The 76ers have never necessarily been ‘great’ when it comes to the drafting. There’s a plethora of moments where they would’ve loved a second shot at it and times where they wouldn’t have it any other way. Here, I will be grading the 76ers last 10 1st-round picks starting from the 2009 draft.
’09 Draft Class | Pick 17 | Jrue Holiday | A
In 2009, the 76ers drafted Jrue Holiday with the 17th pick in the draft. This pick gets a solid A in my books. Let me explain:
Let’s start with looking at Holiday’s statistics with the Sixers. Offensively, Holiday didn’t seem like anything too special. He averaged 13.3 points, and shot pretty efficiently, about 44% from the field, 37.6% from three, and about 78% from the free throw line. Holiday was a scary defensive presence, averaging almost 1.5 steals. He had less than 1.5 blocks, but what more can you ask from a 6’3 guard?
Holiday’s time in Philadelphia came to an abrupt end. The All-Star point guard was packaged with the 42nd pick to acquire the rights of the No. 6 overall pick. The 76ers spent that pick on Nerleans Noel. This trade was a horrible decision by Hinkie. Noel was already being discomforted by a knee injury which is why he fell down to the 6th pick in the first place. On the other hand, Holiday has been proving why trading him away was the wrong move. From the 2013 season up till now, he’s been averaging 17.2 points. Holiday’s been shooting about 46% from the field, 35.3% from three, and just over 78% on free throws. His three point percentage was down by 2%, but we also have to consider the fact that he’s played 3 more seasons with the Pelicans than he had with the 76ers at this point; Holiday has been extremely consistent. He continued to average 1.5 steals in New Orleans, and Holiday’s block totals seemed to improve, averaging 0.63 blocks with the Pelicans.
The reason I included Holday’s post-76ers stats is to show how consistent he stayed, and how he improved in some areas. Holiday could have been such a good player for us, but instead we decided to trade him too early. The point is, he was a solid option for the 76ers at pick 17, and we were definitely lucky to have the opportunity to draft him.
10′ Draft Class | Pick 2 | Evan Turner | C
Statistically, Evan Turner played some of his best years of his career with the 76ers. He played his first three seasons with the 76ers, played 27 games for the Indiana Pacers (he was included in a trade that sent him to the Pacers), and ended up back on the 76ers for the remainder of the 2013 season (he played 54 games for the 76ers after getting traded back). The problem was, Turner didn’t have the production any team would expect from a No. 2 overall pick.
In his time with the Sixers, Turner averaged just about 12 points and shot the ball inefficiently; about 43% from the field, less than 30% from three, and roughly 76% from the free throw line. Turner was mediocre defensively, averaging 0.775 steals and 0.2 blocks.
You might be wondering, “Turner put up some ok numbers. Why is this a C?” Well, you must not know some of the players the 76ers passed up in the 2010 draft, and they are quite eye-opening. These players include Gordon Hayward, DeMarcus Cousins, and the biggest eye-opener of them all, Paul George. What could have been…
I could have easily made this grade much lower considering the better players the 76ers passed up, but Turner wasn’t horrible with the 76ers, and there have been much worse 2nd overall picks in the past.
’11 Draft Class | Pick 16 | Nikola Vucevic | B+
Vucevic had a very small sample size in Philly. He only played one season in Philadelphia (appearing in 51 games), before being included in a mega-deal that offseason; it was a four-team trade that had the 76ers acquiring Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Magic, trading Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and sending Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and a 2018 1st-round pick to the Magic. So there isn’t a lot to go off of, but we can definitely look at how he does after his time in Philadelphia to get a better understanding of what he could’ve been with the 76ers.
Vucevic didn’t get a lot of playing time and this impacted his production negatively. He averaged 5.5 points, only 0.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Looking back, his shooting percentage from the field was at a career low with the Sixers (45%). He shot 37.5% from three. Vucevic’s free throw shooting was by far the worst of his career in Philadelphia (52.9%). He averaged less than a block and steal.
Once traded, Vucevic seemed like a totally different player. Since the 2012 season (first year with Magic) up to now, Vucevic has averaged 31.55 minutes a game. He’s averaged roughly 17 points, 2.76 assists, and just under 11 rebounds. In addition, Vucevic has improved his shooting from the field and free throw line drastically; 49.96% from the field and roughly 75% from the free throw line. He also averaged 0.95 blocks (4 seasons with 1+ blocks) and 0.91 steals (4 seasons with 1+ steals).
Doug Collins should have given Vucevic more playing time. If he did, the Andrew Bynum mega-deal might’ve never happened. If Doug Collins elected to give Vucevic more time, that could’ve changed the course of NBA history, and this grade.
’12 Draft Class | Pick 15 | Maurice Harkless | N/A
The 76ers drafted Maurice Harkless with the 15th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but he was included in the Andrew Bynum mega-deal that offseason (like I mentioned earlier); he didn’t play a single minute for the 76ers. Therefore, this pick is not graded.
’13 Draft Class | Pick 11 | Michael Carter-Williams | C
Michael Carter-Williams always seemed to succeed when he played in Philadelphia. The 76ers drafted MCW in 2013 and was involved in a 3 team trade before the 2014-2015 season. The trade was between the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and Philadelphia 76ers, and it included Brandon Knight & Kendall Marshall to Phoenix, MCW, Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee, and a draft pick to Philadelphia. This was after MCW came off an amazing rookie season. He was traded back to Philadelphia later that year.
In his rookie season, MCW played 70 games (averaged 34.5 minutes per game), and put up good numbers. Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, and and 6.2 rebounds. He wasn’t very efficient, shooting 40.5% from the field, 26.4% from three, and 70.3% from the free throw line. He also averaged about 2 steals. He had a problem with turning the ball over, averaging almost 4 turnovers (3.5).
When he was traded to the Bucks (he only played 25 games with them), he didn’t look as good as he did on the Sixers. His points dipped to 14.1, his assists dipped to 5.6, and his rebounds dipped to 4. His field goal percentage went up to 42.9%, his three point percentage dipped to 14.3%, and he shot 78% from the free throw line. He looked a bit better when he got traded back to the 76ers that season (he played 41 games with them). His points per game went up to 15, he averaged 7.4 assists, and got back up to 6.2 rebounds. He looked better overall, but his percentages took a bit of a beating; 38% from the field, 25.6% from three, and his free throw percentage went down to 64.3%.
MCW had his struggles, but was still a decent player for the 76ers. His grade might seem low for the production he put up. Although I agree, several people might’ve not known this; MCW was picked at pick 11, and four picks later, Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. So yes, MCW was not bad in a 76ers uniform, they passed up Giannis Antetokounmpo. That speaks for itself.
This wraps up the first part of the grades!