Conversely, Sixers' GM Sam Hinkie couldn't have been more ecstatic with how things played out.
Time will ultimately tell which side of the debate is right, but with Joel Embiid unlikely to play at all next year, and with both Dario Saric and Vasilije Micic not venturing to this side of PCOM for at least one season (if not more), it's far too early to assess how well the 76ers did last evening. ESPN Insider Chad Ford agrees, giving the Sixers an incomplete mark after the events of Thursday night (link for Insiders only):
GM Sam Hinkie has proven to be a master of collecting assets. Embiid, on pure talent and potential, may be the best prospect in the draft. Saric was a top-10 prospect as well that the Sixers had coveted for a while. Had Embiid been healthy and had Saric been available to come to the NBA this year, they would get an A. However, Embiid is likely out the whole season recovering from foot surgery. Saric has a three-year deal in Turkey and won't play in the NBA for a couple of seasons. How do you rebuild without your talent on the floor?
In five years, if Embiid is a superstar and Saric is the next Toni Kukoc, my criticisms will seem petty. But it's a long road, Sixers fans. A long road. And the 2015 NBA draft isn't as loaded as this draft is and is mostly filled with bigs, the one thing the Sixers are now stockpiled with.
George Karl, Ford's co-worker at The Worldwide Leader, is of the opinion that the 76ers are in the midst of a terrible run that continued last evening (link is for Insiders only):
Philly continues to baffle me. It doesn't seem like the Sixers are making any moves to improve right now. They seem to have developed a losing culture, taking the mindset of "test this player, test that player." I think it's dangerous. You play the game of basketball to win and to compete in an intense way. Joel Embiid wasn't a bad pick, but we're not sure how soon he can contribute. Overall it seems as though they make very few decisions based on winning in the near term.
Adi Joseph of USA Today gives the Sixers' six-man draft class (seven, if you want to count Pierre Jackson) a sparkling A+ grade:
[Embiid and Saric] have ridiculous potential, as does Micic, a great passer who likely will stay overseas as well. Meanwhile, McDaniels and Grant are hard-nosed defenders who are ready to fill roster spots right now, and McRae has some potential as a scorer. But it's Jackson who may prove the biggest addition immediately, as he dominated the NBA Development League last season as a scorer and would fit well next to oversized pass-first point guard Michael Carter-Williams. This is what the Sixers need to do as they continue to build for 2016 and beyond.
The SB Nation NBA team believes that both Embiid and Saric have A+/A upside, but is quick to point out that neither one will have any sort of measurable impact on the team this year (and that's not necessarily a bad thing):
Saric will stay in Europe for the next two years, but that's perfectly fine with Philadelphia, a team well aware it's in this rebuild for the long haul. After taking Embiid at No. 3, then trading for Saric, the Sixers drafted two lottery players who won't make an impact on the floor next season. But that's OK with Philadelphia's timeline.
Kurt Helin was effusive in his praise of the 76ers, naming the team as one of his winners in his draft recap over at ProBasketballTalk:
They took a smart gamble and got maybe the best player in the draft in Joel Embiid - when you're rebuilding and you need elite talent you swing for the fences not play it safe. Put Embiid next to Nerlens Noel in a couple years and if they can stay healthy they can be a force in the paint. The Sixers got a good future point forward in Dario Saric (who will spend the next two years in Turkey, developing. They picked up the very athletic Jerami Grant out of Syracuse, who should make some plays and fits an up-tempo system like the Sixers run. They rolled the dice on a few Europeans as well who may pan out down the line.
On the flip side, Helin believes that fans of the Sixers (or, at least the ones who have little patience for a long-term plan) were some of the biggest losers on Thursday:
This team lost 26 games in a row late last year and isn't going to be much if any better next season... It's going to be the largely same tanktastic roster in Philly, and that sucks for fans asked to sit through another year of it. Intellectually Sixers fans get the building plan, but it's hard to watch right now.
James Herbert of CBS Sports listed his 10 steals of the draft, and two of them just happen to be members of the Philadelphia 76ers. Herbert called Hinkie "the MVP of the draft" thanks in part to the Sixers' acquisition of Dario Saric:
Saric is the most versatile offensive player in the draft, and he plays with an edge in addition to being incredibly skilled. The more you watch him, the more you fall in love with him.
Herbert is also a big fan of former Clemson SF K.J. McDaniels:
McDaniels' stock slid in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he has lottery talent. Teams doubt his ability to shoot, but he'll be a solid one-on-one defender and excellent help defender immediately. I called him underrated when he was projected to go late in the first round, and in the second round this was a no-brainer for Philly.
He's an incredible athlete, and he'll be a beast in transition on both ends. He does the things wings are supposed to do in 2014 in the NBA, meaning he's not the type to force up bad 2-point jumpers. If McDaniels is just able to hit spot-up 3s, this is a great get.
With the exception of George Karl, the mainstream media is predicting much less fire and brimstone than many Sixers' fans did as the draft was unfolding. Here's to hoping that the moves Hinkie made last night reap huge dividends in the future.