The Philadelphia 76ers are in the middle of one of their most anticipated offseasons in recent memory.
Tankfest 2013-14 was fun and all, but there was a purpose behind it: Philadelphia wanted to strike gold in the draft. Taking Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in the lottery might not please those hoping for immediate success, but it was a step in the right direction when it comes to the team's future.
We're now in the free-agency period, and who knows what we'll experience next? We only know that it's been a crazy offseason thus far, and it wouldn't be shocking to see things get a little bit wilder.
Here's a look at Philadelphia's grades concerning what they've done since the summer began.
No. 3: Joel Embiid; No. 12: Dario Saric; No. 32: K.J. McDaniels; No. 39: Jerami Grant; No. 52: Vasilije Micic; Pierre Jackson from New Orleans Pelicans for Russ Smith at No. 47; No. 58: Jordan McRae
Do you have all the selections memorized?
The draft answered any questions directed at what Philadelphia would be wanting to do during the 2014-15 season. Philly used two lottery picks on players who won't be able to immediately contribute points—all signs point toward the rebuilding plan lasting significantly longer than just this year.
Embiid might be hurt now, but the 'Sixers could have selected the most talented player in the draft. Reports initially indicated that Embiid would be out four to six months after undergoing foot surgery to repair a navicular fracture in his right foot. According to Michael Kaskey-Blomain of philly.com, general manager Sam Hinkie suggested a different return date while speaking at a press conference for the No. 3 pick:
I’ve seen reported some four to six months, but that’s not the number I heard. The number I heard from the surgeon himself was five to eight months.
We will focus on the long-term health of the player. That’s all that matters. Will we be smart about that? Of course. Will we be patient? Yes.
This sounds like Nerlens Noel version 2.0. Kaskey-Blomain points out that an eight-month return date puts Embiid coming back around February, almost exactly when Noel was cleared to play during the 2013-14 season. It wouldn't be surprising to see the 'Sixers hold Embiid out for the entire year in hopes of having him completely healthy by the time the 2015 season rolls around.
Exactly like they did with Noel.
Saric is a completely different story. We'll have to wait at least two years before we see him in a Philadelphia jersey after he signed a two-year deal with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The deal will also include a player option for a third year.
This leaves the 'Sixers with a host of second-round picks.
McDaniels and Grant had great value at their respective draft spots.
Grant will likely spend the majority of the year in the D-League as he develops his game and becomes more skilled on the offensive end of the floor. He's almost as athletically gifted as they come, yet he doesn't have anything close to a reliable jumper to go along with a shaky handle. His frame is too thin for him to play as a power forward right now, and he'll need a better game to contribute as a small forward.
McDaniels, on the other hand, should be able to make an impact in the NBA during his rookie season. He's best off the dribble and trying to make things happen by getting into the paint. His biggest weakness is that there isn't one thing he excels at. McDaniels does a lot of different things well, without having one specialty.
Still though, he does the majority of things well enough to give him some rotational minutes in his first year.
One of the potential steals of the draft appeared to be Philadelphia getting Pierre Jackson from the Pelicans for Russ Smith. Unfortunately, it looked like Jackson suffered a significant Achilles injury just seven minutes into Philadelphia's first game at the Orlando Pro Summer League.
It would have been fun to see if Jackson could contribute in the NBA like he did in the D-League last year, but we may have to wait another year before we find out.
Ronald Roberts Jr., Aaron Craft, Talib Zanna, Sean Kilpatrick, Ed Daniel, JaKarr Sampson
The summer leagues give all 30 NBA franchises an opportunity to look at a number of players who weren't selected in the draft. It's a great tool to see if someone slipped through the cracks and find that hidden gem.
The 'Sixers did a very solid job with their signings, as a number of them could have the chance to help during the 2014-15 season.
Yes, this year.
The first of the bunch is Roberts Jr. If you haven't heard of this guy, then you're certainly not alone. All you need to do is watch any of his summer league games to date, and you won't forget him, though.
The man doesn't have a jumper and can hardly dribble the ball, yet he somehow is always doing the right thing on offense. His motor allows him to make plays even when he's not in the correct spot on the floor and to be an animal on the glass. The bottom line is that Roberts Jr. has been an absolute standout and joy to watch thus far.
Craft and Zanna still have some work to do, however.
Neither has played with the same amount of confidence as in college, and it's had a strong impact on their performances. Craft is deferring to Casper Ware—who’s been sensational—and Zanna looks like a deer in headlights on both ends of the floor.
It'll be interesting to see how Kilpatrick plays in Las Vegas. There's a chance that he ends up making the regular-season roster, because he's a basketball player through-and-through. Don't be surprised to see him light it up while playing on the Strip.
Waiving James Anderson
Anderson had a career-best year with the 'Sixers as he saw consistent playing time during the 2013-14 season. Averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 28.9 minutes per game wasn't enough to keep Philadelphia from waiving the shooting guard, though.
The move makes sense from a basketball perspective, as it opens up another roster spot for a recent draft pick. The other advantage to waiving Anderson is that it gives Tony Wroten an increased role.
Anderson did a lot of positive things for Philadelphia and was oftentimes the only long-range threat for a team which couldn't shoot. Still, though, it was a business move, and a correct one at that.
To be honest, if Wroten's increased role gives him the opportunity to pull this off on someone in the league, then letting Anderson go was certainly worth it:
Deal in Place for Jeremy Lin and Future 1st-Round Pick
The Houston Rockets and 'Sixers have agreed to a deal that would send Jeremy Lin and a future first-round pick to Philadelphia. The only issue is that it's contingent upon Chris Bosh wanting to sign with the Rockets.
It's unclear as to whether Philly would be giving anything up in the deal, but here's what Liberty Ballers' Jake Pavorsky had to say when he broke the news:
Again, we'll have to see what Bosh ends up doing, as that is the only way for this deal to actually go down. If everything went as planned and the trade went through, then it would be another example of Hinkie stockpiling first-round picks for the future.
Getting Lin wouldn't hurt at all, either. He would be able to play alongside Michael Carter-Williams or come off the bench as his backup with relative success.
The question is if being on the second unit is something that Lin's okay with. He won't really have much of a say, but it's still worth noting.
The 'Sixers are trying to put together a puzzle right now. They're slowly acquiring the right pieces, but how they fit together is still being figured out.
The important part is that the team is on track. Not for next season or the one after, but anybody saying they'd look forward to playing Philadelphia in five or six years is flat out lying.
Philly could be scary good at that point. We just have to be patient as it gets there.
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