With Draft Approaching, Front Office Hard at Work

by Lauren Rosen

Facing an historically accelerated timeline, the 76ers front office is heading into the NBA Draft and free agency united by one idea: winning.

Although President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey is still in the early days of his Sixers tenure, the rapidly approaching Nov. 18 NBA Draft has been on his radar all year.

“We’ll be ready,” said Morey, who spent the past 13 seasons as general manager of the Houston Rockets. “We were prepping for six months before, and during, the bubble in Houston. The good thing is, Elton (Brand) has been working hard on [our] five picks.”

The Sixers own picks 21 (via Oklahoma City), 34 (via Atlanta), 36 (via New York), 49, and 58 (via L.A. Lakers).

Aside from managing the NBA's expedited timeline, which will usher in the free agency negotiating window just two days after the draft, the Sixers' front office is also learning to work at a high level during the era of social distancing.

“During the pandemic, the draft is very different from last year,” Elton Brand said. “We were one of the first teams to take our scouts off the road, early March, because of COVID. So we’ve been preparing through video, watching a lot of film.”

But Brand doesn’t see this new normal as a disadvantage:

“Everyone is dealing with the same circumstances, we have to play by the same rules. It’s different from years past, but we’re prepared. Having five picks unlocks a lot of opportunities.”

Along with Morey, Vice President of Player Personnel Prosper Karangwa and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Peter Dinwiddie are new to the Sixers' front office.

Both Karangwa and Dinwiddie echo Morey - their preparations with their previous teams (Karangwa in Orlando, and Dinwiddie in Indiana) will help inform their decisions with the Sixers.

“A lot of the work had been done prior to the pandemic hitting.” Karangwa explained. “It’s different - Usually at this time, everyone is in the building. You have kids coming in and out for workouts. You’re doing interviews, you’re doing workouts, but you can’t do that.”

Pre-draft meetings among the staff look different too.

“We all have our masks on - and that’s kind of strange,” Karangwa said. “We all have our masks on, watching guys on film, talking about our different vantage points.”

On the heels of  these recent changes, the front office is energized by possibilities and potential.

“It’s extremely condensed, we’re moving through everything at warp speed, but it’s good,” Dinwiddie said.

When examining roster, the front office has pinpointed a theme: put Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the best position to succeed.

“When you look at the top, you look at Joel, and you look at Ben Simmons, those are two highly, highly talented players,” Dinwiddie said. “So you come into a team that has two bona fide players, I mean, that’s an unbelievable foundation. It’s just an unbelievable roster.”

It’ll be a jam-packed month of late nights and early mornings for the front office unit, but Brand says winning, the common goal, keeps everyone motivated.

“It feeds us. We are here to win. That’s the goal. That’s what I’m in it for. The relationships, the journey, but ultimately winning is what I strive for. Daryl - same way. Doc - same way. It’s hard to win, but this group is committed to it.”

Check back into Sixers.com for more updates as the NBA Draft approaches.

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