It’s that time of year again.
When Sixers fans start getting excited at the sight of ping-pong balls and warming up their vocal chords for endless chants of “trust the process.”
The NBA’s draft lottery is set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Chicago. The event has become a spectacle for Sixers supporters in recent years with each occasion representing a chance to land the next blue-chip prospect to push the rebuild forward.
Sure, fans will still be excited for the lottery as the Sixers have an 86.98 percent chance of the Lakers’ pick conveying to them at No. 10 and even a 1.1 percent chance of snagging the top selection for a third straight year (see story).
However, the lottery outcome is no longer the franchise’s main source to obtain more firepower.
“With respect to adding — I’m going to say talent, not free agent — because talent comes in many forms,” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said last week. “Talent comes in a possible trade, possible free agency. Both options loom with cap space and flexibility. If the right deal comes along, we’ll certainly pursue it. We will explore any and all options to add that talent.”
Did you catch that? In Colangelo’s first answer during his end-of-season press conference, he mentioned different ways to add talent to the Sixers’ roster but not once did he discuss the draft.
A minor oversight? It’s possible. But it’s more likely he no longer sees that as a way to put the team over the top.
The Sixers took a major leap in 2017-18 and have now proven to be serious contenders in the Eastern Conference. How exactly are they going to get past the current dangers they face in the East and any other forces that may crop up down the line?
The plan could involve taking another prospect and working him into the team’s blossoming young core. But that player likely isn’t going to push the Sixers into the NBA Finals, so the more realistic options involve hitting the free-agent market or using those first-rounder(s) as a potential bargaining chip in a trade.
“I don’t want to talk specifically about this year’s draft, but we do have a likelihood of picking somewhere between 10 and 11 with that Laker pick,” Colangelo said. “There’s less than a 2.0 percent chance, maybe a 1.2 percent chance that we move up to No. 1. There’s a combined, roughly, 2.5, 3.0 percent chance that we lose the pick at [Nos.] 2 or 3. But it’s very likely or probable that we select somewhere at the 10, 11 mark. And then we have the 26th pick in the draft. So we’re really looking at all facets of the draft.
“We talk about the things that we would like to do with our roster internally. We look at some of the players that are available that could address that. And then with the 26th pick, it starts to get into do we have the roster spots to give up to select two players that will be on this team next year? We could consider doing something with a stash in terms of the second pick. Or utilize the assets to combine them to move up in a scenario or utilize in a trade to acquire a player. All kinds of things could evolve between now and draft day.”
So bust out your Sixers jerseys and reminisce about how the team walked away on recent lottery nights with the picks that ended up being Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. Just don’t expect the same euphoria when the organization’s draft slots are announced this time around.