The first draft of what we call “the process,” with Sam Hinkie making the calls, was 2013. That draft resulted in Nerlens Noel at pick six and Michael Carter-Williams at pick 11. The 2013 draft was a tough year for most teams littered with busts and guys who have good careers, but never lived up to expectations. Given the way the rest of that draft played out, it’s hard to argue too much with getting Noel and MCW. Both hit the ground running in year one but never became quite what fans were hoping for in Philly. Michael Carter-Williams won Rookie of the Year, but that was the peak of his career.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and the 2013 draft is no different. It’s hard to blame any team for passing on Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th) and Rudy Gobert (27th). Those are two players who leave many teams wondering what if, with the way Giannis developed relatively slowly from year one to year two, and then from year two to three. Taking Giannis at 11 instead of MCW would’ve allowed the Sixers to continue on their trajectory with lots of losing and lots of picks at the time and still end up with one of the absolute best players in the league.
Sam Hinkie’s tenure as GM was bold and imperfect. There is no better example of that than the NBA Draft.
In 2014, Hinkie nailed it, taking a risk on an injured big man out of Kansas. Joel Embiid sat out two years to begin his career. The only concern with Embiid from day one has always been injury. That remains the biggest, if not the only concern with Embiid. There isn’t much to discuss about the 2014 draft — no one else really comes close to what Embiid has accomplished in his career.
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Jahlil Okafor was a miss with the third pick in 2015. He delivered as a rookie, but much like MCW from 2013, his rookie year was his best year. Okafor delivered offensively his rookie year, socring 17.5 points per game, but that dropped to 11.8 in year two and since then he has struggled to even get time on the court due to his defensive shortcomings. While there isn’t a clear can’t-miss player they should have taken instead, there were a few players who, looking back, would’ve been a better choice than Okafor.
Kristaps Prozingis (fourth pick) has averaged over 18 points per game in his career to go along with 7.8 rebounds as well as shooting 36 percent from 3. The Unicorn has struggled with injuries, but he is still arguably the best player to come out of this draft and would’ve been a really interesting fit next to Embiid. In today’s game, two 7-footers who can both stretch the floor could actually work well on the court together.
2016 is probably the draft the draws the most strong reactions from the Hinkie years. Even though he resigned in April and wasn’t a part of this draft, we will count it since he laid all the groundwork for the 2016 pick. Ben Simmons might be the most polarizing player in the entire league. If you were to just look at the career stats from the guys taken in this draft, then Simmons going at number one looks like a good choice, just as it did back in 2016. When you watch him play and you look at the things that have hindered the Sixers, however, it’s hard to not think about what Brandon Ingram (second pick) or Jaylen Brown (third pick) would look like with this team. Both bring more scoring ability and there is no comparison when it comes to the shooting ability of Ingram or Brown versus Simmons.
While Simmons may provide a playmaking ability that neither of them can quite equal, it is safe to say based on the 2021 playoffs, both would be a better fit. I would like to see Jaylen Brown on the Sixers if we were to re-do this draft. But, in all honesty, I still think Simmons is probably guy to take here as all of Philadelphia continues to hope for any kind of 3-point shot to develop.