With the NBA Draft Lottery now in the rearview window, the league is that much closer to June 23rd, when the actual draft will occur. The 76ers are accustomed to making at least one first-round selection in the draft, as they have made at least one every year since 2005. However, this year may be different as the team has already traded their selection to Brooklyn as a part of the James Harden trade. The Nets, however, have the right to defer the pick until the 2023 season, which begs the interesting question:
Will Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers have a first-round selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, or will they have to wait until next year?
The power in this situation is completely in Brooklyn’s hands, and there are legitimate arguments both for the team to defer the pick to 2023 or to make this selection this year. When looking at a series of pros and cons, the answer may be more simple than one would originally think.
The Case for the 23rd Pick
The pick in question today is the 23rd overall pick, and for the Brooklyn Nets, there are many reasons why it may be tempting to keep. For one, the Nets will need reinforcements one way or another. The team has seven players currently heading for free agency and another two with player options. With many of those free agents either aging or potentially playing themselves out of Brooklyn’s price range — Bruce Brown — the Nets could use a young talent who will be on the books for a few years at a reasonable price.
Brooklyn may also be able to use the 23rd pick in a deal between now and draft day if they find a suitable trade partner. Whether they try to unload Joe Harris or when Ben Simmons is inevitably traded again, that 23rd may be an important piece in those negotiations.
The Nets need youth, financial flexibility, and tradeable assets; the 23rd pick provides all of these.
The Case for the 2023 Pick
While the case for Brooklyn to retain the 23rd overall pick is clear, so is the case for deferring the draft pick until 2023. The 23rd pick has value to Brooklyn as a tradeable asset that’s already been established. While that is certainly the case, the 2023 first-rounder from the 76ers arguably has even more value.
Typically the value of NBA draft picks lowers the further out a pick is; however, in this case, the flexibility it may provide — along with the question marks surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers — would make this a special case. When looking at potential future trades for Brooklyn, the ability to take their time in negotiations could prove invaluable, especially as it pertains to a potential Ben Simmons trade.
Additionally, despite the 76ers’ perennial MVP candidate, there are many questions surrounding Philadelphia this offseason. So much so, in fact, that many believe that the Sixers’ 2023 pick could be even higher than this season’s. If the Nets are willing to gamble, it may be worth doing so in this case.
So Will the 76ers Keep the 23rd Pick?
Optionality in the NBA is arguably more important now than ever before. For that reason, among others, it’s likely that the Brooklyn Nets will defer to 2023, allowing the 76ers to retain the 23rd pick. This is obviously great news for a Philadelphia team that is also in need of youth, financial flexibility, and tradeable assets.
While the 76ers may not necessarily make the selection at 23, they have the option to target a young contributor like E.J. Liddell or Wendell Moore. Considering the 76ers’ needs and lack of current financial flexibility, they could certainly use the selection, but they must hit on whatever player they decide to draft.
The Brooklyn Nets have until June 1st to make their final decision.