There's no way the Sixers fall out of top five ... right?

Posted: May 21, 2014

THE 76ERS will find out tonight where they will pick in the NBA draft, most likely having two picks in the first 10 selections.

That would excite any team, any year. But it's not enough for general manager Sam Hinkie and company. Nineteen wins certainly affords the Sixers the right to be greedy.

They'll have one of the top five picks, then the selection of the New Orleans Pelicans, provided it doesn't wind up in the top five. And they will have the good Doctor, Julius Erving, representing the team when the order of the draft is picked tonight in New York.

But if the team doesn't get one of the top three picks, the night will not have the feel of a lucky evening. Ending with the second-worst record behind the Milwaukee Bucks, if form hold true, the Sixers would have to "settle" for the second pick. No matter whom the Bucks grab of the probable top three - Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid - the Sixers would still get a very good choice, one fans undoubtedly would be excited about, and the sentiment would be the same if they dropped to No. 3.

Then it gets a bit dicey. The next two names mentioned in most mock drafts are Australian guard Dante Exum and Kentucky power forward Julius Randle.

How much does that excite you?

Let's take a closer look at some scenarios, keeping in mind that a lot could happen between tonight and the actual draft on June 26.

Should the team get the No. 1 pick, though their chances are only 19.9 percent, then they would be sitting in the proverbial driver's seat. The wheeling-and-dealing Hinkie undoubtedly would be flooded with offers from other teams. Perhaps he would move the pick, or maybe he'd decide to stick with the selection.

At the NBA rookie combine last week in Chicago, many scouts and general managers surveyed agreed that the 7-foot Embiid should be the top selection, not looking at a team's needs. Would the Sixers go there? Would they, for the third straight season (remember Andrew Bynum and Nerlens Noel), take a chance on a big man who has injury issues? What would fan reaction be if Embiid's balky back, which kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this past season, forced him to miss considerable time in his rookie season? Would they be willing to take that chance?

"There are two injuries that you seriously worry about with a big man, and that's a knee or a back," said one scout in Chicago. "Of course every team will be diligent in their exams on him, but you never know. Perhaps the risk turns out to be slim. But risk is risk, and for a team that sort of got burned on the Bynum situation, you wonder if they'd lean towards being cautious."

So, if not Embiid at No. 1, the 6-8 Wiggins would seem the safest pick. Labeled as the player with the most upside, many raved in Chicago about what the Kansas star could be in the league. The talk was of his incredible athleticism, his willingness to be a defensive stopper, his high IQ of the game. The main detraction was whether Wiggins could rev the motor to where it needs to be each and every night in the NBA. Still, fans would be tickled if he landed on the Sixers.

The bulking Parker appears to be the player in the draft who is most NBA-ready. But the talk was that he needs to get in better shape to be able to get through the rigors of the NBA.

"Weight is a bit of a battle for him," one scout said. "That's a concern, especially being as he only played 1 year in college. Still, if he gets himself right, which there's no reason to think he won't, he is going to be a really good player in our league."

It appears the Sixers must get one of those three. When asked about possible fourth pick, Exum, one coach said: "You can say all you want that you have to take the best player available, and maybe when the Sixers pick, Exum will be that player. But there is a point where you have to realize that you may already have that type of player in [Michael] Carter-Williams. I really don't see them grabbing Exum. He and Carter-Williams are too much the same type of player."

In Randle, you are looking at a guy who will have to play power forward in the NBA, despite being slightly undersized at 6-9 (doesn't that describe Thaddeus Young?). He is a fearless rebounder and the type of tough player this team sorely needs. But when talking of losing so much this season to get a premier player, how many times did his name roll off the tongues of fans?

Grab your lucky rabbit's foot and throw on the rally cap if you're a Sixers fan. It says here that falling anywhere below the top 3 picks tonight will be a disappointment.

Lottery stuff

The Sixers have an 18.80 percent chance of landing the second pick, 17.10 chance at No. 3, 31.86 percent of the fourth pick and 12.35 chance of landing at the fifth spot . . . The lottery will take place just before the start of the Miami-Indiana game at 8 p.m. . . . Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown both said last week they will be in New York for the lottery.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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