WHILE SO MANY have definitive opinions about what the 76ers should do moving forward, all that really suggests is just how complicated and unknown the future is, even though the team holds the first pick in Thursday's draft.
There are those who believe trading Jahlil Okafor is the best move. The thinking there is that even though he's only played 53 games, it is known what he is going to be - a terrific scorer in the low post who is a below-average rebounder and defender. And with the team seemingly on the verge of gathering more big men with perhaps the addition of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, along with Nerlens Noel, there seems to be reason to deal one. Okafor probably has the most value, and maybe he could bring a high draft choice. Others say that with the NBA becoming a stretch league and coach Brett Brown wanting to play an uptempo style, Okafor really isn't a fit here.
Here's the argument against that. Okafor has played just part of one season and did show a low-post scoring ability that could be unmatched in the league in a couple of years. Experience will only help cut down on his deficiencies when it comes to rebounding and defending, and if the team adds some outside shooting, the inside will only open up more for the Duke product. Plus, if Embiid continues to have trouble with his injured foot or it becomes career-threatening, you've now lost two big men taken with a third overall draft pick. And, if you trade Okafor, is the pick you get back, even if it's second or third, better than what he's going to be? Also, if you think his game doesn't fit in today's NBA, why would another team be so willing to take him?
Some say keeping everyone right now is the correct move, to give Brown and president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo time to evaluate exactly what they have and what they will need moving forward. The problem with that is trying to find playing time for everyone and, at the same time, not having their value plummet due to lack of playing time.
There are those who advocate for taking Simmons at No. 1 and using the 24th and 26th picks, whether as trade options or selections, to fill out the obvious holes in the roster (point guard and outside shooting).
Others say that taking Duke's Brandon Ingram is the answer as he would fill a shooting void and present Brown with someone who can spread a defense and make things easier on the inside for the trio of Embiid, Okafor and Noel.
Perhaps trading the top pick to get veteran shooters and a point guard makes the most sense.
It is all dizzying, really, especially if you allow yourself to get in the middle of all the proposed trades that fans conjure up at the drop of a hat, most that heavily favor the Sixers and make little sense for the other team.
Sam Hinkie's vision probably didn't see this all coming to fruition next season, and it probably won't. But the current front office wants it to move ahead much faster than Hinkie did.
So what does it mean?
In order for all this to work, most agree there needs to be a superstar or two in place to build around. Three years of losing hasn't brought that. Most hope is built on Embiid and his fragile navicular bone. Even still, should he take the court come September with his teammates, it will be his first time playing organized ball since March 1, 2014. So, besides the worry of re-injury, there will be a lot of rust to be removed from his game. His workouts that we've been able to see, against no one, have been enticing, with his terrific footwork, size and guard-like shooting ability. Superstar of the future? If so, it's a couple of years away, and that means no more injuries. If that is the case, then the vision has to be on building around Embiid.
If Embiid's future is still fuzzy, then what? Okafor seems to be the best piece produced via "The Process," and even if the team takes Simmons, he still may be. If Embiid's future is clouded, perhaps the vision becomes building with Okafor and Simmons and gathering players to surround them.
Using Golden State as the model of how to build a team is dangerous. True, the Warriors don't have a 7-footer. Fair enough. But the Sixers also don't have the luxury of two of the best shooters ever to play the game.
While Brown was in San Antonio for 12 years, the Spurs played many different styles, from two big men (David Robinson and Tim Duncan) to dumping the ball to Duncan, to surrounding him with shooters, to implementing a running game to becoming one of the best passing teams.
As much as the NBA game has changed recently, one thing remains the same: You play to your strengths and you exploit other teams' weaknesses. Right now the strength of the Sixers is big men, whatever combination of Embiid, Okafor and Noel they decide to keep. If Colangelo, Brown and company believe in that, then surrounding those bigs is at the head of the to-do list. If they are going to try and emulate the new stretch style of the NBA, with jaw-dropping outside shooters, then there is even a bigger to-do list.