Pre-Draft Report | New Dynamics Begin to Take Shape
On several levels, the landscape surrounding the 76ers this year is different as they head into the draft.
There’s the matter of Brett Brown, fresh off his fifth season as head coach, currently overseeing the organization’s basketball operations department.
Plus, the team’s first pick, slotted at no. 10, isn’t quite as high as it’s been in previous years.
These dynamics were both worth taking into account Monday, when the Sixers’ training complex was back and bustling with basketball activity for a six-player pre-draft workout that featured likely lottery picks Miles Bridges and Lonnie Walker IV.
After a breakthrough campaign that saw the Sixers win 52 times, and reach the second round of the Playoffs, Brown said the Sixers are on the prowl for modern-day players who can a). complement the team’s promising young core and b). eventually help the club succeed in June.
“In Joel Embiid and in Ben Simmons, you know what you have,” said Brown, referring to his Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidates. “How do you add to that completely influences how we see the draft.”
Brown’s input in this specific area figures to be more prominent now than ever before, in lieu of assuming the Sixers’ acting General Manager title last week.
Since then, Brown estimated he’s dedicated an extra three to five hours a day to focusing on how he can provide leadership and structure, while assisting the front office’s planning for the draft, free agency, and G League season in as a detailed and holistic a way as possible.
Brown joked that in the past, he’s spent this stage of the off-season watching his son play hoops, and occasionally partaking in one of his favorite personal pastimes, fishing.
With the duties and stakes now higher, not this year.
The adjustment, Brown said, has been dramatic.
“You try to take the pieces and all the talent and different parts of our organization, and find out how do I help lead us,” he told reporters. “For me, it’s a significant change.”
That the Sixers won’t be among the first teams on the clock next Thursday is also something new.
Each of the past four years, the team has held a top-three pick in the draft: no. 3 in 2014 and 2015, and no. 1 in 2016 and 2017.
With the Sixers positioned a bit farther back in the 2018 draft order, and there not expected to be much personnel turnover next season, Brown acknowledged Monday that this year’s lottery pick won’t be greeted by the same set of circumstances as, let’s say, Embiid or Simmons.
Most of the minutes, in all likelihood, will be spoken for.
As a result, perhaps the Sixers give greater consideration to choosing someone at no. 10 who might not be ready for big role right away, but, in time, could evolve into a key, primary piece.
“The 10th pick, it doesn’t always ensure, ‘Here I am, I’m going to be playing a lot,’” said Brown. “In some ways, we’d all be naive to think that’s going to happen.
“I will say, to make sure I’m clear, it doesn’t have to be that. You might trip on somebody that pushes their way into that tough type of [established] rotation, [but] history says that, at times, isn’t that likely.”
However the Sixers ultimately proceed - with Brown as the interim captain of the ship, with the tenth pick in the draft - he sounded certain Monday that the franchise will deploy a familiar approach that’s served it well in the past:
“We will be bold. We will be smart. We will do our homework, and we will be aggressive.”