8. Nikola Vucevic
In hindsight, it’s probably a blessing in disguise that Philadelphia forfeit Nikola Vucevic after a solid but unremarkable rookie season. The USC product went on to spend 8.5 productive years with the Orlando Magic, including two All-Star berths. The player Philadelphia got in return for Vucevic (plus other trade assets)? Andrew Bynum.
But, as previously started, a blessing in disguise. If Vucevic put together eight or nine years of productive, sometimes All-Star caliber basketball in Philadelphia, Joel Embiid might be playing for the Orlando Magic instead (think back to who picked No. 4 in that draft). Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, so to speak.
Embiid’s historic dominance in Philadelphia has papered over a number of past sins. But trading Vucevic, who became one of the most productive centers in the NBA over the ensuing decade, for Bynum — one of the all-time NBA trade busts — is the kind of move that can kill a franchise’s progress. Frankly, for a while there, it really did put Philadelphia in a hole. That kind of hole that leads to Sam Hinkie going nuclear with his rebuild plans.
So, the burly, balletic post scorer of Orlando yore could have been a Sixers staple. We would be living in a very different world today if that had been the case. Does Jrue Holiday even get traded if he has Vooch coming into his stardom alongside him? We will never know.