The most important time of the National Basketball Association season is rapidly approaching. The teams involved are gearing up, hoping they’ll have enough to reach the finish line, accomplishing a feat that can change the perception of a franchise for years to come. That’s right, the NBA draft lottery is mere days away.
The draft lottery can change the scenery of the entire league, leaving some teams with their hopes crushed while others rejoice in the glory of pure, stupid luck. At stake this year: the Boston Celtics receiving the first overall pick and finally adding a bonafide star to their already strong roster, the Phoenix Suns adding a difference maker to their bad but fun team, and more and more. Only one story really matters though, because the key to this year’s draft lottery revolves around the Philadelphia 76ers.
Going into the lottery, the Sixers are in a good (and possibly great) position going forward. Last year’s number one pick, Ben Simmons, is finally healthy and has started posting videos of him dunking viciously on Instagram. Joel Embiid, though injury prone, has shown that if — and it’s a big if — he can stay healthy, he’ll be haunting the dreams of NBA players and coaches for years to come. Add to that one (possibly two!) high draft picks in the 2017 draft, and baby you’ve got a stew going.
So, here’s where they stand in the lottery. Their fourth place finish in the standing gives them a 14.7% chance at the first overall pick, when including in the extra ping pong balls that they receive from the Sacramento Kings due to the Nik Stauskas trade. Further, due to the Michael Carter-Williams trade — I regret to even call it this because he’s been so inconsequential, but so has basically everyone else in that deal — the Sixers will receive the Los Angeles Lakers’ first round pick if it falls outside of the Top 3 picks. Because the Lakers finished third, the Sixers have a 53% chance of receiving their pick and a 39.5% chance of having two picks in the top five.
In what looks to be a tremendously strong draft class, the outcome of this lottery can change the Sixers’ future from merely bright to nearly undeniably great. The first overall pick would land them Markelle Fultz, a phenom point guard who fits perfectly with the pieces they have in place and is a nearly guaranteed future star.
Having two top five picks would allow them to draft a strong point guard and also pick up a much needed shooter, someone like Malik Monk from the University of Kentucky. Even if the Lakers pick doesn’t convey, they’re not off the hook, the Sixers will receive their 2018 first round pick no matter where it lands. In a league like the NBA, an unprotected draft pick can have incredible value, as teams can hugely underperform expectation in any given year.