76ers' second-round picks offer intrigue

Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The 76ers hold seven picks in Thursday night's NBA draft, or, analytically speaking, 11.67 percent of all the selections available to the 30 teams. The first two of those picks - the third and the 10th in the opening round - are the most intriguing, of course, and will have the most to say about the ongoing construction of the Sixers roster, but those five second-round picks say a lot more about general manager Sam Hinkie.

Maybe the idea of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid wearing a Sixers uniform is what has you glued to what will happen soon after the curtain goes up, but there's something about how Hinkie slalomed through the gates of last year's draft that really makes him the most interesting guy to watch.

What will he do with this fresh patch of snow that lies before him? Trade up, trade down, combine picks and players, spin the second-round picks into something more, or deal to acquire another fistful of them? We know the man likes second-round picks for some reason.

It's not that every move he has made screams genius, it's just that all of them were at least interesting. Let's take the twisting tale of last season's 35th pick in the draft as an example.

The Sixers took Glen Rice Jr. with that 35th pick, which seemed reasonable enough, but then turned around and traded Rice to Washington for the 38th pick in the draft (Nate Wolters) and the 54th pick (Arsalan Kazemi).

Wolters barely had time to Google apartment listings in Rittenhouse Square before he was traded to Milwaukee for the 43d pick in the draft (Ricky Ledo) and a 2014 second-round pick. Ledo was checking out flights to Philadelphia when he was traded to Dallas in exchange for another 2014 second-round pick.

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All of this happened in rapid-fire succession, all within a half-hour or so during the second round of the 2013 draft. Hinkie used the 35th pick in the draft, which he must not have been all that enamored with, and turned it into two 2014 second-round picks (the 47th and the 54th) and the NBA rights to Kazemi, who kept himself busy with Petrochimi Bandar Imam in the Iran Super League this season. The Sixers can mull his progress and keep his rights until a year after his non-NBA contract expires. Or they could trade his rights. Maybe get a future second-round pick for them.

It took four separate transactions to get all that done, including the original pick, but Hinkie thought it was worthwhile. From the outside, and from certain corners of the NBA, it looked like an eager first-time GM pushing all the buttons on his new dashboard just to see what they might do, but, hey, it was a fascinating half-hour.

And what did it matter? Rice was a D-League player almost all of last season, for the Iowa Energy, as was Ledo, with the Texas Legends. Wolters stuck with the dreadful Bucks, playing 58 games and averaging 23 minutes and seven points.

Then there was the Sixers' other second-round pick of 2013, the little-remembered Pierre Jackson, who, at 5-foot-10, is little-remembered everywhere. Jackson, taken 42d, was combined with Jrue Holiday in the heist that lifted the sixth pick of the draft (Nerlens Noel) and the 10th pick of the 2014 draft from the New Orleans Pelicans.

That was not only Hinkie's masterpiece, but it showed the value, if any, of a lowly second-round pick. Maybe Jackson wasn't the key to the deal, but he was in there. (His season's journey led him to France, where he never played; to the D-League Idaho Stampede, where he scored 58 in a game against the Texas Legends - maybe Ledo was guarding him; and then to Istanbul, where he played one game in the Turkish league before splitting. Nice season.)

With five second-round picks to maneuver - two more arrived in the Spencer Hawes trade to Cleveland - who knows what mischief Hinkie will invent. He needs to collect some for use down the road. If the Sixers miss the playoffs next season, they will owe Boston a 2015 and a 2016 second-round pick (instead of a 2015 first-round pick) as a consequence of the disastrous Arnett Moultrie trade with Miami.

The Sixers also technically owe draft considerations to Houston for the trade that brought them Royce "Ground Transportation" White and the NBA rights to Furken Aldemir, who is the starting power forward for Galatasaray, the Turkish team that lost in the seventh game of the finals last week to Fenerbahce, Pierre Jackson's old team. See how it all fits together?

That's what we hope to see Thursday night, how all this analytical wheeling and dealing pushes the rock farther up the hill. It will be easy to dream after seeing what the Sixers get with the third and the 10th picks, but don't turn off the TV after the first round. Watch the man go to work.