I got some flak yesterday mostly for my Tony Wroten inclusion on the bottom of the list. Minds are already made up on this, but I wanted to expand more on my process of developing these rankings.
Just because Wroten is ranked lower doesn't mean the Sixers should, if forced to choose between Wroten or Canaan, keep Canaan because he has higher trade value. The Sixers are in position to afford to expend time and resources to allow Tony Wroten to recover from ACL surgery, fix his jumper, cut his turnovers and generally bad decision-making, and capitalize on his athletic skills.
Very, very few teams are in similar positions. Almost all would rather sign a point guard off the scrap heap - like Tim Frazier or Larry Drew to name a pair of examples that were former Sixers and signed by other teams at various points - but if they had to take on one third point guard, they'd take Canaan because he can space the floor (and as pointed out yesterday, really shoot off the dribble).
Wroten is a good fit here because of those talents and because the Sixers don't care about winning right now. But don't conflate that with having positive on-court value, because every reliable metric indicates that he's a poor player on both ends of the court right now, with a true shooting percentage below 50%, roughly a 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and the team defending better by seven more points per 100 possessions when he's off the court during this past season. And this is on top of the ACL recovery and him being a free agent at year's end.
Let's continue with the rankings with our favorite person named after a train noise.
43. Chu Chu Maduabum
Contract: none (rights owned from 2011 draft)
Maduabum, like a top-55 protected pick, has virtually no NBA value. Our own Wesley Share talked with Maduabum about his NBA aspirations, but at age 24 without any high-level basketball under his belt, Maduabum functions solely as a placeholder in a deal. If anything, like when they acquired Maduabum, they'll try to swing a trade where they get another Chu Chu to trade later.
42. Arsalan Kazemi
Contract: none (rights owned from 2012 draft)
Kazemi led all players at Las Vegas Summer League in hustle points per game. Hustle points are accumulated based on an estimation of the value of certain things, like deflections and charges taken. Charges taken is valued more highly because of the accumulation of a foul on the offender and a turnover for the offender's team, whereas deflections have a lower value just because they only sometimes result in a change of possession or even a worse shot.
Kazemi spent the last two seasons overseas in Iran and China, and while his numbers in those lower tier leagues are fine, they aren't NBA-translating. He's a rail-thin 6'7" forward who can't shoot. He got bullied in summer league.
Unlike Maduabum, there's a slim chance that Kazemi develops into an NBA player. He's much more attractive as a smart and slow three and a thin and still slow undersized four. Kazemi needs to develop a jumper, preferably a corner three. Once he does that, he would have enough skill to complement his motor and overcome his athletic deficit to masquerade as an energy guy at the end of the bench. Right now, I assume he's more thought of as not-an-NBA guy around the league.
41-30. 2017 and onward second round picks, in reverse order
That's a lot of picks.
For accounting purposes the picks included in order from worst-ranked to best-ranked are: 2022 Sixers, 2021 Sixers, 2021 Knicks, 2020 Sixers, 2020 Knicks, 2019 Sixers, 2019 Knicks, 2019 Milwaukee (swap rights with Sacramento), 2018 Sixers, 2018 Clippers (swap rights with Knicks), 2018 Cavaliers (swap rights with Nets), 2017 Sixers.
Picks beyond the current draft, especially in the second round, are so easy to acquire and so unknown that they're generally exchanged for little compensation. With rapid change as the status quo in the NBA it's hard to predict team records - I used team dysfunction as a predictor for future record in my listing, which is why the Sixers picks are listed as more valuable than the Nets or the Knicks going forward.
Plus, the further out the pick, the more time until it's realized into a player and the less value there is in having it. Sam Hinkie might haggle over that 2021 pick, but it doesn't mean it has substantial value. It's just another tool in the treasure chest.
29. T.J. McConnell
Contract: 4 years, "six figure" first year guarantee, two years no guarantees, fourth year team option
28. J.P. Tokoto
27. Scottie Wilbekin
Contract: 4 years at near-minimum, $200K guarantee in 2015-16, two years no guarantees, fourth year team option
26. Jordan McRae
25. Pierre Jackson
Contract: 4 years, $750K guaranteed year one, two nonguaranteed years at minimum, fourth year team option
With the batch of guards listed above, the Sixers took a penny stock approach.
Jackson has the highest guaranteed amount, reportedly for $750K next season, but he's also the player I'm most bullish on provided he recovers fully from his Achilles rupture. Jackson averaged 29 points per game as a score first point guard in the D-League. Notably, if you average 29 points per game and aren't a score first player, you're probably a god among men. He has scoring sixth man potential, or at the very least is a less hoppy Nate Robinson.
The others I'm less bullish on. McRae is a gunner who needs to take and hit enough smart shots and care about defense if he's an NBA player. But that's more doable than trying to extract talent where it's not, so he comes second on my list. Wilbekin impressed in summer league playing out of position at shooting guard. But he will need to prove his point guard chops and show his shooting was not an aberration before establishing himself as an NBA player.
Tokoto is a long-term project who needs to learn lots of things about basketball - chief among them are improved shot selection and form. McConnell is the college point guard prototype, the table-setter with enough skills to hang with stiffer competition but maybe not enough to thrive in a faster and dynamic environment.
All are flawed parts, but the nonguaranteed seasons after 2015-16 mean that, if any take off, the Sixers get surplus value via their contract commitments. Short-term room means very little to the 76ers and more to other teams. That potential surplus value makes them more valuable now as trade chips than distant second round picks and expiring, guaranteed contracts.