June 30th is a unique day in Philadelphia 76ers history, unique in that they’ve selected multiple Caucasian centers in the NBA draft. In 1999, it was Todd MacCulloch out of the University of Washington. Six years prior, they went for 7’6″ center Shawn Bradley with the #2 overall pick.
This was a time in Sixers history that didn’t provide much of anything fruitful. Seven straight years they went without a playoff appearance, despite Clarence Weatherspoon, Jeff Hornacek, and Dana Barros putting in some quality individual seasons. Coming out of the 1992-1993 campaign, Doug Moe had been fired, the centers weren’t producing, and the team mustered its lowest win total since 1974.
So they went ahead and selected the towering BYU product:
Bradley was an interesting case coming into the league. He only played one season at Brigham Young before embarking on a church mission, which resulted in a two-year break from basketball. Some people thought he was too thin and not physical enough to be effective at the NBA level, and you saw that in the way he would get into foul trouble or struggle with bulky centers down low.
Ultimately, he was just inconsistent, though he racked up a ton of blocks before being traded to New Jersey for Derrick Coleman back in 1995. He actually went on to have a 12-year NBA career, finishing with 2.5 blocks per game while averaging 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. He even put up a 20-20-10 triple-double with points, rebounds, and blocks. There were some really good games interspersed with the bad ones, which is why he was a frustrating player to watch.
For context, here’s what the top-15 of the 1993 draft board ended up looking like:
Sam Cassell and Nick Van Exel went later in the draft, passed up by a number of teams before selection. Lynch, of course, was added as a free agent and played on the Sixers team that went to the finals in 2001.
Makes you wonder what would have happened if the Sixers didn’t end up with Bradley on this day 27 years ago.