Fortunately, the Sixers won’t have to compete for playoff positioning against Victor Wembanyama for much of the next decade.
The NBA Draft Lottery was one of the biggest nights of the year for the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. Now the Sixers don’t even have a pick in this year’s draft; their first-round pick travels to Utah via Brooklyn, and their second-round pick was lost by league ruling following its tampering investigation. Instead, today is Fire a Coach Day in Philadelphia, always exciting to many I’m sure.
Nonetheless, much of the rest of the league had their eyes on this year’s lottery with generational talent Victor Wembanyama projected to go with this year’s first overall pick. With the results of the ping pong ball… congratulations to Brett Brown and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs organization.
From the Sixers’ perspective, if you’re not able to nab a generational talent, you at least don’t want to have to go through it every year in the playoffs, so Wemby heading to Texas is a good thing. Charlotte ended up with the second overall pick and could grab a great prospect like Scoot Henderson in that stacked top of the draft class. However, I don’t think anyone is too worried about the Hornets, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, and the second round since all back in 2002.
When it comes to lottery maneuvers, San Antonio, Charlotte and Portland all moved up two spots, while Houston fell two spots and Detroit pulled the very short straw down four spots. Sorry, Pistons fans, there probably isn’t a fledgling dynasty to be built around Cade Cunningham and a blue-chiper from this draft.
Sixers fans can take heart from the Rockets slipping in two ways. If you want Harden to stay in Philadelphia, Houston having the fourth overall pick is a less compelling trade chip to bring in another veteran star for a win-now-short-term move to lure the beard. If you want Harden gone after his consecutive years of playoff failures, you can at least be happy he can’t play with Wembanyama or the Rockets can’t bolster the roster very well via a slightly higher pick. . Either way, to hell with Houston for probably tampering with and distracting Harden from the award before this past playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the other Eastern Conference teams that stayed put. Orlando appears to be on the verge of finally coming out of its rebuild and now has the sixth and 11th overall picks in this draft; Magic’s jump could have been very dangerous, however. Likewise with Indiana, who has outstanding young talent in #FutureFormerSixer Tyrese Haliburton and might have been able to enter the bottom half of the playoff scrum as early as next year with another surefire prospect. Washington picking eighth overall is funny because it feels like they’ve been picking there for about 10 years and it will keep them perfectly balanced on the treadmill of sub-mediocrity. Toronto jumping from 13th place would have been unfair; the last thing the Raptors need is another long two-way terror.
Finally, Boston suffered at least one big loss this week.
I let Tony East of SI.com explain:
“The Pacers owned the Rockets’ second-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft, but the selection was protected for the picks 33-60, meaning Indiana only got it if he was 31 or 32. Otherwise, it would go to the Boston Celtics and the Pacers would instead end up with the Miami Heat’s second-round pick at 50.
Because the Rockets finished with the same record as the Spurs, the lottery would determine which team had the best pick in the first and second rounds. If San Antonio had the better pick in the first round, they would be behind Houston in the second round, and vice versa. Because the teams were tied for the second-worst record, the fate of Pick 32 came down to the coin toss. The Pacers wanted to see the Spurs ahead of the Rockets in the first round.
Haha, take that, Celtics fans. You lost something like the 33rd overall pick. Let that bit of doom simmer in your brain as you watch your team in the Eastern Conference Finals.