The Sixers received the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft via Tuesday night’s draft lottery. The Celtics won the lottery, via the Brooklyn Nets’ pick. The Lakers got the second pick, which means the Sixers will have the Lakers’ first-round pick next year, not this season.
The Sixers went into the draft with an incredible number of options — 30 to be precise — thanks to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s previous wheeling and dealing. In addition to their own pick, the Sixers had the rights to swap picks with Sacramento and held the Lakers’ 2017 pick if it landed outside the top 3.
Yep, we got a #PickSwap, as the Kings ended up with the fifth pick, which would have been the Sixers’ pick. The Lakers, Celtics and Sixers ended up with the top three picks. Nope, nothing was rigged. Thanks, NBA.
On their own, the Sixers had a 37.8 percent chance of a top-3 pick. With Sactown’s pick swap, the Sixers had a 47.8 percent chance of landing in the top 3. The Lakers, by comparison, had a 46.9 percent chance at a top-3 pick. Despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, the Sixers only had a 9.9 percent chance of landing the fourth pick, and held a 35.1 percent chance of getting the fifth pick.
There was an 11.9 percent chance the Sixers getting the top spot again this year on their own, with an additional 2.8 percent via Sacramento, which gave the Sixers a 14.7 percent chance at the top spot. The Sixers had a combined 15.9 percent chance at the No. 2 pick in the lottery, 12.6 percent chance on their own plus Sacramento’s 3.3 percent. The Lakers had a 15.6 percent chance at the top spot and a 15.7 percent chance at the second spot.
Since the NBA adopted the lottery system in 1986, the Sixers have been to the NBA Finals just once. They’ve been a part of the lottery 18 times and have now landed a top-3 pick 11 times, including the last four seasons. The Sixers had won the lottery — earning the top pick — three times, including last year. Seven times before this season, the Sixers received a better pick than their pre-lottery position, while nine times they got the same pick and once, three seasons ago when they took Joel Embiid third overall, the Sixers’ pick got worse.
In 2014, the Sixers had the second-worst record in the league, but were unlucky in the lottery, falling to the third slot, relegated to taking an injured Embiid after missing out on his college teammate Andrew Wiggins and Duke standout Jabari Parker. In 2015, the Sixers also failed to win the lottery, settling for third again — their deserved slot based on record — missing out on Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell before taking Jahlil Okafor, unsure what the future held for Nerlens Noel and uncertain if Embiid would ever see the floor.
In 2016, the Sixers went tanking again, after one of the worst seasons in NBA history, and got rewarded with the top pick in the draft, where they selected Ben Simmons. This season, after 18 more wins than 2015-16, the Sixers will have the third pick again. Oh, and before the lottery, Sixers fans (and bloggers/podcasters extraordinaire) raised a banner at XFinity Live in honor of Sam Hinkie. Even if they’ll have to wait another year to get the Lakers’ pick.
Now comes the question of who the Sixers will draft. Markelle Fultz, the 6-4 point guard out of Washington, is the odds-on favorite to be the top pick. Lonzo Ball, the super-talented UCLA point guard whose dad has already proven to be more spotlight hungry than his son, is seen as a top-3 pick, and has been linked to the Lakers for months, while Kansas small forward Josh Jackson is in the top 3 in most rankings as well and would look pretty darn great in a Sixers jersey.
Duke small forward Jayson Tatum and Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox round out most experts’ top 5, with players like Kentucky’s Malik Monk, NC State’s Dennis Smith, Arizona’s Lauri Markkannen and FSU forward Jonathan Isaac making up the list of top prospects this season.
The 2017 NBA Draft will be held on June 22.