Instead of trading players and picks for Kris Dunn, Philadelphia stayed put, using the first, 24th and 26th picks to draft Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz. It’s shocking that Philadelphia didn’t trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel. Okafor and Noel had been linked to lottery teams the past month, but for now they stay in Philadelphia. It’ll be even more shocking, however, if the 76ers have both on their roster to begin the season.
Bryan Colangelo could’ve traded too much to Boston or Minnesota to draft Dunn. It’s what fans feared. Where’s the line? What’s too much for a player who might not fit with Simmons? Philly didn’t have much leverage because the league knows they cannot keep Okafor, Noel and Joel Embiid. The league also knows Colangelo needs a point guard. Next year’s draft class promises to be heavy on point guards, but in the meantime Philly most likely will address point guard in free agency. This signifies that Colangelo was patient. For some reason fans believed Colangelo would trade anyone for Dunn. Maybe it’s because of his track record with trades. Maybe it’s because it was reported how much Colangelo wanted Dunn. Regardless, it’s encouraging that Colangelo didn’t trade Noel, two firsts and one of the best contracts in the league (Robert Covington) for Dunn.
Simmons is the key. He’s the future. But it’s still important that Colangelo remains patient throughout the next two seasons. New Orleans rushed their future when they signed Tyreke Evans and traded for Jrue Holiday. Instead of having a nice, young core surrounding Anthony Davis, and now they have a bleak future. They still have Davis, so there’s a chance, but instead of trying to make the playoffs two seasons ago, the Pelicans could’ve had lottery picks to develop alongside one of the NBA’s biggest, and youngest, talents. Colangelo should trade Okafor or Noel. But he shouldn’t oversell, and trade several pieces for one “temporary fix” player. (Obviously I wouldn’t oppose them trading Noel, picks and Covington for a player who fits with Simmons/Embiid).
There’s no proven blueprint other than having one of the best players in basketball on your team to win a championship. Philly took a step in that direction the second they promised Simmons the first overall pick. Late first-round picks rarely contribute right away. Luwawu, at 21, should come over this season. Any contribution from him this season will be a bonus. He’ll a back-up wing. No one really knows what type of NBA player he’ll be. The term “3 and D” player will be used to describe him. He averaged 1.7 steals per game, while shooting 37 percent from three. He’s also had a number of highlight dunks, and showed an impressive first step, so he might be much more on offense than just a 3-point shooter. Since he’s French, he’ll draw some Nic Batum comparisons. Most people had Luwawu picked anywhere from late lottery to late teens, so the fact that Philly picked him 24th overall solidifies it as a great value pick. And maybe Korkmaz can develop into a nice rotation guy down the line, or maybe he’ll be included in a trade, along with Okafor, for an established player.
Philly will be better next season, but they’ll still have a chance for a high draft pick. Philly has a pick swap with Sacramento and a top-3 protected Los Angeles Lakers pick, meaning Philly could add two talented players to a Simmons-led team. The future was bright no matter what Philly with Noel or Okafor last night because of Simmons, but the fact that Colangelo held out of trading too much for a guy with a shaky jumper is a great sign for things to come.