It appears that the question of whether the Sixers have a first-round pick in this year’s draft will go down to the wire.
The Sixers, you may recall, traded Markelle Fultz last February for Jonathon Simmons, a 2019 second-round pick and the Thunder’s top-20 protected first-round pick this year. If the pick does not convey, it will become second-round selections in 2022 and 2023. So, what’s the status of that pick?
With two seeding games to go for Oklahoma City — Wednesday night vs. the Heat and Friday against the Clippers — the pick would indeed convey if the season ended today. The margin, however, is slim.
OKC is 43-27 and has the ninth-best record in the NBA, a half-game behind the Heat and a half-game ahead of the Pacers and Jazz. Meanwhile, the Sixers, who dealt their own lottery-protected first-rounder this season to Brooklyn in the Tobias Harris trade, are a game behind the Thunder.
Utah only has one seeding game remaining — Thursday night vs. the Spurs. The Pacers, who fell Monday night to the Heat, wrap up seeding game play with matchups against the Rockets and, again, Miami.
Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Sixth Man of the Year finalist Dennis Schroder and company have exceeded expectations after the Thunder traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook last summer. Oklahoma City’s roster, however, was severely shorthanded Monday for the team’s loss to the streaking Suns. Schroder missed the game because of personal reasons, while Gilgeous-Alexander, Nerlens Noel, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams were all out with injuries.
The team understandably seems to be placing the highest value on having players healthy when the postseason begins. Of course, the Sixers and many other teams are taking a similar approach.
The Sixers, if the pick does not convey, will still own four second-round selections in the draft. It’s not considered an especially strong draft at the top, but there could be opportunities for the Sixers to add rotation pieces. Their odds of doing so will certainly increase if they have a first-round pick.
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