If the Process was a Presidential term, tonight the next administration would be sworn in: Four years after Sam Hinkie's coming out party at the 2013 draft, we're sending Our Once and Always Dark Lord's jersey to the rafters -- literally, if you happen to be in the Xfinity Live area at 7:30 -- and hoping to officially turn the corner towards what comes next.
Of course, this isn't the first time that we've predicted/hoped/karmically bargained that this would be the last year for the Sixers' Super Bowl to occur on lottery night: 2014 was supposed to be the last time, then 2015 was supposed to be the last time, then 2016... well, we were too deliriously happy about the validation of landing number one last year to give much thought to the future. But suffice to say, whether or not tonight ends up feeling like the end of an era, we won't officially know that we've torn the final page off that calendar until we get to Lottery Night 2017 and it feels more like a house party than a church revival.
But in the meantime, we've got tonight -- who needs tomorrow? Here's your cheat sheet for Hinkiemania V.
What's the best-case scenario for the Sixers? Simply put, 1 and 4 -- a 2.4% chance of happening. The four would come via the Lakers pick, owed to us for years as the long-overdue return from the Michael Carter-Williams trade. The one could either come through our own pick -- currently in the 4th slot -- or via pickswap from the Kings, who currently sit 8th, and whose pick we get if it ends up landing higher than ours in the lottery (a byproduct of the infamous Nik Stauskas trade from summer '15).
Whether you want the pick to commute via our pick or pickswap is something of a matter of taste -- there's some thought to the idea that we'd be better off getting the pick on our own and leaving the Kings at 8, rather then letting them swap with us and still get to bump up a couple spots in the draft order. (Remember, the Kings owe us an unprotectted '19 first-rounder as part of the Sauce deal, so it behooves us for them to stay as bad as possible as long as possible.)
I personally doubt it'll have incredible bearing on their fortune one way or the other, and I'm worried that if the Kings don't get screwed by pickswap tonight, it will ultimately be lost on history just how stupid that initial deal was: Future generations must learn about Vivek and Vlade. So I'm rooting for pickswap, but if we get it on our own, I'm not gonna advocate sending it back or anything.
What's the worst-case scenario for the Sixers? 6. Can't fall all the way back to seven without also landing the Lakers pick -- incredibly unlikely to begin with, but if three teams jump us into the lottery, that means they jump L.A. too, so we'll end up with their pick (at six) as well. But if two teams (neither of whom are Sacramento) leapfrog us into the top three, and the Lakers are the third team called after the lottery commercial break, then we end up with just six. Not too likely, but 1 + 4 ain't exactly good money either.
What's the most likely scenario for the Sixers? Statistically speaking, 5. Despite being in the 4th slot currently, it's actually nearly four times as likely that we end up with the 5th pick as the 4th -- since the only way we stay at four is if, like last year, the three teams chosen in the lottery are the team with the three best odds. It's about 35% that we get jumped once and land at No. 5. At that point, it's close to 50/50 whether the Lakers slip out of the top three or not.
Hey Sixers fans, I geeked out and computed all the scenarios for the lottery. RT if you wish. pic.twitter.com/IohwNL3Suu
— Dave (@eaglesdiehard) April 13, 2017
Do we even definitely want the Lakers pick to transfer over this year? Definitely? No, but I still think we're better off with it happening now. True that if we don't get it this year, we definitely get it next year when the pick becomes totally unprotected -- tempting, certainly, especially since the Lakers have shown no clear signs of climbing out of the NBA abyss anytime soon. But even if there's a fourth-pick ceiling on this year's Lakers pick, I'd take the certainty of a sixth-pick floor over the who-knows of next season -- maybe they get Paul George in the off-season, and even if they don't, maybe they take a Year Two leap under Luke Walton and figure out earlier than expected how to turn promise and potential into actual production.
Even in a best-case scenario for L.A., it's hard to see them following out of the lottery completely. But the potential is certainly there for them to at least crawl up to 10 or 11 -- where we took MCW in the first place four years ago. As much fun as it would be to root against D'Angelo Russell all next season and never have to worry that I'm rooting for him to lose *too much,* at this point I think the Sixers are better off just banking the top-six pick and never having to worry that the Lakers come together enough to turn a home-run asset into an infield single. (Some disagree, however, and it's a fair argument.)
How high do we have to get in the draft this year to be happy with the result? This I can't really help you with that much. Some would say everything after 1 is a huge drop-off, some would say anywhere in the top six is likely to land you a real player, and I don't know enough about the individual prospects at this point to weigh in on either side.
The good news this year, at least, is that it seems like of the consensus top eight, none of the players would be inherently poor fits for the Sixers: That is to say, no centers on the board. Which isn't to say it'll be a Santana feat. Rob Thomas-type slide for each of these guys' into the Sixers roster -- Kentucky's D'Aaron Fox is a point guard who can't shoot (possible bad fit with Ben Simmons), while Kansas' Josh Jackson is still answering questions about an alleged off-court threatening of a KU women's basketball player (possible bad fit in 2017 society). But there's at least a potential role for just about everyone we're likely to get, so the amount of bargaining and self-justification we'll have to do based solely on where we land lottery-wise should be minimal.
How much does tonight matter in the grand scheme? Well, if we finish high enough tonight, it could still mean everything: Some people believe Markelle Faultz (Washington PG) and Lonzo Ball (UCLA PG/SG) have the power to be transformative, franchise-changing players, and even though we already have one or two guys like that, you can't ever have a maximum occupancy for players like that. We could look back on tonight as the night the final piece of our eventual core finally came into place, the night when everything was going to be OK.
Luckily, tonight doesn't have to be that night: Or at the very least, it's OK if we don't know right away that it is. Last year, we NEEDED that top pick; as validation for Sam and for us and for everything we'd all been through the past three years at our absolute post-Hinkie-firing, post-Okafor-rookie-season lowest moment. This year, if we get it -- or if the Lakers pick falls our way -- that's awesome, if we don't, we still have a top-six pick in a top-heavy draft, as well as JoJo and Ben and Dario and RoCo and unprotected Lakers and Kings picks in 2018 and 2019 (respectively). And we also have the Lottery Party. We'll be good until we're actually good. Till then, see you in #SamsTown.
Luka Mitrovic and Arturas Gudaitis. Never forget.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) May 16, 2017