Next year’s consensus No. 1 draft pick seems to be University of Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins. The Philadelphia 76ers seem to be eyeing him and might give reason for the team to “tank” this season in hopes of drafting Wiggins. The problem is he may not be the best fit in the draft or free agency next year for a franchise that hasn’t won an NBA title since 1983.
Wiggins has extreme upside and has been compared to Miami Heat forward Lebron James. However, there’s no guarantee he will become the next great player. Wiggins may not even become the best player in the 2014 draft, or injuries can play a factor. Just look at some of the recent drafts. The 2005 draft saw the Milwaukee Bucks draft Andrew Bogut as the top overall pick over Chris Paul. The 2007 draft saw the Portland Trailblazers draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Bogut and Oden were plagued by injuries and never played up to potential while Paul and Durant have been among the most coveted players in the league.
While drafting Wiggins might seem like a no-brainer, he may not be the best choice. Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart might be better fits in next summer’s draft. Randle, Parker and Smart all have NBA-ready bodies that can help them to better handle the physical play that is so common in the NBA. Wiggins has the height at 6’8, but he needs to add strength since he’s only 200-pounds.
The biggest needs for the Sixers are at shooting guard and both forward spots. All four picks play the positions the Sixers will look to fill.
Smart, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, would help the Sixers at shooting guard. He is a combo guard who has good one-on-one skills and is a good play maker. His only weakness is his quickness.
Parker , 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, is a physically bigger player who can play both ends of the floor and has a high basketball IQ. His weakness is his inconsistent perimeter shooting.
Randle, 6-foot-9, 248 pounds, utilizes his size around the basket and can knock outside shots. His weakness is he tends to take more outside shots and doesn’t have a refined post game.
GM Sam Hinkie should look at past drafts, including the 1996 draft when they chose Allen Iverson over Kobe Bryant. Iverson was the consensus No. 1 pick and Bryant was a high school kid who would fit teams looking for a long-term project. Iverson had a tremendous career, but ended up struggling towards the end of his career while Bryant has won multiple NBA rings and is on his way to being named among the top five players of all-time.
Even if the Sixers end up missing out on the top pick, it won’t necessarily be bad for them. They can focus on plan B and look to sign a marquee free agent next summer.