Sixers Draft Strategy After Embiid Injury

When the news dropped today, I was gutted. Once again, lady luck was not on the side of the 76ers, or Philadelphia sports fans in general. Some years, the #2 pick lands you Kevin Durant. If you’re the 76ers, it lands you Evan Turner.

But things looked to turn for the better when the Sixers landed the #3 pick in a draft with three elite prospects. Sure, it would have been nice to get the first or second pick, but we weren’t getting greedy. Especially since there was a real chance that the Sixers didn’t get the Pelicans #10 pick and ended up drafting 5th (which was likely what most Sixers fans feared would happen).

Then, the reports started coming out: Embiid has a foot injury. What?! Is this a smokescreen from the Cavs in order to force a panic trade from the Sixers? How can this happen? Then, the bomb dropped: it was a stress fracture in his right foot. Considering Embiid had a stress fracture in his back, there was simply no way he would be a top 3 pick anymore.

Ugh. Like a 15 year old girls, I can’t even.

But, not all is lost. I know it would be extremely cliche of me to say this, but I will anyway: if there is one person I want in charge when the proverbial ish hits the fan, it’s Sam Hinkie. I’m panicking. You’re panicking. He ain’t panicking. He has likely already thought through a scenario where Embiid’s injury was more troublesome than expected, and has a course of action to take.

What might that be? I have no way of truly knowing, but here is what I would do in his shoes:

Option 1: Trade #3 and Thad for #1 and draft Wiggins. Ideal scenario — the Sixers give up a player that is likely leaving and land the player they’ve (allegedly) coveted all along. But any motivation Cleveland previously had to move down to 3 is likely gone. After Wiggins and Parker, there is somewhat of a drop off. So they wouldn’t be guaranteed one of the elite prospects. Unless they really like Exum. If they are open to the idea, I’ll even throw in a few second rounders. But I will not, under any circumstances, part with #3, 10 and Young. That would be a panic trade of the highest order.

Option 2: Step 1: Assuming that Wiggins is gone, I am taking Exum at 3 — even if Parker is available. Yes, it isn’t ideal. And yes, there is a very real possibility that he cannot coexist with MCW. But in terms of talent and upside, you could reasonably argue that it’s now Wiggins first, Exum second. If he can operate as a 2, great; we have an insanely long and athletic backcourt for the next 10 years. If he can’t, we move either MCW or Exum for a high first round pick.

Step 2: Trade #10 and Young to move up in the draft. Reports are coming out that the Sixers want #3, #10 AND a pick in-between. And who wouldn’t? But, I am not sure Thaddeus Young and a few second rounders are enough to land a pick in the top 9. It would be nice, but it seems like a pipe dream.(Then again, the Kings and Bobcats are involved, so you never know).

A more realistic scenario would be to move #10 and Young for a pick ranging from 5-8. At that point, I would target Vonleh first, and Aaron Gordon second. Vonleh is an athletic freak stretch 4 that would be a perfect compliment to the offensively deficient Nerlens Noel. Gordon has elite skills (athleticism, defense, dribbling and passing), and if he can develop a consistent shot, watch out.

We would end up with the following: MCW, Noel, Exum and Vonleh/Gordon. Yes, not having Wiggins is a drawback, especially after it started to look like it was a very real possibility at 3. But that still is an exciting core that we can build around with (hopefully) another lottery pick next year.

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