NEW YORK — The Sixers didn't land the first pick at the draft lottery Tuesday night, but that wouldn't stop Joel Embiid from trusting the … you guessed it.
"I'm excited," Embiid said. "We jumped up one more spot. I wish we would have gotten the No. 1 pick and the Lakers' pick, but we're trusting the process and it's going to be exciting to see who we're going to draft."
The Sixers received the third pick via a pick swap with the Kings, who will draft fifth (see story). That swap stems from the 2015 trade involving Nik Stauskas, which the guard cleverly tweeted about after the results (see story). The Sixers had a 14.7 percent chance to land at No. 1 between their own odds (11.9 percent) and those of the Kings (2.8).
The Celtics, who are set to take on the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, have first dibs in the draft thanks to a pick swap with the Nets. The Lakers received the second pick. The Sixers would have received their 2017 selection had it fallen out of the top three. Instead, it will convey as an unprotected pick in 2018.
Embiid got involved in friendly banter with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson while they represented their teams on stage.
"It was great," Embiid said. "I kept telling him, 'I'm about to get your pick.'"
After the results were announced, Embiid put on his scouting hat to project who the Sixers should take with their first-round selection.
"I think the two guards (Markelle) Fultz and Lonzo Ball are going to be one and two," Embiid said. "I like Josh Jackson a lot and Jayson Tatum. So I expect one of those guys to be at three with us."
Jackson and Tatum both are small forwards who would fill a need on the perimeter. They possess the two-way player skill set the Sixers covet. Like Embiid, Jackson played one year at Kansas.
If Embiid had a wish list, he would address more offense and additional ball-handlers. After Fultz and Ball, De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith are highly-projected point guards.
"I like Markelle Fultz a lot as a scorer," Embiid said. "I think we need someone else who can score the ball. I like him a lot. And a point guard, somebody that can run the point. T.J. (McConnell) did a great job, and that's my guy and I love him ... I think we need more depth at the point guard position. If we get the chance, that'd be exciting."
The Sixers didn't get the first pick. They ended up with one selection instead of two. They still landed ahead of their projected draft order and an opportunity to acquire a highly-touted young talent. For those reasons, yes, Embiid still trusts.
"Sometimes people don't understand the definition of the process," Embiid said. "The process is not just about getting over what we've been going through for the past three or four years. I feel like the process is going to keep on going.
"It's a process to get over that hump. Then it's a process to make the playoffs. Then it's another process to get to the conference finals and then another process to get to the Finals and win an NBA championship.
"It applies to everything in life. We're always going to be trusting the process."