Sam Hinkie, now known as “Big Onions” by 97.5 the Fanatic’s Nick Kayal and “Evil Genius” by many others, made several big splashes in the 2013 NBA Draft, his first major event as General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. Tony DiLeo, his predecessor, made an equally big splash in his first move as GM last year, trading for Andrew Bynum, and we all know how that turned out. Let’s just hope that Hinkie’s rebuilding process is equally successful as DiLeo’s championship push was unsuccessful.
Without further ado, here are grades for each of the Sixers’ draft-day moves:
1. Sixers Trade 42nd Pick, PG Jrue Holiday to Pelicans for C Nerlens Noel, 2014 First-Round Selection
This was the big move of the day, as Hinkie traded the only All-Star on the team, Holiday, and a 2nd-round pick this year for Noel, the 6th overall selection, and the Pelicans’ first-round pick next year. The Pelicans’ 2014 pick is protected 1-5, meaning that if they get pick 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, the Sixers receive their 2015 first-round pick instead.
Trading Holiday for two lottery picks is exactly the type of move that Phillies fans have wanted Ruben Amaro to make: escape mediocrity. If this team wants to win a championship, they are going to have to go down first and rebuild from the bottom up. Keeping Holiday would have kept this team mediocre, never getting a top lottery pick but also never making serious noise in the playoffs. Now, they have a chance to build a new, young core and possibly compete for an NBA title in 2015/2016/2017.
First, trading Holiday frees up $10 million in cap space yearly over the next four years. When you combine that with Spencer Hawes’ $7.5 million cap hit and Kwame Brown’s $3 million cap hit, which will come off the books next year, and Evan Turner’s $6.7 million cap hit, which Hinkie is actively trying to trade to a contender, that is over $27 million per year that shedding contracts could earn Hinkie (plus $9 million from Thad Young if Hinkie decides to go that route as well). This would give Philadelphia enough money to sign two players to max contracts during the 2014 free agency period, and just look at some of the names the Sixers could bring in to pair with their young guys: Danny Granger, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, DeMarcus Cousins, and Paul George all become available for the first time in a long time.
Secondly, Hinkie has secured four lottery-level talents over this year and next year. Noel, Michael Carter-Williams (up next), the Sixers pick next year (likely top five), and the Pelicans’ first pick (likely top ten). Just think about that: four young studs, given proper development, plus a marquee free agent as teams like New York, Miami, and Indiana start losing their stars to free agency equals a championship run in a couple of years.
Jrue Holiday is a great player, and he will likely make it to a couple more All-Star games with New Orleans, but Noel and whoever the Pelicans’ pick brings in will end up being more valuable to Sam Hinkie’s vision than Holiday.
2. Sixers Draft PG Michael Carter-Williams With the 11th Overall Pick
Trading Jrue Holiday created a gaping hole for the 76ers at the point guard position, with no other PGs signed for the 2013-2014 season, but Sam Hinkie wasted no time filling that hole by taking Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick.
With the Jazz and Trail Blazers taking Trey Burke and CJ McCollum respectively right before the Sixers, this was a no-brainer. And Sam Hinkie claims that MCW was his target all along, so to have him fall to the Sixers at 11 is noteworthy and applause-worthy.
Now, let’s break him down: Carter-Williams is not your average point guard, standing tall at 6’5″, three inches taller than the average point guard. This gives him a huge advantage defensively, as he contests outside shots extremely well, which is key as an NBA point guard, and he can easily see over screens and make plays. At Syracuse he was an active defender, averaging THREE steals per game in 2012-2013. Expect him to do similar things at the pro level, wreaking havoc along the perimeter and immediately becoming one of, if not the best, perimeter defenders on the team.
Offensively, MCW is more of a question mark just like Noel. Watching any small amount of film will tell you that Carter-Williams has court vision and instincts well beyond his years, and his passing is as accurate as I’ve seen at the college level. What he struggled with, however, is shooting, which will hurt his ability to drive and kick, a staple of his in college. Being able to penetrate and then dish out to open shooters relies on one’s ability to keep defenders honest with the outside shot, and at Syracuse Carter-Williams shot a dismal 29.2% from beyond the arc.
