Here’s the 76ers’ inept history of ‘star chasing’ in the NBA draft, with Embiid and Maxey waiting to help | Jones

So tonight continued a tradition unlike any other — the Philadelphia 76ers’ annual turnover in the NBA draft. Because the Brooklyn Nets selected the first-round pick in the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade in next year’s draft, Philadelphia will have one option tonight — No. 23.

The odds are high that they will screw it up; they almost always do. The Sixers have selected 42 players in the NBA draft over the past decade. Four of these had a material impact on franchising:

• Simmons

• Furkan Korkmaz

• Joel Embiid

• Tyrese Maxi

That’s it. They did trade 2019 draft picks Carsen Edwards and Ty Jerome to the Celtics for Matisse Thybulle. He’s already a solid defender for the Sixers, if not quite the 3-nD player they were hoping for.

Seven years ago in the summer of 2015, the Sixers had 23 NBA picks in the next six drafts (2016-21), including 10 first-round picks. This is part of Sam Hinkie’s infamous tank “process”. All but one person (Maxey in 2020) was basically wasted.

When the league’s trends went in the opposite direction, not only were they overloaded with clunky old-school bigs who couldn’t stretch the floor, but the guards they drafted couldn’t shoot.

Most options are throw-ins, partial trades, second-round picks with little or no chance of attracting viable players.

But the 76ers’ high draft picks also mostly failed. In the last 10 NBA drafts, the 76ers acquired eight what you might call a lottery pick. The draft lottery rules have changed over the years, including how many teams are included and their chances of finishing in the top four. But we would consider anyone in the top 14 (current rules) to be a lottery pick.

Here are the 76ers’ such picks:

Nerlens Noel (6th in 2013)

An inept shot-blocker. Can’t shoot from a distance. He was traded to the Mavericks in 2017 and has since bounced around all the airport teams, making his last appearance on the Knicks bench.

Michael Carter-Williams (11th in 2013)

Carter-Williams’ inability to shoot and questionable decision-making have kept him on the league’s bench since he was traded to Milwaukee in 2015 after leaving Syracuse for his Rookie of the Year season in 2014. He played 31 games in Orlando last season.

Joel Embiid (No. 3 in 2014)

Even though injuries kept Embiid out of the first two seasons in Kansas, the Sixers reasonably chose this option. A fighter with unmatched post talent and ability to guard multiple positions, he’s been a staple on the team since 2016. That makes the rest of this list so painful. The Sixers couldn’t find anyone to help him.

Elfrid Payton (10th in 2014)

Traded to Orlando on draft night for Dario Saric, he finally arrived from Croatia two years later and eventually became the main player in the 2018 trade with Minnesota for Jimmy Butler. At least the 76ers hired the gun for a year before Butler declared free agency and fled to Miami.

Jahlil Okafor (No. 3 in 2015)

Lazy, poor conditions, unwilling to defend, one move on the offensive end to win, can only hit the basket. He was exposed early, traded to Brooklyn in 2018, and played 27 games for the Pistons last season. He’s the reason Luka Garza is still in the league.

In my opinion, this is the biggest mistake. Even though I’ve downplayed the Simmons and Fultz picks in every draft, it’s beyond my comprehension. I wrote this right after the 2015 draft:

The Sixers don’t need Okafor. They could have used Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell, but both were snapped up by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.

However, other teams want Okafor. It’s often easier to fool anxious donkeys into making rash decisions on a heated draft night. But 76ers general manager Hinkie was apparently unable or unwilling to change that trick Thursday. So, right now, he has to either trade Okafor with a more reasonable time frame in the next few days, or sign him and play him at center for at least one season.

I don’t know how that would be. I do know that no matter what my team needs, I don’t want to be with Okafor long-term. I think he’s a dog, a one-way player who will be exposed for lack of play outside of a strong offensive low-post toolbox. Young players who show aversion to defense worry me. They are cancerous. I don’t think you can win with them. In my opinion, Okafor is one of them.

Ben Simmons (No. 1 in 2016)

The ultimate lazy hood. An embodiment of why fringe fans gave up on the NBA. We’ve already gone through it and don’t need to go any further.

Markelle Fultz (No. 1 in 2017)

Was the scorer in one collegiate season on the University of Washington’s last collegiate team. You know the Fultz story. Suffered a mysterious shoulder injury and subsequent head case that kept him from shooting (did you feel the trend?). Anyway, I never liked him and said so on the eve of the draft.

To be honest, I don’t really like Jayson Tatum too. My main pick is DéAaron Fox, who has spent his entire career playing for Sacramento, a potential All-Star who was squandered by the Mickey Mouse franchise.

Mikal Bridge (10th in 2018)

Zaire Smith was traded to Phoenix on draft night in the infamous Brett Brown draft after Brian Colangelo was eliminated in the Twitter phone scandal. Bridges has been a key starter for the Suns, who have the best record in the West in 2022. Smith doesn’t have basketball.

This is also expected. Bridges was a winner and a big part of Villanova. Smith is a defensive specialist with serious flaws in Texas Tech’s offensive game. He needed immediate maintenance on his lens, and as it turned out, such an overhaul would never be enough to fix it. Especially after he endured foot and knee injuries and a strangely severe allergic reaction to sesame oil.

Many of the dozens of other picks acquired under Elton Brand’s Hinkie were second-round picks with little chance of sticking around. So it’s these eight high-post picks that need to hit and at least contribute.

The Sixers get lasting value from two of them and basically any value from four. The other four are worthless.

That’s how you get to where they are — on the cusp of contention, but not in the realm of threatening to lift the trophy — because they have a weak bench and no role players.

This brings us to Philly’s real problem: They’re on the treadmill of acquiring and wasting draft picks without knowing how to evaluate talent. As Brown put it in his 2018 draft press conference, rationalizing the Bridges giveaway because it offered a 2021 draft pick that was later given — “We’re looking for stars.”

Always hunting, never catching, actually. This trend shows no signs of changing tonight.

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