The Philadelphia 76ers will officially have the No. 23 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The pick was sent to Brooklyn as part of the James Harden-Ben Simmons swap, but the Nets retained the right to defer until 2023. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that’s exactly what Brooklyn will do.
On the surface, this is exciting news for the Sixers: the No. 23 pick could serve either as cheap, affordable depth or as a juicy trade chip for Daryl Morey as he canvasses the league for opportunities to improve the roster. The Sixers have drafted well since Morey took the reigns (Tyrese Maxey at 21, Isaiah Joe at 49, Paul Reed at 58, Charles Bassey at 52).
The Sixers will have the No. 23 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft; what does that mean?
There are several prospects projected in the range of No. 23 who could fill a need for the Sixers. Tari Eason (LSU), E.J. Liddell (Ohio State), and Jake Laravia (Wake Forest) are all two-way forwards who could add size and versatility to the second unit. If the Sixers crave more offensive punch on the perimeter, then players like Bryce McGowens (Nebraska), Malaki Branham (Ohio State), and Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee) could appeal to Morey and the front office.
On the flip side, Brooklyn’s decision does cement some unavoidable complications for Philadelphia moving forward. The Sixers now owe their 2023 first-round pick (unprotected) to Brooklyn, their 2025 first-round pick (top-6 protected) to OKC, and their 2027 first-round pick (top-8 protected) to Brooklyn. Due to the Stepien rule, the Sixers will be unable to trade their 2024 or 2026 first-round picks, leaving Morey’s hands tied in future trade negotiations.
Also, the Sixers will have to be careful to avoid collapse next season. Any team with Joel Embiid and James Harden should win plenty of games, but if Embiid gets hurt, the Sixers could be in dangerous territory. A disastrous season could, in theory, leave their primary division rival with a lottery pick.
In the end, the Harden trade was always going to leave the Sixers short on trade capital. Regardless of how Harden pans out long term, Philadelphia’s immediate NBA Draft future is pretty much set in stone. After 2022, Morey will have to find ways to get better that don’t involve the draft or the trading of draft picks.