Draft night was a little more drama filled for the Philadelphia 76ers. They held the 10th pick and at first looked like they were about to select who everyone thought they were going to select.
Technically, Mikal Bridges was drafted by the 76ers and it would have made for a feel good story if it had stopped right there.
At that moment, all Bridges knew was that he was just drafted by his hometown team. Not only did he grow up in Pennsylvania, but he starred on the recent two-time championship Villanova Wildcat teams.
To add, Bridges’ mother even works for the Sixers. Tyneeha Rivers is the vice president of human resources for a company that hires employees for the 76ers, and it was a mother’s dream come true for her son to be drafted by the team she is affiliated with.
But that all came to an end quickly.
During the press conference following the selection, Mikal Bridges was traded. The 76ers were presented with an offer they couldn’t refuse from the Phoenix Suns.
As Bridges was atop their draft board, they had different priorities this year than looking for and drafting the next big star. They are star hunting now and the deal that the Suns came to the Sixers with fell right in with what direction they were wanting to go, in making sure they have enough room and flexibility to sign free agents come July.
Philadelphia had to put the personal connection aside, do the logical thing and accept the trade that sends Bridges to Phoenix but gives them the rights the Zhaire Smith (16th pick/lower rookie salary scale) and an unprotected 1st round pick in 2021 that originally belonged to the Miami Heat.
Smith, according to Philadelphia, was the guy they wanted as plan 1B. Knowing that he wasn’t a top 100 recruit, they still saw potential and had taken notice in the dramatic strides of improvement in his game over this last year. From outside the top 100 looking into becoming the first player in Texas Tech history to be named to the All-Big 12 Defensive Team, the Sixers knew they had a defensive stopper in Smith.
That transaction alone puts the Sixers in the A range for a report card but let’s see how the rest the draft went.
Landry Shamet (26th pick/ Wichita state)
Shake Milton (54th pick/ SMU)
Both are point guards that will look to crack their way into the Sixers’ depth chart this summer. These two are very similar in a lot of ways.
Shamet obviously has the safer floor but Milton has the higher ceiling. They both showed great improvement over their three years in college, but I think Milton has the edge in beating out Shamet for a spot on the team. Also by playing in the ACC, Milton has consistently has played against better competition and is poised to be more NBA ready.
They now have more flexibility in trying to obtain a star player and they addressed a need at point guard depth. For a team that recently competed in the Eastern Conference Finals, they did a great job in this year’s draft at putting themselves in position to get back and even further than where they were this past season.
2018 Draft report card: A
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