Will the Philadelphia 76ers Continue to be Prisoners of Draft Day History?

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Not even the great Moses Malone could explain the events of June 17, 1986.

Thirty years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft lottery with the opportunity to select North Carolina big man Brad Daugherty. The Sixers were coming off a 54-28 season with solid veterans Maurice Cheeks, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and a budding star in rookie Charles Barkley. In what was undoubtedly the most confusing thirty minutes in NBA Draft history, the Sixers traded Brad Daugherty to the Cleveland Cavaliers for forward Roy Hinson and in a shocker dealt two-time NBA MVP Moses Malone to the Washington Bullets for center Jeff Ruhland — who played a whopping five games for Philly.

The potential frontcourt of Barkley, Daugherty and Malone will always be a painful footnote in Sixers history.

Tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers will select LSU’s Ben Simmons with the No.1 overall pick. It is also no secret the team is shopping defensive stalwart, forward Nerlens Noel and skilled second-year center Jahlil Okafor to the highest bidders.

For the franchise who traded Wilt Chamberlain (after an MVP season) and Moses Malone (averaged a double-double the next four years) and passed on Penny Hardaway for Shawn Bradley, this has become an alarming trend.

The latest rumors have had the 76ers dealing Okafor to either the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers for as much as the second or third pick, respectively. While the deal would give the team two of the first three picks, they’re passing off a talented big man who finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game. The Phoenix Suns have also expressed interest.

Nerlens Noel is entering his third full season with the Sixers after missing his rookie campaign while recovering from knee surgery. Last season, Noel averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds as well as becoming the teams defensive rock, leading the team and steals and finishing second in blocks. The defensive standout has peaked the interest of the Boston Celtics as draft night approaches.

The reason the 76ers are shopping Okafor and/or Noel is the clean bill of health given to center Joel Embiid. After missing two full seasons with a nagging foot injury, Embiid looks to finally be healthy and as good as advertised. Why else would the Sixers be so willing to put two talented big men on the trading block?

Let’s hope the nightmares of draft days past are behind this proud franchise and the addition of Embiid and Simmons are two huge steps in the right direction.

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