Sixers’ Draft: The History of the 21st Pick

Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers have five selections in next week’s NBA draft, which takes place Wednesday night, the 18th.

They’re on the board at #21, then at 34 and 36 along with 49 and 58 overall, in the back half of the second round.

It’s worth pointing out that Daryl Morey is a trader and not a drafter. The Rockets haven’t even had a first round selection since way back in 2015, when they took Sam Dekker 18th overall out of Wisconsin. Since then, they’ve used six second rounders and dealt everything else away.

As such, it will be interesting to see what the Sixers do here. Do they package some of these admittedly lesser assets into trades? Keep the first round pick? It’s not a strong draft class, at least at the top, compared to what we’ve seen in years past.

Here’s the list of players who have gone at #21 overall dating back to 2010:

  • 2019: Brandon Clarke
  • 2018: Grayson Allen
  • 2017: Terrance Ferguson
  • 2016: DeAndre’ Bembry
  • 2015: Justin Anderson
  • 2014: Mitch McGary
  • 2013: Gorgui Deng
  • 2012: Jared Sullinger
  • 2011: Nolan Smith
  • 2010: Craig Brackins


A mixed bag in there. Usually when you get to the bottom half of the first round you’re hoping to stumble into a Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, or Kyle Kuzma, as a best-case scenario. The Sixers have had some success pulling guys out of this range, such as Matisse Thybulle and Landry Shamet in the past three seasons, though they’ve had less-desirable results with the likes of Furkan Kormaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. In recent years, Jarrett Allen, Caris Levert, and Dejounte Murray have all gone in that 20-30 range, so there’s value if you can identify the right talent.

For what it’s worth, Morey did have a good track record when he was actually using his draft picks. He took Clint Capela with the 25th overall selection in 2014 and Terrence Jones in 2012, who gave Houston a decent season and a half before injuries derailed his career. In 2011, Morey pulled Nikola Mirotic (later flipped), Marcus Morris, and Chandler Parsons out of the same draft. He also took Jeremy Lamb and packaged him into the James Harden trade.

It’s interesting to think about. Morey hasn’t done a lot of drafting in recent years, yet here he comes, on short notice, into a new job where the Sixers have five picks. Will they trade? Draft? They’d be in good shape if they found themselves another Shamet or Thybulle at 21st overall, i.e. a cost-controlled rookie with upside to balance out the big and bloated contracts that already exist.