2018 NBA Draft: How should the Sixers handle their first round pick?

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

On the brink of a deep playoff run, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely add a top-10 pick to their core in June. What should they do with it?

When the Philadelphia 76ers landed a future pick from the Los Angeles Lakers for Michael Carter-Williams, The Process rejoiced. The fanbase had soured on the Rookie of the Year’s upside and the Lakers were headed toward rebuilding.

A few years later, some might be disappointed that pick is seemingly going to be 10th overall and not higher. However, for a team possibly heading to the Eastern Conference Finals or further, it’s fool’s gold.

What also helps Philadelphia’s situation is the fact that 2018 might have as deep of a lottery as 2017. While heavy at the top, there are some intriguing options that should slide to 10th. That’s even more possible if someone rises during the pre-draft workout. Someone like Collin Sexton comes to mind.

So barring a miracle where the Lakers win the lottery, the Sixers are likely looking at the 10th or 11th overall pick. We can use their roster construction and this postseason to determine what they should be thinking with this pick. Philadelphia has done something really well that not all teams with budding or established stars have done. They’ve found role players that fit really well around their two best players.

As Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid lead the charge, they’re usually surrounded by two, three and sometimes four legitimate 3-point shooters. Obviously they’re not perfect, playing without a great backup lead guard to Ben Simmons for now, but that shooting is incredible. So you have shooting as a vital importance, as well as the third-best defense in the regular season in terms of defensive rating.

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  • With all this in mind, those are the trends you want to maintain: supplemental 3-point shooting and strong defense. With Robert Covington, Embiid and Simmons, you don’t necessarily need another lockdown guy, but you shouldn’t be drafting a liability. Therefore, they should be looking for two-way players with strong shooting who can play off of Embiid and Simmons. The two guys that check those boxes are Miles Bridges and Mikal Bridges.

    While they share the same last name, and are not brothers, their games are very different. Mikal would give the Sixers another incredible defensive piece whose shooting, finishing and pull-up ability could unlock an even more unstoppable Sixers team. On the flip side, Miles lacks a bit on defense with short arms, but with relatively quick feet, absurd athleticism and a higher offensive ceiling, is intriguing as well.

    Miles was able to make things happen on defense from time to time too. He could see a collection of timely blocks and steals playing off of Covington, Simmons and Embiid. In Philadelphia’s system, Bridges could be Dario Saric with more upside on both ends of he floor. That’s a scary piece to add. Mikal would be like adding another Covington with slightly worse defense and better offensive upside.

    Thanks to Simmons’ ability to basically guard 1-5, the Sixers can play these bigger lineups, so it doesn’t matter if Miles is a tweener. They’ve made it work with Saric and posted great defensive numbers. Should Philadelphia add either of these players, even at 10, it won’t be viewed as a disappointment. The Carter-Williams trade will likely look fantastic in retrospect.

    Now, while the pick philosophy would be the same, there’s another possibility as well. Philadelphia has a war chest of additional picks at numbers 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60. With those picks and young players like Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Sixers could attempt to trade up from 10.

    While it might be difficult to coerce the Cavaliers, the Knicks at No. 9 could be tempted. Sacramento has too many young players and it’s unlikely the Bulls would trade down to 10. Trading up one spot shouldn’t merit a plethora of assets to New York, but if Philadelphia feels strongly about a player still in the board, it might be worth it. They don’t need all those picks and the Knicks could use more young talent.

    Next: Full two-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft

    Offering 10 and 26 should get the job done, but why not even throw in a second-rounder? If they fall in love with one of the Bridges or someone else they think they can get, it seems like a no-brainer. How spoiled is Philadelphia, to not only finally see a strong playoff team, but continue to be excited about the draft?