Tonight, as the Sixers gear up for the 2016 NBA Draft, they find themselves in a position unfamiliar to fans of the team these last 20 years: frontrunners. The Sixers have the trump card with this year's No. 1 pick — they don't have to hope things shake out their way, they don't have to worry about trading up or down, they don't have to rely on anyone else's stupidity to get what they want. They've got the cake, and they can eat it whenever they want. It's a way to be, lemme tell ya.
For better or worse, though, the Colangelos appear unwilling to suffice with just the one dessert tonight. All day long, rumors have run rampant about the Sixers packaging players and picks to try to get into the high lottery — first with Jahlil Okafor, then with Nerlens Noel. Some particularly scary reports have the Sixers packaging Noel and their two lower first-round picks — #24 from Miami and #26 from OKC, if we've forgotten — just to get into the top eight. Gotta spend money to make money in the NBA, and if they have their heart set on, say, Providence point guard Kris Dunn, then a package like that might (might) make sense to entice Boston to give him up at No. 3. It's a lot to lose, though, and if they're really throwing that much at our ol' friend Vlade to get to the Kings' spot at No. 8, that's a tad less justifiable.
This is a feeling Processers have likely been happy to forget about these last few years: The sensation of never knowing when your GM is gonna completely sweep the rug out from under you. Which is certainly not to say that Sam Hinkie never made risky trades, but you could at least feel safe that mortgaging the future for immediate satisfaction was unlikely to be part of the blueprint. With the Colangelos in charge, Sixers fans were reminded a few weeks ago, when Noel-for-Jeff-Teague seemed like a thing that could happen — phew — that teams making trades that seem obviously terrible to just about anyone whose opinion you might trust is a thing that happens in the NBA. In Our Once and Always Dark Lord's time on the throne, we could at least be confident that we'd only ever be on the plus side of those deals. Now? ...We'll see.
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The Sixers are going to take Ben Simmons tonight. They've done everything but hand out BEN SIMMONS IS NUMBER ONE! safety pins at the the Barclays door to broadcast as much. Which, generally, is fine — I have my misgivings about Simbo on the Sixers, but they're relatively minor, and just about nobody but LeBron is ever a true sure thing in the draft. But it's a weird feeling to go from the most tight-lipped, secretive GM in the league, to the drunk friend you keep elbowing under the dinner table because they won't stop over-sharing personal details.
Ultimately, you have to think less is more for the Sixers in this one. There's no urgency to trade anyone tonight — it's a long off-season, and you never know what team's going to be more desperate for players after potentially striking out in the draft and/or free agency. The Sixers can't grow forever with five blue-chip big-man prospects, but considering we still don't know for a fact whether one is going to be healthy and one is going to even be in this continent, it doesn't make sense to terminate any of the other three with such extreme prejudice. Let's maybe wait to deal with our excessive frontcourt swelling until we actually start showing symptoms.
Still, whether standing pat or plowing forward, the Sixers should leave tonight a much better and more exciting team than they began it, and that in itself is cause for celebration. It's going to be a team that's really easy to like next year — let's just hope we can go to sleep tonight not saying the exact opposite about our front office.