The Sixers will own a first-round pick in this year’s draft, and they have Mike Muscala to thank.

Muscala’s go-ahead three-pointer Wednesday night with 5.2 seconds remaining lifted the Thunder to a 116-115 win over the Heat. The shot ensures that the Sixers will have a first-round pick because Oklahoma City will finish with a top-10 record. In the Markelle Fultz trade last February, the Sixers acquired the Thunder’s top-20 protected first-rounder, in addition to Jonathon Simmons and a second-round selection last year. 

For many reasons, it’s an improbable turn of events. (Did we mention Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 22 points?) Muscala came to the Sixers as a part of a three-team trade in July of 2018, and he didn’t have an illustrious tenure here. After averaging 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 47 games, he was dealt to the Clippers in the Tobias Harris trade, then shipped to the Lakers a day later. 

Muscala signed this past summer with Oklahoma City, who many projected to have a steep short-term decline following the departures of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Instead, 35-year-old Chris Paul, 22-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Sixth Man of the Year finalist Dennis Schroder excelled in clutch situations and performed well above expectations. Former Sixer Nerlens Noel has had a solid year for the Thunder, too. 


The Sixers will own four second-round picks along with their improbable first-rounder. If the selection had not conveyed, it would’ve turned into second-round picks in 2022 and 2023. 

That’s not a bad return, but the Sixers will prefer having a first-round pick in a draft that, while not considered very strong at the top, should have future rotation player options in the 20s. 

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