The first draft of the Bryan Colangelo era was always going to serve as a major litmus test. Few GMs would complain about the stockpile of players and picks left to work with, but sorting through them is another story. Solving the minutes crunch in the front court and nailing your own selections is a tall task.
Colangelo didn't manage to solve the front court problem yet, but by exuding patience and not folding under pressure, he guaranteed a longer leash from the most devout fans of the franchise.
The biggest concern for most diehards was simple -- would Colangelo rush to put a "competitive" team on the court at the expense of long-term goals? Throughout the day, rumors suggested the Sixers were treading in dangerous water. A rumored package of Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington and BOTH their later picks for the rights to Boston's No. 3 pick was floated through the rumor mill, causing nothing short of full-blown panic.
As it turns out -- and as we've suggested here several times over the last couple days -- other GMs/teams were likely the source of the smoke:
Colangelo says "the rumors and innuendo out there were false."— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) June 24, 2016
Wyc Grousbeck: "We did not SNIFF a trade today. It was a collection of rip-off attempts, and we laughed at them." #Celtics owner heated.— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) June 24, 2016
Rather than getting caught up in that sort of silliness, Colangelo remained firm not just on the price for his big men, but the tag on 24 and 26.
This turned out to be a key decision once the mid-lottery turned into a complete shitshow. A wild run of picks starting with Thon Maker at No. 10 pushed highly-regarded, well-fitting pieces down the draft board into the open arms of the Sixers. Both players selected in the mid-20s are perfect archetypes for Ben Simmons companions; Timothe Luwawu should bring an exciting blend of athleticism and shooting from the wing right away, and after some seasoning in Europe, Furkan Korkmaz should add plenty on top of the spot-up shooting already in his bag of tricks.
Getting two guys who fit is great, but that fit is nothing without the talent to match. Thankfully, Korkmaz and Luwawu were two of the best talents available at the time of their selection.
Sometimes the best action is inaction. In a draft without a ton of surefire bets, spreading your odds across multiple players is the smarter route to take. Rather than cashing in all their chips to chase a flawed player high in the lottery, the Sixers picked up two players many analysts (myself included) considered lottery talent, all without moving a finger.
To his credit, Colangelo did not back down from an opportunity to select guys who may or may not come to the States right away. Continuing to build the international pipeline with intriguing players serves multiple goals; the Sixers can allow underdeveloped but tantalizing talent to gain seasoning overseas at no cost to the team, adding to their future roster and trade asset cupboards simultaneously.
Colangelo checked just about every box on an ideal draft list. He got some of the best talent available, he selected players that fit alongside the star taken at the top of the draft, the talent pool he selected from was broad enough to include overseas players and he refused to get suckered into bad deals in a chase for more "premium" talent at the top of a weak class.
Every part of the process was sound in philosophy and executed with confidence. Having spent much of the last few months expressing trepidation about the team's potential direction, Colangelo and his staff deserve full kudos. There's a lot of work left to do, but they earned plenty of future confidence with just one night of work.