The Philadelphia 76ers have reinforcements on the way

Global ambassadors for The Process. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant /NBAE via Getty Images)
Global ambassadors for The Process. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant /NBAE via Getty Images) /

Alright, so it’s been a sloppy couple of weeks for the Sixers, boinking their head on their roster’s ceiling against the auto-replenishing Celtics. As Embiid and company are sentenced to go fishing, many are relishing the opportunity to drop a spicy take on The Process. Do not listen. Recall that 25 percent of the Sixers’ eight-man playoff rotation was shuffling around pointlessly for the Atlanta Hawks about ten weeks ago. And more importantly: the sheer gravitational force of The Process — that momentum generated so many years ago by, yes, you know who, Sam Hinkie — will continue pushing the Sixers closer to a triumphant June.

The Sixers have the ability to add more talent to their team, from this day forward, than nearly every team who will have an ambassador on next week’s lottery dias. The Sixers enter the summer with the third-most usable cap space in the league, easily able to add an ultra-star to their 52-win team. With veterans like JJ. .Redick and Amir Johnson scheduled to leave in free agency, the Sixers currently signed for 2018-19 average 23.6 years old, younger than every team but the Lakers. And speaking of the Lakers: assuming that Los Angeles’ first-round pick does convey to Philadelphia — odds: 97.1 percent — the Sixers hold the fifth-most value in the 2018 draft, according to Tankathon, wielding a league-high six picks. All those extra picks won’t stop coming in either: Philadelphia already holds three picks each in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 drafts. The future looks so good it’s goofy.

This sums up most of the cards that Bryan Colangelo now holds in his enviable hand. But there is still, somehow, more: four young players stashed abroad, with three of them earning regular minutes in Euroleague competition this season.

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There are holes in their games, yes. (Or else why would they be stashed at all?) Their names may join the anonymous list of dozens of draft picks who never do appear in the Association, experiments abandoned before they’re ever truly started. But your team’s stashed second-rounder might also be the next Davis Bertans, Nemanja Bjelica, Willy Hernangomez, or — if the stars do truly align — Nikola Jokic: a sudden contributor who more or less falls out of the sky.

Let’s pretend that every last pick does work out, and get a sneak peak of the Sixers’ still-young, incredibly low-cost second unit of 2020 and beyond:

Vasilije Micic

Earliest arrival date: 2019-20

The résumé: Originally a late-second-round pick by Hinkie himself, in 2014, the 24-year-old Micic haphazardly floated around Europe until this year, when he signed with the preeminent Lithuanian power, Zalgiris Kaunas. Later this month, Micic — plus also revitalized Process veteran Brandon Davies — will play in the Euroleague Final Four. Among the talents who appeared in the Final Four last year: Ekpe Udoh, Milos Teodosic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Luka Doncic.

Best-case scenario: After T.J. McConnell gets an unmatchable sum of money thrown at him by a lottery dweller in the summer of 2019, Micic steps in as Ben Simmons’ backup, becoming the 6-foot-6 assist wizard we once thought Michael Carter-Williams would be.

Mathias Lessort

Earliest arrival date: 2020-21

The résumé: When Lessort was drafted last June, he was already a three-year veteran of the French LNB Pro A, but had only played just over 2,000 minutes across those three years. (That’s about as much as Embiid played this year alone while missing 20 regular season games.) Last summer, Lessort moved to Crvena Zvezda in Serbia, and was an every-game starter in front of former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic in Euroleague play.

Best-case scenario: Lessort gives Embiid a breather for 15 nightly minutes of manic rim-rocking and shot-blocking, fulfilling the true destiny that was once meant for late-career Thomas Robinson.

Jonah Bolden

Earliest arrival date: 2020-21

The résumé: Bolden is the ultimate 21st-century basketball globetrotter. Since 2012, when Bolden was going to high school in his home country Australia, he has played in: Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Belgrade (then a quick stop back in Las Vegas for an impressive 2017 Summer League), and now Tel Aviv. During the 2016-17 season, Bolden was the Adriatic League’s top prospect, an honor that was won in previous years by Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic.

Best-case scenario: Since he’s so comfortable both shooting and defending on the perimeter, Bolden becomes a member of the league’s first ever functional lineup of players all 6-foot-10 or taller. He’ll play alongside Simmons, Saric, Embiid, and 18-year-old ultra-utility man Jontay Porter, who the Sixers take in next month’s draft in order to make this dream a reality.

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Anzejs Pasecniks

Earliest arrival date:


The résumé: Not only is Pasecniks the only first-round pick of this bunch, but Colangelo made the startlingly un-Process move of trading up into the first round to get him. Like his compatriot Kristaps Porzingis, Pasecniks is a seven-footer who has become something of a long-term veteran in the Spanish Liga ACB. While Pasecniks will hoist the occasional three-ball, he is less of a unicorn and more like the kind of player who could lead the league in total number of baby hooks.

Best-case scenario: Pasecniks is the back-up to Embiid that the Sixers might have thought they had in Jahlil Okafor for like three months, pouring in copious amounts of post buckets in limited minutes. Unlike Okafor, Pasecniks will even participate in the basketball tactic known as “defense.”