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NBA Draft 2014: Sixers, Hinkie take gambles on Embiid, Saric


For the third straight summer, the Philadelphia 76ers have acquired a center who might not play any minutes in the upcoming NBA season.


After a week of speculation and failed attempts to reportedly acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers’ number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (which turned out to be Andrew Wiggins), the Sixers selected Kansas center Joel Embiid with their third pick.Photo: Bleacherreport.com


You can debate all you want on how the basketball gods cursed the Sixers again (it did) by giving the team the third pick in the NBA Lottery. After all, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Embiid were the three most highly touted players coming out of the draft this June. So it’s only fitting that it was reported that Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot a week before the draft, but I digress. What happened happened. The Sixers didn’t have to take Embiid, but they apparently saw no issue with his medical records and (on paper) he was the best player left.


Truth be told, the Sixers picking Embiid is unquestionably THE biggest gamble of this draft. This can go Greg Oden just as easily as it could go...well….we don’t know how well it can go.  Embiid is projected by many NBA experts to possibly develop into one of the best big men in the league, IF he’s healthy. In his young career, he’s suffered a back and foot injury. If that doesn’t scream “red flag,” not much does. He currently has a broken bone in his back! Coming from someone with a herniated disc and two pinched nerves who has never played a game in the NBA, it’s not fun. I wouldn’t be surprised if Embiid, like last year's Sixers pick Nerlens Noel, sits the entire season, depending on his rehabilitation.


Yes, every college/high school player drafted by an NBA team is a gamble, but if Embiid has these issues at 20, what does the future hold? While not much is known about Australian guard Dante Exum, he has also been labelled a game changer like Embiid, and it would have been interesting to see if he could have co-existed with Michael Carter Williams, or if the Sixers decided to deal Williams and draft a shooter such as Zach LaVine out of UCLA.


Speaking of MCW, he had no idea what was transpiring after the Sixers drafted point guard Elfrid Payton out of Louisiana-Lafayette with their 10th pick. Nonetheless, Payton was soon dealt to the Magic for small forward Dario Saric. The Sixers will also reportedly receive Orlando’s 2017 first-round pick, which they originally sent in the Andrew Bynum deal.


Now here’s the kicker. Earlier this week, Saric reportedly signed a three-year contract with Anadolu Efes, a professional basketball team in Turkey. In all likelihood, Saric won’t be arriving in the NBA for two years. In the second round, the Sixers selected ACC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. McDaniels from Clemson.


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Initial thoughts on the draft:


It’s hard to get initially excited about these picks when the only player likely to see any court action in the upcoming season is your third selection (McDaniels). While there might be a contract stipulation enabling Saric to opt out of his Anadolu Efes deal, the Sixers will take the same necessary steps with Embiid as they did with Noel and not even think about bringing him back if he’s not ready and his foot hasn’t healed. Add another two or three years to Embiid’s development combined with two possible years without Saric, and this Sixers team will most likely be competing for another high draft pick in 2015. While Sixers general manager "Silent" Sam Hinkie is taking his time in trying to make this team an NBA contender, you eventually have to look at your roster and see who is compatible with one another, in order for the team to develop chemistry as well as an eventual identity.  Throw another possible draft pick in the mix next year and it complicates things even further. At the same time, the team also needs an infusion of some respectable veterans to help the younger players along.


Draft Grade: Incomplete




Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Bleacherreport.com