NBA Future Power Rankings 17. Philadelphia 76ers
*Photo via USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers just completed their second straight season with fewer than 20 wins, and that was unfortunately the goal. To the confusion of many NBA fans, this simply means that everything is going to plan in the city of brotherly love. General manager Sam Hinkie, is sticking to his rebuilding plan of asset collecting, and it is bound to pay off for Philly at some point. The question is; how long will it take for the 76ers to finally build a respectable team?
The biggest X-factor for the Sixers is second year big man Joel Embiid. Embiid is one of the rare players that has the distinct possibility of being out of the league or a top 10 player in the NBA five years from now. After missing his entire rookie season with a foot injury, Embiid will be forced to miss another season after aggravating his foot. It would be a big boost for the Sixers future if Embiid could come back and avoid being labeled the next Greg Oden. Despite not having Embiid’s services this season, the 76ers will still have two very talented young big men in Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Okafor, the 3rd pick of the 2015 draft out of Duke, has been heavily criticized for his poor defense and free throw shooting. While Okafor does need to improve in these areas, people are forgetting what an incredible talent Okafor is. Okafor has a polished post game for just a one-and-done player. Not many players can walk into the NBA as a rookie and average 18 points and 8 rebounds, but Okafor has that potential. Nerlens Noel made his much-anticipated debut for Philly last season after missing the entire 2013-14 campaign with a torn ACL. Noel averaged 11.6 points and 9.5 rebounds on his way to All-Rookie First Team honors. The most impressive part of Noel’s game is his versatility on the defensive end. Noel has the speed to switch onto perimeter threats and is an outstanding rim protector. Noel accomplished the rare feat of finishing in the top-10 in both steals and blocks per game.
*Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia also brought in second year sharpshooter in Nik Stauskas from Sacramento. The former first rounder will have plenty of opportunity to showcase his talent with the Sixers. The 76ers have some other interesting pieces in players like Tony Wroten Jr. and Robert Covington. Wroten is a big athletic point guard who averaged nearly 17 points before getting hurt and Covington was a pleasant surprise for the 76ers providing a much needed three-point shooting option.
If these rankings were just for this season, the 76ers would be ranked dead last. The reason they are ranked as high as 17 in these future rankings are their draft picks. First off, the 76ers are going to be so bad again that they are almost definitely going to land another top-5 draft pick. It is very possible that the 76ers will be in the lottery for another year or two after this season. In addition to their own picks, Philly will be receiving a number of draft picks from other teams. As it currently stands, the Sixers will receive up to a possible 7 first rounders and 11 second rounders until 2021.
The 76ers still retain the rights to Dario Saric (12th pick in 2014) who will be playing in Turkey this season. Saric is a combo forward with great passing and rebounding ability. Many experts have compared him to former Chicago Bulls star, Toni Kukoc.
With the abundance of draft picks, Philadelphia may elect to draft the best team possible and build through the draft. However, I suspect something similar to what the Houston Rockets did in 2012. Philadelphia will continue to gather talent and eventually flip their assets for a disgruntled superstar. Also with cap space every season, they could flip the switch and sign a big name player after getting their alpha. Uncertainty, just like their ceiling, is high.
Future draft commitments and rosters information courtesy of RealGM.com