Philadelphia 76ers Draft Strategy Per Bryan Colangelo

Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the full first round draft board at the conclusion of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; General view of the full first round draft board at the conclusion of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Brian Seltzer talks to Bryan Colangelo about Philadelphia 76ers Draft Strategy

Right now Bryan Colangelo is working the Sixer message to all sorts of media: He’s spoken with Derek Bodner of Philly over roster formation ,with Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier focusing of Joel Embiid‘s status, and finally Jessica Camerato of CSN about Sixers draft and free agency – making the Philadelphia 76ers a unique destination for free agency. Finally, he’s speaking with Brian Seltzer of as well:

In talking in episode 19 with Seltzer, the interview focused on the state of the Philadelphia 76ers, and the preparation of entering an NBA draft.  The opening of the interview summarized the schedule of Bryan Colangelo, and the absence of free time right now as Colangelo works to poll the staff, determining what worked and what didn’t work.

But early in the interview, Bryan Colangelo indicated that there is plenty of youth and potential, but not enough ability to finish off games with a W.  Colangelo is looking forward to the basketball team building phase.  But when asked by Seltzer as to what Colangelo thinks the Sixers have, right now, from a basketball standpoint, the tone changed rapidly:

"“Look, there’s some good young developing talent and you know, it’s just that right now we’re still looking for someone to step forward and become a star. Again, it’s not to say that they are not there or that there’s not the potential for one of those future pieces to do so, but when you look at what we have, what we’ve got, we have some good young talent and a group that as a whole just wasn’t able to finish games. The group wasn’t able to complete the 48 minutes cycle with a “W” too often. We’re looking to add some key pieces, whether they’re stars THIS year or just the glue pieces as key role players as guys who are going to make players better, guys who are going to help the young kids develop. What we have is an interesting mix, but probably not enough NBA start balance and what we are looking to do is build. We’ve got a hard working staff that is doing their best to developing these kids. But we’ve got a lot of resources to use to bring in those pieces.”"

Colangelo went on to describe the importance of relationships in the NBA, and how he’s had 18 years experience in the NBA. Relationships are more to the younger Colangelo than shop talk, but a 24 by 7 commitment to the player in ways that go beyond the basketball court. He describes it as a level of interest in the player and those around that player – agent, family, etc. and how important it is to give authentic interest, concern, and respect to people. In his mind, relationships are extremely important, and that forms the basis by which teams find the right players.

More from Draft

But the conversation switched quickly to the draft and preparations for that draft.   Colangelo described his process:

"I’m happy that (guys I’ve drafted) have had great NBA careers, but the process starts at the lottery. It’s a factor of luck with the ping pong balls. But it’s also a matter of which teams pick before you and who they pick. But the preparation rests on consistency. Now the process is more sophisticated. You have video scouts, analytics, a players background – even the psychological aspects of a player. We are seeking high character and high talent. What players can achieve and whether they do achieve. Groupings and how they stand out in those population groups. Weeks and even years of work – chase and tracking talent as long as you can. We’re bound to get a couple of very good players out of this. It’s not a great draft per se, There is a clear delineation from the top two to the rest. There will be an opportunity to defer selecting a player now into future picks. We’re at the mercy of 23 pick before at 24, and 25 picks at 26. You are going to get a really good gift at the top of the draft, to a NICE piece at the later part of the round who may contribute down the road."

And there are the key pieces. Let’s break down what this means:

I. This NBA draft are picks one and two – and then all else –  Colangelo is stating the obvious.  This NBA draft is Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and all else.  The fact that he makes the break into the top two versus all else suggest that the team is not counting on that Lakers pick this year – which is a very pragmatic strategy.

2. The team is open to moving the 24 and 26 picks – Colangelo did not sound committed to keeping the late first round picks, and even mentioned the willingness to convert 2016 draft picks into 2017 picks.

3. Colangelo is aware of the abundance of youth on this roster and is taking steps to change that make-up.  While we’ve guessed at it leading up to this off-season, I think it will translate into an emphasis on trades and free agency.  The option of trading those late rounders for veteran help is very much an active option at this point.

Nobody as savvy as Bryan Colangelo puts out messages in days leading up to the draft accidentally.   The Sixers are shopping the late first round picks to see what type of value other teams place on one or both picks.   Right now, its a luke warm test of the market, but after May 17th’s NBA lottery, the team will likely have operators standing by – particularly if the team ends up with the Los Angeles Lakes pick at either four or five.

Next: Philadelphia 76ers: Evaluating a Nerlens Noel Evaluation

But open to is not the same thing as selling hard.  If the offers do not come, or the minimal price is not met, there is no doubt that the Sixers will use the picks to bolster their own roster.  Even without any other transactions, the team can carry 20 players into training camp, and with the attrition of expiring contracts of Ish Smith and Elton Brand, have at least  seven open roster spots projected at the moment.  In some ways, I trust that Colangelo has a game plan which will unfold this off-season.  In some ways, I distrust the new hand’s ability to distinguish which players on the roster are not worthy of moving forward with the team.

But trust is not instant, it is a matter of time.  And time is tomorrow.  Right now, Colangelo is doing what he can to communicate what his strategy is.