It’s official: the 76ers will have a first round draft pick this year! Now, no matter what happens during this year’s playoff run, you can hole up in your room and watch endless YouTube highlight videos of prospects, squinting through grainy overseas iPhone footage until your eyes bleed, refusing to leave your cocoon until the mid October draft for your glorious emergence.
This was truly one of the more improbable turns of events. Many fans had all but kissed this pick goodbye when the Oklahoma City Thunder (who would have kept this pick had they finished with the 20th draft slot or a lower one) began resting some players. Some even speculated they were tanking to keep their pick and perhaps avoid Houston in the first round of the playoffs:
I'm all for the Thunder tanking to keep their first round pick (top-20 protected). And a Suns-Blazers play-in for the 8th seed would be fantastic. https://t.co/WUcMzLlcpe— Rodney Lopez (@rjlopez587) August 10, 2020
But the basketball tank gods, who know a little something something about the Sixers, smiled on Philly, not Oklahoma last night. After resting many of their good players in prior games, the Thunder turned to their bench again vs. the Heat for the second half last night. And they were losing by 18 points in the third quarter. They were going to get to keep their pick and instead Philadelphia would receive a couple of crummy future second round picks.
The Sixers were beating the Raptors, even though they were resting key players as well.
Thunder GM Sam Presti must have already had his Church’s up on the desk while swirling a flute of baby’s breath and petting a feline. But alas it was not meant to be. Thor, the god of Thunder angered Ares the god of war (who probably drives a sick lime green drop-top tank). Or maybe it was Atë, the Greek goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin, and folly? Let’s go with her. Atë suddenly blessed the Raptors and Thunder’s bench with superhuman abilities. They both stormed back and it all culminated with this:
Mike Muscala. CLUTCH. pic.twitter.com/vrecHtEqK4— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 13, 2020
The history of this pick is a trip. The Sixers traded Jerami Grant to the Thunder for a pick so heavily protected you’d need a former Sixer like Mike Muscala to turn double agent and suit up for OKC years later and drain a game winning triple in crunch-garbage time to crack it for you.
Then the Sixers traded that pick to Orlando to trade up in the 2017 draft for overseas stash Anzejs Pasecniks who finally came over but to Washington. Then the Sixers later reacquired this now fabled selection in a trade sending out former first overall pick Markelle Fultz. In sum: Sam Hinkie drafted Jerami Grant. Bryan Colangelo traded him for a pick. Colangelo then used that pick for Pasecniks. Then Elton Brand got the pick back for Fultz. The full-mind blowing history is here. Whichever potential savior is eventually selected with this pick will surely be unaware of his place in history, his unlikely butterfly-effected path towards Broad Street.
Now as our Harrison Grimm explained, this pick can make the Sixers off-season. Having recently hit on late round picks like Landry Shamet, Shake Milton, and Matisse Thybulle there is reason for optimism.
In this mock by Tankathon, the Sixers draft Nico Mannion, a player our Tom West took a close look at already. But more importantly congrats to you. You now can begin to familiarize yourself with all of the possible players in the mid-twenties and dream of the future with the past in your mind’s eye. Should they trade up? Trade back? Trade picks for a new player? From Jerami Grant, to Ersan Ilyasova, to Anzejs Pasecniks, Markelle Fultz, Jonathon Simmons, and back again with a dagger triple from good ole Mike Muscala. All of the prayers, sacrifices, burnings in effigy, whatever you offered to Atë or Ares last night it worked. Peasants rejoice. A new savior is on the way.