You can point to a lot of things over Bryan Colangelo’s tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers that were bad. Overall, there is one negative thing that reigns supreme over his tenure that simply isn’t talked about enough.
When you think of Bryan Colangelo, odds are you most likely think of the event that ended his career with the Sixers, the Burner account scandal. If not, maybe you think about the bad Jerryd Bayless contract handed out in free agency. At this point, you could even throw drafting Markelle Fultz into this discussion.
While those were all questionable things, people typically miss the number one area in which he hurt the Philadelphia 76ers’ future. It’s one area that a ton of fans typically overlook: his draft selections.
I’m not talking about Markelle Fultz with this. At the time, it was a decent trade that landed them the consensus number one overall pick. Fultz was the perfect talent to put next to Embiid and Simmons. It was a justifiable trade in the moment.
Colangelo was with the Sixers over two draft periods; in the 2016 and 2017 NBA Drafts. When you take a look at the players he selected, it’s not great. Below are the listed hauls from each respected draft. These lists will be the players the Sixers have/had coming out of the draft and will exclude players who were drafted and traded to another team immediately.
2016 NBA Draft: Ben Simmons (R:1, P:1), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (R:1, P:24), Furkan Korkmaz (R:1, P:26)
2017 NBA Draft: Markelle Fultz (R:1, P:1), Anzejs Pasecniks (R:1, P:25), Jonah Bolden (R:2, P:36), Mathias Lessort (R:2, P:50)
When you look at those lists it really puts things into a bad perspective. Apart from making the obvious selections of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz at one, the team struck out completely in the past two drafts.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was shipped off to the Thunder in a trade over the past summer, after he showed little-to-no growth in his sophomore year. Furkan Korkmaz has shown flashes as of late, but will likely not be a long-term piece. Elton Brand declined his option, and he will likely leave the team in unrestricted free agency.
The 2017 Draft was somehow even worse. Colangelo traded away the pick received (in the deal that landed them Ersan Ilyasova), to move back into the first round. This wasn’t a bad idea at all, until he drafted Anzejs Pasecniks: a player who is currently struggling in euro-league play and will likely never play for the Sixers.
The verdict is still out on Jonah Bolden, but Brett Brown hasn’t used him much for actual game time. Mathias Lessort is another player who will likely never suit up for the team.
What Could Have Been
The haul of all these players is obviously bad, but what makes it the worst thing to come out of the Colangelo-era was the list of players taken right after this group. Check this out below:
The Sixers drafted Timothe Luwawau-Cabarrot 24th overall, along with Furkan Korkmaz; who was taken 26th overall. Pascal Siakam was taken right after Korkmaz (at 27th) and is a starter on the best team in the East in the Toronto Raptors. The Spurs drafted Dejounte Murray 29th overall (which at the time was considered a steal). Murray recently was selected to an all-defensive team for his sophomore year. 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon was taken 36th overall in the second round. Brogdon has developed into a quality “3&D Player” who would fit incredibly well with the current roster.
Colangelo took Anzejs Pasecniks 25th overall. Kyle Kuzma was taken two picks later at 27th overall. Kuzma has developed into a quality stretch four in the league. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted/traded for Villanova’s Josh Hart, who was taken at the end of the first round at pick number 30. Hart is looking like a quality NBA rotation piece.
When it comes to drafting young talent, there will always be strikeouts. There is no such thing as having a perfect track record with the draft. Colangelo took two years worth of young talent and turned it into nothing. At this point, the Sixers are suffering from a lack of depth because of this.
We saw recently in the Toronto Raptors game that the Sixers will need to become deep if they have any chance of defeating them. The Raptors have drafted incredibly well and have solid young pieces earning a reasonable amount of salary.
A New Day
Luckily, the team is turning a new corner in terms of drafting. Intern-GM Brett Brown did a great job of acquiring Landry Shamet in the late first round: a player who many are considering this year’s steal.
As stated before, Colangelo did many things wrong in his tenure. While the national media and some fans will point to Markelle Fultz, the Burner Accounts, or Jerryd Bayless, now you can comprehend where he faulted the most. While he was fired months ago, this is something that will affect the team going forward for a long time. Hopefully, the Elton Brand-led front office can somehow compensate for this loss and grow the team further. Only time will tell.