The 76ers failed to tank like many fans wanted them to, but the team still possesses a pick in the first half of the draft regardless of the season’s result. Which is nice when your team is also in the second round of the playoffs and has the potential to go even further.
But I could not help but talk about the draft when I discovered HoopsWorld’s draft picks by draft slot page. I decided to look through the drafts of years past as see what kind of players were available at 15. The results were very much mixed, with perennial all-stars and future hall of famers mixed with all sorts of untapped or unrefined potential.
The best 15th pick, in name value only, was Pickles Kennedy, mainly because I had never known of a man named Pickles. I’d love to meet this man, but sadly he passed away over 5 years ago. He played 7 NBA games and may be one of the worst 15th picks ever, value-wise. He also went to Temple U and was from Philadelphia, so I wouldn’t have had to go too far out of my way. RIP Pickles.
The most valuable 15th pick of all time is probably Steve Nash, who came out of mid-major college Santa Clara and currently stands among the NBA point guard greats. Other valuable 15th picks include Brent Barry, Al Jefferson, Dell Curry, and Rodney Stuckey. Kawhi Leonard, who now plays an important role for the inimitable Spurs, was drafted 15th overall last year. Jefferson and Nash were centerpieces, while the others were talented role players.
Along with the successes come also some immense failures. Among the more recent ones: Steven Hunter, Cedric Simmons, Antoine Wright, Reece Gaines, and Jason Collier. The book is out on Austin Daye and Robin Lopez, but neither looks to provide starter value as of now. All had potential but didn’t fulfill it, likely because they weren’t put in position to develop and utilize what talent they had or didn’t take advantage of their opportunities.
The likelihood of getting a superstar is low, but getting a talented player and developing him into a contributor is not. With recent Sixers draft picks, we’ve gotten players who have shown themselves to be talented but we haven’t been able to develop them into consistent contributors. From Rodney Stuckey to Marreese Speights to Evan Turner, none has actually developed into a franchise cornerstone under our watch. Nikola Vucevic looks to be continuing the trend. All have/had unquestionable NBA abilities, too. Jrue Holiday has become a good player, but not a great one, and he regressed during the 2012 regular season.
And other than Turner, all were mid-round picks. Usually, players in this area have some talent but also some flaws. They need help to succeed in the NBA. They need to be put in the right positions to succeed. It’s a people management/player development issue. Talent was not the problem.
There will be a talented player available at 15. That much we know about. While Chad Ford has the Sixers selecting a “backup shooting guard”, I imagine the Sixers will find someone with NBA-level talent. The real question, though, is whether we can develop that talented player or not.