The Sixers selecting Ben Simmons with the first overall pick is a foregone conclusion at this point, but what Philadelphia does with picks No. 24 and No. 26 overall provides some serious intrigue to Thursday night. General manager Bryan Colangelo spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon after Simmons worked out for the team, and stated the team is interested in packaging those picks to move up in the first round.
B Colangelo: 'We are entertaining discussions about trading 24 and 26 to move up.' #Sixers— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) June 21, 2016
Colangelo was quoted back in May that it was unlikely both of those selections would end up on the Sixers roster in 2016, and a trade up would be one way of getting that done. Former GM Sam Hinkie tried pretty hard last year to acquire another mid-first in the 2015 NBA Draft, but wasn't willing to part with much other than their two early second round picks. Colangelo has some legitimate ammo this year if there's a name enticing enough to him to jump up for.
The NBA Draft isn't the same as the NFL Draft in the sense that moving back and stockpiling picks is a smart way of acquiring talent, although there are a couple examples of that in recent history. The core of a 2014 draft night trade between Denver and Chicago resulted in the Nuggets trading the 11th overall pick to the Bulls for the 16th and 19th overall pick, and in the 2013 draft the Minnesota Timberwolves traded the 9th pick to the Utah Jazz for the 14th and 21st overall picks.
Both those draft classes were superior than this year's, which makes enticing a team in the lottery to move back for two late first rounders a daunting task without including other pieces. Philadelphia's best landing spot would probably be somewhere in the 15-20 range.
Some potential targets:
Malachi Richardson: The swingman from Syracuse has been one of the big winners from the pre-draft process, and he seems to have caught the attention of the Sixers. Philadelphia sat down to interview him at the NBA Combine, then flew out to Las Vegas to watch him workout at Impact Sports. Unlike previous years under Hinkie, Philadelphia hasn't seen a ton of prospects, and Richardson seems to have been a focal point of their most recent scouting. He's got solid scoring and defensive potential, but his game is still very raw, his shot selection was poor during his one year at Syracuse, and he's gonna be 21 in January. Not the most enticing of guys in my mind, but the link to the Sixers is there. At this point, there's no real guarantee he'll be available when their second pick comes around, and that could make Colangelo antsy enough to trade up to secure him.
Timothe Luwawu: Draft Express currently has Luwawu going 14th to the Chicago Bulls, but it wouldn't be a shock if he slipped a little bit further. I broke down his game back in March, and I like what he brings to the table. His jump shot has seen serious growth over the past year, and I see potential with him as a ball handler in some situations. Luwawu's defense is pretty disastrous, but he does seem interested in contributing on that end of the floor, so that aspect of his game could come around with some solid coaching. He's certainly a guy I would target in a move up the draft board.
Wade Baldwin: Baldwin's pretty likely to become a low lottery pick, but the Sixers should jump all over him if he falls far enough. A big bodied guard, solid passer, and a really good defender, Baldwin's issues seem to revolve around his ball handling and ability to score off the dribble. I don't think his shot is as good as the numbers indicate, but he was effective in catch-and-shoot situations. Those factors could lead him to playing more off ball at the NBA level, which would make him a complimentary player next to Simmons who could match up well against two guards. Baldwin should definitely be another top trade target.