The NBA draft is fast approaching and with it comes all of the usual expectations, anticipation, hopes and unknowns.
What might happen with the Sixers? With the 10th overall pick, there’s a chance they draft there, package the pick with players for a trade, or move up.
But what about the players? For some, it will be a night that a dream — hearing their name called — comes true. For others, their name being called will only feed false hope. They might never play in an NBA game.
The draft-night unknown is what drives the excitement, and there’s plenty that is unknown this year with the Sixers after the resignation of general manager Bryan Colangelo.
It’s the perfect time, with Thursday’s draft days away, to look back at the franchise’s draft history under Sam Hinkie and Colangelo and explore the moves that were made to bring the Sixers to this point.
• Michael Carter-Williams was the 11th overall selection by the Sixers with Hinkie, who had been hired about a month before, at the helm. Carter-Williams, who left Syracuse after a standout sophomore year, earned rookie-of-the-year honors after the 2013-14 season. He played in 70 games, starting in all of them. Each subsequent year his starts and games played have decreased.
A shoulder injury shortened his second season and before the end of the 2014-15 campaign, Carter-Williams was traded to Milwaukee Bucks. He has also played for the Chicago Bulls and is currently with the Charlotte Hornets.
• Through a series of trades and moves the Sixers ended the night with Pierre Jackson, Ricky Ledo and Arsalan Kazemi. All three players were either waived or traded. Jackson and Ledo saw only a handful of NBA games; Kazemi has never notched any NBA minutes. Jackson was later packaged with Jrue Holiday in a deal with the Pelicans that brought Nerlens Noel to the Sixers. The trade was completed on July 12.
• Hinkie took a risk selecting Joel Embiid with the No. 3 pick. The freshman from Kansas had a list of injuries that were concerning considering his size and the limited time he’d played basketball. But, despite a recent stress fracture in his back and surgery to repair a bone in his right foot, the Sixers took the risk. There were two missed seasons and even more questions and skepticism before Embiid was able to prove anything on an NBA court, but the risk has seemed to be more than worth it: Embiid turned into a franchise player beloved by the fan base and, after a stellar 2017-18 season, a finalist for defensive player of the year.
• K.J. McDaniels, taken by the Sixers at No. 32, skipped the first day of training camp because he was unhappy with his contract. He had moderate success in Philly before being traded to the Houston Rockets before the 2014-15 season was over. His career slowly fizzled as the years went by.
• The Sixers closed out the 2014 draft with the selections of Dario Saric, Jerami Grant, Russ Smith, Vasilije Micic and Jordan McRae. Saric is the lone holdover from this group who has proven to be a valued member of the roster. After spending the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons with Turkish club Anadolu Efes, the Croatian native joined the Sixers and was runner-up for rookie-of-the-year honors last year. Saric continues to be an important piece of the Sixers’ success, improving each season.
Grant played 2 ½ seasons in Philadelphia before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he has remained a rotational player.
• Jahlil Okafor was selected by Hinkie and the Sixers with the No. 3 overall pick out of Duke in 2015. Injuries slowed down his success following his rookie season, and the Sixers’ eventual logjam in the front court created tension. Okafor openly wanted to be bought out of his contract or traded after his second season. In December 2017, after Okafor had been completely taken out of the rotation and his trade value had plummeted, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
• Willy Hernangomez, Richaun Holmes, Arturas Gudaitis, J.P. Tokoto and Luka Mitrovic would be a part of the Sixers by the end of the night. Holmes is the lone holdover from the group who is still on the roster. Though overshadowed by Embiid at center, Holmes has kept his place by continuing to improve his body and show flashes of offensive prowess.
• Ben Simmons was the consensus top player in the draft, and Colangelo took him at No. 1. After leaving LSU, Simmons missed all of last season with a foot injury he suffered during training camp. The 6-foot-10 point guard returned this past year and took the league by storm, earning a spot among NBA rookie-of-the-year finalists. Though he has been criticized for his lack of shooting, Simmons has been compared to Magic Johnson and LeBron James and touted as one of the most talented rookies to play the game.
• The Sixers picked Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot at No. 24 and Furkan Korkmaz at No. 26. Luwawu-Cabarrot played significant minutes in his rookie season as injuries plagued the roster. In the 2017-18 campaign, as bigger names with more experience took the reins during the Sixers’ 52-win season, he saw his minutes shrink. Both Luwawu-Cabarrot and Korkmaz remain on the roster but are still in the developing stages of their careers.
• Markelle Fultz was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 after Colangelo made a deal with the Boston Celtics to move up from No. 3. Fultz had a strange rookie season. Drafted because of his ability to create off the dribble and shoot from three-point range, Fultz played in only 14 regular-season games. A shoulder injury and a complete loss of shooting mechanics marred his first season. There are still many unknowns surrounding Fultz.
• Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort, Sterling Brown, Juwan Evans and Anzejs Pasecniks would be with the Sixers by the end of the night. Not long after the draft, Evans and Brown were traded. Bolden, Lessort and Pasecniks — all international players — are still playing overseas. Bolden is expected to be the first of the group to come over, and he could be with the Sixers as soon as this upcoming season.