The narrative in the NBA since the league began showing its games on television has all been about star power. Stars get all the calls. Stars sell tickets. Stars win championships.
Stars have it all. (Not to be confused with Starz, which only has a handful of passable movies at a ridiculous monthly price.)
As such, NBA teams, and even more so, fans of NBA teams, are always looking for stars. If you don't have one, you need one. If you do have one, you need two. If you have two, you need three. Even if you have three, maybe that fourth one will take a pay cut to play with your three stars. If you've got four, you don't talk to people anymore because you can't hear them from on top of that cloud you're living on.
Wanting more stars is definitely not a bad thing. Stars are, for the most part, really good basketball players. Having lots of good basketball players, history has shown, is a good way to win basketball games. The More You Know.
One of the best ways to acquire stars is through the draft. That's what led to the Sixers throwing away an entire season in hopes of getting a high enough draft pick to pick one of the multiple prospective stars in the 2014 NBA Draft, a truly under-reported event here on Liberty Ballers.
They got that high pick. The third pick in the draft ensure they'll get one of the top prospects in the draft, whether that's Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker or Dante Exum or whoever Sam Hinkie decides is going to be the face and body of his franchise. It's a crucial decision that affects everything the Sixers do from that point forward.
That's what leads us to #10, a decision Sam Hinkie will have to make only a few minutes later. Fan sentiment has been all over the board when it comes to the #10 pick. Many believe there's a drop off in talent after the top eight or nine prospects. In the Comically Illegitimate LB mock draft, we basically showcased the darkest timeline -- a world where the Sixers pick Jabari Parker 3rd, and are forced to choose between the similarly positioned Dario Saric and one of the multiple prospects considered to be in the "next tier." The mastermind behind that pick, yours truly, selected Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris, who I consider to be a multi-talented role player that can be a long-term NBA starter despite lacking "superstar upside."
That's where the train went off the rails. The idea of picking a player who lacked that high upside was not an overwhelmingly popular choice. And over a week later, I still wasn't sure why.
The response I received was not necessarily a knock on Harris's talent (though there were those who knocked that as well, which oddly enough made more sense to me), but more a knock on the idea of picking the "safe" choice, or even picking a player rather than an asset. A popular refrain was that the Sixers shouldn't be picking guys who fit the team now, but rather the best possible asset to be used in a trade later.
And there is some merit to that argument. The organization Hinkie came from, the Houston Rockets, drafted without a care in the world for positional need or how they fit the team, just accumulating a deep reserve of assets to be developed and utilized either on the court or in trades later. (many of whom did not work out, btw)
There's one crucial difference between the Rockets and the Sixers though: The Rockets have never had a top five pick under Daryl Morey's leadership. The Rockets were in desperate need of a star as Tracy McGrady's Rockets tenure started winding down. They just weren't bad enough to get a high draft pick to acquire one. As they saw it, they either needed to hit a home run on draft night, or secure a large number of cheap assets, either to move in a trade for a star, or to keep their cap sheet free to acquire one in free agency. Team building wasn't an issue for the Rockets, because they didn't yet have the piece to build a team around.
The Sixers are going to have that piece to build around. They don't need to pick mismatched assets in hopes of someday trading them for that one piece. They'll have him. They can start building a team around him from Day 1. That includes the 10th pick.
Would I like a superstar at the 10th pick? Absolutely. Who wouldn't? That'd be great. Nothing would make me happier than whoever they pick at #10 being the Russell Westbrook to the 3rd pick's Kevin Durant. The point is that they don't necessarily NEED a superstar there. They don't need a trade asset either. Picking a guy who can be the fourth or fifth best player on a championship team would be a huge coup for Hinkie at #10.
The Sixers of two years ago would've needed a player like Zach LaVine. They had the role players, and needed the guy who could develop into being a truly special player, worth the high risk of a bust. The Sixers of today don't need to keep buying lottery tickets, because they already won the lottery. They can get a special player with a substantially higher floor and build around him immediately, starting with #10.
The player the Sixers pick at #10 very well might not be here in three years. That said, there's no reason to draft someone with the expectation that he won't be. That's not the way to build a team. The Sixers are trying to build a foundation with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, and both top picks will likely be made with the expectation that they'll be a part of that foundation.