While Embiid’s injury made life easier for the Bucks, it drastically complicated matters for the Sixers. They desperately want to move up to Cleveland’s spot and take Wiggins. But in this scenario, they would be choosing between Embiid, Exum and trading down. It would be too much of a reach to take Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle with the third pick. A dark horse could be Marcus Smart, but I believe Exum is the choice. Embiid is just too much of a gamble to take this high in the draft. This is a franchise-defining pick and the Sixers can’t afford to whiff on it.
Taking Exum gives the Sixers two options — pair him in the backcourt with Michael Carter-Williams or trade Carter-Williams for another top-10 pick. I would opt for the latter route. Exum is a long, athletic point guard with a suspect shooting stroke. His skill set is nearly identical to Carter-Williams’. I believe Exum is a better version of last season’s Rookie of the Year, making Carter-Williams expendable.
That latter scenario – draft Exum, trade MCW (potentially to LA), and move up from 10 to the 7 pick – was posited by Chad Ford on Bill Simmons’ BS Report and it seems to be the soup du jour, and, mmm, that sounds good and the Sixers should have that… if they can’t figure out a way to trade up and draft Wiggins.
I still think Wiggins needs to happen. You can’t win less for Wiggins and then not do everything in your power to actually draft the guy. But, if it doesn’t happen, Ford’s and
Gonzo’s Kane’s scenario works. MCW was great last year, but he doesn’t have the ceiling that people claim Exum has. If you can essentially upgrade MCW to Exum and move up from, say, 10 to 7, then it’s a net win. Unlike the way the Phillies and Flyers do business, Hinkie doesn’t run a team like an organized crime family, where loyalty, longevity and likability are rewarded. If it makes sense to trade the Rookie of the Year for a better version of himself, then Hinkie will do that. He’s a pragmatist and lives in a world where human interaction is an impediment to the job at hand, which is building a winning basketball team.
UPDATE: I’m a moron and cited Sean Kane’s mock on CSN, not Gonzo’s. But, Gonzo, too, agrees on Exum and explored the idea of trading MCW to the Lakers.