As North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz made his way across the podium last week as the No. 2 pick to the Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft, Sixers fans across the area couldn’t help but be a little bit jealous and nervous at the same time by the measured success of bleeding green nation on draft night.
The Eagles have potentially locked up a franchise centerpiece for the next decade in Wentz, in a draft they were originally slotted to pick 13th in. General Manager Howie Roseman did the unthinkable to make a dream a reality. Meanwhile, the Sixers are less than two weeks away from another NBA Draft Lottery in limbo, where their future relies once again on the selection of ping pong balls.
After finishing the season with the worst record (10-72) in the NBA for the first time during the team’s rebuild now three-seasons and running, the Sixers enter the lottery with a greater chance at getting the No. 4 pick (32.3%) than they do at getting the No. 1 pick (26.9%) in June.
Not having the chance at the draft’s consensus top two picks Brandon Ingram of Duke or Ben Simmons of LSU would be yet another blow to the franchise, and one that would put a stamp on Sam Hinkie’s resignation while sending a message to team’s throughout the league on the cautionary tale of tanking in the NBA.
The existence of chance in Hinkie’s rebuilding strategy is ultimately what put the Sixers into the position that they’re in right now. If the Sixers weren’t jumped by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery, the Sixers take rising stars Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. If the Sixers aren’t jumped by the Los Angeles Lakers in last year’s lottery, they end up with promising D’Angelo Russell and the point guard narrative for the team this past season disappears.
Even in trades, the Sixers may end up on the wrong side of the coin. The Sixers ultimately lost in the late first round picks (Nos. 24, 26) they traded for that convey this year’s draft. The protections on each pick severely hurt their value, as they should have conveyed to the Sixers in the teens of last June’s draft.
The Sixers are also hoping for their top-3 protected first round pick owned by the Lakers to convey in this year’s draft that they acquired in the Michael Carter-Williams trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers currently have a 55.8% chance of acquiring a top-3 selection and a 44.2% chance that it falls outside of the top-3, conveying to the Sixers.
With that pick, the Sixers could add yet another franchise building block to the team, such as Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield or Providence’s Kris Dunn. But for now, it’s nothing more than a pipe dream.
In reality, the Sixers could end up with the No. 3 pick for the third-straight draft, one pick below the beloved Eagles. This is where the nervousness of the fans sets in. If the Sixers don’t finally land a franchise-caliber player after three years of tanking, how much more irrelevant will they become on the local and national level?
On May 17, the franchise will get its answer. Until then, it’s hard not to focus your eyes on the tangible results of Wentz to the Eagles. Whether you agree with the trade or not, the franchise can at least wake up knowing where their future lies. With the Sixers, it's still a wait and see.