A few weeks ago, the Sixers made it to the all-coveted commercial break of the NBA Draft Lottery. We celebrated. We got one mean mug from Dr. J and precious few seconds to absorb the possibility that the Sixers actually drew the top pick... before their logo was withdrawn at #3, followed by the Bucks and Cavaliers. And immediately, the idea of moving up, down, and all around permeated the conversation.
Matt Carey explored the possibility of trading down from #3 on Monday, concluding, rightly, that this is the Sixers' best opportunity to pull a franchise player, and to our sorta trained eyes, those top four picks have the best chance to be such a player. Trading down means getting out of that exciting bracket of players, and for my part, the assets coming this way would have to be rich indeed for me to move out of there.
Here, I'll consider the flip side.
The move from #3 to #1 all depends on what the Cavs want to do and how much they value trying to salvage their past mistakes. It would certainly be costly. It could fetch #10, Thaddeus Young, any number of second rounders, etc.
NBA Draft Series!
But in the NBA, the best players win championships. A two-pick bump from #3 to #1 isn't much in a vacuum, but if that's the difference between Ben Gordon and Dwight Howard or Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James or Mike Dunleavy and Yao Ming, it's enormous. But obviously, we don't yet know which of the presumed top four will become Hasheem Thabeet and which will be Blake Griffin.
For my part, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are the two best prospects in the draft. I like both Dante Exum and Jabari Parker quite a lot, and I'd honestly be thrilled with any one of the four. You may feel differently. The only opinion that matters is Sam Hinkie's.
If he believes there's one guy that is an absolute guarantee -- a generationally defining talent that would shape the Sixers franchise in a way none of the other prospects can -- then you make the move. Whatever move. It doesn't matter. The Sixers have seven picks in the draft, and I'd give 'em all up for a legit superstar at the top of this draft. That's what matters. Everything else is immaterial unless you get The Guy. Doesn't matter how nice your silverware is, if you don't get that bird, you ain't eating.
Personally, I think Sam can get his turkey at #3. I think Wiggins will fall and he's the best fit with the only two players currently on the Sixers who remotely matter and I don't wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat worrying about his back for the next fifteen years.
But if Hinkie doesn't think he can hold on until #3 for Wiggins or Embiid or Blark, or he doesn't want to risk it? Trade almost everything to get him. Not worth Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas or James Young to end up with MKG instead of Anthony Davis.
Every draft is different. Cherrypicking specific selections as I have doesn't really prove a point yet -- but when we look back at this draft in 5, 10, 20 years and see who blew up and who busted, it'll be pretty damn obvious who should have gone where. A year of Thad Young or a late lottery pick or a small island of second rounders shouldn't get in the way of a franchise maker. And it won't.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is... Trade Up For What, exactly?