The 76ers’ draft buzz is long gone.
During the early years of “The Process,” the atmosphere in Philadelphia leading up to the NBA draft was once equivalent to the Super Bowl.
Back then, the NBA lottery and draft were bigger than the regular season from an excitement standpoint, and it wasn’t even close.
Sport talk radio and barbershops were bombarded with discussions about who the Sixers were going to draft.
“Who’s going to fall to them with the third pick? Will it be Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid?”
“Are they going to take Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram with the No. 1 pick?”
“Will they move up to select Markelle Fultz or stay at No. 3?”
Gone is the excitement surrounding who they will select with their first pick in the annual NBA draft. It has been replaced with what appears more like a procedural draft more than anything else.
Right now, the Sixers have picks in the first round (No. 28) and second round (50) in Thursday’s draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Typically, late first-rounders and second-rounders aren’t expected to provide immediate help on teams like the Sixers, who are intent on making a championship run next season.
Not only that, a lot of the focus surrounding the organization has to do with its quest to trade Ben Simmons and what’s going to happen once free agency begins at 6 p.m. on Aug. 2.
The Sixers have also had discussions about parting with their first-round pick if they can get value in return, according to a league source. The organization is open to trading it for future assets or a veteran player.
If they do keep it, Virginia Commonwealth’s Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, Kentucky’s Brandon Boston Jr., Arizona State’s Josh Christopher, and Alabama’s Josh Primo could all be solid options if available.
The Sixers have bigger immediate needs than a rookie who might spend most of the season with their NBA G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
The Sixers have to figure out if they’ll bring back Dwight Howard in free agency. If not, they’ll need a backup center. If they’re successful trading Simmons, the Sixers will need a ball handler. Even if they keep him, the Sixers are going to need a true point guard.
They have Tyrese Maxey, but he’s not a pure point guard. If Danny Green doesn’t come back, the Sixers are going to need to add a solid shooting wing who can defend via free agency.
They also have figure out what to do with sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz, who becomes a free agent this summer.
All those factors take away from the buzz that was present during “The Process” years.
Back then, players like Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz were all expected to become franchise cornerstones. At the time, the regular season was a tool to tank and be in position to secure elite picks.
That’s why the draft was the equivalent of the Sixers’ Super Bowl, and watching the draft pick participate in summer league was a must-see event.
Now, the focus is on adding players around Embiid through trades and free agency and contending for a title.