“As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.” - Glengarry Glen Ross
As of today, the 76ers are in possession of the 22nd pick in the draft. That is if the pick, which the Oklahoma City Thunder own, conveys to Philadelphia at all. It’s simple. If the pick falls 1-20 the Thunder keep it and the Sixers get that proverbial set of steak knives, a second round pick in 2022 and another in 2023. The Sixers own pick is already headed for Brooklyn, via Los Angeles, as part of the Tobias Harris trade back in February of 2019. With promising players such as Landry Shamet and Matisse Thybulle selected in recent years, fans have every right to be excited about the team’s chances of connecting again on October 15th, the date set yesterday by the league for the upcoming draft, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. And with an already expensive roster they can use all the affordable young talent they can get their hands on. So yeah, you’re a big Thunder fan now. Chris Paul let’s GooOoOoo! Because it would really stink to have no pick at all and force fans of the team to relive some painful memories of front office missteps over the past 3-4 years. Why don’t we get that out of the way now so it’s not as disappointing later?
Who will get the pick Philadelphia or OKC?
The Thunder, currently a surprise 5 seed out west, have a record of 40-24. Here’s a look at the league standings. You can see how closely teams around the 40 win mark are clustered:
With details emerging yesterday regarding the NBA’s restart format, the pick conveying to the Sixers is certainly no sure thing. Vincent Goodwill suggested teams may play the next 8 games on their schedule, excluding the teams with the worst records who won’t be invited to Disney:
The plan is for teams to continue their schedule as planned, with the next 8 games. If team is scheduled to play Hawks/Bulls/Pistons, it moves onto the next game on schedule, league sources tell Yahoo Sports— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) June 3, 2020
If that’s the case here is how the Thunder’s schedule might look:
Assuming nothing changes, OKC schedule is:— Topic: Thunder Podcast (@OKCTopicThunder) June 4, 2020
What’s our record?
Not included in that list were games against bottom-dwellers like Minnesota, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Golden State. Possibly an unlucky break for the Sixers that a few weak teams will no longer be on the slate. If the pick does not convey you’re probably going to start seeing some history recaps of the pick, another infamous “fake first,” so let’s get to that.
Grab some pretzels or cantaloupe and let’s travel down memory lane to trace the origins of this 2020 OKC pick.
With the 39th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select (checks notes) Jerami Grant, Syracuse. Grant was an excellent pick at 39th overall. The only thing wrong with this selection was that Nikola Jokić was selected two picks later. Impress your friends and ask them “did you know that one of Sam Hinkie’s greatest mistakes wasn’t drafting too many centers, it was not drafting enough!?”
But what made the pick even better was that Grant wound up being signed to a deal that was so cost-effective that his “Hinkie Special” contract spawned case studies by smart folks like The Athletic’s resident cap-wiz, Danny Leroux.
Eventually Bryan Colangelo came to town and I guess didn’t think quite as highly of Grant as Hinkie or Sam Presti, the Thunder’s President of B-Ball Ops. Despite his historically team-friendly contract (good through 2018) he traded Grant for a few months of the contract-expiring-vet-mentor, Ersan Ilyasova, (no not his 2018 stint with Marco Belinelli) and this future first round pick we’re now focused on.
Per Basketball-Reference, Colangelo’s Executive-Record page:
“November 1, 2016: Traded Jerami Grant to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Ersan İlyasova and a 2020 1st round draft pick. (2020 1st-Rd pick is Top-20 protected & turns into 2022 & 2023 2nd-rd picks if not conveyed).”
Checking in: today Grant is a valuable rotation player for the Denver Nuggets. He’s developed into a versatile defender and now shooting 39.6 percent from three over the last two seasons. He’s gotten chances to start this season and the Nuggets have a 16-6 record when he does. I’m not saying Grant is Kevin Garnett. But how about this? If he were on the Sixers bench last year instead of maybe Amir Johnson or Greg Monroe the team would have beat the Raptors. Don’t @ me.
Quick side bar rant about these “fake firsts”
You may recall, Colangelo would find a similar fake first trade structure with the Mavs for Nerlens Noel to the one with Grant:
February 23, 2017: Traded Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, a 2017 2nd round draft pick (Jawun Evans was later selected) and a 2020 2nd round draft pick. (Pick is top-18 protected in 2017 and will turn into 2 2nd-rd picks if it does not convey)
If a “Hinkie Special” is a creative and team friendly-four year deal, than perhaps a well-protected first round pick that is more likely to convey to two second round picks instead would be a “Colangelo Special.” Fans call them “fake firsts” because they tend to get reported like this:
...well before we learn that it’s probably not a 1st round pick but a couple of future second rounders... and then they draft a guy with that second rounder before fans learn the team immediately “traded” him for cash to a smarter team like the Clippers or Bucks:
Clippers are giving Philly cash for the rights to Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans, taken 39th overall.— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) June 23, 2017
Other teams found rotation players around here like Damyean Dotson, Thomas Bryant, Dillon Brooks, and Sterling Brown (also traded by the Sixers for cash) but the Sixers got... cash considerations.
