The Philadelphia 76ers have one of the most heartfelt fan bases in the NBA and everybody knows it’s kind of difficult to make it there because how passionate they are. Nonetheless, that team has always had at least one-star player to keep their hopes high.
Small market teams are constantly having to rebuild, as they’re never going to draw the attention of top-tier free agents that would much rather play for a winning franchise with a lot of history.
The Sixers are one of the few franchises that can really be an interesting destination for free agents considering their winning culture and history, and now that they’ve built such a strong team via Draft, they’re looking even better for the future.
Nonetheless, they haven’t always been as prolific in the Draft as they are nowadays, and over the course of history, they’ve passed on the chance to land some historic players. Today, we’re going to let you know about those guys.
1972 NBA Draft
Freddie Boyd (5th) - Julius Erving (12th)
Freddie Boyd was never much of a star, even though he made it to the All-Rookie team way back in the day. The combo guard was supposed to become a dominant scorer but really struggled to establish himself in the league and wind up having an unsuccessful 6 season career.
On the other hand, they could’ve had Julius Erving in time several years sooner than they actually did. Back in the day, Dr J was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks, but couldn’t play in the NBA due to a contract dispute with the ABA and was forced to play with the Hawks before joining the Nets and ultimately the Sixers.
1984 NBA Draft (What If)
Charles Barkley (5th) - John Stockton (16th)
Charles Barkley made an immediate impact for the Sixers in both ends of the hardwood, being a top-tier scorer and rebounder despite being a bit overweight and undersized. Still, he pretty much outgrew the team after 8 seasons without much playoff success to brag about, forcing a move out to the Phoenix Suns.
Sadly for them, drafting Chuck pretty much meant that they had to pass on John Stockton one of the best 5 point guards in the history of the game, the league’s all-time leader in assists and one of the craftiest backcourt defenders ever. Stockton led the league in dimes 9 times in a row and would’ve been an NBA Champion if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan.
1995 NBA Draft
Jerry Stackhouse (3rd) - Kevin Garnett (5th)
Jerry Stackhouse wasn’t a bad pick at all, as he was already a proven scorer that looked poised to become a walking bucket for a very long time in the NBA. He was a 2-time All-Star and had 13 seasons averaging double-digit scoring. Nonetheless, they just had him for a couple of seasons before trading him away to the Pistons.
Instead, they should’ve taken Kevin Garnett, one of the few players to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award and the MVP, a tough defender an vocal leader that could’ve won multiple NBA Championships if he had played elsewhere. Garnett is one of the best power forwards ever, and the kind of player every coach would love to have on his squad.
1996 NBA Draft (What If)
Allen Iverson (1st) - Kobe Bryant (13th)
I’m truly convinced of the fact that they will never regret this move, as Allen Iverson went on to become a local icon and one of the most influential players in the history of the game. He was an MVP, led the league in scoring three times and even carried the teams to the Finals once.
Sadly, they passed on another guy that could’ve become a local hero. Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant, one of the toughest competitors and most prolific scorers in the history of the game. Ever since making it to the starting lineup, Kobe proved that he was bound for greatness, eventually, he led the Lakers to 5 NBA Championships and became the greatest player in team history.
1998 NBA Draft
Larry Hughes (8th) - Dirk Nowitzki (9th)
When the Sixers landed Larry Hughes with the 8th overall pick of the 1998 NBA Draft, they knew they were getting an extremely versatile defender that could check both guard spots and even some small forwards, and he went on to have a very successful career and even led the league in steals once. Sadly, he was just a part of the team for a couple of seasons.
To be honest, we can’t actually blame most teams for passing on Dirk Nowitzki, as, truth to be told, he wasn’t looking like much of a solid prospect back in the day. Nonetheless, the Great Teuton put up a lot of work in his shot and became one of the most prolific scorers this game has ever seen, the best player in Mavericks history and a top 3 foreign player ever.