The Philadelphia 76ers could be the big winners of the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night with a few lucky bounces of ping pong balls.
After finishing with the fourth-worst record in the league, the 76ers have an 11.9% chance at the No. 1 pick and a 37.8% chance of finishing in the top three, according to ESPN.
However, once again, it’s the foresight and radical “Process” of former GM Sam Hinkie that has set the 76ers up with a dream scenario that could land them two top-four picks in what’s widely considered the best draft in years.
In 2015, the Sixers pulled off a lopsided trade with the Sacramento Kings, landing them Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a future top-1o protected draft pick, and the right to swap future draft picks. That swap comes into play this year, as the 76ers can exercise that right if the Kings finish with a higher draft position. For instance, if the Kings get the fourth pick and the Sixers get the sixth pick, the Sixers can exercise the swap.
Additionally, the 76ers will also get the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick if it falls out of the top three thanks to a three-team trade in 2015 that included the Lakers’ protected pick from the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers, who finished with the third-worst record in the league, have a 47% chance of landing in the top three in the draft and 53% chance of falling out of the top three.
The dream scenario for the 76ers
For the 76ers, the dream scenario would be acquiring a No. 1 pick, either through their own pick or a pick swap with the Kings, then getting the fourth pick after the Lakers fall out of the top three. Getting the first and fourth picks in a draft rich with talented guards, Philadelphia’s biggest weakness, would certainly jump-start their lengthy rebuild.
There are lesser versions of this scenario, though they’re intriguing, nonetheless. The Sixers could still end up with two picks in the top 10, so long as the Lakers’ pick falls outside of the top three.
If the Lakers retain their pick this year, that’ll be okay with the 76ers – that draft pick is unprotected next year. So, if during the 2017-18 season, the 76ers and Lakers both miss the playoffs, the 76ers will have two lottery picks, regardless of where those picks fall.
It’s been a long, painful rebuild for the Sixers, but things are finally looking up. If all goes right, the 76ers could be adding two top-four prospects in a talented draft to core that already includes Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and last year’s No. 1 pick, Ben Simmons. Not bad.