Brett Brown inspired a ton of confidence during his presser following the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft Thursday night. “We are star hunting,” said the man who couldn’t foresee being in this position five weeks ago. In what’s most likely his only draft as “final decision-maker” for the 76ers, Brown made a statement, trading the tenth overall pick, Villanova-own Mikal Bridges, to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith and an unprotected 2021 Miami Heat first-round pick.
I’ll try to make a concerted effort to write often about the 76ers in the coming weeks. This off-season, for a team with six draft picks and cap flexibility, has a monumental sense of importance. It could be helpful to have a general manager in charge, but there really wasn’t much of an option. Moving forward with everybody but Bryan Colangelo, with head coach Brett Brown leading the way, made the most sense until free agency is completed. Although different from draft nights in the recent years, Thursday night has a considerable amount of hype building up for the 76ers. Having the 10th pick, along with an additional first rounder and four second-round draft picks, creates a rather busy Thursday night. There’s a slim chance all six picks become players for the 76ers Thursday night, instead trading a couple seconds for future seconds, or attaching the second first-round pick with Jerryd Bayless could be possibilities. There’s this rumor that Philadelphia wants a top-five pick, but for sanity sake, let’s assume the 76ers do not trade the 10th overall pick Thursday night.
You remember specifically hearing a particular musician for the first time, understanding almost instantly they’d play a meaningful role in your life. Listening to Bon Iver and Haim provided that feeling. Recently I heard another artist that fit that description.
A man will lose his job. A job he frankly didn’t deserve in the first place.
Since last Tuesday’s The Ringer report linking Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to five “burner” accounts, Twitter has been ablaze, inviting detectives posing as users to dig deeper into the accounts, which led to the discovery of Colangelo’s wife as the creator. It’s been intriguing for even the most casual of basketball fans, mocking some of the tweets centered on Colangelo’s collar size, but also understanding the seriousness included in some of the personal information revealed about current and former 76ers. After one of the more bizarre sports stories you’ll ever read, Colangelo will lose his job 25 months after he essentially was the only candidate interviewed to replace the iconic Sam Hinkie by his father, Jerry.
Facing Boston in the second round felt like a true lose-lose situation. Win and everybody says Boston wasn’t at full strength. Lose and everybody mocks this prematurely anointed 76ers squad. The hype felt out of control. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. One week, the 76ers take out the Miami Heat, becoming Eastern Conference Finals favorites, the next week the Celtics win three straight to take a commanding lead. That’s the beauty of it all. Watching a team try and put the pieces together.
A few years ago, my sister and I had discussions about TJ McConnell. Philadelphia won 10 games McConnell’s rookie year, and it’s not like McConnell impressed that much. Sam Hinkie never addressed the point guard position heading into that season, opting for cheap options like Pierre Jackson, McConnell and Kendall Marshall. Marshall was the presumed starter, but that never really came to fruition due to his ACL injury suffered in Milwaukee. Philadelphia eventually traded for Ish Smith, preventing Philadelphia from being the worst team in the history of basketball. McConnell had some moments, but it became evident he only made a NBA roster because the 76ers wanted to lose games. During NBA Summer League, following his rookie year, is really when those discussions about McConnell began. We both agreed he needed to be better if he had any hopes of making the NBA his career. Neither of us, though, expected him to be this good.
Ben Simmons being a minus 23 in a game didn’t seem possible. Just look at his last couple months. Even though he scored single-digits on more than one occasion, it didn’t seem possible he could play as poorly as he did Thursday night. There was the last regular season game against Milwaukee, but he only played 22 minutes. Simmons only scored six points against the Magic and seven against the Nuggets in March, but he had double-digit assists in those games. He always felt in control of the game, even if his shot wasn’t falling. Thursday night was a different story.