The watch ends tomorrow.
In Bill Simmons's The Book of Basketball (a great read if you have a free six months to get through it), he recounts a conversation he had with Isiah Thomas about the secret to winning basketball.
"The secret about basketball," Thomas said, "is that it's not about basketball."
Simmons goes on for a while about what that totally nonsensical statement really means (spoiler alert: The Celtics), but it perfectly captures my feeling about what WigginsWatch has meant to me over the past year. I started writing it because I was so excited about the future that I needed an outlet to release all that excitement (and hooo boy my friends were getting really sick of hearing about it).
The secret about WigginsWatch is that it was never truly about Andrew Wiggins. It was about hope, about a dream, about a belief that tomorrow will be better than today. There was a light at the end of the tunnel for Sixers fans, and for once, it wasn't a train about to run them over.
WigginsWatch really started 364 days ago, on June 27, 2013, about five minutes after Sixers fans found out Jrue Holiday had been traded. Everybody knew the plan from that moment on, and what the end game was. As the year went on, we dissected all the top prospects in the draft, chewing them up and spitting them out. Some, like Wiggins and Jabari Parker, survived the meat grinder intact, while others, like Julius Randle, became Hamburger Helper, a fine product, but not exactly a main course.
That's what brings us to tomorrow. Literally, tomorrow, not a figurative tomorrow like we've been hyping for a year. Last month, before the Draft Lottery, Justin F. talked about how he was afraid of the Lottery, because it meant the end of dreaming about tomorrow and the beginning of the realities of tomorrow. The draft brings us even more into reality.
I'm not afraid of tomorrow though. I'm excited for tomorrow.
There's been a lot of talk about who Sam Hinkie's real target is with his top draft pick. Some have tried to guess based on a basic understanding of what it looks like Hinkie and Brett Brown are trying to create. Some have tried to project their own top target onto Hinkie. Some have just plain thrown crap at the wall to see what sticks.
The reality is we don't know. It could be Wiggins, as has been widely reported by almost every media outlet, including this one. It could be Embiid, as
the Sixers leaked to try and dissuade Cleveland from trading down past them some have speculated, including our own Mike Levin last week with his smokescreen theory. It could be that the draft will fall exactly as Hinkie wanted all along and Dante Exum was always his target. He could do what almost nobody has predicted and pick Jabari Parker. Vonleh, Gordon, Randle, Smart, there's few who really know.
If Sam Hinkie truly has "a guy," somebody who he thinks is the player he desperately wants to build his franchise around, I believe he will be a Sixer tomorrow night. The bottom line is that Hinkie has the assets to make a move. The reported Utah offer of Derrick Favors, #5, and #23 wavered my faith in this a little bit, but then the ridiculous Orlando purported offer of Arron Afflalo, #4 and #12 renewed it. The high stakes game of chicken Philadelphia and Cleveland seem to be playing makes it seem as though Cleveland is holding out for one more asset. If Sam Hinkie desperately wants a specific player, he has #3 and #10, a trade package that will be hard to top. Some will see it as an overpay, and they aren't necessarily wrong, but if that player does in fact turn into a superstar, they aren't going to put "overpaid for on draft night trade" on his Hall of Fame plaque.
I've made no secret about the fact that Andrew Wiggins is my favorite prospect in this draft, and has been since the inception of WigginsWatch. But the key word in WigginsWatch was never "Wiggins," but rather "Watch." The watch for a star player the franchise could build around and lead the franchise out of mediocrity and into prosperity that it hasn't seen in over a decade. I'd love for that player to be Wiggins himself (for symmetry, if nothing else). But if it isn't Wiggins, or your personal favorite, that's fine. I believe in the process as much today as I will tomorrow, and the next day, no matter what happens.
Tomorrow is the End of Watch, but it's the beginning of something new, something lasting, something special.
(...until Hinkie picks Embiid and Saric and I start writing OkaforWatch.)