We here at Liberty Ballers have a three-year long history of slicing and dicing through the SB Nation mock draft, to mixed results. GM Emeritus Michael Levin helmed the prior two drafts. Last year's somehow netted Dante Exum, Dario Saric, James Young, and Jarnell Stokes, who combined to provide basically no NBA value last year. Great job, Mike! Hopefully the results of my deals aren't, well, that. I expect Mario Hezonja and Stanley Johnson to be more productive.
Now, you may be asking, well, how did the Sixers end up with both of them? That's a pretty good haul, right? Let me explain. I planned on staying at three with an attempt to trade into the draft later on, with the goal of drafting D'Angelo Russell at 3 and pretty much anyone in my top 15 that slipped through to the late first-round, which I kind of anticipated. But in doing due diligence, I knew two things:
1. Sacramento's pick at 6 was readily available. With little intention to actually make a deal, I floated Noel's name just to get feelers for how much they were asking.
2. Everyone wanted to trade up for D'Angelo Russell. Well, not everybody, but a lot of people.
Additionally, my big board (at the time!) was Towns-Okafor-Russell-Hezonja-Mudiay-Winslow. Landing any one of those was fine with me. Cauley-Stein is with them, but I was not taking him due to fit. Knowing I could get one of the first six with the Sacramento pick, I knew moving down to six was an option.
We also discussed trades for number seven, owned by the Denver Nuggets, as GM Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs wanted to move up (clearly for Russell) but I was worried that the first six would have been gone.
When the third pick came up, I gave notice to the other GMs that the pick was available, seeing who had actually managed to get the sixth pick (if anyone!) and seeing what would be available with it, with the intention of taking Russell if nothing materialized. New York and Orlando had little interest in making a deal, so I knew it came down to Sacramento, or whoever acquired Sacramento's pick.
As it turned out, the Phoenix Suns by that point had basically acquired the sixth pick for Eric Bledsoe, and were willing to offer 6 and 13. I asked for Reggie Bullock on top of that, and they accepted.
So we traded down from three. Russell went to the Suns. The Knicks then took Justise Winslow, and the Magic took Willie Cauley-Stein. That left us with a choice between Emmanuel Mudiay and Mario Hezonja (along with a few scatter yells for Porzingis). Before the Porzingis hype as this draft occurred two weeks ago, we almost all had Hezonja ranked ahead of Mudiay and 'Staps, and thus Super Mario came to the Sixers with the 6th pick.
Now that leaves the 13th pick. Admittedly, 13th is a bad place to be in this draft. I wanted to get out of there, either moving up or down. For a while, it looked like one of Porzingis or Johnson might drop. But after Mudiay went to Denver, Detroit traded the eighth pick to Boston, who took Porzingis there, with Myles Turner going ninth to Utah. Coming up on the 10th pick, the LB brain trust decided moving up to 10 at mostly any cost was the right move for Stanley Johnson.
So we did. Miami accepted a steep cost of OKC's top 15-protected pick next year and two future second round picks, along with 13, to move back three spots. But it was worth it, in my opinion, to ensure we didn't sit on the 13th pick. And we got Johnson.
What do you think? Would you be excited about this haul?
In: 6th pick (Hezonja), 10th pick (Johnson), Reggie Bullock
Out: 3rd pick (Russell), 2016 OKC 1st, 2016 Denver 2nd, 2017 76ers 2nd