Trust the process. By this point, that phrase is synonymous with the Philadelphia Sixers. Starring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, this young team looks poised to take the NBA by storm in the next few seasons. But what if – despite the all-world talent clutched in grips of the Sixers franchise – Philadelphia could be even better right now. Like, way better. Like, way-way better.
Before I start this article in earnest, there are a few rules that need to be followed:
1. This whole concept works in a vacuum. That means that the draft pick changes do not change the record of the team that year or any following years. This means that the team – even if they make a vastly superior pick in the, say, 2014 draft – still has the same pick they did in reality in the 2017 NBA draft.
2. Every other team still picks the same in each draft. For some reason, only Philadelphia has the ability to see into the future and pick the best available player in each draft. Maybe Sam Hinkie has a crystal ball or something. I don’t know.
Ok, let’s get started, starting with the 2013 NBA draft and going until last year’s (2017) draft.
2013 NBA Draft
Original Pick: Michael Carter-Williams, 11th pick
Redraft: Giannis Antetokounmpo
For one brief moment, Philadelphia looked like they got the steal of the draft. MCW went OFF his first game in the NBA. He looked like a prime Jason Kidd. He put up 22 points (on 6-10 shooting!), 12 assists, 7 rebounds, and 9 steals. That’s almost a quadruple-double. Then he became the Michael Carter-Williams we all know and tolerate, averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 assists last season.
Giannis, on the other hand, looks like he may take LeBron’s throne when The King finally decides to concede it at what I’m guessing will be the tender age of 53. Originally picked by Milwaukee at number 15, Giannis averaged 26.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists last season.
2014 NBA Draft
Original Pick: Joel Embiid, 3rd pick
Redraft: Joel Embiid
Embiid looked like he was going to be Greg Oden 2.0 for his first few years in the league. His rookie season was 2016-2017 (not a rookie?). But last season, he showed just how dominant he can be, becoming an all-star in what was his first healthy season in the NBA. Also, the number one and number 2 picks in this draft were Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, and while neither are busts, exactly, they didn’t quite live up to expectations.
2015 NBA Draft
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor, 3rd pick
Redraft: Kristaps Porzingis
Philadelphia fans would have been booing to their heart's content while the name “Kristaps Porzingis” reverberated through the rafters after spewing from David Stern’s mouth. Or at least, if Philly fans were as angry at life as New York Knicks fans they would be. Look how that turned out. Porzingis is a bona fide stud. He averaged 22.7 points and 2.4 blocks last season. He ended it in a torn ACL, but I would gladly take half a year of The Unicorn every season than a full one of Jahlil Okafor. Okafor has bounced around to different teams, never doing much on any of them.
2016 NBA Draft
Original Pick: Ben Simmons, 1st pick
Redraft: Ben Simmons
In his (Rookie?) season after sitting out a year with an injury, Ben Simmons showed why he was the number one pick. He plays almost exactly like a young Magic Johnson: gigantic, fast, and powerful, with superhuman passing abilities and the ability to score in a multitude of ways around the rim. If Simmons could shoot, the NBA as a whole would struggle to stop him.
2017 NBA Draft
Original Pick: Markelle Fultz, 1st pick
Redraft: Jayson Tatum
This one may be wayyy to early to tell, but Jayson Tatum was head-and-shoulders better than Fultz in their rookie season. Fultz had either an injured shoulder or a bad case of “the Yips” (Him forgetting how to shoot was the equivalent of someone driving along the highway then spontaneously forgetting how to drive). Either way, Fultz only played a few games this past season, and when he did play he did not look like his old self, averaging only 7.1 points.
Tatum, on the other hand, was the best player (or second best, maybe Horford) player on a Boston Celtics team that was missing it’s two best players and still managed to take the Eastern Conference Finals to seven games. He averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 43% from long range.
If all of those draft changes happened, here is what the current Philadelphia lineup would look like:
PG – Ben Simmons – 6’11 Age: 22
SG – Jayson Tatum – 6’9 Age: 20
SF – Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6’11 Age: 23
PF: Kristaps Porzingis – 7’3 Age: 23
C: Joel Embiid – 7’2 Age: 24
6th: Dario Saric – 6’11 Age: 24
That is a massive team. Also - which is rare for teams so big and so young - it’s surprisingly well put together. Simmons and Giannis both get to the rim at will, while also possessing deft playmaking skills that would allow them to kick to Tatum, Porzingis, and Embiid – all great shooters. Embiid would take up the low block, while Porzingis could still thrive from mid-range or three-point. On defense, everyone could switch basically everything, with Porzingis, Giannis, and Embiid all being great rim protectors and quick enough on their feet to switch onto basically anyone.
Ya, this team would be a dynasty in the making.