Sixers hope for the best with Embiid at No. 3, trade No 10. Payton for Saric

Joel Embiid Kansas Celtics NBA Draft
Joel Embiid is the newest Philadelphia 76er. Credit: Getty Images

The Sixers had their hand forced when their turn in the NBA Draft arrived. With Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker off the board and no one to trade down with, Embiid was the only logical option.

Their selection at No. 3 gives them, potentially in the future, a pair of giants down low with Nerlens Noel set to debut this upcoming season.

Embiid was widely expected to go No. 1 overall to the Cavaliers, but an injury during a workout sent his draft stock downward. Could this be a big mistake? Or did a perennial All-Star fall into their laps?

“Unfortunately, this foot injury happened a week before the draft,” Embiid said on ESPN after being taken.

“Of course I wish he was healthy,” Sixers Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams said of the pick on ESPN. “He’s a great pick and a great player.”

Comparisons for Embiid have been made everywhere on the spectrum, from No. 1 pick and legendary bust Sam Bowie to one of the greatest NBA centers of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon.

Noel was in the same boat last season, expected to go No. 1 but drafted further down after injury concerns — and later traded to the Sixers.

The Sixers made surprising pick at No. 10, taking point guard Elfrid Payton from Louisiana Lafayette.

The great defender and defensive player of the year lacks offensive skills and was an unexpected selection inside the top 10.

However, with Carter-Williams already in the Sixers back court running the show, the squad turned around and traded Payton for Croatia’s Dario Saric.

Saric will be unavailable for a few years, but the Sixers don’t mind waiting for their talent, clearly.

He signed a three-year deal with Turkey, but should develop into an NBA ready forward there. The 76ers also pick up a first rounder from the Magic for 2017 and second rounder in 2015, according to NBA insider sources.


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