By Joseph Santoliquito
New York, NY (CBS) — Pro basketball has been absent in Philadelphia ever since Allen Iverson last played a full season for the 76ers during the 2005-06 season. Since then, the Sixers have been mired in mediocrity, going 272-368 during that eight-year span, finishing over .500 just once and making the playoffs four times.
The Sixers may have regained new relevance Tuesday night, when they drew the third overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, behind Milwaukee and Cleveland, which drew the No. 1 pick for the third time in the last four years. The Sixers will also have the 10th overall pick, via the deal with New Orleans that sent Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans.
This 2014 draft choice could change the Sixers’ course for the next 10 years.
Because, face it, the Sixers have been irrelevant for almost a decade, playing the last few years in front of a half-filled Wells Fargo Center, which last season were rooting against them to win. Since Iverson’s departure, they possessed no illuminating star to build around.
This choice lends hope to the future—and meant that tanking the 2013-14 season, including a franchise-record 26-game losing streak, was for something after all.
So when Sixers’ owner Joshua Harris proclaimed the season “a huge success for us” on April 18, he had many scratching their heads wondering why.
But it looks as if the tanking plan has been a success, when you consider the Sixers found out Brett Brown can coach, and NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams proved he can play. With 6-8, 200-pound Kansas superstar Andrew Wiggins expected to go first to Cleveland, the Sixers could have the choice of getting either 6-8 Duke forward Jabari Parker, 7-foot Kansas center Joel Embiid or 6-9, 250-pound Kentucky power forward Julius Randle at three.
Embiid, Randle and Parker have shown that they’re NBA ready. If Wiggins does go first, as many expect, that leaves Sixers with that trio to choose from.
Julius Randle: 6-9, 250 PF 2013-14 Stats: 15.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg
Has some baby fat that he needs to get rid of, but is considered to have a very strong upper body and a reliable left hand. He can hit a mid-range jumper, but is exceptionally strong on the offensive boards. His one glaring issue is that he tends to rely too much on his muscle down low—which worked in college, but won’t at the NBA level.
Jabari Parker: 6-8, 235 PF/SF 2013-14 states: 19.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg
Off the chart basketball IQ, moves well without the ball, and is considered a very hard worker. He possesses the size, shooting touch and good feet to be an effective scorer in the post. He’s improved his mid-range game, but needs to be more consistent from the outside. Some say he can be Paul Pierce.
Joel Embiid: 7-foot, 250 C 2013-14 Stats: 11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg
The biggest question mark of the three, simply because of the back issues. Many like his game. Some even compare him, his ability to move and block shots, to Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, including Kansas coach Bill Self.
“He kind of reminds me a little bit of (Hakeem) Olajuwon early in his career,” Self told the Sporting News’ Mike Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy back in October. “I’m not saying he’s Olajuwon. I’m not saying that at all. But you know, some similarities when he was real raw when he was young, but always had great feet, light on his feet. I think Joel’s the same way.”
Let the speculation of where the Sixers will go commence—a refreshing change in May. People are talking NBA basketball again in Philadelphia.
2014 NBA Draft Order
7. Los Angeles Lakers
10. 76ers (via New Orleans)
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.