Antler Rant: Forget Exum, Keep MCW

BY PAUL MANCANO – On Wednesday, the news that Joel Embiid would need foot surgery broke, and everybody lost their minds. The entirety of the online basketball community simultaneously got texts from Sam Hinkie saying the Sixers were without a doubt going to draft Australian point guard Dante Exum (maybe it was a group text or something). Then, rumors that the Sixers would trade “Mr. 16 PPG, 6 APG,” aka point guard Michael Carter-Williams (weird nickname, I know. Hey, I don’t make the rules) for a third lottery pick, where they’d snap up former Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart.

Of course! What was I thinking, assuming the 76ers adored Wiggins, especially after I heard they would do “anything” to get Wiggins. Hinkie will without a doubt take another point guard. No way the Sixers would take a chance on a center with a high ceiling but an injury that would keep him from most, if not all, of his rookie campaign.

No way the Sixers would try to trade up to get Andrew Wiggins, whom they’ve been coveting for about a year.

"The Sixers actually have engaged the Cavs about moving to No. 1. They 
aren't willing to give up both the Nos. 3 and 10 picks, but a 
combination of No. 3 and Thaddeus Young is a possibility." - Chad Ford

No way either the Cavs or the Bucks would take a chance on a guy with the ceiling of Hakeem Olajuwon.

"Joel Embiid is really good." - me

No, the Sixers are 100% going to stay at #3, draft somebody not named Wiggins/Parker/Embiid, and trade the Rookie of the Year for a third lottery pick. I mean, why wouldn’t they? There’s no downside to that. It makes total sense.

Hey, online NBA community: Rookies of the Year are pretty hard to come by, and even harder to pick out of a draft class. 10 players were selected before Michael Carter-Williams last year. That means 10 teams – okay, nine, because New Orleans traded their pick – thought that there were 10 players who were better than MCW. They thought Anthony Bennett or Ben McLemore or Alex Len surely had better upside, a more translatable game, a much better chance at success than MCW. But none of those 10 players have a big, glass trophy that says “Rookie of the Year” on his mantle.

That’s not to say none of those guys will have a better career than MCW, or that MCW is without a doubt the best player of that draft class. Because no one knows until the players actually play. All of these mock drafts, all these Adrian Wojnarowski tweets, they all add up – to borrow a baseball phrase – to a hill of beans. No one knows until the players actually play.

So when you have a proven player, especially one who was selected in the late lottery, and not in the top five, you hold onto him. You don’t trade him, assuming he’s easily replaced by an 18-year-old Aussie who has “a higher upside.” Not because that Aussie is guaranteed to be worse than your Rookie of the Year, but because you just don’t know. Dante Exum or Marcus Smart might turn out to be better players than MCW, but they might turn out to be Marcus Banks. We just don’t know. Carter-Williams (or according to his Twitter, “Carter-Willi” (I assume it’s a character issue, Carter-Williams is a long name)) might not be a great player, but he will, at worst, be a pretty good player. You can’t say the same for a kid who’s played about two games against American competition.

What do I think the Sixers should do? Well, thank you for asking, average Moose reader. Because I know everything and can do an NBA GM’s job better than he can, I’ll allow the question and answer it:

I want Big Ping-Pong Balls Hinkie to trade up to grab either Wiggins or Parker (if they have to), or, if the price is too high, sit tight and take a chance on Embiid. Or maybe trade back to, like, #5, and grab a couple more first-round picks. Then bundle some tasty second-rounders and Thad for a third lottery pick. Pretty optimistic, I know, but I think Hinkie can pull something off. I wouldn’t mind a Randle-McDermott-Stauskas tandem.

Just please don’t trade MCW. Or draft Kwame. Or Darko.

Antler Rant out.

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