When thinking of the cliche 'hindsight is 20/20', the drafts always come to mind. In a lot of cases around the NBA, fans (and teams) tend to spend a lot of times kicking themselves, pondering their roster if they drafted player X instead of player Y.
If the Sixers drafted Dirk Nowitzki instead of Larry Hughes in 1998, who knows where this team could have gone. The idea of Dirk and Allen Iverson running the pick and pop for nearly a decade gives me chills.
Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney decided to time travel back to June and re-do this past draft, and his selections were just affirmation that Sam Hinkie knocked it out of the park. After the Cavaliers took Giannis Antetokounmpo first overall, Mahoney had the Magic taking Michael Carter-Williams over Victor Oladipo.
The most productive rookie is also one of the most promising. Carter-Williams checks many of the same boxes as actual No. 2 pick Oladipo, though at 6-6 the current Sixer (No. 11 pick) presents an unusual challenge for defenses. He hasn’t figured out all the best ways to use that height to his advantage yet, but already Carter-Williams is slippery enough offensively and pesky enough defensively to project as a franchise cornerstone.
Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel went back to back, with the Wizards selecting the Kentucky big man over Otto Porter Jr.
It says a lot about this rookie class that a player who hasn’t logged a single NBA minute this season would be projected to go third in a re-draft. To be fair, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Oladipo would be the value pick here if not for his redundancy with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Noel is a prize of a prospect despite his season-derailing ACL tear. Washington has needs elsewhere, but the opportunity to add a long-term defensive piece like Noel is well worth a prime draft pick — particularly in comparison to the other options on the board.
Philadelphia then ended up selecting Trey Burke and Alex Len at picks six and eleven, respectively.
Drafting Burke and Len just doesn’t have the same appeal as adding Carter-Williams and Noel, but such is the nature of the hypothetical re-draft for a team that drafted as well as the Sixers actually did. Still, they could do worse than Len. It’s hard to get a bead on Len’s potential because he’s played only 152 minutes, but even in coming off injury he moves well for a 7-footer. There’s room for him to find a place as a quality contributor in a pick-and-roll league. The fact that Len has some solid base-level skills as a 20-year-old makes him all the more promising.
It's a rarity when you go back and look and find nothing you can improve on. The Sixers were able to do just that in a draft that is looking weaker and weaker as the NBA season moves along.
Not only is it nice to see the Sixers succeeding at what is arguably the most important way to build a championship contender, but it has me confident for the 2014 draft no matter where the team ends up. Hinkie and company were able to find the best player in the draft at pick 11, and the best athlete at pick 6.
And while some may get caught in the hysteria of possibly missing out on a top three pick, let Rob Mahoney's re-draft show you that the team is going to be able to find talent no matter where their pick may fall.
- Seeing Red: Sixers Throttled by Atlanta
- A Stern Farewell: Saying Goodbye to David Stern
- Sixers core of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Brett Brown bonded by New England Roots
- Michael Carter-Williams Leads Rookies in 2014 NBA Rising Stars Challenge
- Can Michael-Carter Williams Impress Rajon Rondo?