The Call: Much Anticipated Draft
With the NBA draft just two weeks away, it's an exciting time for the 76ers as the big night approaches. Holding picks #3 and #10 in the first round, the team is poised to get two good, young players to add to the mix. The NBA Draft lottery could've gone a little bit better, but through the luck of the draw, Cleveland, with a 1% chance of getting the overall pick, beat the odds and landed the right to select first. Again!
The NBA Draft Lottery was the subject of so much discussion this year, but most people don't realize the process has been tweaked four times since 1996. It's certainly come a long way since the 1969 Draft, when Phoenix and Milwaukee had to settle for a coin flip to determine which team selected first. The Suns lost the flip, setting up the Bucks to choose Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and led Milwaukee to its only NBA title in 1971. Talk about an impact player!
This draft has been so anticipated and talked about for months on end. It's been called a deep draft for good reason. On the surface, the third pick puts the Sixers in a bit of a wait-and-see mode regarding who will still be on the board at that spot. But that's the point. They're still going to get a talented player who can help the team for many years to come.
Michael Jordan is the most famous #3 pick of all time. Think about that. The player most people consider to be the best player ever was the third pick! The 1984 NBA draft produced five hall of famers and is considered the best draft class in league history. Recently, it was the subject of an NBA TV documentary. Of course, this is not to suggest one of these players is going to turn out to be the next Michael Jordan. But the fact that no one can be completely certain what's going to happen years down the road is often underplayed.
As we've all heard many times previously, the three ways to build your team are through the draft, trades, and free agent signings. No doubt, all will come in to play as the 76ers build a team that contends in the NBA for the long haul. With that in mind, as has been said before around here, "In Sam we trust!" The Sixers' President of Basketball Operations and General Manager has already shown in his first year in Philadelphia that he is creative and bold when it comes to trades and the NBA Draft.
When you think back to the impact the draft has had on certain franchises, one needs to look no further than the two teams competing for the NBA championship for the second year in a row. The Heat have built around Dwayne Wade for what could be a fourth title. Granted, LeBron James' "decision" to go to Miami and join forces with Chris Bosh and Wade made the difference these last few years. The Spurs getting Tim Duncan in 1997 put the wheels in motion for San Antonio and their years of sustained excellence. But Gregg Popovich and GM RC Buford have done an incredible job for years adding excellent players without the benefit of a top draft pick for most of those years.
The other obvious team people point to in terms of building through the draft is Oklahoma City. For good reason. Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka have them near the top of the league on an annual basis. Even when they drafted James Harden but ended up trading him to Houston for salary cap reasons, they got a lot back that helped them build for the future.
The general consensus is that it takes two superstars in order to compete for a title. History indicates that for the most part that is accurate. But, the definition of "superstar" in the NBA has changed a bit over recent years. However you quantify what that level is, your team has to have players that can make shots down the stretch in big games. The other obvious component is you need players that can get "stops" during crunch time of an NBA game. With that in mind, that's why these upcoming, days, months, and years could be special for the Sixers. All the right things are in place: committed ownership, a bright and talented GM, and a Head Coach that can develop players and turn a team into a winning group. This month's draft is going to play a huge part in that going forward.