Yeah, the Elfrid Payton thing was initially a pretty big head-scratcher. It would have been pretty tough to explain that one.
Well, luckily for the portion of the Sixers fanbase that didn't understand the pick (myself included), Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie also didn't see the Louisiana-Lafayette point guard as a fit in Philadelphia. I'm sure Michael Carter-Williams isn't too upset about how things turned out, either*.
*By the way, for future reference, if a young player is reportedly on the trade block, maybe he shouldn't hang out live at the draft? Maybe he could have been doing.... pretty much anything else, no?
Here's a confession: Of the top nine players on my figurative big board, none of them fell to the Sixers at 10. Not Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, or even Nik Stauskas. I wonder if Hinkie had the same nine players at the top of his board in some order, and planned to take one of them if he fell to the Pelicans pick. Maybe he didn't, but I do think that it's a possibility things shook out that way.
Regardless, Dario Saric was the clear option for the Sixers at 10 from a talent standpoint. In 2013-14, the 20-year-old was named the MVP of the Adriatic League after averaging 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists and leading his team to a title. At this point in his young career, Saric is already a seasoned professional in Europe. Everything sounds good so far, right?
Unfortunately, there's one big obstacle: This week, Saric signed a three-year contract with Turkish power Anadolu Efes, and he will have to at least play one season (and maybe two) in Istanbul. Yup, even after selecting Embiid, Hinkie decided to take another player that Philadelphia fans won't get to see for another season.
It's clear that patience is literally a virtue for Sam Hinkie. In fact, it's the main one. Tonight, when he selected both injured Joel Embiid and the currently unavailable Saric, his major goal wasn't to field a terrible team next year. It's just that he doesn't mind if he fields a terrible team next year, and more specifically, he doesn't mind waiting an extra year if he feels that the Sixers will be a stronger organization if the payoff won't come right away. The Sixers even got a future first rounder for their trouble.
There will be a lot of jokes and hot sports takes by fans and media alike. There almost certainly won't be a lot of wins this year, though it remains to be seen what exactly the team does in free agency. But Sam Hinkie is trying to build a perennial contender and he thinks that the best way to accomplish sustained success is to be patient. We'll see if it works out, but he's certainly sticking to the process.