He was, however, a great shooter in high school so perhaps last season was a fluke. That remains to be seen.
Overall, this pick makes a lot of sense, and if Carter-Williams adds some bulk and improves his outside shot, he can definitely become a perennial starter (even All-Star) for the Sixers.
3. Drafting SF Glen Rice Jr, Trading Him to Washington for 38th/54th Picks
After an exhilarating first round, not many would have guessed that Sam Hinkie would wreak even more havoc in the second round than he did in the first. But that’s exactly what he did.
It all started with the 35th pick, when the Sixers drafted Glen Rice Jr., a Georgia Tech product, out of the NBA’s Developmental League. Hinkie subsequently traded Rice to the Washington Wizards for the 38th and 54th picks, however, ending the Glen Rice Jr. era in Philadelphia rather quickly.
With those picks, after more wheeling and dealing, the Sixers would get Arsalan Kazemi and a 2014 2nd-rounder (from Boston).
Now, Rice did have his off-court issues with Georgia Tech, but too many experts are calling him the “potential steal of the draft” for me to not at least take a second look at this trade. Rice Jr. averaged 25.0 points per game during the D-League playoffs, leading his Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the D-League championship. He still is a work in progress defensively, but his athleticism makes him a formidable transition scorer and he has one of the sweetest jump shots in this year’s class.
If the Sixers had kept one of the next two guys I talk about, I would have liked this move, but otherwise I don’t love giving up a wing who could be a starter in a couple years for a team lacking at the 2 and the 3. Even if we got Kazemi (a player a like) and a future pick.
4. Drafting PG Nate Wolters, Trading Him to Milwaukee for Ricky Ledo
I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for the “good guy” story, and after talking with South Dakota State assistant coach Kevin Cooley, I can be sure Wolters was a good guy, a hard worker, and a player who will make a difference at the NBA level.
Anyone who watched the Jackrabbits, yes, that is SDSU’s mascot, knows that Wolters can play. He’s a big, crafty point guard who can facilitate and shoot the ball. He’s not very athletic, but he matches Andre Miller in his craftiness while being a better shooter.
That said, the Sixers already drafted a tall point guard in the first round, Carter-Williams, so keeping Wolters did not make sense. Trading him for a guy who can make an impact at shooting guard right away, Ricky Ledo was the right move. Trading Ledo, as you’ll see, was not.
5. Trading SG Ricky Ledo to Dallas For 2014 2nd-Rounder
Sam Hinkie was not done. In his fourth and final trade of the night, he dealt the aforementioned Ledo to the Mavericks for a 2014 2nd-round pick (via Boston).
This is a move I do not like, no matter what his plan is. Despite not playing a single minute of college basketball (he was not eligible to play in games during his freshman season at Providence), this is a shooting guard with a lot of upside and offensive talent. The Sixers are lacking heavily at the shooting guard position, especially if Evan Turner is traded (and he plays SF for the most part anyway). Ledo is a player who could be a star with the right coach and in the right system, and I think that in his vision of stockpiling 2014 draft picks Sam Hinkie lost sight of how talented Ledo is.
Hopefully this move does not come back to haunt the 76ers.
6. Drafting Arsalan Kazemi With the 54th Overall Pick
In his final move of the night, Sam Hinkie drafted Oregon Ducks transfer (from Rice) Arsalan Kazemi with the 54th overall selection. This made Kazemi the first Iranian-born player to be drafted into the NBA.
Despite not liking how Hinkie got here, I love the pick. Kazemi is probably one of the most underrated players taken in the second round, and he will bring athleticism and rebounding to a Sixers team that desperately needs that out of its big men. He will likely never be a perennial starter, but he is a high-energy guy with an incredible work ethic who will make the occasional highlight-reel play offensively but just dominate the boards at both ends. Having a guy like him on any roster is invaluable.