No offense to 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, but if his strategy is to have Philadelphia tank for the second year in a row in order to get a top draft pick, he might be disappointed when the 2015 NBA Draft rolls around.
For back-to-back years, Philadelphia’s top draft pick, Kansas center Joel Embiid this time around, might not play for a season due to injury, while their second first-round selection, 10th overall choice Dario Saric, will keep his point-forward abilities in Europe for at least two more years after signing a new contract with a Turkish professional team. The Sixers’ strategy notwithstanding, the 2015 draft class simply isn’t as strong as 2014, one of the more ballyhooed groups in recent memory, even after the hype entering the college season died down a bit.
Two Chicago natives, incoming Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor and Kansas-bound big man Cliff Alexander, are regarded as two of the top potential draft prospects. Other likely one-and-done freshmen include Arizona swingman Stanley Johnson, Texas shot-blocker Myles Turner and SMU point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. All of those players along with top returnees in the college game like Kentucky junior center Willie Cauley-Stein, Louisville junior power forward Montrezl Harrell and Florida sophomore big man Chris Walker, are project to be solid pros, but by no means does the upcoming class have the superstar upside of the current year.
The common thinking around the league was that Thursday was the time to get better both now and in the future, with an exceptionally deep draft that featured even some second-round picks previously being projected as first-round talent and young players in need of development available in abundance. There will certainly be some impact players in the draft next June, but to put off rebuilding for another year, whether to stockpile picks or try to acquire prospects that can produce right away, might be a mistake.