The Call: A Bright Future
"We're going to be a menace at the rim."
One of many observations by Sixers President and General Manager Sam Hinkie following Thursday's draft. He was speaking, of course, about the potential of front-line players Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Dario Saric. Clearly, the 76ers are staying with the plan to get the best talent available and building for the future. The 76ers got the best prospect, and the man with the opportunity, long term, to be the top player from the 2014 Draft class at number three in Embiid.
Everyone understands that an injury to Embiid's foot just prior to the draft caused him to fall from the top slot. Hinkie pointed out that no other team's owners would be willing to make this move. So, the waiting for the consistent winning may be a little longer than hoped, but the Sixers are poised to get better every year from now on. It seems some NBA franchises are in the lottery every year, and the 76ers, with these kinds of bold moves, will eventually make the strides to make them a playoff team on the rise in the years to come.
James Herbert of CBSSports.com called Sam Hinkie the MVP of the draft. In fact, many outlets were praiseworthy of the 76ers' picks and moves in the draft. With the other first-round pick, Hinkie put to use his unending quest for information. By way of research, and as he calls it "intel," he was almost positive the Orlando Magic planned to draft a point guard at number 12 to replace veteran Jameer Nelson. So, he surprised everyone by selecting Elfrid Payton out of Louisiana-Layfayette. The Magic then selected Dario Saric at 12 and traded him to the Sixers along with a first- and second-round pick. The first-round pick was the one the 76ers sent to Orlando in the Andrew Bynum/Dwight Howard four-team trade two years ago. That is what you call working the draft to your advantage.
Saric has been on the radar of NBA scouts for a few years. Hinkie actually was on hand for his much-anticipated professional debut. Again, Saric, like Noel and Embiid, dropped in the draft, but not because of injury. He is under contract with a team in Turkey for at least two more years. He is a 6' 10" point forward with a boatload of skills and will be an even more developed pro when he comes to the NBA at 22 years old. It reminds me of the Chicago Bulls having the rights to Toni Kukoc for years before he actually got to the NBA.
In addition, the Sixers got first-round talent in the second round with K.J. McDaniels out of Clemson. Leading your team in every possible statistical category is an amazing accomplishment, and doing so at at school in the ACC makes it even more impressive. The same can be said about Jerami Grant out of Syracuse. He was projected to go in the first round. He moved around quite a bit in the lineup for 'Cuse head coach Jim Boeheim, but is a great athlete that could fit nicely in the 76ers up-tempo offense. Growing up with a former professional player, Harvey Grant, as your father and Horace Grant as your uncle can help a young man understand what it takes to make it to this level.
This year will feature the combo of Michael Carter-Williams and his teammate from their AAU years in Boston, Nerlens Noel showing that they are two players the Sixers can grow with for the future. Embiid will be given the time to heal and recuperate with his surgically repaired foot. The draft proved once again the 76ers are rebuilding the right way for the long term. Head coach Brett Brown will continue to develop a young squad that will show flashes of a bright future. One that will have big-time talent joining the ranks in 2015 and beyond.