2014 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams in a three-team trade all the way back in 2015, they received the Los Angeles Lakers unprotected 2017 first round pick (more info on that here) and even though the pick was conditionally traded to the Boston Celtics, that deal may not convey depending on where the Lakers land in the draft.

When current GM Bryan Colangelo traded for the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, he included the third overall pick in the 2017 Draft, and a second first round pick, either the Lakers’ 2018 first round pick (protected 2-5) or the Sacramento Kings unprotected 2019 first round pick if the former didn’t convey. And with the Lakers’ currently sitting with the 11th worst record in basketball, it looks fairly likely that their pick will not fall within the trades protections

Confusing right?

If you are still with me, the point is that barring a magical 1993 Orland Magic-type situation, the Lakers first round pick will belong to the 76ers, and with it, they very well could choose to take a shot on a young, upside wing player with sky high potential.

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While it would have been nice to receive the Kings unprotected first round pick next season, as the Kings continue to field one of the worst rosters in the NBA, being awarded an opportunity to draft Bridges after a 50 win season is pretty amazing, and could pay major dividends for one of the league’s best teams moving forward.

Though Philly appears to have locked in their point guard, center, and whatever position you want to categorize Simmons as of the future, one position that has seemingly eluded the team over the course of The Process is an athletic wing shooter. Sure, Fultz will likely share the court with Simmons next season as a two guard, but other than Justin Anderson, the team doesn’t have a single shooting guard under 25 who even gets occasional minutes, yet alone makes an impact. Yes, the 76ers still have Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz locked in on rookie deals, but unless one of them takes a major step forward this offseason it seems incredibly unlikely that either will develop into an eventual replacement for J.J. Redick or Marco Belinelli moving forward if they are even on the roster.

Bridges, on the other hand, could be that player.

At 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Bridges is arguably the best 3-and-D wingman in the entire 2018 NBA Draft and could be an absolute boon as a stretch shooting guard alongside the likes of Simmons, Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Already a plus NBA defender who can cover 1-4, Bridges would give Brett Brown even more versatility when crafting his lineups throughout the game, and much like Covington, if he can get his three-point shot dropping with any sort of regularity, he could have All-Star upside.

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Now I’m not saying that Bridges is somehow destined to become a 76ers, as for all we know the team may not even be interested in the soon to be ex-Wildcat, but thanks to some solid maneuvering from Hinkie and Colangelo, the 76ers could very well find themselves on the clock in the first round of the NBA Draft with his name still on the board, and that alone would be an incredible cherry on top of an already amazing 2017-2018 season.