Chad Ford and others have taken every opportunity to remind their readership that the Sixers want Andrew Wiggins and would do whatever it takes to get him. In Chad's latest mock draft, he has Wiggins falling to #3 (and Julius Randle falling to them at #10 -- nice), yet also reports they're still trying to trade with Cleveland to get the top pick to cut out the possibility that the Milwaukee Bucks take AW over Jabari Parker at #2. One thing's for sure though-- the Sixers want Wiggins bad.
But like, really though?
At the risk of becoming an information ouroboros, every time I hear a report about someone Sam Hinkie likes, I assume the exact opposite. I don't know if that's cynicism or optimism, but I've spoken to Hinkie, a number of the LB writers have, and what remains consistent, even in private, is his indefatigable unwillingness to reveal any information about what players he likes. Even last year's draft -- he still won't talk about it.
So why is it such common knowledge that the Sixers love Wiggins? Is that coming from Wiggins' camp? Possibly, if they want him to come to Philadelphia. Is it coming from the Sixers, employing this as a disappearing magic powder so they can pull the trapdoor and turn up behind you with Andrew Wiggins dead in a tub below the stage? (sorry)
There's no reason Sam Hinkie or the Sixers would leak honest information that they want to draft Andrew Wiggins -- or anyone, for that matter. There's nothing to gain by being truthful in that regard.
So if that lie is true, we have to ask the question: what's the motive? As Owen and Larry taught us, there's gotta be a motive. We've reached a murky place of guesswork and over-inferring, but I've narrowed it down to two probabilities in my mind.
1. Sam Hinkie wants Joel Embiid at #1
That would necessitate a trade with the Cavaliers, who seem to love him at #1. Hinkie would have to convince them that they want to move up for Wiggins because they're concerned with Milwaukee taking him (making him a liar when Adam Silver calls Embiid to the stage), or the Cavs would have to rate Embiid and Wiggins similarly enough to where dropping down to #3 and picking up an asset like Thaddeus Young in the process would be worth it.
This, to me, is the likeliest. And it's also something I happen to agree with. After looking at a number of draft projection models and getting some distance from the college basketball season, I have Embiid at the top of my big board. Put the whole package together and I think he's got the better chance of becoming a franchise defining two-way stud. Wiggins' ball-handling issues are legitimately problematic, and Embiid has no such problems. If the back checks out (a real concern that keeps me up at night), there's no telling how high Embiid's ceiling is.
That's also how I'd guess Hinkie feels. The concerns about his fit with Nerlens Noel have become overstated. If it becomes a problem down the road, then you do what you have to do. Hinkie places a tremendously high value on rim protection. And if he thinks JoJo is the far and away best talent, he's going to do whatever he can to land him. This is the Sixers' best chance at The Guy, and if it costs him Thad or #10 or everything, he's got to be right.
2. Sam Hinkie wants Dante Exum at #3
Selecting Exum with Wiggins still on the board would be the biggest horseballs move of the year. People have dismissed Exum too quickly, and I think there's a legitimate chance of this happening. Might even be worth it just to see mainstream media freak out about it.
In light of The Great PCOM Sixers Beat Writer Donut Debacle Of 2014, this has gone underreported, but with the Andrew Wiggins welcoming party the past two days, people seemed to shrug off the fact that Dante Exum also happened to be there. Ford writes that Exum's a possibility and the team thinks he'd fit nicely next to Michael Carter-Williams-- something I also agree with.
The connection with Exum and Brett Brown has always been flimsy in conjunction with the idea that they'd take him -- but you can be sure that the Sixers know more about Exum than anybody else. If they do draft him, it's because they love him and think he's That Dude, not because Brett golfs with his dad.
Having everyone think they're head over heels for AW would curb the chance of some other team leapfrogging them to take Exum. I don't envision Exum as a realistic possibility for Cleveland or Milwaukee, though, so that's why this feels less legit than the Embiid theory.
Really, nobody's going to know anything for sure until June 26th. I just have a tough time swallowing all these canned baby peaches from suits telling me what Hinkie wants. Ain't nobody know what Hinkie wants. So I gotta assume bullshit.