The thought around the NBA is that the 76ers hope to select D'Angelo Russell in the NBA draft, according to a league executive.
"He's the guy they want," the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Saturday. "That's the word around the league. You know the Sixers. They won't come out and say it, but he's the guy they want."
The executive said the team might have to nab one of the top two selections at the draft lottery on May 19 to get the former Ohio State combo guard.
This report isn't surprising - Russell fits best with the roster, Hinkie has been seen at Ohio State games, and everyone's willing to talk about other teams at this point in the year.
But before we take this as gospel, let's evaluate: first, NBA executives speculate on what other teams want all the time as part of their own jobs. Part of that is the discussions that leading team scouts and other player personnel people (which is the lowest level I guess you can be considered "executive" at) have with each other when scouting players. A team executive, seemingly not with the Sixers based on the language used in the report, probably talked with Sixers scouts or even with the general manager.
Part of those discussions is honest conversation, observations, etc. People scratch each other's backs all the time, exchanging useful information.
The Sixers are notoriously secretive about everything they do, however - as someone recently pointed out to me, even Adrian Wojnarowski couldn't figure out what they were doing with their second first rounder last year in perhaps his greatest moment of weakness. You may discuss something with a Sixers scout that doesn't reflect what the organization thinks. Or maybe that scout is intentionally leading this source on? Or maybe this executive is actually a Sixers exec trying to throw people off their scent?
So, suffice it to say this high-level back-and-forth is a game of chess. Not everyone is equipped to play it.
Combine that with the lack of on-record discussion had between members of the Sixers front office and the media, and you wonder how much any of us really knows, especially competitors. And that's by design! If a team knew the Sixers' intentions 100%, they'd play them like the Sixers played the Magic last year, when the Magic telegraphed their interest in Elfrid Payton.
If the Sixers leak information, it's likely for a strategic purpose. Our blog has been a victim of that strategy before. Sure the Sixers may be 100% in on Russell, a prospect that fits short-term with the rest of the roster. But they may also not be. Take any report, no matter how much conviction a source may have, with a
grain mountain of salt. That doesn't mean the report is wrong or ill-informed, but it's all a part of that chess game.
The most interesting thing that comes out of this report is the thinking that Russell goes top 2 in the draft, and that he and Karl-Anthony Towns are a tier above Jahlil Okafor, once a consensus top pick. That itself is intriguing, and if the Sixers end up at 3 or lower, they still may be able to draft a dangerous (if ill-fitting) prospect in Okafor.