Tanking, rebuilding or simply making some smart trades has brought plenty of first round draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets, who potentially can have 12 first round picks combined in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Some of those picks are protected depending on where they end up in the draft order, but still… Someone has been doing some excellent wheeling and dealing in the negotiation room. In the Celtics’ case, it hasn’t even cost them too many lost seasons, having just one year without the playoffs after breaking up the Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett connection, while Doc Rivers left to coach the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Denver Nuggets have missed the playoffs these last two seasons despite not trying to tank. However, they’ve been slowly (and rather smartly) downgrading, including the latest Ty Lawson trade, in order to set themselves up for the future. They will have $46 million in cap space heading into the 2016 offseason besides potentially owning four draft picks.
The 76ers are on the other end of that scale. They made the playoffs in 2012 and even made the conference semifinals. They tried and failed in 2013, but the debacle of the Andrew Bynum trade and the problem with accepting mediocrity led to the drastic change in approach. In came Sam Hinkie, master of acquiring second round draft picks and making moves, while the 76ers won just 22.5% of their games over the last two seasons. Point of pride? On both occasions they didn’t finish with the worst record in the league.
So who are the top attractions, potentially, in the 2016 NBA Draft? Skal Labissiere, the Kentucky center; Ben Simmons, the Australian big man who should be starring for LSU; Brandon Ingram, the long, long forward at Duke; Dragan Bender, the 17-year old who is playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Europe; Jaylen Brown out of Cal and more.
For a look at how the picks of the future are spread out, check out Real GM’s page.