Inside the Sixers: Formula for 76ers success: Good decisions, good fortune

Duke's Jabari Parker, who declared Thursday for the draft, was the first freshman to lead the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding. He was their MVP.    RICH BARNES / Getty Images
Duke's Jabari Parker, who declared Thursday for the draft, was the first freshman to lead the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding. He was their MVP.    RICH BARNES / Getty Images
Posted: April 21, 2014

Now the 76ers have to get lucky.

You need some luck if you're going to build a winner through the NBA draft lottery.

Hit the Ping-Pong jackpot and draft the right player, and the franchise could be well on its way to becoming a contender. A less-than-ideal lottery draw combined with draft-day missteps could set the franchise back further than the Andrew Bynum fiasco.

The Sixers realize that.

That's why general manager Sam Hinkie has been out of reach for the media recently. It's also why, after a short trip home to San Antonio, coach Brett Brown will return to Philadelphia to prepare for the June 26 draft.

"There's a lot of work being done behind the scenes right now going forward," managing owner Josh Harris said.

Hard work alone won't ensure draft-day success. The Sixers need everything to go right. And that will require some luck.

After finishing with the league's second-worst record, the Sixers (19-63) have a 19.9 percent chance of winning the draft lottery on May 20. They will slide to fifth in the worst-case scenario.

The Sixers also will receive the Pelicans' first-round draft pick unless New Orleans finishes in the top five of the lottery. That's highly unlikely considering that the Pelicans finished with the 10th-worst record. They have a 4 percent chance of moving into the top three and cannot finish in slots four through nine.

The Sixers also will have five second-round picks - Nos. 32, 39, 47, 52, and 54.

Of course, most of the discussion involves which player they will select with their top pick.

Kansas center Joel Embiid, Duke swingman Jabari Parker, and Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins are touted as the top-three draft prospects. They'll probably be the first three players chosen.

The Sixers are in desperate need of a cornerstone swingman to play alongside rookie-of-the-year front-runner Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

So, although a guaranteed top-five pick is great, it doesn't mean anything if the team can't get Parker or Wiggins. And if both players are available, the Sixers had better make the right decision.

Wiggins and Parker are being hyped as future superstars. But how many times have we heard that before?

The Sixers told us Evan Turner was a franchise player when they drafted him with the second overall pick in 2010. That was far from the case.

They ended up shipping him along with Lavoy Allen to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger's expiring contract and a second-round pick. As it turned out, Turner is a capable backup - not a franchise player.

The Sixers can't afford to make the same mistake.

Parker was the highest-scoring freshman in Blue Devils history. The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder became the first freshman to lead Duke in scoring and rebounding. And the Chicago native was the first freshman selected as team MVP since Johnny Dawkins in 1983.

The all-American is more prepared for the NBA game than Wiggins right now. But Wiggins has a bigger upside.

A 6-8, 200-pounder, Wiggins has a 7-foot wingspan and freakish athleticism. He was the Big 12 freshman of the year and a first-team all-conference selection.

So the Sixers will have some tough decisions to make. But in the end, it goes back to luck. Will they be lucky enough to get a top-three pick? Will the Sixers be lucky enough to draft the right player if all things appear to be equal?

"I will be led by Sam," Brown said of Hinkie's formula for selecting players in the draft. "I have gone through a very system-oriented process for the past 12 years [as a San Antonio Spurs assistant] with an organization that's proven they've made way more good decisions than bad decisions."

Brown added that making those types of decisions is the general manager's strength. The rookie coach's faith in Hinkie was a large reason behind his decision to leave the Spurs to help rebuild the Sixers.

"I'm going to let him use me how he wants to use me," Brown said of his draft strategy. "That's my nature - to immerse myself into it all and be highly opinionated. Somewhere out there, analytics people and Sam as the architect of all of it and the coaches will share an opinion. And the club will roll with it."


Inside the Sixers:

Key Dates

April 27: Early-entry eligibility deadline

May 15-16: NBA draft combine in Chicago

May 20: NBA draft lottery

June 16: Early-entry withdrawal deadline

June 26: NBA draft

July 1: Free agency begins

July 5-11: Orlando Summer League

July 11-21: NBA Summer League in

Las Vegas


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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