The Philadelphia 76ers were suspected to be ready for a big trade in the NBA draft on June 26. Since the Sixers pointed to this NBA draft as the one that would define their rebuilding process, and since they seemed set on Andrew Wiggins as their most coveted prize, no one would have been shocked if Sam Hinkie made a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, Hinkie stayed put and made the Sixers take a familiar gamble with the No. 3 pick, on a player that likely won't be around for opening night.
Joel Embiid seemed to ruin the Sixers best draft plans by suffering a foot fracture, since it ruined any hopes that Wiggins or Jabari Parker would fall to No. 3. With his injuries and with the ghosts of Andrew Bynum and Nerlens Noel hanging over Philadelphia, it appeared that the team couldn't even take Embiid as a consolation prize. Yet that is what Hinkie did after Wiggins went to the Cavaliers at No. 1 and Parker was snatched by the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2.
This is the second straight NBA draft where the Sixers selected a big man who likely would have gone No. 1 without injury troubles. Noel still hasn't played a game yet to reward Philadelphia's risk, while Embiid still has a 4-6 month time table for recovery. It could be until Christmas before the Sixers' new Big Three of Embiid, Noel and Michael Carter-Williams play together.
Embiid should still show up for the Sixers faster than their No. 10 draft pick. Philadelphia started out by taking Elfrid Payton from Louisiana-Lafayette, despite how he is a point guard just like Carter-Williams. But his rights were traded to the Orlando Magic for their No. 12 pick, which was Croatia's Dario Saric -- who is under contract with his Turkish basketball team for two more years.
Hinkie indeed made a deal in the NBA draft, but one that won't pay off for at least another year -- just like last year when he traded Jure Holiday away to get Noel. There's always the chance that Embiid could sit out a year as well, like Noel and Bynum did when their recoveries didn't go well.
The 2014 NBA draft was supposed to start a different era for the Sixers. Instead, the gambles and potential pratfalls of their all-important top 10 picks seem quite familiar.