CHICAGO - The 76ers are no longer an NBA wasteland in the eyes of draft prospects.
"I would love playing in Philly," Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson said Friday at the NBA draft combine.
The former Trenton Catholic standout pointed out that Philadelphia is close to home. However, his attraction grew after he met with the Sixers front office and coaching staff on Thursday.
"I could tell just by meeting everyone they were really into winning," he said. "It may not show on the court, but they're definitely building pieces to get things done."
The Sixers have slowly been building pieces since the start of the 2013-14 season. Under former president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie, however, winning wasn't the immediate goal during the last three seasons. The goal was to sacrifice wins as a way to secure lottery picks. Posting a 47-199 record over the last three seasons, they accomplished that. The only problem was that draft prospects didn't want to be a part of the process.
Most refused to participate in predraft workouts or interviews with the Sixers brass. Meanwhile, Hinkie's relationships with agents and opposing general managers soured.
The team pointed to the 2016-17 season as the time to repair relationships and try to start winning again.
League sources say the relationship part improved last month. Hinkie, who was about to lose his power, resigned and Bryan Colangelo was named president.
"They seem very excited about the future and they have a plan for everything," said Clemson junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, who interviewed with the Sixers Wednesday. "I asked them about the culture they were trying to build, and it seemed like a great culture they were trying to get in place."
Blossomgame, who has not hired an agent, is considering returning to Clemson for his senior season. But he said playing for the Sixers is appealing.
The team wants to mix veteran free agents with young draft picks.
"I think I'm a guy that can fit that role perfectly for them," he said of being one of the draft picks.
Blossomgame and Richardson are among the candidates the Sixers are considering for their 24th and 26th picks in the draft June 23.
The Sixers have a 26.9 percent chance - the best of all NBA teams - to end up with the top pick during the draft lottery Tuesday in New York. They also have a 67.8 percent chance to finish in the top three and will place no lower than fourth.
Former Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who could go in the top four, walked away from Wednesday's interview impressed with the Sixers.
"If I'm capable of going to the Sixers, I would love it," Dunn said.