Philadelphia 76ers 2018 Draft Picks Press Conference
CAMDEN, NJ - JUNE 22: Head coach Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers introduces Zhaire Smith during a press conference on June 22, 2018 at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Summer 76 | Star Hunting, Star Development Top of Team's Mind

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

Whether you’re a star in the making, or one who’s already established, the 76ers want you.

Such was the overarching tone set by Brett Brown in the loudest and clearest of terms on draft night.

As the team’s acting head of basketball operations, Brown pointed to a pair of interconnected factors that convinced him to pull the trigger on a trade that sent the no. 10 pick (Mikal Bridges) to Phoenix, in exchange for Zhaire Smith and a future unprotected first-rounder.

It’s the same mindset that guides his decision-making on a daily basis:

How can the Sixers position themselves for a championship, and how can the team attract and / or develop upper echelon players?

In landing the 3-and-D guard-forward Smith, and Miami’s 2021 pick, Brown thinks the Sixers have satisfied both aims.

They added a prospect with high upside, someone who, in a perfect world, could grow to become a player with dynamic star quality.

Plus, the Sixers acquired a highly-valuable bargaining chip that could be used in a potential mega-trade.

We feel good to go where we can play with the best now, and we need some help,” Brown said, alluding to the Sixers’ aspirations to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Philadelphia on the heels of a 52-win season. “The whole notion of the star hunting, star chasing, star development is at the forefront of everything that we do.”

The quest for starpower, Brown believes, justifies tough decisions as well, like the one he had to make the call on Thursday from inside the Sixers’ draft war room.

Given the destination where he ultimately wants to lead the franchise, Brown felt Thursday’s trade with Phoenix was worth it. So, he proceeded with conviction.

“We will be aggressive, and I hope that we will be smart, and I think that we have been,” said Brown.

And for as optimistic as the Sixers’ are about Smith, the impressive defense he showed at Texas Tech, and the trajectory of his perimeter shot, the opportunity to stockpile another first-round pick, and the value that comes with it, made the pot enticingly sweet.

“I’m here to win a championship,” Brown said. “To have that unprotected first-round draft pick, it’s gold. To be able to use that to initiate a trade is gold. You need assets to do that if you’re going to trade for a star.”

Whether or not the circumstances this summer end up being right for the Sixers to deploy the 2021 pick in such a fashion remains to be seen. We might not have to wait too long to find out.

July 1st marks the start of the NBA’s free agency negotiating period, the outcomes of which figure to dictate the Sixers’ course of action.

The draft, as Brown sees it, was an encouraging set-up.

“We feel like our organization got stronger in our pursuit to find ways to win a championship.”

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