June 24, 2016
Odds are, not much has changed between Thursday night and Friday with how you view the success of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft. If you liked the idea of them taking Ben Simmons with the first-overall pick -- something most had assumed was going to happen for some time now -- then you probably give them a fairly high grade.
If you're not a Simmons fan -- I'm talking to you, Angelo -- then you probably think that pick, coupled with the two European players -- Timothy Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz -- taking with the 24th and 26th picks, respectively, isn't much of a haul after just 47 wins in the last three seasons combined.
But when you step back and look at it objectively, as we are supposed to do in the media, then you'll see that there are a lot more people impressed with the Sixers draft than people left hoping for more.
Here's a look at what the local and national media are saying about the Sixers 2016 draft class, starting with our own Rich Hofmann:
However it happened, the deal didn’t go through. And Colangelo, who has been both praised in some corners and ridiculed in others over the past few months despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything good or bad during his short time in Philly, put together a nice performance on his first night of the job.
Simmons has the potential to be a superstar, and that was the easy part. Waiting until 24 and 26 and nabbing a couple of intriguing international wings in Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz represents a strong understanding of value and a nice potential fit with Simmons. If one of them pans out to be a rotation player, the front office will have done its job.
Ben Simmons was rated at the top of most draft boards for most of the year, with a combination of 6-foot-10 size, great speed and athleticism, and elite ball handling and passing for his position that could make him a potential match-up nightmare down the line, too quick for power forwards to stay in front of and too strong in the post for small forwards to hold in check. Simmons' jump shot needs work, but the potential is there for the Sixers to get that franchise player they've suffered these past three years for.
Even though Colangelo openly talked about potentially trading the Sixers later first round picks, they kept them and selected two talented European wings: Timothe Luwawu, a French small forward at 24 who averaged 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the Adriatic League, and shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz, who at 18 years old barely played for Anadolu Efes, one of the stronger teams in Turkey. Korkmaz, though, is 6-8 with great athleticism, and the chance to be a knockdown shooter from the perimeter.
The worst-kept secret of the night is out of the way, and the 76ers finally put a proper face on their rebuild. Simmons will be ready to slide into the lineup next season and give Philly a dynamic point forward to build their team around. Best-case scenario, his passing ability elevates the parts around him, his jumper develops and the Sixers are back in business long term. There was a great case for Ingram here, but Simmons may have the most unique skill set in the class. Keep trusting the process.
Woo also gave the Sixers high grades for their two later first-round picks...
24. Timothe Luwawu SG - France
Grade: A | This is an awesome coup for the Sixers, as Luwawu could have gone 10 picks earlier. Scouts I spoke with were high on him, praising his playmaking, defense and athleticism. He was one of the better two-way wing players in the class. The Frenchman will be a nice addition to Philly’s rebuild, and it should be thrilled to land him.
26. Furkan Korkmaz SG - Turkey
Grade: B+ | Philly picks a third international player, selecting Korkmaz, an 18-year-old Turkish wing with some upside. He’s early in his development and could (and probably should) stay overseas for a year or two. His shooting and athleticism offer some room for projection, but there’s a good amount for him still to put together. Dejounte Murray could have been a good pick here. Deyonta Davis and Skal Labissiere are still around, but Philly doesn’t need more bigs. Korkmaz gives the Sixers another piece with good potential to bring along.
1. 76ers select: Ben Simmons SF - LSU
Grade: A- | This is the right pick for the Sixers. He is the best player in the draft, and the team can re-tool the roster on the fly easily. The only reason this gets slightly downgraded is because of the uncertainty of the roster. But Bryan Colangelo should have no problems doing that given all of the assets they have.
24. 76ers select: Timothe Luwawu SG - France
Grade: B+ | The Sixers definitely need some help on the wing, and Luwawu is the kind of high motor, high energy athlete that they could use. The swing skill here will be the shot. If he shoots it well and finishes it efficiently, he'll become an NBA player. If not, it's tough to find a fit for him offensively.
26. 76ers select: Furkan Korkmaz SG - Turkey
Grade: B- | Not quite as high on Korkmaz as I am on Luwawu. It fits though, as Korkmaz can provide shooting and floor-spacing if he makes it over to the NBA at some point. The question will be how his body fills out and how his defensive game translates.
Overall grade: A
Though the Philadelphia 76ers presumably toyed with the idea of bucking convention and adding a floor-spacing presence (Duke's Brandon Ingram) to their lineup, they couldn't resist the No. 1 talent in this draft class.
No matter how broken Ben Simmons' jumper may be, he's an incredible, franchise-altering prospect— exactly what the lottery-dwelling, perpetually rebuilding Sixers needed.
The Sixers couldn't have had a better night. They still have Okafor and Noel, yes, but they also have Ben Simmons. I've preferred Ingram to Simmons for the past few months, but even so, Simmons immediately makes this team more exciting than it has been in three years.
More importantly, the Sixers didn't mortgage half their team to trade for a point guard (Kris Dunn) whose skills would have been a bad fit next to Simmons. Philly's interest in Dunn never made sense, and it gave the impression that the Colangelos really don't understand what they have in Simmons, or how they'll have to build around him for the next few years. But all that's irrelevant now, because Danny Ainge turned them down, and the alternative was so much better.
Ben Simmons is a confirmed Australian. How very delightful! Timothe Luwawu's last name reminds me of a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo. Furkan Korkmaz is both the 76ers' second ever player named Furkan and its first to share a name with a League of Legends champion. Well done, Sixers!
[Furkan] Korkmaz is a smooth 2/3, and what he lacks in top-shelf athleticism, he makes up for with a sweet outside shooting stroke, plus scoring instincts and impressive passing vision. He's going to be a minus on the defensive end, and he's not an explosive athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a really fluid mover with and without the ball, and should bring some fascinating versatility on the offensive end. Evan Fournier has been a popular comp for his high-end outcome, but it'll still take quite a bit of maturing physically and as a decision-maker to get there. He's incredibly weak, and his burst isn't good enough to keep a frame like his on the floor. It'll definitely take some time.
After three years of losing, the Philadelphia 76ers finally were rewarded with the No. 1 pick. And in a completely unpredictable draft, getting Ben Simmons at the top — the unquestioned top pick in this draft — gives the Sixers the face of their franchise they desperately needed.
Later, Philadelphia used their first round picks at Nos. 24 and 26 to draft a pair of European wing players — Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz — that give the Sixers some three-point shooting and depth at a position where they lack it. It wasn’t a grand slam of a night (Philadelphia tried, and failed, to get Dunn), but on a night with few clear winners, the Sixers easily were among them.