Each and every year, the Philadelphia 76ers are one of the most intriguing teams to watch when it comes to the NBA draft. Unfortunately, the reason for that has usually been that the Sixers are at or near the top of the draft board, which shows that their recent on-floor success hasn’t exactly been up to par.
So, after drafting centers in the previous two drafts, no one knew what to expect of Philly entering the 2015 edition of the draft. How did the Sixers respond? By drafting yet another center.
It appears that the selections of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid were not enough to satisfy Philly’s frontcourt depth, as the Sixers went with the best available prospect on the board in Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
Graphic via Syracuse
Many felt that Okafor had the tools to be the number one pick, but after Karl-Anthony Towns went flying to Minnesota and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled a surprise with star guard D’Angelo Russell, the Sixers front office found themselves with another dilemma. Go in a different direction, or take the best player available? Obviously, they went with the latter, and given the fact that Embiid will likely miss another full season, perhaps this was the smartest move that Philly could have made.
Of course, the Sixers weren’t done there. The team picked up a whopping four other players in the second round, with Richaun Holmes, Arturas Gudaitis, J.P. Tokoto, and Luka Mitrovic all selected by the franchise. There’s no way all four with make it with the team, but Holmes and Tokoto have the skills to get some minutes for this squad.
Looking Ahead to the Sixers’ Future
Who knows how any of the second round choices will turn out. There’s no doubt that five years from now, Philly’s draft grade will be solely based on Okafor’s performance.
The problem is that the Sixers have way too many big men on the roster now, which will likely present more problems for Embiid than it will Okafor. Embiid’s injury problems could really set him back in this big man race, as both Noel and Okafor have the overall game to become major stars in the league.
While Russell was the player that the Sixers desperately needed in order to add much more depth to the backcourt, Okafor will find a way to make an impact. He showed his potential during Duke’s run to a national championship, and he understands the pressure that comes with playing for a team that is always under a lot of pressure to deliver.
Philly is coming off of two straight seasons with 20 wins or less. Okafor could be the game-changer that helps get them back into contention. But that’ll all depend on playing time given the incredible crowded frontcourt.
Graphic via bleacherreport