Shai Gilgeous-Alexander carved up the Sixers Thursday night with 37 points on 16 shots. He was 16-16 from the foul line.
Frustrating, for sure, and people always seem to forget he was drafted one position after the Sixers’ selection in the 2018 draft:
Everyone gets caught up in the Mikal Bridges trade, and rightfully so. The Sixers shipped the Villanova wing to Phoenix, where he’s played 352 games in five seasons, while Zhaire Smith is no longer in the league. The Sixers did take the extra draft pick accrued in the trade and used it to bring in Tobias Harris, so you always have to keep that in mind when looking back and asking yourself the subjective question “who won” the swap.
Revisionist draft history always comes with the caveat of being corny, because unless you’re Miss Cleo, you can’t predict the future. SGA was shipped off to LA and then to Oklahoma City, where he’s now thriving. If the Hornets or Clippers knew he was going to be this good, he would have never been shipped in the first place. Same with Bridges and the Sixers, who had Robert Covington as their starting three going into that season, before the Jimmy Butler trade took place.
But all of this remains aggravating in a vacuum, because the Sixers could have thrown darts at the 2018 draft and probably done better than their eventual outcome, which is very similar to the 2017 NHL draft that resulted in this:
This one is more annoying because literally every other dude in the top five went on to become a stud. The Flyers took the only guy who didn’t pan out, and in case you totally forgot about Nolan Patrick, he’s only played 25 games for Vegas since being flipped by Nashville in the Ryan Ellis trade. Frustrating for him and everyone.
If there’s any real takeaway here, it’s that the margins for talent acquisition are so incredibly slim. Even back then, the Flyers took Isaac Ratcliffe four picks before Jason Robertson. Who knew Robertson was going to turn into a 40-goal scorer? Not me. Same with Jalen Reagor and Justin Jefferson. Imagine if the Eagles got that one right. It would have changed the entire trajectory of the franchise. Likewise, we bitched about Brandon Graham and Earl Thomas for years, then both ended up winning Super Bowls, so go figure. The Sixers might be in a totally different spot if they stumbled into SGA or Devin Booker or even one of Kevin Huerter, Donte DiVincenzo, or Lonnie Walker, who all went after SGA and Bridges in 2018.
Revisionist history? Yeah, but still aggravating.