Sixers wind up with No. 3 pick in draft

Sixers representative Julius Erving after being aced out by (left) Cleveland GM David Griffin's Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks. But Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil said he was thrilled.
Sixers representative Julius Erving after being aced out by (left) Cleveland GM David Griffin's Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks. But Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil said he was thrilled. (AP)
Posted: May 22, 2014

NEW YORK - The 76ers were neither lucky or unfortunate. Yet there was no denying they were happy.

The Sixers finished third in the NBA draft lottery for the third time in franchise history on Tuesday night and collected the 10th pick as well.

"You get two lottery picks, plus [sidelined rookie center] Nerlens [Noel] coming back plus the rookie of the year" in Michael Carter-Williams, Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil said. "We couldn't be happier.

"We had a 55 percent chance to get a top-three pick. We got it. Look at [general manager] Sam Hinkie's track record. . . . We're thrilled."

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who were seeded with the ninth-worst record (33-49) and had a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery, won it for the second time in a row and the third time in the last four years. The Milwaukee Bucks finished second. They finished a league-worst 15-67 and had a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery.

The Sixers hoped to win the draft lottery for the second time in franchise history. For good luck, O'Neil had a folded two-dollar bill and three cocoa beans with him at Times Square Studios. And he wasn't alone.

All of the Sixers representatives on hand brought good-luck charms to the Big Apple. For additional luck, former Sixer and Hall of Famer Julius Erving was the team's onstage representative at the lottery.

But on this day, their odds played out.

The Sixers finished with the second-worst record (19-63) in the league and had just a 19.9 percent chance of winning among the 14 teams in the lottery. In the worst-case scenario, the Sixers would have finished fifth.

They also will pick 10th in the draft with the selection that belonged to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers acquired that pick, along with Noel, by sending Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans during the 2013 draft.

New Orleans had the 10th-worst record in the league and had a just a 1.1 percent chance of winning the lottery. The Pelicans would have kept the pick if they were drawn in the top three.

"Three and 10 is great," Sixers managing owner Josh Harris said. "Three was expected value when you look at all the math.

". . . Would I rather have No. 1? Yes. But we are very excited about it and have a lot of faith in Sam and he will do a lot with it."

The Sixers may still be in position to draft former Kansas standout Andrew Wiggins or former Duke star Jabari Parker at the June 26 draft. Those two forwards, along with former Kansas center Joel Embiid, will be the headliners.

Attending the lottery were Wiggins, Embiid, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Noah Vonleh (Indiana), and Aaron Gordon (Arizona).

"It's deeper than people think," Hinkie said of the draft. He later said: "I think a lot of these players can help. And we can use the help."

Wiggins has the biggest upside of the draft class.

A 6-foot-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. The Canadian is regarded by many as the best player in the draft.

Harris approached Wiggins after the lottery.

"I said, 'You probably won't last to No. 3,' " Harris said. "But if you do, dot, dot, dot."

Embiid was seen as the draft's top prospect until a stress fracture in his back kept him out of the NCAA tournament. The 7-footer said at the draft lottery that his back is 100 percent.

"I have been back on the court for three weeks," he said. "I am trying to get in shape."

However, NBA.com reported that Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem, isn't above using concerns about the player's health to scare off undesirable destinations. There are reports that Tellem may hide his client's medical records from certain teams.

Embiid was asked about the possibility of being chosen by the Sixers. "Philly is a great city," he said.

Erving thinks his former team should use their two first-round picks "on a guard and big forward."

"Because Noel, he's going to be a center," Erving said. "He's a shot-blocking center, runs the floor, defensive presence. So now, you have to put an enforcer out there. With [the third pick] you are going have to get one of those who can play the frontcourt and be that guy. . . . That's for sure.

"Then probably a guard with the other pick."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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