Here’s Sixers’ inept history of “star-hunting” in the NBA Draft as Embiid and Maxey wait for help | Jones

And so tonight continues a tradition like no other — the annual Philadelphia 76ers Pratfall in the NBA Draft. Since the Brooklyn Nets have opted to take their optional first-round pick from the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade in next year’s draft, Philadelphia will have a pick tonight – #23.

Chances are they’re going to screw it up; they almost always do. In the past decade of the NBA draft, the 76ers have selected 42 players. Exactly four of them had a significant impact on the franchise:

• Simmons

• Furkan Korkmaz

• Joel Embid

• Tyrese Maxey

That’s it. They traded 2019 picks Carsen Edwards and Ty Jerome to the Celtics for Matisse Thybulle. He was a reliable defenseman for the Sixers, if not exactly the 3-nD guy they were hoping for.

As of seven summers in 2015, the Sixers owned the rights to 23 NBA drafts, including 10 first-round picks, for the next six drafts (2016-21). This was part of the infamous Sam Hinkie’s “trial”. They essentially wasted all but one (Maxey in 2020).

Not only did they overload clunky, old-fashioned bigs who couldn’t stretch the ground while the league trend moved in the opposite direction, the guards who pulled them in couldn’t shoot either.

Most decisions were throw-ins, part of trades, second-round picks that had little or no chance of attracting viable players.

But even the Sixers’ top picks were mostly broke. During the last 10 NBA drafts, the Sixers had eight lottery picks. Draft lottery rules have constantly changed over the years, including the number of teams participating and the nature of their chance of receiving a top 4 pick. But we will consider anyone in the top 14 (of the current rule) as a lottery pick.

Here are the Sixers’ decisions:

Nerlens Noel (ranked 6th in 2013)

A shot blocker that could do little else. Couldn’t shoot from any distance. He was traded to the Mavericks in 2017 and has since hopped around on All-Airport teams, most recently on the Knicks bench.

Michael Carter-Williams (ranked 11th in 2013)

After a 2014 rookie-of-the-year season at Syracuse, Carter-William’s inability to shoot and questionable decisions have propelled him to benches across the league since his move to Milwaukee in 2015. He played in 31 games with Orlando last season.

Joel Embiid (3rd place in 2014)

The only pick the Sixers rightfully made, though Embiid sidelined his first two seasons in Kansas with injuries. A fighter whose post-up talent is unmatched and capable of defending multiple positions, he has been the franchise anchor since 2016. Which makes the rest of this list so painful. The Sixers can’t get anyone to help him.

Elfrid Payton (10th place in 2014)

Traded to Orlando on draft night for Dario Šarić, who was a worthy contributor when he finally arrived from Croatia two years later, and ended up being the centerpiece in a 2018 trade with Minnesota for Jimmy Butler. At least the Sixers got a gun on hire for a year before Butler declared the free hand and raced to Miami.

Jahlil Okafor (3rd place in 2015)

Lazy, ill-conditioned, unwilling to play defense, a one-trick pony on offense that can only play back to the basket. He was exposed early, made the move to Brooklyn in 2018 and played 27 games with the Pistons last season. He is the reason Luka Garza is still in the league.

That was the biggest mistake of all in my opinion. While I belittled Simmons and Fultz’s decisions at the intersection of each design, I just couldn’t understand this one. I wrote this immediately after the 2015 draft:

The Sixers don’t need Okafor. They could have used either Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell, but both were snapped by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.

However, other teams want Okafor. It’s often easier to persuade anxious donkeys to make hasty decisions in the heat of the train night. But Sixers GM Hinkie apparently couldn’t or wouldn’t turn such a trick on Thursday. So now he either has to deal with Okafor in a more reasonable timeframe over the next few days or sign him and go to war with him at the center for at least a season.

I don’t know how this will work. I know that I don’t want to be part of Okafor in the long run, no matter what my team needs. I think he’s a dog, a one-dimensional player exposed for his lack of play outside of an impressive offensive post-up toolbox. I’m worried about young players showing an aversion to defending. They are cancerous. I don’t think you can win with them. Okafor is one of them in my opinion.

Ben Simmons (#1 in 2016)

The ultimate loose headcase. The embodiment of why marginal fans left the NBA. We don’t need to go into that any further.

Markle Fultz (#1 in 2017)

Was the all-time leading scorer on a bottom-ranked Washington collegiate team for a single collegiate season. You know the story of Fultz. He suffered a mysterious shoulder injury and subsequent headcase that left him scared of shooting jumpers (sensing a trend?). Regardless, I never liked him and said so on the eve of the draft.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced of Jayson Tatum either. My unequivocal choice was DéAaron Fox, who has played his entire career for Sacramento without lights, a potential all-star fading away with a Mickey Mouse franchise.

Mikal Bridges (No. 10 in 2018)

Traded to Phoenix on draft night for Zhaire Smith in the infamous Brett Brown Draft after Bryan Colangelo’s retirement amid the Burner Phone scandal. Bridges was a key starter for the Suns team, which had the best record in the West in 2022. Smith no longer has a basketball.

That too was predictable. Bridges was a winner and a key role player at Villanova. Smith was a failing offensive player at Texas Tech who needed immediate maintenance on his shot, an overhaul that, it turned out, was never enough to fix the problem. Especially after suffering foot and knee injuries and a bizarrely severe allergic reaction to sesame oil.

So many of the other dozens of draft options acquired under Hinkie at Elton Brand were second-round, long shots that had little to no chance of staying. So it was those eight big picks that had to have made and at least contributed.

The Sixers got enduring value from two of them and four at all. The other four were worthless.

And that’s how they get to where they are – on the verge of argument, but not in the realm of real threat to lift the trophy – because they’re weak benches and no role players.

Which brings us to Philadelphia’s real problem: They’re on a treadmill of acquiring and wasting picks without knowing how to assess talent. As Brown said in his 2018 draft press conference draft, he streamlined the Bridges giveaway because it delivered a 2021 pick that was later given away — “We’re chasing the stars.”

Always hunt, actually never catch. This trend shows no signs of changing tonight.

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