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June 09, 2017

Sixers draft scenario du jour: How far should they be willing to trade back?

There are still two weeks left until the Sixers are on the clock with the third-overall pick, and that means we need something to kill time during the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday between now and the draft, Rich Hofmann and I will examine a different potential scenario for the Sixers. Some days, there will be trades. Other days, the Sixers may remain at three, but the players left on the board could be different due to another trade or a surprise pick.

And since there are only two teams ahead of them, we should be able to get through a good amount of the most likely possibilities before June 22.

After we've outlined the scenario and offered our thoughts on the likelihood it actually happens and whether or not it should happen, we'll ask you for your thoughts on it. We also encourage you to elaborate in the comments section. When it gets closer to the draft, we'll put the results together in a single post to show you which outcome fans are most hopeful to see play out.

Here's a look back at the scenarios we've already covered:

Swapping picks, guards w/ Magic | Trading for a PG who won't cost much 
 What if Jackson isn't atop their board? | What if Lakers pass on Ball?
Third pick and more for Klay | Shipping Dario to Boston for top pick?
An initial offer for No. 1 | Selling 3rd pick back to Kings ... with interest

Let's get right into it:


Today, as we've done each of the last two Fridays, we're going to try something a little different – we're also starting to run out of scenarios so if you have any good ones that we've missed, please hit us up.

Anyway, here's the general question Rich and I will be addressing: How far back can the Sixers move in the first round before it's no longer worth it?

This is not an attempt to find out the best deal the Sixers could get for the third pick. Instead, we're trying to figure out the point in which even a fair-market-value return wouldn't be enough. 

If the Sixers have indeed identified 6-7 players they'd be willing to take at No. 3, simple arithmetic suggests that at least one of those players will be available a few picks later. What we want to find is the point at which we believe all those players – or, more specifically, the ones we'd like to see the Sixers take – will be off the board.

In order to answer this question, we have to assume a few things:

  1. Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball will be the first two picks.
  2. The Sixers won't be getting any veteran players in return, only draft picks.
  3. No matter the team, the value of those picks will be relatively similar (and based the slot in which the Sixers will now pick).

And, finally, we have to assume that the Sixers see a big drop off in talent and/or fit after the half dozen or so players that Bryan Colangelo alluded to earlier this week. 

However, because this is our website and our draft scenario, we're not necessarily going to agree with Colangelo on how many (and which) players are in the top tier of our draft board. 

For example, if you think Josh Jackson is by far the best player for the Sixers, and in a class above the rest of the projected top 10 picks, then you would say it doesn't make sense for them to trade back at all. But if you have, say, Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De'Aaron Fox rated about the same, it would make sense to trade back to five, where you'd still be guaranteed to get at least one of those players. And so on. 

Got it? I hope so because this explanation is already longer than my analysis is going to be. In other words, we're moving on... 


Rich Hofmann

Just to reiterate, we’re operating under the premise that Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are off the board when the Sixers draft at 3. If either of those two guys are available (and you bet there are rumors), I’m running Adam Silver back on the stage at the NBA Draft to announce their name. “Your commercials can wait, Commish." 

I enjoy this question for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s a combination of many Sixers draft scenarios that we have done here at PhillyVoice. And secondly, my fictional Sixers big board has three players in the next tier behind Fultz and Ball. They are Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith Jr., and Jonathan Isaac. I like all three players generally about the same, for different reasons.

Judging by the many NBA mock drafts, Isaac tends to go around No. 6 to Orlando and Smith drops to Nos. 9 and 10 in different mocks. On a related note, the New York Knicks are stuck in 1996 with the Triangle Offense.

If Jackson’s jump shot or something else worries the Sixers too much, No. 6 (Orlando) would likely allow them to pick between either Isaac or Smith. Under the assumption that De’Aaron Fox (no more point guards with questionable jumpers in Philly, please) is no worse than No. 5 to Sacramento, at least one of those two players will be there.

“Trade back” is a popular sentiment in Philadelphia, but I would need two things to do so:

  1. An asset that makes moving back worthwhile.
  2. Supreme confidence that I can project the rest of the draft board.

Maybe the Sixers will have that type of offer (ex. 5+10 for 3), but in a vacuum, I don’t particularly like the idea of messing with your best asset. Just draft the guy who you think is the best prospect with the third pick.

Matt Mullin

We've already had a couple scenarios in which I've said I'd be willing to trade back. Now, finally, I get to take a stand and say, "OK, this is far enough."

For me, that's the seventh pick. Again, this is assuming the two things Rich pointed out above: a worthwhile return and a knowledge of how the board is going to fall from picks three to six (although I don't think they need to be as certain as Rich does). Actually, make that three three: If Fultz or Ball are available at three, I'm taking one of them.

As for that seventh pick, the Sixers should still be able to land one of their top targets, assuming their big board resembles mine in any way. I've got four players in my second tier – Jackson, Isaac, Smith, and Malik Monk. Then, not far behind, I have Tatum, Fox and Frank Ntilikina. That, however, is based specifically on how those players fit with the Sixers, meaning other teams' lists will look very different.

And while there's a chance that all four of the guys I have listed in my second tier could be gone by the seventh pick, that's not likely to happen. One of the teams ahead of the Sixers is going to pick Tatum or Fox.

Ideally, I wouldn't want the Sixers trading back any further than the fifth spot – I, too, like the idea of swapping three for five and 10 – on draft night. I'd rather see a team aggressively target their guy than passively sitting around to see who the teams ahead of them have left behind. 

Trading back to seven scares me a little, but if we're trying to figure out when trading back becomes a zero-sum game, well, I think that's lucky number seven.


And don't forget to leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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