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Sixers' 2016 NBA Draft Most Pivotal In Franchise History


With the NBA Finals over, focus can now be fully placed on the NBA Draft, which takes place on Thursday.


There’s a lot of buzz generating in Philadelphia since the Sixers landed the number one pick last month. After all, this is the first time the team has secured the top pick since the 1996 draft, when they chose Allen Iverson, who became the best player in franchise history. The Sixers also have the 24th and 26th picks in the first round of this year’s draft.


Now for the million dollar question:


What and who should the Sixers draft with their first pick?                 


Ever since March Madness (and probably before), basketball insiders and fans alike have been discussing who should be the number one overall selection in this year’s draft. At first, it seemed to be a three-way between LSU’s Ben Simmons, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Duke’s Brandon Ingram. With the draft now less than a week away, however, it looks like the choice has been narrowed down to just two players; Simmons and Ingram.  Photo: blacksportsonline.com


Obviously, whoever the Sixers draft with their first pick should be a franchise player they can build around for years to come. However, despite the Sixers having dinner with Simmons prior to Game 6 of the Finals last week, he worked out with the team for the first time on Tuesday. Despite rumors that the team will draft Simmons, are the Sixers missing the boat here? Should they be more inclined to draft a player like Ingram? The Sixers, who attended an Ingram workout last week, were reportedly impressed with what they saw. Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo referred to Ingram “as a silky-smooth small forward,” who can “do a lot.”


Personally, I think the Sixers' choice should be a rather easy one: Ingram.


When you combine his overall talent, along with his attitude and willingness to play for any team that drafts him, Ingram is probably the Sixers’ best bet. It may not be the most popular decision, but Ingram fits the Sixers situation. He also seems to want to play for the team- something that has at times been questioned with Simmons. The only drawbacks on Ingram seem to be his lack of solid muscle and rather lanky frame, but the same things were said about Kevin Durant before he was drafted as well.Photo: Bleacherreport.com


Other factors will weigh in on the decisions the Sixers make during the draft. The team choosing Simmons or Ingram (both primary small forwards) would leave them with a loaded front court and a very weak backcourt, with Jahlil Okafor and 2013 pick Nerlens Noel appearing to be the odd men out. As of now, they’re still on the roster, but one or both of them might be possibly headed out of Philly. 


In my opinion, Okafor is only on the trade block because he has the best value of any player on the Sixers’ current roster, and the team could get valuable assets in return for him. Hopefully, Okafor stays put and gets a chance to play alongside Joel Embiid. When healthy, Embiid is considered by many to have the biggest potential of all the players on the Sixers roster. However, he’s never played a game in the NBA and currently has little to no trade value. It will be interesting to see how Okafor and Embiid mesh together if they could be on the court with each other for at least one season. If the Sixers are patient with these two big men, this could work out well for them like it did with the San Antonio Spurs, when they had “Twin Towers” David Robinson and Tim Duncan.  


As far as Noel goes, he has the least talent of all the big men, but he’s a good defensive player with decent trade value. Noel was recently mentioned a trade rumor that would send him to the Atlanta Hawks for the underrated (Charles Barkley agrees) Jeff Teague. The veteran Teague is an all-around point guard that can get his own shot, but his best asset is creating for his teammates. If Teague comes to Philly, it would make the jobs of the younger players easier.  Also adding to the draft confusion is the pending status of Turkish forward Dario Saric. Whether he’s finally coming to play for the Sixers is still a question; Even though the chances of his arrival to the NBA are apparently at a “99 percent” rate. 

Don’t forget, the Sixers still have two late first round picks that could help strengthen a bench that includes guard Ish Smith, as well as forwards Robert Covington and Jerami Grant. Look for Philadelphia native Brandon Austin as a possible selection with their 24th pick. Austin is a very talented player who seems to finally have his head on straight after changing colleges TWICE for less than favorable reasons. Dejounte Murray from the University Of Washington could be the team’s 26th and final selection in the first round. Murray was projected to be drafted by the Sixers in Foxsports.com’s NBA Mock Draft.  


Needless to say, the Philadelphia 76ers have a lot on their plate going into Thursday’s draft. Who should they pick? Who should they trade? How aggressively will they dip into the free agent market? Although it’s often a crapshoot, let’s just hope they make the right decisions in the long run. Because if they don’t, we could be looking at many more losing seasons and a lot more tanking. Hopefully, this draft can be the start of the team finally moving in the right direction again.

 Malik Charlton is a self-described  "Weird dude with no special talent, just a lot of goals and crazy ambitions!" Malik is a 2013 graduate from Community College of Philadelphia, a poet and sports writer who also writes for the blog "The Sports Leek!" at the website ru-crazy.com. You can find him on Instagram  and on Twitter @weirdo_leek.


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Photo: blacksportsonline.com


Noel photo: Bleacherreport.com