Philadelphia 76ers: New NCAA rule could ruin 2021 Miami pick value

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

With the NCAA’s new college basketball ruling, the Philadelphia 76ers’ coveted 2021 unprotected Miami Heat pick may be a whole lot less valuable.

On August 8th, 2018 the NCAA finally took a step to address some of the issues surrounding the current one-and-done culture of college basketball.

Needless to say, not everyone is happy about the organization’s newest declaration, and by not everyone, I mean basically no one.

The new rule, which could go into effect in 2022, will allow elite basketball recruits, ones who took part in USA Basketball camps before their senior year of high school, to be represented by NCAA-sanction agents who can help them navigate the pre-draft process and ensure that they make an informed decision about their future. It also attempts to help the other end of the spectrum as well, allowing star players who opted to leave school early but went undrafted. These players, specifically ones who were invited to the NBA Combine, will now be allowed to return to college and continue with their eligibility in the hopes of pumping up their draft status going into the following year.

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This declaration, which has neither been ratified by the NBA or USA Basketball, is contingent on the league modifying its one-and-done policy, and frankly seems like a lot of extra work for two parties that didn’t ask for it, but one organization that will suprisingly be effected very negatively by this potential rule has to be the Philadelphia 76ers.

When the Sixers made the controversial decision to trade everyone’s favorite former Villanova Wildcat Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and a 2021 unprotected first-round pick from the Miami Heat, it was always going to be a gamble, but the last week has virtually decimated any chance of this deal looking great for the Sixers moving forward.

While there’s obviously no way of knowing that Zhaire Smith would break his foot at a training camp in Las Vegas, potentially throwing his 2018-2019 NBA season into question, this new NCAA ruling is a major blow to the Miami pick’s value.

When Brett Brown made the move, he was likely under the assumption that 2021 would be the first year that High School seniors would be allowed to enter their names for consideration into the NBA Draft. This, when coupled with the fact that the 2020 class would be finishing up their own one-and-done rookie season could lead to an unprecedented number of five-star recruits available at the top half of the 2021 NBA Draft, and with the Heat currently teetering on a potential collapse, this pick could have been seriously valuable.

This pick, maybe even more so than the Los Angeles Lakers pick Philly used to select Bridges earlier this summer, had the potential to eventually become a top-5 pick and could have conceivably been the focal point of a blockbuster trade to add a superstar talent to Sixers roster.

Honestly, it almost was.

Arguably the main reason Brett Brown decided to make the swap in his first real move as the Sixers interim GM was to add draft capital to take a shot at acquiring then-San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. Though a deal obviously didn’t happen, as San Antonio clearly prioritized assets over future draft capital, Brown and the Sixers brass likely assume that a package of Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and as many as three future first-round picks, including that crown jewel Heat pick would be enough to procure Leonard from the Spurs, and finally give Philly that elite 3-and-D forward that could finally put the team over the top in a now wide-open Eastern Conference.

So really, this trade became an L about two weeks ago when Demar Derozan first stepped foot in San Antonio.

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Though Brown obviously couldn’t have predicted that Smith would suffer a potentially season-ending injury, and because of the fast-paced nature of draft day wheeling-and-dealing, he probably didn’t have an exceptionally expansive amount of time to think the deal over, but with Leonard now a Raptor, Bridges a Sun and that 2021 Miami pick a whole lot less valuable, it’s hard not to be slightly disappointed with how the Sixers summer has turned out thus far.