The 76ers had their season end in cruel fashion, as Toronto ousted them in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Kawhi Leonard connected on a fadeaway buzzer-beater that bounced four times on the rim before falling through the nylon, securing the 92-90 defeat for Philadelphia.
With such an infinitesimally improbable shot knocking them out, could the Sixers see the luck reverse with equally unlikely in the NBA Draft lottery? Due to a trade with Sacramento back in 2015, the Sixers would get the No. 1 pick should the Kings win the lottery tonight (8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN).
The chances of this happening: one percent. Sacramento has the lowest odds due to a 39-43 record (far better than teams such as the Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns). Here’s a breakdown of the other (99 percent) possible outcome.
- If the Kings get anything other than the top overall pick, the draft selection goes to the Celtics. Philadelphia lost the rights to everything but the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft after trading it to Boston for the chance to select Markelle Fultz.
With the top pick, the Sixers could team up Joel Embiid with Duke star forward Zion Williamson for an excellent one-two punch in the paint. An infusion of talent like that could also change the calculus for players such as Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, who could see Williamson as the extra piece necessary to drive to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 2001.
If the lottery produces nothing as expected, who should Elton Brand target with the No. 24 pick (and second-round ones)? Let’s take a look.
76ers Draft Targets & Predictions: Carsen Edwards Tops Wish List
Carsen Edwards emerged as a breakout late first-round pick after his record-setting NCAA Tournament. The Purdue guard broke the mark for 3-pointer made and tallied 42 points against eventual national champion Virginia in the Elite 8.
SI.com’s Jeremy Woo picked him to go to Philadelphia in a post-March Madness mock.
No individual player was more impressive during the tournament than Edwards, and while he’s always been a first-round type talent, his string of big performances to end an inconsistent season should help stabilize his range here. His shot-making off the dribble, deep range and fearless mentality make him a potential microwave scorer off someone’s bench, and he’ll be best suited next to a bigger playmaker. Edwards could slide into a useful role next to Ben Simmons right away, especially with TJ McConnell facing free agency.
Our own Jonathan Adams pegs Oregon wing Louis King and Florida State center Mfiondu Kabengele as early second-round selections, which the Sixers will receive from the Cavaliers and Bulls due to previous trades.
King is in the mold of a developing Jimmy Butler, as the Ducks forward stands 6-foot-9, 205 pounds. He was the man-to-man defensive specialist for an Oregon squad that reached the Sweet 16 on the back of a top-20 defense (per Kenpom). While not an excellent scorer (13.6 points per game), he has athleticism and a jump shot (38.6 percent from 3) as a place to start development.
Kabengele is an excellent idea. The 6-foot-10 defensive specialist would be cheaper than Boban Marjanovic, who isn’t exactly a polished defender. The Seminole center was one of the best shot-blockers in the country, so he would be a defensive upgrade right off the bat.
Furthermore, he would be able to give Embiid some breathers, which became a publicized issue during the postseason due to the Sixers center’s knee tendinitis and stomach virus.
With two more picks in the second round, Brand and company could go with complete fliers such as Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis, who’s a very poor man’s version of Williamson, or Belmont’s Dylan Windler.
The first-round would be about finding another scoring threat. The second round is an opportunity for true role players and developmental projects.