End of emotional fake first side bar tangent
Ok but Colangelo wasn’t done wheeling and dealing! A year later, he takes the pick he got for Jerami Grant and moves up in the 2017 for the second time (you know the first, that’s coming) to execute this gem. Per basketball-reference:
“June 22, 2017: Traded a 2020 1st round draft pick and a 2020 2nd round draft pick to the Orlando Magic for Anžejs Pasečņiks. (2020 1st-rd pick is OKC’s pick and is top-20 protected. If it doesn’t convey, it will become OKC’s 2022 & 2023 2nd-rd picks) (2020 2nd-rd pick is less favorable between Nets and Knicks picks)”
So now Orlando has the 2020 OKC pick and the Sixer fans don’t get the home-town hero champion they yearned for in Josh Hart, they get... (struggles to pronounce) Anžejs Pasečniks!
Of course, Colangelo would also do this on that same night:
June 19, 2017: Traded a 2017 1st round draft pick (Jayson Tatum was later selected) and a 2019 1st round draft pick (Romeo Langford was later selected) to the Boston Celtics for a 2017 1st round draft pick (Markelle Fultz was later selected). (Future 1st-Rd pick will either be LAL’s 2018 pick if it falls between 2 & 5, or the better of PHI & SAC’s 2019 picks, unless it is the #1 pick)
I know it’s painful to revisit but it all ties in at the end so it’s best to understand “the process” of how we got here. Or should I say “The Proc-MESS!” (drums emoji). Sorry dad joke, it’s Friday.
Fast forward. Elton Brand is now the General Manager and Colangelo is out following the extremely normal way for Team President’s to stop working for sports teams. Find a new.... Brand wants to find some bench depth for a playoff push, and clear up some extra cap space for the upcoming summer, after accepting that it’s just never going to happen for Markelle Fultz in Philadelphia. So Brand executes a trade with the Orlando Magic and ends the Philly-Fultz-era:
February 7, 2019: Traded Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons, a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Carsen Edwards was later selected) and a 2020 1st round draft pick. (Pick is OKC’s 2020 pick, which is top-20 protected and will turn into 2022 and 2023 second-round picks if not conveyed.) (Pick is most favorable of CLE, ORL, HOU or POR pick, but expected to be CLE’s 2019 pick.)
The Circle of Sixer-Fan-Post-Process-Era Strife
Jerami Grant, traded for the 2020 OKC 1st, which was traded for Anzejs Pasecniks, which was then re-acquired for Markelle Fultz. We've gone full circle.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 7, 2019
And there you have it. We got the OKC pick back.
So to recap, the Sixers traded Jerami Grant for a pick that they then traded (along with this year’s upcoming 46th pick ) for Pasečniks, that they then re-acquired when they traded Fultz away, who they once traded up to get insert seventy-six mind blown emojis.
Imagine if someone from the Sixers told someone from the Orlando Magic “listen, we really like this guy at pick 25, Pasečniks. Take our future OKC pick, hold it for a bit and we’ll give you the first overall pick from this year to get it back after it’s clear both of the guys we want are unplayable here.”
Rooting for this pick to convey over the upcoming 8 games this summer and knowing it may very well convert to a second round pick in 2022 and another in 2023 is a cruel reminder of some of the Sixers biggest and most avoidable missteps over the last 3-4 years. How fitting of an irony to once be told the Sixers were getting a first, only to hear it was likely going to be two future seconds, to then get your hopes up again for the Thunder to play well enough to ship the 22nd pick to Philly, to then have to hear the league is not allowing the worst teams to Disney because of a global pandemic so the Thunder’s schedule is now maybe a bit harder than it would have been and so you have no first round pick at all this draft on October 15th. But there’s still a chance. So go #ThunderUp.
Philly will send Orlando a 2020 first-round pick (originally from OKC) and the worst of Brooklyn’s or New York’s 2020 second-rounders.— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) June 23, 2017
If you’re a weirdo you can trace the path of that Brooklyn or New York pick, now the upcoming 46th pick in the draft, which Colangelo also sent out for Pasečniks. Per Basketball-Reference and RealGM:
July 8, 2018: As part of a 3-team trade, the Orlando Magic traded Bismack Biyombo, a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Cody Martin was later selected) and a 2020 2nd round draft pick to the Charlotte Hornets; the Chicago Bulls traded Jerian Grant to the Orlando Magic; the Charlotte Hornets traded Julyan Stone to the Chicago Bulls; and the Charlotte Hornets traded Timofey Mozgov to the Orlando Magic. (2019 2nd-rd pick is least favorable pick.) (2020 2nd-rd pick is least favorable pick.)
July 6, 2019: Traded Kemba Walker and a 2020 2nd round draft pick to the Boston Celtics for Terry Rozier and a 2020 2nd round draft pick. (2020 second-round pick is BRK’s or NYK’s, whichever is least favorable.) (top-53 protected)