2022 Draft Will Say a Lot About Sixers’ Future


It’s going to take a lot to win an NBA championship next year.

Even before getting into the weeds of the offseason, the gauntlet is terrifying.

A fully-healthy Clippers and Nuggets will be contenders in the West again. The 56-win Grizzlies will be a year older. Miami always has something cooking in the inferno of South Beach. A full season of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn will be…something (if it ever happens). Giannis and Milwaukee are always lurking. All this before even mentioning the once-again NBA Champions – the Golden State Warriors.

So how close are the Sixers really? What they do with the 23rd pick in the Thursday’s draft will tell us how close they think they are. But at least they have options.

Keep the Pick

For Depth

Almost immediately after Brooklyn decided to defer their pick acquisition of Philadelphia’s first-round pick — acquired in the Simmons-Harden trade — until the 2023 draft, there were rumors Philadelphia was shopping the 23rd pick.

It makes sense. Depth continues to be a major issue for this team, hurt even more by the devastating injury to Danny Green which will almost assuredly keep him out for the majority, if not entirety, of the 2022-23 season. God bless him and a speedy recovery, but the loss of 35-year-old Green is seen as devastating because when a team is lacking in two-way players, you have a serious depth problem.

For Culture

Since the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, the Sixers have taken a year-by-year approach to winning a championship. They’ve sacrificed building young talent for short-term fixes to maximize their window with Joel Embiid.

It’s understandable. Windows open and close instantaneously. If you are patient enough, however, you get what the Warriors and Celtics have. Most of their core players were drafted and developed by them over time. It’s a big reason why the Spurs were so successful for so long. It’s very difficult to buy a championship because more often than not, culture wins.

Right now, the Sixers’ “core” consists of Embiid and Tyrese Maxey— that’s about it. Matisse Thybulle is being thrown into trade rumors this offseason (a massive mistake in my opinion). And we don’t know what to make of their other young pieces (Paul Reed, Charles Bassey, Jaden Springer), in part due to a coach that won’t give them valuable experience.

If the Sixers are going to be contenders for the foreseeable future, they need to rely more heavily on the backbone of their roster rather than their stars. You never know who they could become.

Success Stories

In case some would throw away the 23rd pick as one that won’t have a sizeable impact, here are some notable players picked from No. 23 and after in recent drafts who have, and/or most likely will play a prominent role for their teams:




It doesn’t always work out and it takes time, but there are no shortcuts to a championship. No matter how many stars a team acquires, it’s the core that carries them. Thybulle is an elite defender. Maxey is a near-All-Star-level player. And Embiid is a perennial MVP candidate.

That’s a good start. None of those individuals became that overnight. Just like making another finals won’t come by more short-term fixes. The team is further away from a title than many fans would like to admit, but that doesn’t mean the organization has to go back to the doldrums of the Process before contending. There are interesting players within range of the 23rd pick, and if the last two drafts are any indication, Daryl Morey has the acumen to go find them.

Trade the Pick

A wide-open East

You argue there’s no one true standout team in the Eastern Conference next season. Apologies to the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics, but a reasonable case could be made for any of the top teams in the East. Had Khris Middleton not gotten hurt, the Milwaukee Bucks could’ve very well been the ones facing Golden State in the Finals. Had Jimmy Butler’s three gone in during the closing sequence of Game 7 of Miami vs. Boston, it could’ve been Miami and Heat culture vs. Golden State’s culture.

Point being, it took both excellent play by the Celtics and good fortune for them to make it as far as they did. As it does every season for every team. The most-difficult part of that equation is having one of the seven or eight best players in the league. It’s a big part of what propelled the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 championship.

The Sixers have that on lock with Embiid, so getting someone who can be part of a playoff rotation — who can be relied upon for 12-18 minutes — is well worth what the 23rd pick might become.

The Harden Window

There’s seemingly a never-ending list of questions when it comes to James Harden. Which version of Harden are we getting? Is he past his prime? How long will he be in Philadelphia? How much does his defensive deficiencies hurt the potential of this team?

On and one, one after another. One thing we can feel certain about – Harden is going to be on the Sixers next season. We will know soon whether that’s under his player option or under a completely new deal (Two years? Three? a franchise-torpedoing five-year max?). He’s in the same age group as Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry and Stephen Curry. All of them vary wildly in terms of the consistency of their impact and the peak of their abilities.

Wherever he is, he will enter next season as the Sixers’ second-best player. For however long they have him, they need to maximize a team around Harden and Embiid’s abilities. That means plenty of shooting for the inevitable space those two will create, and plenty of wing and on-ball defense for what they lack.

Although Derrick White was inconsistent in his play during the NBA Finals, he more than proved his value by his acquisition in the run to the Finals. At the very least, the Sixers need a Derrick White-level player to add to their rotation. Life comes at you fast, and Harden’s production could go just as quickly. His acquisition was as much about him as it was about the team continuing to do everything they can to build a contender around himself and Embiid.


Keep the pick. I like rooting for guys I’ve seen over a number of years. It’s why a lot of us were so sad after the Jimmy Butler trade because of the investment we had made in Robert Covington and Dario Saric. It’s why the Tobias Harris trade was a bit hasty because we thought we were going to see Landry Shamet develop into junior JJ Redick.

Philadelphia is further away from a title than they’d like to admit– as difficult as it may be for fans to hear. I want guys to invest in. I’ve invested in Thybulle, Maxey and Embiid. I’m already all in on Paul Reed. I’m not asking for a championship next year because I know how unlikely it may be. I just want another guy to invest in.

About Matthieu Hertilus

Recommended for you

Powered by