By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers can plan all they want for what they’re going to do with the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft. The reality is that two really significant names on their list will be gone within a matter of minutes on June 25th.READ MORE: Son Of Philadelphia Police Officer Killed In North Philadelphia Robbery, DA Says
The plan since Sam Hinkie has come to Philadelphia has been for the Sixers to maximize their chances at success by taking control of the early part of the draft. Ultimate control has eluded Hinkie as for the second straight year the Sixers are picking third.
That means the two teams directly in front of them will greatly impact what the Sixers can do.
The Lakers appear to be the biggest threat. If the Sixers had the second pick, they could essentially get whatever they want. Either they would select a high level big man in Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, or they would take D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay.
What a difference one spot makes. At No. 3, the two best big men in this draft may be gone. The best point guard in this draft, Russell, could also be gone.
Some insight into the Lakers thinking came out on Monday. Mark Medina, of the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Lakers will not be selecting a player at No. 2 based on their star player, Kobe Bryant.
“We’re not going to pick a player because he can play with Kobe, likes Kobe or dislikes Kobe,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in the report.
This would have been blasphemy less than a decade ago. Everything the Lakers did as an organization revolved around Bryant.
With the Kobe era coming to a less than shining conclusion, the Lakers are no longer making moves with Bryant in mind. The organization has stressed that they want their new young player to learn from Bryant, but the chemistry does not hinge on Bryant.
Remember, it was clashing with Bryant that ultimately ended stars like Shaquille O’Neal, Andrew Bynum (yes, he was a star at one time) and Dwight Howard’s runs with the team.
This new player can clash with Bryant all he wants to. Regardless, he will be the future and his one season with Bryant will be a chance to learn, absorb and prepare to take the reins of one of the most storied franchises in league history.
What will the Lakers do with that second pick and what options will the Sixers have?READ MORE: Officials Searching For Body In Schuylkill River In North Coventry
It seems safe to say the Timberwolves will lean toward Towns with the first pick. That could change before the draft, but either Towns or Okafor will wind up in Minnesota leaving the Lakers to decide between the other big and Russell, with the option of reaching for Mudiay.
The Lakers could lean big and take Okafor to play alongside Julius Randle. The Lakers’ top pick from a year ago missed almost the entire season after breaking his leg in the first game.
Forming that tandem could make a lot of sense for a team playing in a conference that is known for physical basketball. However, there seems to be a universal shift in thinking as teams are leaning toward small ball on a more consistent basis to win games.
Exhibit A: The Golden State Warriors
It wouldn’t be a matter of fit if the Lakers go big. Okafor has an above average back to the basket skill set for his size and Randle is very comfortable playing away from the rim and using his athleticism to break down his opponents off the dribble.
The other option for the Lakers will be to pair either Russell or Mudiay with Bryant for a season.
Would the Lakers want to pair Russell for example in the back court with Bryant for one year and relegate second-year player Jordan Clarkson to the bench after his solid rookie season that resulted in an All-Rookie First Team selection?
It’s weird to think that Clarkson has more of an impact on the team’s thinking than Bryant, but that is the unique state the Lakers are in.
Mudiay or Russell could prove to be a great selection at second overall, but what type of role will they play sharing the ball with Bryant? No. 24 has not shown anymore of an affinity for sharing the ball in his advanced years.
If the Lakers do opt to go with one of these young guards, things get complicated for the Sixers. Do they take on their third straight big man? Do they take the guard that’s leftover and hope he’s the better fit?
Do they trade back and pick up assets for more Hinkie-related fun down the road? Do they pick this year’s international man of mystery, Kristaps Porzingis?
The possibilities will be endless. Perhaps that is a bad thing for a fan base that just wants to see anything positive. The more possibilities, the more anxiety.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Amtrak Travelers Hit By 'Not Surprising' Service Reduction Amid COVID Staffing Shortage
Mark your calendars for June 25th.