ATLANTA - It sounds like an obvious question. Or maybe it's that the answer seems obvious.
Will the 2013 NBA draft be remembered as a waste for the 76ers?
This isn't meant to criticize the players who were drafted. Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams are both talented players.
And, yes, the Sixers did acquire a 2014 pick in that draft that led to their trading for Dario Saric, who is the team's starting power forward.
The Sixers did trade away an NBA all-star in Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Noel and the pick that eventually brought Saric to Philly.
The Pelicans had selected Noel with the sixth overall pick.
At the time, the Sixers boasted that the 6-foot-11 Noel was the steal of the draft. They also said the shot blocker was going to be the face of the franchise for seasons to come. Noel would have gone first in the draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers if he had not torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during his only season at Kentucky.
Now, three years later, the Sixers opted not to give the center a contract extension by the Oct. 31 deadline. As a result, he'll likely become a restricted free agent in July if the team doesn't trade him before that.
Let's revisit what else happened that night.
Fifteen minutes after trading Holiday, the Sixers nabbed Noel's childhood friend, Carter-Williams, with the 11th overall pick. Then they made a bunch of second-round moves before ultimately acquiring the rights to the Washington Wizards' 54th overall pick, Arsalan Kazemi, out of Oregon.
The Sixers told us Carter-Williams was going to be Holiday's long-term replacement. That seemed likely after Carter-Williams finished with 22 points, 12 assists, 9 steals, and 7 rebounds in his NBA debut, a season-opening win over the then-defending champion Miami Heat. He was eventually named rookie of the year. The Sixers, however, shipped Carter-Williams to the Bucks on Feb. 18, 2015 in exchange for a protected draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in a multiple-team deal.
Carter-Williams is currently sidelined with a left knee bone bruise and a sprained left wrist while playing for his third NBA team, the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers, however, are still waiting on their draft pick.
The Sixers missed out on the pick in the previous two drafts and will so do, again, in June if the pick lands in slots one through three. There's a good chance that the Sixers will get it this summer, though. The Lakers are one of the league's most improved teams. If not, the pick will be unprotected in 2018.
At least Carter-Williams is in the NBA and the Sixers will get something for him.
Kazemi never had a serious chance of making the Sixers. So after being stashed overseas for two seasons, the undersized power forward petitioned for and was granted his release in September 2015. He was waived by the Atlanta Hawks and later the Houston Rockets that preseason.
It can be argued that the Sixers wasted picks by drafting these three players.
Kazemi is a great guy. He's just not NBA material.
A subpar shooter who is injury-prone, Carter-Williams wasn't a good fit for the franchise.
An exceptional shot-blocker who excels in transition, Noel is a solid fit. He can dominate without commanding the ball, and, when given the opportunity, he has proven that he's worth the high praise he received early on. He became expendable, however, after the Sixers drafted centers Joel Embiid (2014) and Jahil Okafor (2015) in the next two drafts.
Embiid has supplanted Noel as the franchise post player. And this summer, the Sixers had discussions with other teams about moving Noel and/or Okafor. But teams don't want to give the Sixers what they deem as equal value for someone who's a reserve.
Noel is sidelined with inflamed tissue above his left knee, and that could also stand in the way of a trade. Teams surely would want to see how Noel performs once he returns before making a decision.
It's hard to imagine the Sixers' retaining him past this season. It's also hard to imagine a guy in his prime wanting to stay here to basically become an insurance-policy backup.
The Sixers still might get something of value for him, though. Contending teams will become desperate during the trade deadline. They might also get a quality draft pick from the Lakers in the Carter-Williams deal.
Back in 2013, however, we were told that Noel would be a cornerstone for seasons to come, that Carter-Williams was a star in the making, and that Kazemi could develop into a solid role player.
The reality of how the team views the three has definitely changed since then.