By setting themselves up to struggle (understatement) in the upcoming season, the Sixers are clearly looking ahead to the 2014 NBA draft, which by all accounts, is going to be one of the strongest in recent memory.
Finishing next season outside of playoff positioning, which is likely the case, will land the Sixers a lottery pick. The draft day deal that sent Jrue Holiday to New Orleans landed them another one - as long as the Pelicans don't make the playoffs and the pick falls out of the top five.
These picks, along with future free agent acquisitions and a couple of carry-overs from the current roster, most likely rookies Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, are supposedly going to form the foundation of the franchise going forward.
It sure seems that the 2014 draft, which has become known as the “Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes” to many, will be very important to the future of the franchise.
Unlike last June’s draft, where the top pick remained unknown until seconds before the selection, Wiggins is already the consensus first-overall selection. His size, athleticism and offensive ability have franchises foaming, as the kid has surefire superstar written all over him.
If they are lucky enough to land him in the lottery, Wiggins would almost immediately become the centerpiece of the struggling Sixers, providing a shot of energy into the franchise that hasn’t been felt since the early days of A.I. (Iverson, not Iguodala).
Ping-pong balls are unpredictable, however. There is no guarantee - even if the Sixers stink it up all season and secure the league’s worst record - that they wind up with Wiggins.
While missing out on Wiggins would be disappointing, as he appears to be as close to a guaranteed star as can come through the draft, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for the organization.
Yes, Wiggins is probably the best prospect since LeBron James, but like James', Wiggins’ draft class is also steeped in talent.
The 2003 NBA Draft, which saw James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade all selected in the top five, was one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. While James was clearly the top talent, the consolation prizes weren’t too shabby, and the 2014 draft seems very similar.
Wiggins is James, the otherworldly talent that teams are “tanking” to obtain. His acquisition could single-handedly change the fate of a franchise, just as James did for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, listed directly below Wiggins on most mock drafts are a few players who have the potential to be perennial all-stars, and could have been in the discussion for first overall selection had they declared for a different draft.
Jabari Parker, who will play his college ball at Duke this season, is an ultra-smooth and intelligent wing player who has already drawn comparisons to Carmelo Anthony.
Oklahom State guard Marcus Smart would have been a lottery lock last year, but he decided to return to school for his sophomore season. The versatile guard has been likened to NBA all-star James Harden.
Julius Randle, who will suit up for Coach Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats this fall, is a strong power forward with great range and versatility. He is a solid finisher around the basket, and is comfortable all the way out to the three point line. Not surprisingly, he has drawn Chris Webber comparisons.
Proven college players such as Semaj Christon, Glenn Robinson III, and James McAdoo only add to the intrigue of a draft in which the Sixers hope to have two top picks.
The addition of Andrew Wiggins would improve the Sixers organization immediately, and he could serve as the team's star for the forseeable future. But, if the balls don't bounce in Philly's favor, all hope is not lost.
The 2014 draft, which is teeming with talent, projects to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. It contains a plethora of players who could improve upon the fortune of the franchise, and while Wiggins is clearly the top target, the Sixers would greatly benefit from the addition of a couple consolation prizes.