76ers to select 23rd in 2022 NBA draft after Nets defer until 2023

Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the team’s NBA basketball practice facility, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

When the Philadelphia 76ers negotiated their blockbuster trade that sent Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden, it was more than just Simmons that they lost. Seth Curry and Andre Drummond were included, as were two draft picks. One, a top-eight protected pick in 2027, the other, an unprotected pick that the Nets had the option to choose between 2022 and 2023. With the draft less than a month away, the Nets have elected to defer the 76ers’ 2022 in favor of owning their unprotected 2023 pick.

The 76ers could certainly use this selection as they aim to improve as this draft — though considered a modest class at best — projects several likely role-players being drafted in the 20-30 range. Players such as E.J. Liddell, MarJon Beauchamp, and Bryce McGowens, could all prove to be affordable young contributors for the 76ers. Something else of note is that Philadelphia could use the 23rd pick in an effort to trade up in the draft and target a higher-end prospect.

Not having a pick in 2023 certainly does complicate a few things, however. Without their 2023 pick, the 76ers do not have a draft selection they can trade — without receiving one from the same year — until 2029, seven years from this draft. This makes an acquisition of another star — or even a contributor at the deadline — that much more difficult. Without a tradeable pick, they are effectively out of the running for Davion Mitchell, Damian Lillard, and potentially even Bradley Beal. That may be for the best, however, as the 76ers’ shortcomings clearly came from a lack of depth, not star power, this postseason.

With the draft now just three weeks away, it’s time to dive straight into prospect season.