Hindsight is 20/20 and it is often very difficult to predict the NBA potential of college players. It is much easier to look back and nitpick past picks, saying that a team should have taken so-and-so here instead of the player that was actually selected.
However after the 76ers’ struggles this season and the lack of a clear foundation moving forward, it seems only right to take a minute to lament what the team could look like had some recent picks been used differently.
Looking back on the past half-decade of drafts, it seems that if the Sixers had gone in a different direction with some of their picks they could currently be a young, athletic, and extremely talented team void of the identity issues currently faced by the franchise.
Starting back with the 2008 NBA Draft, the Sixers made a string of picks that could, and probably should be second-guessed.
In that 2008 draft, the 76ers used the 16th pick to select Marreese Speights; a perennial role player, who came off of the bench for the Sixers for a couple seasons before being shipped out of town.
At this point, Speights is an NBA afterthought, making this pick especially hard to swallow because of who was passed over in his favor.
Roy Hibbert, who has developed into an all-star center for Indiana, was picked directly behind Speights, while Deandre Jordan, an important part and the literal centerpiece to the Clippers’ exciting resurgence, slipped all the way to the second round.
Productive post players are hard to come by, and both of these guys are solid starting centers on teams hoping to make a deep playoff push, and obviously either would be an enormous upgrade over the Sixers’ current center situation.
It is difficult to find fault with the team’s pick in the 2009 draft, as they used their mid-round selection on Jrue Holiday, who has developed into an all-star while playing point for the 7-6. Ty Lawson was an available option, who I was actually in favor of at the time, as I had questions about Jrue’s ability to run an offense. Holiday’s versatility and development has been impressive however, and it is safe to say that the Sixers made a sound selection.
The 2010 draft saw the franchise falter again though, as the spent the second overall pick on the inconsistent and emotional Evan Turner. Turner is a good basketball player and has had some really impressive moments as a 76er, but shooting struggles and on-court inconsistencies have caused his name to constantly come up in trade rumors. The Sixers aren’t sold on Turner for the long-term, and his future with the organization is still uncertain.
Selected after Turner with the tenth overall pick was budding superstar Paul George, who like Jrue Holiday, made his first all-star appearance this season. George is an explosive and athletic two-way perimeter player, who is developing into a go-to scorer, which is exactly what the Sixers have been searching for. Thus, it is frustrating to watch George flourish, while Turner remains a permanent piece on the trade block. Looking back, Paul George would have been a much better fit for the franchise.
The 2011 draft came, and once again a mistake was made, although the overlook isn’t quite as obvious because of the talent dearth in the draft. In 2011 the Sixers used the 16th selection on Nikola Vučević, who is developing into a nice player.. in Orlando. The Sixers got very little value out of Vučević before he was shipped south in the Bynum debacle last summer.
Selected six picks after Vučević was Kenneth Faried, who is being hailed as the second coming of Dennis Rodman out in Denver. Faried is ferocious, just the hard-nosed, go-get-it, type of player every team loves to have, and that the Sixers have been lacking since their last trip to the Finals. He could have played a very important role for the franchise going forward.
If the Sixers had actually selected as suggested, their current starting lineup could consist of Jrue Holiday, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George, all all-stars, as well as the fierce Faried cleaning the glass. This would be a young, athletic and well-balanced unit on both sides of the ball, and it is safe to say that such a lineup would garner playoff positioning.
Obviously it is easier to dissect a draft after the players have already had a couple seasons to show their stuff. However, it is still unfortunate, especially considering the state of the franchise, that the Sixers missed out on several budding stars, and instead have little to show for the past half-decade of drafts.